Can You Improve a Kick-Ass Sales Force?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Sep 11, 2013 @ 17:09 PM

Most of the calls and emails which we receive come from companies with flat or declining sales.  However, some of the greatest successes occur when we help companies who are already kicking ass.  

Mark Roberge, Sales VP at Hubspot, is responsible for building one of those kick-ass sales forces and he contributed a guest post to Software Advice on Building a Sales Team the Hubspot Way

When I read the article, I noted a couple of things that I really liked:

  1. They learn very little about sales in the first 30 days.  Mark said, "Instead, they start a blog, create a website, open a Twitter account and begin email marketing campaigns.  By the time training is over, they will rank in Google for a few dozen keywords in their market, have a few dozen followers on Twitter and have written a few dozen blog articles.  HubSpot’s content marketing strategy allows the rep to establish online credibility before even getting on the phone with his or her first prospect."  Cool.
     
  2. A steady flow of inbound leads.  That sure helps new salespeople get started, doesn't it?
Like all kick-ass sales forces, they could do better.  I read a few things that surely aren't as good as they could be and with some tweaking, would significantly improve sales:
  • Mark identified 5 traits that he believes correlate to success and hires salespeople who have these traits.  He identified Coachability, Intelligence, Prior Success, Curiosity and Work Ethic.  While most top-performing salespeople have these qualities, it does not necessarily work in reverse.  For example, top-performing salespeople are also great at developing, building and maintaining relationships.  However, people who are good with relationships do not necessarily become good salespeople.  In fact, most of them don't!  So while it's important to identify predictors of success, predictors that correlate in only one direction will often disappoint.  The problem with the 5 that Mark identified is that none of them speak to either sales DNA, Commitment, Desire or selling skills.  Hubspot has so many leads that their salespeople don't have to be nearly as strong or effective at overcoming resistance as they would if the company were an underdog as described by:
  • Really expensive products or services; 
  • Not the market leader; 
  • Higher priced offerings than their competition; 
  • Have a story to tell; 
  • New product or technology;
  • New company or brand.  
If you are reading this, and your company matches up with any one of my criteria for underdogs, then you couldn't possibly get away with what Hubspot can get away with.  You must have strong hunters who are adept at overcoming resistance, can differentiate by selling consultatively, and ask the kinds of questions that develop respect, allowing prospects to open their mind to the possibility that you can help.
 
  • Hold Them Accountable to a Predictable Sales Process.  I completely agree with the premise, but the example is not a sales process as much as it is a set of metrics measuring conversion ratios.  This too - having a set of KPI's that drives revenue - is extremely important, but you can't choose between KPI's and Sales Process.  You need them both.  I speak with many CEO's who think they have a solid sales process in place and what they actually have are some steps - not necessarily the right ones, and never in the right sequence.  There are two things you can do to determine if your sales process is any good.  The first is the eye test.  Does it always yield predictable results on a predictable timeline?  The second is a graded test.  Use our complimentary Sales Process Grader and get a score!

sales process grader
In summary, Mark has done a great job, written a great article and achieved greatness for Hubspot.  But like any kick-ass sales force, they can do even better.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales leads, HubSpot, sales process, sales training, inbound, sales KPI, Mark Roberge

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About Dave

Best-Selling Author, Keynote Speaker and Sales Thought Leader.  Dave Kurlan's Understanding the Sales Force Blog earned a medal for the Top Sales & Marketing Blog award for six consecutive years. This article earned a Bronze Medal for Top Sales Blog post in 2016 and this one for 2017. Read more about Dave.

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