Predictable growth is the name of the game, and you need the right tools, tips, and techniques to make it happen.
As our “Think Outside the Quota” video series reveals, the old ways of selling — aggressive quotas, nagging pipeline reviews, siloed sales efforts — just don’t work anymore.
That’s why we tapped frontline sales leaders to help us map a new path to success. Their advice on finding (and keeping) top talent, managing remote teams, and leveraging data for big wins is the secret sauce you need right now.
No more struggle. This is a time for making the most of what you have, maximizing ROI, and ensuring predictable revenue, even when times are tough. It all starts with these tactical insights.
1. Embrace ambiguity
Pip Marlow, EVP & CEO A/NZ & ASEAN, Salesforce
There’s been so much uncertainty over the last couple of years. If you spend all of your time trying to control everything, you’re not spending time on what’s most important. Embrace the ambiguity — don’t fight it.
Also, hold tight to your values. It doesn’t matter how much your circumstances change, it’s important to hold on to what you really believe in. This will be your anchor when everything else is shifting.
2. Give yourself time to innovate
Jessica Sibley, Chief Operating Officer (COO), Forbes
We’ve learned that sometimes, in order to increase revenue, you need to pause, slow down, and reevaluate your business to really understand and explore new opportunities, new products, new platforms. Data is at the heart of that innovation. It helps us understand in real-time what’s working and what’s not. How can we be better at what we do? That’s really the home run.
Learn more: “Wait… Then Innovate”
3. Recruit like you prospect
Denise Hayman, Chief Revenue Officer (CRO), Sonrai Security
The war for talent is real. You have to approach your recruiting strategy like your prospecting strategy. Who’s your ideal employee? Define it. Know what experience you need. Then, go after the best candidates. These folks are getting outreach from recruiters all the time, and you have to be different. My recommendation: Bring your CRO, COO, CEO in to help. There’s nothing more impactful than a C-level reaching out directly to talent.
Learn more: “What Sales Trends Should Be Top of Mind?”
4. Retain top talent with incentives and transparency
Kevin Martin See, VP of Channel Development, 7Summits (an IBM Company)
In this new digital-everything world — especially following the pandemic — you need to hold on to good people. In order to keep these people, you need to drive incentives, and align expectations. At 7Summits, for example, we’ve seen that incentivizing employees who want to earn additional Trailblazer certifications works! A win-win situation for all parties.
Also, be honest and transparent. This creates a culture of trust. We have a weekly meeting where we share updates from across the business, which fosters honesty at all levels, from C-suites to the entry-level associate, ultimately permeating to all client and partner relationships as well.
5. Prioritize diversity and inclusion in your workforce
Cynthia Barnes, Founder & CEO, National Association of Women Sales Professionals
If we’re going to move the needle and drive change for diversity and inclusion in sales, our leaders have to be intentional. They have to walk their talk. Take a look at your policies — the most important of which is paid maternity leave. Aim to create an environment where everyone can thrive, not just hit their sales quota. The success of your sales team, individual contributors, sales leaders, and organization depends on your willingness to create a culture where everyone can thrive.
Learn more: “Diversity Sells”
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6. Make sure your data is clean before leveraging AI
Tigh Loughhead, Founder, Forcery
AI (artificial intelligence) is this big fluffy, amorphous nice-to-have but its usefulness depends entirely on the quality of your data — and where it lives. Too often, data gets siloed in certain teams or is inconsistent. Before you roll out AI, make sure your data is clean, assimilated, and funneled up to a single source of truth. Only then can you use AI tools to identify customer behavior patterns, opportunities for new sales and cross-sells, and a ton of other insights.
7. Make C-suites the voice of your marketing
Chloe Stewart, Chief Revenue Officer (CRO), Pilot
After you identify the accounts you want to target, examine the titles of the buyers at those companies. Then, fold in C-levels from your own company to connect with C-level buyers at target accounts. If you’re selling to CTOs, for example, the CTO at your own company has a lot of insights they can share with other CTOs. They can also share similar challenges and strategy perspectives.
It’s less about what the format of the marketing content is — email, paid campaigns, phone calls — and more about how you execute. In other words, having C-levels deliver your marketing message cuts through the noise of competitor campaigns.
8. Ensure your teams connect with prospects on their turf
Nikki Ivey, Head of Growth Development, Cultured Perspective
Show up to educational webinars and events geared to the audience you’re targeting. You can catch the names of those who show up and use these for prospecting, but more importantly, you can engage in conversation when you’re there (either virtually or in person). You’ll be able to go beyond what you think you know about the prospect audience and build relationships based on curiosity and empathy. This will make it easier to navigate future sales conversations.
Learn more: “Successful Techniques for LinkedIn Prospecting”
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9. Drop the quota
John Barrows, CEO, JB Sales
The downward pressure put on sales reps to hit their monthly quota is so immense that it makes them do some very unnatural things. If I was a VP of sales of a larger organization, I would remove monthly quotas as soon as I possibly could. If your [team is] falling behind, use coaching.
10. Use call recording software to gather key insights
John Fernandez, Senior VP of Marketing, Glia
Between the shift of meetings online, the abundance of storage, and the increased sophistication of automated audio transcriptions, you need call recording software. You’ll gain insights into your sales cycles, your buyers, and their behaviors. Plus, sales rep training and coaching becomes so much easier.
Learn more: 10 Effective Sales Coaching Tips That Work
11. Gamify selling for your reps
Dale Dupree, Founder & CEO, The Sales Rebellion
Take things like standard sales activities — emails, calls — and create gamification around them. Reward your reps for doing these things well with a point system. Track it on a leaderboard so they can engage in friendly competition.
Gamify nontraditional actions, too. For example, give reps an extra 100 points if they make someone laugh on a cold call. This creates intrinsic value to an action that helps a sale while also rewarding the rep.
12. Focus on genuine communication
Tiffani Bova, Chief Growth Evangelist, Salesforce
You have to be authentic if you want to connect with customers. How? I’d say you need guardrails for your team. What do you want them to do and not want them to do? How should they communicate in a way that’s both genuine and representative of your brand?
Learn more: “Methods and Advantages of Empathetic Selling”
Leveraging the strategies above to spur growth is only the beginning. To ensure ongoing success, stay in the know on the latest and greatest sales wisdom. Our video series, “Think Outside the Quota,” features advice on how to grow your revenue from world-class leaders, including Shark Tank investor Daymond John and legendary skateboarder-turned-businessman Tony Hawk.
Take a peek at the episode below, featuring CRO of DonorsChoose Katie Bisbee discussing how cross-team collaboration is key to boosting business — and making a real impact in the community. Or, stream the entire series on Salesforce+.