As this sales success has emerged while Australia has been in and out of lockdown, me&u has been pulled in every direction while simultaneously attempting to build the systems, teams and culture to support rapid growth. This whirlwind has brought with it just as many lessons learned as it has successes.
Here, me&u COO Asheesh Chacko delves into both, particularly in the arena of upskilling his sales teams, with smart sales management to improve overall sales performance.
In March 2020, when Australia’s first stay-at-home orders were put in place, I had been with me&u in a full-time capacity for three short months. The uncertainty of lockdown forced us to pare back everything and refocus the business.
Thinking that we would be putting growth on hold for some time, we secured financing in order to stay agile and improve process and productivity efficiencies, in lieu of the nation reopening. Instead, as we moved through April, demand for our product skyrocketed despite the fact that venues were closed. We were setting sales performance records even though we weren’t transacting, which was an amazing and equally surprising progression.
As the end of this first lockdown period neared, we knew that our small sales team wasn’t able to meet the increased demand, so we went on somewhat of a hiring spree. We both brought back former reps and hired new talent. In this very short time, we went from working with a startup team to growing a scale up team – one that continues to grow today.
It’s safe to say that in order to upskill this team, we needed to rethink almost everything we were doing.
In the early days of a startup, you employ who you’re able to attract and see what works as the brand evolves. This was certainly the case with me&u. While we attracted passionate, hard-working people, many were learning sales for the first time. Which means we weren’t merely training a team to sell our product, but sell in general.
With growth, we were able to make the decision to interview people not only with proven experience in sales and hospitality, but also who understood and believed in our product. This process helped to refine our company culture, as we now had a clearer idea of the kind of person that would best represent the brand. We needed a sales team made up of people who were well-versed in the product, how it worked and why it makes the industry better. In short we needed to make the most of our business intelligence, to build strong customer relationships.
When you and your team are driven by the same passion and belief, skilling up is a far more natural process. Each individual has all the core traits to achieve sales success, it’s then just a matter of putting them in the best position to get there.
Yes, we’ve been lucky enough to have attracted passionate (even fanatical!) hires, but the task of both sales leaders and sales ops is to sustain that passion. It’s all well and good for a rep to come in with a fiery belly, but if you don’t have the right systems, process and culture in place, it’s difficult to keep that fire lit.
Here’s where it’s imperative — and especially amidst growth in a rapidly changing business environment — that sales management admits where they could have performed better. As we grew, instead of being able to pause, celebrate and recalibrate, we were engaged in an endless uphill sprint. This led to situations where we weren’t putting reps in the best position to succeed.
Thankfully, we’ve since become better at both assessing our operations and pivoting at pace. We’ve clarified for ourselves who we are and where we’re going. We’ve restructured so as to achieve the right ratio of managers to staff. And perhaps most importantly, we’ve realised just how important transparency and communication are in getting the best out of everyone.
It’s all very well and good to have a great product that people want to buy, but nothing will be optimal if lines of communication between management and individuals aren’t clear and straight.
Yes, the overriding goal for our sales reps is to secure new contracts, but if they aren’t supported and kept in the loop, the road to that goal grows longer and more cluttered. Sales reps need to be across every process and procedure that affects them, from ensuring they know how to use Salesforce and knowing which Slack channels to use, to knowing who to contact when clarifying small questions quickly. Whether directly or indirectly, this collaboration and communication can have a drastic impact on motivation and sales performance.
Then there’s the question of how to best get this information across to the individual, especially in the new world of remote work. It’s not enough to confine the revealing of information to one meeting as not everyone is always able to attend. And even if a meeting attracts a full house, chances are not everyone will soak up every second of information.
In order to continue to skill up your team, you need to tell, tell and tell again, often in multiple channels. The more an individual has access to clear information, the more they’re supported and empowered to do what they do best.
By adopting the Salesforce ecosystem products such as Einstein, we’ve been able to use data to track metrics and gather insights that can then benefit sales team success. In the past, we were quite hands off with sales reps; telling them to go out there and secure x number of contracts by the end of the month. Since then, we’ve learned that we must play much more of a role in fostering team clarity so that they’re able to hit that target.
This includes using our CRM to give them clear indication as to how many leads are coming in from marketing, tracking how many leads sales are bringing in and even how many meetings sales reps are having. When integrating all that data, we are able to see not only where they could improve, but where management can too.
me&u management are lucky that our customers love our technology. So we know that if our reps meet with enough businesses at the right level, targets will be hit. If we look at the data and see that a rep is meeting with enough of the right people but not securing the desired number of contracts, then we know we can address this easily.
Upskilling, and growing a successful team is just as much about how you’re supporting and empowering the individual with processes and operations, as it is about that individuals’ job performance.
It has been exciting to share some of my lessons learned, and to take part in the 21 Pro Tips for Sales Ops e-book. You can find insights from market leading sales ops to help skill up your team, scale up your processes and speed up your revenue.