For all of you sales leaders out there, here is an excerpt from CEOMarc Benioff's book "Behind the Cloud." Here, Marc dips into The Sales Playbook and offers us a look at telesales effectiveness.

In this war against the software industry model, our marketing team was our Air Force, providing the high-level air cover necessary to blanket the zone with our message. It was the mission of the sales force to conduct the one-on-one combat on the ground. The truth is that many of the techniques initially employed by the sales team weren’t innovative, but we found that investing time and demonstrating tenacity were simple and effective selling strategies.

This was still the era of the dot-com brouhaha, and I was invited to several parties every night. I would speak with a large number of people and collect business cards from everyone. The next morning, I would give the stack of cards to the sales team and urge them to contact the leads immediately. They hated it. They tried to hide as they saw me walk down the hallway, but luckily the office was a big open space, and there was nowhere for them to go. I also encouraged the team to call everyone they knew and to routinely ask friends of friends for referrals. Those friends sometimes got aggravated, but we got users. They were my favorite kind of users because the leads were free!

When was founded, there was a preconceived notion that you could not sell CRM applications over the phone. Companies were investing massive amounts in building high-touch teams that operated in far-flung offices. We broke that mold—mostly because we couldn’t afford to follow it in the traditional way—and proved that telesales could win a high close rate at one-third the cost and in one-third the amount of the time as the traditional selling model.

Although our approach is similar to what other companies might call telesales, we called it our “corporate sales” model and found that recruits responded more positively to that term. We built the corporate sales team with recent graduates from great colleges who were terrific at answering the incoming calls. These individuals were smart and energetic, and were closing sales without much training. We also built a team of more experienced “outbound sales” reps who were calling out and closing deals. We offered an extensive training boot camp and gave sales reps three to six months to build a pipeline. (They were then expected to close business, and those who didn’t perform were moved elsewhere.)

Customers were curious about the lack of a face-to-face meeting at first, but soon they appreciated the calls and web demos as effective time-savers for everyone. This practice would become more relevant later, when the economy faltered and all corporations slashed their travel budgets and began communicating via web conferencing and conference calls. Although we did not predict the shift, our strategy, born of necessary frugality, prepared us to take advantage of it. As technology advances with better web conferencing tools and new and less expensive ways to connect people more easily, this is the best way for any company to get its sales team up and running.

Outline for a Sales Call: The Top Five Points for a Winning Conversation

  1. Leverage the experience the prospect has had with other solutions.
  2. Introduce the value your product offers.
  3. Provide success stories from customers. (Build and maintain a strong referral program.)
  4. Verify success stories by offering customer testimony.
  5. Provide a customer for the prospect to contact.

This is an excerpt from Marc Benioff's book "Behind the Cloud."

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