You’ve gotta crush your quota. You have to bring in new business. You have to keep customers loyal. These are baseline things managers look for when they’re deciding who should get a bump in responsibility and pay, but they’re just the beginning.
Those who lead sales teams obviously know how to sell better than most, but they’re also good at inspiring, coaching and motivating others. In fact, the best sales leaders don’t just demonstrate a capacity for raising the bar of the sales team, but influencing those in marketing, customer service and other functions to take their performance to the next level as well.
Reps may feel they don’t have time to focus on these things when they’re already so busy managing their weekly, monthly or quarterly quota. While these numbers should never be ignored t, promotions come to those who do that little bit of extra that gets the attention of the people in charge.
Consider the following “non-revenue goals” as clues you’re giving higher-ups about your innate ability to see the bigger picture and help the organization not only generate revenue but evolve to meet its overall objectives.
Yes, it sounds a little crazy. What does a sales rep know about artificial intelligence (AI)? Shouldn’t they be worried that they’re going to be automated out of existence? Wouldn’t it make more sense for them to do an informal training session on the things they live and breathe every day?
Before you answer those questions, think about it from a manager or senior executive’s point of view. They’ve probably been learning about how AI tools such as Salesforce Einstein are opening up possibilities to capture their total addressable market, trends in how their customers make purchases and more. Those same leaders are probably a little concerned, though, about how to successfully integrate AI into daily operations -- and may be expecting some resistance from the sales team.
What would it look like if a rep took the time to gather his or her peers and embrace, rather than resist, the promise of AI in sales? It doesn’t mean you have to spend hours researching AI and becoming an expert in the technology. You could format the lunch and learn as easily as this:
What does your week look like today -- the key tasks, the big challenges, the non-vital admin work that takes away from other tasks?
Where do you, as a sales rep, see AI making a difference (even if the technology can’t deal with everything on your wish list today)?
If AI could assist with some tasks, how might that free you up and how would you use that time? Making more calls? More meetings? Open this up to discussion to see what others think.
What would be the best way to train and develop the sales team to use AI tools? Videos? Live tutorials? A cheat sheet? Gather input from the group and put it on a white board.
What, from a salesperson’s point of view, should be the company’s overall goals in using AI? Does this include more revenue overall, revenue per customer, decreased churn rate? Seek other ideas from your peers and take notes that can be passed on to the leadership team.
Managing change is one of the most difficult things a leader can do. Which is why, when leaders see someone in the ranks leaning into change, they begin to rethink their long-term potential.
Marketing teams will often send their sales colleagues examples of the content they’re creating to move prospects through the funnel. This could include links to the latest posts on the company’s blog, a new white paper or eBook, or the recording of a recent webinar. Being spoon-fed this kind of content, while informative and helpful, doesn’t resemble the way actual prospects experience the journey as they turn into leads (and in some cases, customers).
If you’re in an organization that occasionally squabbles over what constitutes a marketing qualified lead (MQL) versus a sales accepted lead (SAL), you might have a more constructive conversation if you, as a sales person, were to walk a few digital miles in the prospect’s shoes. Think of it as “shadowing” a customer through the various channels and touchpoints where demand is nurtured. These journeys could take many forms, but you could start with something like this:
Browse your firm’s social channels, and look for posts promoting some interesting content, like a white paper. Note down how well the social media copy resonates with what you’ve heard directly from your own customers and other experts you know.
Click on the link that goes to the landing page to download the white paper. Fill out the form. Note down what information is essential, if there are some details that you wouldn’t be comfortable sharing, and even elements in the landing design that work or don’t work.
Download the white paper and read it with fresh ideas. What’s the first thing you would do after you’re done — call a rep such as yourself? Share it with a colleague? Forget about it and move on? Note down your first reaction and think about suggested calls to action that the marketing team could include in a thank-you page or follow up e-mail.
Genuine feedback like this will help you and the sales team in the end, but it also shows you’re willing to work across departments -- the way more senior leaders do.
Customers need to feel they trust the person on the other end of the line or sitting in a meeting with them. Sales reps need time to build that trust, of course, but one way to help -- and to help with the organization’s overall thought leadership -- is to share best practices. Though it may not bring in new revenue directly, think about what you’ve seen and heard in your time selling a particular set of products and services. Some of these things could include:
Unexpected questions your customer’s boss always asks.
Complementary products and services customers always wind up buying later.
How customers see their priorities evolving over time.
Not a born writer? That’s okay. Just think of it as a note you’re sending to your boss, or a new customer who wants to hear about how their peers in similar firms are achieving their goals. Then, offer it up to your marketing team. They often have people to assist with polishing up copy, and you’ll have given them a huge head start on building fresh content (better yet: tell them a topic you’re thinking about first, in case they’re already developing something similar).
The post could be published on your company’s blog or on your own LinkedIn profile, but either way, it will build the credibility of your employer, as well as yourself. This is something we expect from CEOs — or even the CEOs of the future.
Sales reps are expected to be in the field as much as possible. This includes places like conferences and trade shows, where they might meet new prospects as well as established clients.
Those in marketing or other functions might get to go to some of those events too, but their experience could be totally different. They might be running a booth, for instance, with limited opportunity to see the keynotes or panel discussions. Or they might be focused on preparing a senior executive to give a keynote or lead a breakout session.
As a sales rep, your focus is always on growing the business, but think about what you could offer to others in your organization based on what you learn on the ground:
Competitive intelligence -- what are rival firms doing and saying at the event that could help shape how your company positions itself?
Trends from third-party experts such as industry analysts to help the R&D team at your company create better products and services.
Direct feedback from customers and prospects -- many events feature mini-case studies on stage in the form of fireside chats or panels. These can be a goldmine of information for everyone from other reps to marketing and even the CEO.
Send your notes around after you’re back as an e-mail, or even an internal social media discussion. Then make sure anything relevant gets added to tools such as Sales Cloud.
It’s kind of ironic, but while pitch decks may be the ultimate tool for many sales professionals, they’re also tend to include obsolete information, or being so generic they feel as though they’ve been presented to an untold number of different prospective customers an untold number of times.
You’re not going to close more deals the minute you update your pitch deck, but by setting a goal to make sure that you review it each month to contain the latest pricing, cross-sell offers, value propositions and other elements, you improve your future odds of success. You can also set a goal to optimize your pitch deck to make it more customized towards a particular industry or even a customer based on the data you get from CRM and Marketing Cloud. Don’t be surprised if that extra effort makes its way back to your boss — and that they reward you with a new title at some point.
Non-revenue goals can be scheduled whenever you like, and can be tweaked to be more ambitious, but if what you’re after is a step up in your career, they’ll make a big difference — as long as you’re also continuing to crush your quota, of course.
Learn more ways to help your sales team succeed with our ebook, “4 Steps to Transforming Your Sales Process.”