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The Best Sales Advice of 2016


At Quotable, we are fortunate to have the best of the best offering expert sales advice. Our contributors have extensive experience on subjects such as quota attainment, hiring, sales leadership, territory planning, enablement, sales discovery, social selling, front-line management, inside sales, and forecasting — and the list could go on.

While difficult to pair all of this wisdom down, we’d like to offer you an end-of-the-year wrap up of some of the top insights from this carefully curated group. Thank you for reading and we promise 2017 will bring even more of the best.

Don’t hire based on traditional sales experience.

“In my near decade at Salesforce, I’ve worked for, managed, and hired many a salesperson. Some of our best software reps had never sold software before joining us. In fact, some of our best closers had never closed a deal before working here. This may sound unbelievable, but believe it. What these individuals may have lacked in traditional sales experience, they more than compensated for with core qualities.”

From “The 7 Sales Skills That CAN’T Be Taught” by Dan Ross, Sr. AVP, Salesforce

Do hire salespeople based on coachability.

“The interview process is not only about determining if the candidate is a good fit. It’s also an opportunity for our leadership team to build a strategy for how to coach the employee based on the skills we know how to teach. If candidates lack the unteachable qualities, they won’t be successful and we have to consider a different role for them. If they have the unteachable qualities, that’s great news, because everything else — from closing deals to business and sales acumen — they can absolutely learn.”

From “The 7 Sales Skills That CAN Be Taught” by Dan Ross, Sr. AVP, Salesforce

Emotional intelligence in sales is just as important as negotiation skills.

“Most sales coaching and training programs don’t teach an important skill for influencing people: empathy. Empathy is an emotional intelligence skill, defined as the ability to walk a mile in another person’s shoes. It’s the ability to know what another person is thinking or feeling. Without empathy in sales, a salesperson can’t influence others, and prospects don’t buy from salespeople who don’t understand them.”

From “Are You Missing This Powerful Selling Skill?” by Colleen Stanley, President and Chief Selling Officer, SalesLeadership, Inc.

Sales development is the hottest job in selling.

“We need a dedicated role that is purpose-built for generating new pipeline. For many companies, the sales development reps are the first line of human contact with prospects. They can also be the best opportunity to spark curiosity and generate interest. The sales organizations that win today are those that are willing to reach out, stand out, and point out flaws in status quo thinking.”

From “The Hottest Job in Sales Right Now” by Trish Bertuzzi, President and Chief Strategist, The Bridge Group

Top salespeople aren’t always worth the price to keep them.

“No one likes to lose a top performer, let alone fire them. But we can’t be held hostage by them either. I’ve been in your situation and I know how tough it is. However, there are more top earners out there who will show up, but only if you uphold the values you want them to emulate. At some point, you need to ask the question that will help you make this difficult decision. “What is best for my team and for the company?” The answer will be glaringly obvious to you.”

From “When to Fire Your Top Salesperson” by Keith Rosen, Author of Coaching Salespeople into Sales Champions

Salespeople aren’t so easily replaced by technology.

“I would argue that sales is the most in-tune and dynamic function inside any company. It feels shifts in the landscape before other parts of the organization, and it reacts to the marketplace the best. It has the strongest motive to succeed, and it adapts to change the fastest. In retrospect, it was a little naive to think sales forces would battle technology rather than embrace it. Salespeople welcomed the Internet with open arms. Because the Internet never became a foe of the sales force, it became one of the sales force’s dearest friends. Rather than reduce the power of salespeople, it made salespeople more powerful than before.”

From “Salespeople vs. the Internet: Who Is Winning?” by Jason Jordan, Partner, Vantage Point Performance

Have a value added reason for your sales calls.

“Prospecting isn’t really about selling your products or services. It’s about selling the next step. It’s about selling time. When you’re prospecting, you’re selling attention and interest. In terms of attention, there’s one universal truth in sales and human behavior that I’ve found to be accurate no matter where I go: The number one thing on the planet that everyone loves talking about is themselves. This is also the number one problem in sales: We all love talking about ourselves. This is why the ‘I’d like to introduce myself to you’ email never works. No one cares.”

From “Attention Salespeople: How You Introduce Yourself Matters” by John Barrows, Owner, J.Barrows LLC

You can’t build a great sales team without a great sales manager.

“Ronald Reagan once said, ‘The greatest leader is not necessarily the one who does the greatest things. He is the one that gets the people to do the greatest things.’

As sales managers, we may not be leaders of the free world, but we are uniquely positioned to influence and empower our sales teams to attain greater levels of success. It’s been demonstrated again and again that the real key to building a great sales team is great sales management.”

From “The 16 Do’s of Highly Effective Sales Managers” by Walter Rogers, CEO, CCI Global Holding

It’s okay to think like a marketer.

“I think the best salespeople of the future are going to both act more like marketers and partner more with marketing. It's not going to happen with a traditional, relationship-focused salesperson who just tells marketing ‘get me more leads.’ This is a new part of the job description for sales, and I think we will soon be seeing a segment of microtools that are used by selling teams to do some of their own marketing and nurturing. It will be up to sales leadership to figure out how to get these into the hands of their salespeople.”

From “The Death of a (Traditional) Salesman” by Tony Rodoni, EVP, Commercial Sales and Readiness, Salesforce

Your gut feeling isn’t enough.

“The data we have from years of selling activity drives the majority of our decisions: which new industries to double-down on, which segments of the market are getting the best results, which products our customers are loving, or which regions have the most upside. We have this rich data because everything we do has been captured in our Salesforce instance. It’s great to have visibility into this month’s pipeline or next month’s big deals, but being able to leverage the volumes of data that has been created over the years to help guide your future decisions is invaluable.”

From “My Top 3 Lessons from Leading Sales at Salesforce” by Brian Millham, President, Sales, North America & Marketing Cloud, Salesforce

Looking for the best advice of 2017? Get it here.

There’s one universal truth in sales and human behavior that I’ve found to be accurate no matter where I go: The number one thing on the planet that everyone loves talking about is themselves.”


Learn More

How to Craft the Perfect Sales Pitch By Annie Simms,
Account Executive, Salesforce
The Simple Client Meeting Rules Every Salesperson Should Follow By Laura Stack,
President and CEO, Productivity Keynote Speaker and Author, The Productivity Pro, Inc.



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