J Patrick + Associates Blog

How To Build A Winning Sales Team: Look to the Olympics for Inspiration

Posted by Alysa Wishingrad on Mon, Aug 08, 2016 @ 11:00 AM

 Copy_of_Add_heading_1.jpgA winning Olympic team is not so different from a winning sales team -- well, aside from the whole medal and international fame angle. What it takes to build a team of dedicated, talented and motivated individuals is the same whether we’re talking sports, IT or AV solutions. While your team’s top-grossing salesperson is never

going to wind up on a box of Wheaties, they are going to rise to fame within your company. And just like the coach training star athletes, a great sales manager also has to built and train their team.

Here’s how a great sales manager is like an Olympic coach.

They Build a Diverse Team
Just as a good swim coach understands that a team made up entirely of freestyle swimmers will not win the most medals in the games, so too, the smart sales manager knows that a diverse talent pool makes for the most wins. While top salespeoplemay share some fundamental skills or abilities, a team made of salespeople with the same strengths and weaknesses does not make for the highest sales numbers. Different clients may require different sales styles, just as different products may too. You need the closer who can work with your larger, more corporate clients, and the finesser who knows how to nudge a new customer toward a close.
Just as athletes need to stretch and grow, so too do salespeople -- make sure you’re making room for your team to get new training, face new challenges and keep pushing the limits of their reach and ability.

They Know It’s A Mental Game
An olympic level coach knows how to read their athletes, and understands what it takes to make each individual perform at their best. Some members of the team may need loud music to pump themselves up before the game begins, while others need a quiet place to find their focus. The smart coach makes room for both team members to get what they need. And they also make room for failure; there’s is no such thing as success without trial, error and mistakes.

This couldn’t be more true for salespeople. Not every call is going to result in a win, not every deal is going to close. There will be winning streaks, and there will be times when it’s hard to get a spark lit. Winning sale managers understand they have to create an environment that fosters resilience, where each salesperson gets the supports, training and kind of incentive that keeps them pushing through the tough times.

They Know that Teamwork is Important Even in an Individual Sport
Just as the 200 yard dash might be an individual event, even Usain Bolt’schances of reigning dominant diminish without a strong team to support him. Sales may be an individual sport, but even a top grossing sales star cannot reach those heights without the support and dedication of the entire team.

They Understand the Transformative Power of Failure
The best sales managers are the best because they know that failure isn’t measured by deals not closed, but opportunities for growth not taken. And in fact, I’d argue that the very best managers of any stripe are the ones who are willing to share the stories of their loses, who don’t pretend they’ve always been exactly where they are in their careers. There are studies, after studies, after studies on the power of failure -- you need look no further than silicon valley to know how so-called failures or losses can lead to transformative innovations.

Practice, Practice, Practice
Even the kid born with innate ability or talent needs coaching and an incredibly high number of repetitions to hone their abilities. Michael Phelps might have been born with the wingspan of a champion, he might even have the focus and passion to win buried deep in his DNA, but he would never had made his first olympic team if he didn’t have the drive to keep practicing and honing his skills.
None of this is to suggest that you going to be hiring salespeople who solely are athletes, already experienced in sales or have proven track records, but you ar looking to hire people who are driven and are committed to honing their skills.
Providing your team with ongoing training, holding sales competitions, and constantly raising the bar on performance and outreach all help to build a better, stronger team.

They Know A Win Isn’t the End Of The Game
Just as the US Women’s Soccer Teamknows that past glory in the World Cup doesn’t insure how they’ll perform in 2018 in Japan, a sales team is always building on success. It might be tempting to rest on the laurels of a hot quarter, but taking those wins and pushing for a banner year is what makes a sales team truly successful. The constant drive to improve is a mindset that needs to be encouraged, fostered and rewarded.

J. Patrick & Associates is an Executive Recruiting firm that focuses on Executive Management, Sales, Marketing and Technical roles within Information Technology markets. We have over 20 years of experience recruiting in every aspect of AV/VTC/UC, Application, Storage, Information/Network Security, Mobile Technologies and Telecommunications.

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Tags: HR and Hiring, Hiring for Sales, sales

What's Attracting Top SaaS Sales Talent? Part 1: Pre-Ipo Vs Public

Posted by Alysa Wishingrad on Tue, Jul 12, 2016 @ 11:15 AM

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 If there's one thing we know about what drives the top SaaS sales talent that we place, it's that they're always looking to get involved with the next great technological leap. Innovation, disruption, and a team of proven leaders are all prime motivators. So when they go looking for a new position at a new company, they are inevitably confronted with a choice between one of two ways to go: Public or Pre-IPO.

While one is popularly considered to be the safer, more reliable bet, there are very specific advantages to both. You do yourself a service to look at both sides of the coin when considering a move.

THE PRE-IPO APPEAL 

Even as the rate of IPO's have slowed this year, we still see well-funded start-ups that are proving to be enticing to our sales candidates right now. And while there are risks associated with moving to a new/unknown entity, the rewards, as you know, can be enormous. That is, if you’re moving to the right company.

Here are the defining characteristics that make a Pre-IPO appealing.

Disruptive Technologies with an Achievable Plan.

A disruptive technology is one that either displaces an existing technology or introduces a ground-breaking product that opens up a new industry. It’s exciting, it’s cutting-edge and it’s potentially important. You won’t find better salespeople than those who are looking to be engaged with the product they’re selling, who need to feel that they are helping to build something new, innovative and/or helpful. And truly, what salesperson worth their salt doesn’t want to be selling the world’s next great technological breakthrough?

But above and beyond the technology itself, savvy salespeople are considering the marketplace for this product. How addressable is the market? Are there too many players? Is the company engaged in a red ocean or a blue ocean strategy?

Confidence.

A top salesperson got where they are based on the value of their relationships, and the depth of their network. There’s no point in making a move where you can’t carry those relationships forward with you. It’s not enough to only believe in the product you’re selling, it’s vital to consider if it’s one you can sell to a marketplace/customer base you know well. How well will you be able to leverage your existing network? And, more importantly, does this new product solve a real problem for your current customers?

Top-Level Management.

When it comes to startups, who is just as important as what. Top management leaders who’ve scaled a company before, who have the knowledge, experience and following to build a successful company are nearly as important as the technology itself. Savvy salespeople look to the management team as a good barometer for potential success. They’re looking for managers they not only they feel they can work with, but who have a track record of success and can move the company toward profit and beyond.

It’s also important to remember that more people cite lack of faith in, or a conflict with, their manager as the number one reason for leaving a position. And while you can’t know how you’ll get on with a manager, doing due diligence on the people you’ll be reporting to is a key consideration to make.

High-Scaling.

Look, salespeople know a worthwhile lead when they see it, and they can also recognize a dead-end long before it comes into view. Yes, there has to be a belief in the technology and an investment in the worth it adds to business, or society at large, but more than that, there has to be the potential for a high return.

Always consider who is involved. Is this a purely VC backed venture, or PE? Where are they in their funding? While getting into a company while they are still in series A funding might promise higher returns later on, we are currently finding that the majority of our sales candidates are interested in series C or beyond. This may be attributable to the fact that the first quarter of 2016 has seen the lowest number of companies going public, or it may be that they are looking to move only to companies that are further along in their development. Either way, the real potential has to be there for a company to attract top sales talent.

Getting in on the ground floor of a disruptive technology insures that a salesperson is both challenged, engaged and invested in the company’s success. The only gamble of course, is whether the tech will catch on or not. If they’ve judged well and have gone where the smart money is sitting, they can expect to find themselves post-IPO in a very comfortable position, and their reputation as a sales leader greatly enhanced.

 

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THE PUBLIC APPEAL

On the other side of the coin, public companies, long considered a safe and reliable bet continue to be attractive. With a few caveats:

The Company That’s Gone Public, But Has Not Been Acquired.

There’s a big difference between a public company with an institutionalized culture, and the company that has managed to maintain its pre-IPO identity. What this means is that the original structure and charter remain in place, and that the company has not allowed its identity to change in order to fit that of its paretn corp. Because of this attitude, they are able to attract and retain an 'A' level sales team that is more deeply dedicated to the company's brand, culture, and continued growth.

A good example of this is Zappos. Even after they were acquired by Amazon, Zappos has been able to buck convention in the interest of preserving their independent spirit. And this has served them quite well as they are widely regarded as one of the top companies who have gotten company culture right.

The Company That’s Already Been Acquired, But Is Siloed Under An Umbrella.

Rules were made to be broken, so we know that not all acquisitions mean the termination of a company’s identity. Depending on the terms of the merger or purchase, it’s entirely possible for an innovative company to hold on to their identity: as long as they are siloed under the umbrella of the larger corporation.

A good and timely example is the pending acquisition of LinkedIn by Microsoft. If early reports prove to be correct, LinkedIn will exist as an independent entity under Microsoft’s umbrella. Rather than being an integrated brand, they will remain singular, retaining their identity, feel and flavor while benefitting from the reach and technological edge that a parent company like Microsoft can provide.

What these types of companies offer sales people is the ability to have one's cake and eat it too. It provides the foundation and stability of a public company as well as all of the perks that come with greater financial reach— all the while being energized up by the innovation and forward culture of a startup. 

If there is one constant, clear thread we are seeing, it is that independence and innovation are of prime importance. Top SaaS salespeople are looking to be ignited by disruptive technologies, and excited by the opportunity to represent the next great products out in the world, and they are looking for the right company to support their growth.

J. Patrick and Associates serves Information Technology firms that are looking to improve or expand their teams in mission-critical functions, where the success of the firm is highly dependent on the quality of certain hires. Whether you’re a candidate looking to move to one of our top-end customers, or a vendor looking to build your sales team, contact us today. 

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Tags: Job Search, SaaS, recruiting, sales

The 9 Traits of Great Sales Leaders that Will Make You Shine

Posted by Alysa Wishingrad on Tue, Jul 05, 2016 @ 11:00 AM

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When you think of a sales leader it’s likely that you think of the person with the 85-90% wins, right? Well sure, that’s one way to think about it. But a sales leader is many things  - above and beyond being a top producer. They understand the art of the deal in a way others don’t, and that’s what get them to the top of the heap. Yes it’s numbers, but it’s also about leadership, attitude, style and approach. 

9 Traits of a Sales Leader

“Leadership is the ability to translate vision into reality.” -- Warren Bennis

1) Insight
Building success for both yourself and your team requires vision, being able to see the big picture, and to always be looking for a new way through a problem. Sales Leaders allow themselves to not only think differently, but they also encourage their team to.

2) Integrity
Where there is trust, there is progress. Only a leader who is honest, ethical and fair can create a team that is loyal, honest and respectful. Lead by example and your team will rise up to your level and help carry you all to greater success.

3) Innovative
The tried and true might always work, but can they ever deliver anything but the same results? Real breakthroughs come from new approaches, trial error and daring to fail. Striving to maximize potential beyond the way things have always been done can lead to better results, higher numbers and greater rewards.

4) An Effective Communicator
Just as effective communication is what leads to an increase in your own sales numbers, it’s equally important that you effectively communicate with your team. Being able to clearly relay your thoughts, intructions, goals and ideas helps the overall performance of the sales force and allow them to work autonomously and effectively.

5) Analytical
Certainly gut plays a good role in sales, but a sales leader knows to dive into the data to expose what’s working, and what’s not. But they also know that the numbers don’t tell the whole story, that any data set requires a critical eye to discern the true story they are telling. Knowing the difference between being data driven and driven to do better makes all the difference to the bottom line.

6) Creative
Being able to think beyond the playbook is vital if you want to be a sales leader. And sometimes creative solutions are the only way to get through a crisis successfully. Modeling the ability to think past the established lines and build new solutions also tells your team that there will always be a way through to success

7) Delegatory
Understanding that a leader is only as strong as their team is vital. The ability to recruit and train a team of strong performers puts a sales leader at the top of the heap. But knowing how to retain that team is equally important. Sharing the load, being sure to always be teaching, training and rewarding your team helps create a stronger unit.

8) Empowering
Knowing how, when and what to delegate to the team not only allows you to focus on leading, but also sends the strong message that you trust and value the input of your sales team. The leader who micro-manages or refuses to delegate is not maximizing the potential of the group, nor are they investing in the future of the company. Always be building both your team and the abilities of the individuals.

9) Positive
It falls to the sales leader to set the tone for everyone else, and a negative outlook will never build anything but doubt. Knowing that there is always potential, that failures are an integral part of success, and that your attitude informs everyone else’s is a sure sign of a sales leader.

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J. Patrick and Associates serves Information Technology firms that are looking to improve or expand their teams in mission-critical functions, where the success of the firm is highly dependent on the quality of certain hires. If your goal is to build a star sales team, or find a new position, contact us today.

 

Tags: recruiting, sales