Tuesday, August 19, 2008

What sales needs to do

As my regular readers will have figured out by now, we hold a sales "kickoff" at the beginning of every quarter. It's a pretty standard agenda:

- how the last quarter went - good and bad - by rep
- what the targets are for the new quarter
- guest speaker - someone inspiring - this time Keith McCullough from Research Edge
- what's coming from the product and marketing in the next 90 days
- sales process review and training
- celebrate!

This quarter I took the opportunity to talk with the team on how we are going to get to the next level of growth. Our client count is climbing well, we've got a trained team, and now it's all about focus and top line growth. So I talked about three areas that seemed profound to me when I was preparing, but once the words were coming out of my mouth I realized how basic and universal they are.

For a sales people to beat quota (which is, after all, where the money is) s/he really has to do three things very well.

1. Know the product really well. Work with it, know it to a level where you can demo it, configure it and engage customers in the information you are finding. Understand what it means to systematically use the web for investment research.

2. Know your customers really well. Understand their business, their challenges, their every day tasks. Study them and their market - understand their internal politics and how they make decisions - understand the nuances in research needs between CFO and CMO, between a value-based hedge fund and a long-only investment advisor.

3. Work hard in a disciplined sales process. Use the systems and tools, aggressively build pipeline to 3X your quarterly quota. Bottom line: sales success comes from discipline and hard work not luck.

.... so my message was discipline and focus in each of the three areas.

The sales team was pumped up after kickoff this time - although I don't think it was anything I said! I think it was excitement about the new product releases over the next 60 days which will make the service even more compelling and useful to our customers.

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