how to sell during covid-19

What happens to outside sales during/after a pandemic?

It wasn’t long ago that selling face to face was the preferred way for many sales professionals to call on clients.  Then COVID-19 hit and put everyone in quarantine.  Even with the country re-opening, many offices are adopting a work from home policy making it challenging for outside reps to return to their normal selling patterns.

What does this mean for the sales professional who’s built a career on charisma, working business problems, and meeting for drinks/dinner/outing to close a deal?  What this new normal looks like for outside sales teams and managers.  In this episode, Neal and Kyle discuss:

  1. What’s happening to outside sales professionals
  2. How an outside salesperson can be successful remotely
  3. Moving your outside sales team remote.
  4. Creating a metrics-driven sales organization
  5. and much more.



Kyle Hamer 0:10
Hello, and welcome to the summit podcast where we bring you the knowledge and insights from industry leaders and professionals. no fluff, no double digit overnight growth schemes. Just the truth from business. I’m your host, Kyle Hamer, and I’m on a mission to find secrets to success in business. We’re having real conversations with experienced professionals to get you real answers on how to elevate yourself, your company and your career. Today’s guest joining us on the summit is a friend and second time guest or third time now, Neil Benedick. Neil, how are you

Neal Benedict 0:40
today? Good Kyle. I don’t remember how many times I’ve been here either. But every time has been exciting and fun. Glad to be back.

Kyle Hamer 0:47
And we never we never we never are short of things to talk about our way.

Neal Benedict 0:51

Kyle Hamer 0:52
For those of you who don’t know, Neil Neil is the president owner of silver brick sales solutions based in Houston, Texas. He has been working as a fractional CFO or VP of sales on demand for the last five years in his own company recently got started in the Sandler Training business and has his own practice teaching sales teams how to take it to the next level. So if your company is I guess looking for sales help, whether it’s on the front lines or at the management level, you’re kind of the guy to see Is that about right Neal?

Neal Benedict 1:28
Well, you know, there’s there’s a, I guess a lot of things that I can help you with. If you’re struggling with sales. I still consider myself a recovering corporate head of sales. I’ve held a lot of roles and coached a lot of salespeople and spent a lot of time on the front lines myself early in my career, and I just love the profession. I love talking shop. So if I can help you, I bet you I know someone who can.

Kyle Hamer 1:51
That’s, that’s great. We’re excited to have you here again today. And one of the things we’re actually going to talk about or the topic for today’s discussion is What is going on in sales? Post? COVID-19? Like, what? How is sales going to change me? You said you’d like talking shop and seeing what’s going on. So what is the future of sales selling? And what’s going on? So what what are you seeing out there with the folks that you’re working with? Who are coming, you know, we’re no longer being stuck at home. As the world’s opening up, what’s what’s changed? What changed? What changed in the last eight weeks?

Neal Benedict 2:26
Yeah, yeah. Well, I mean, you know, I think, you know, clearly a lot has changed, but I think some of the some of the things that people have assumed, would have changed, haven’t right. So I think maybe what we need to talk about first and foremost is some of the things that have been changing. And clearly, nobody has been successful in getting back to the norm of getting face to face meetings. From a selling standpoint, it’s very, very rare and talking to our clients, where we’ve had the opportunity to see them now back to a normal Sales engagement where they’re spending time in the prospects office almost almost never is that been taking place in the last few weeks. So that’s a dramatic shift when it comes to selling. Most sales professionals have made a living in a very good living out of the process of establishing that rapport getting in front of those people having lunches, dinners, extended meetings with them, trying to understand problems that impact people, not only professionally but personally. And right now, a lot of that interaction has either gone online or quite honestly dried up. Because people don’t necessarily know how to have that interaction when they’re not sitting in front of people. They’re so accustomed to the interaction that takes place when I’m reading your body language when I’m looking into your eyes when I’m watching how you’re interacting with the words that I’m saying. And I don’t know necessarily the best way to duplicate That level of communication using these digital tools. And that has changed dramatically for a lot of salespeople at this point, and I think quite a bit of them are struggling with figuring out, how do I get better at doing this in a remote way, and I think that’s what a lot of salespeople are thinking through and a lot of organizations are struggling with when they think about, is there going to be a time when things will open back up to the point that they were before? And I’m not saying that’s never gonna happen? I don’t think it’s going to happen anytime in the next three to six months.

Kyle Hamer 4:37
Do you think that’s okay, so let’s just look at it at face value. So landscapes changed. Premise sales, Field Sales, face to face sales, is at least temporarily in timeout. And so organizations guys with huge quotas, right the guys that are going door to door or visiting businesses, kissing babies shaking hands like you’re talking about, these are guys that are carrying $20,000 a month quotas. These guys are killing multi million dollars a year in quota usually. I mean, isn’t that kind of fair? It’s not a low producers position.

Neal Benedict 5:14
Yeah, no, I would agree. I think clearly depending on the nature of the products they’re selling, it’s very expensive to have a person out in the field making calls on customers having an expense account. Those things are not trivial expenses for any company to bear. So typically, these people tend to be enrolls to your point where there’s a fairly healthy amount of revenue that’s being generated. And you know, quite honestly a healthy amount of profit that’s being generated by them as individuals. And if those individuals can’t be successful in doing the things that they were doing prior, what do they need to do to be successful and doing the things that are going to be critical in today’s environment? And I think that’s a big question mark for both the individuals That role in the the management levels responsible for making sure that those roles are executed well.

Kyle Hamer 6:11
So if you’re a guy who’s used to or a Gao, if you’re if you’re closer, who’s used to bringing in business over golf outings or, you know, drinks or deep dive face to face whiteboard sessions working in the consultative approach, or even working with engineering teams or in the field? What what are the real challenges that you face? I mean, we you talked about gotta adapt to what’s going on, but what are what are some of the challenges that they’re gonna just naturally run into that? We wouldn’t necessarily think about before?

Neal Benedict 6:47
Yeah, well, I think a lot of the sales that happened, you know, previously, and, you know, granted there are a lot of there are a lot of salespeople out there, there probably are less sales professionals, but a lot of what was happening Prior to COVID-19 is just by the fact that you had that relationship and that you were in front of those individuals and he made it easy for them to buy from you, you you garnered a certain amount of support from those organizations, you were getting a certain amount of their business, probably not all of it, but you were getting a certain amount of their business for simply doing what we call the milk run, going out being in front of those people, catching them at the right time at the right moment when they needed the product or the service that you were selling. And it became almost wrote in the sense of that that company is going to give me a certain amount of business every year. Now, that probably hasn’t stopped entirely, you know, I could still pick up the phone as the sales rep for, you know, a chocolate by you facility in South Houston. Talk to the maintenance manager, ask him how they’re doing. They won’t forget who I am. They won’t forget what relationship we had. So there’s certainly opportunity for us to Continue to sell in there and that relationship hasn’t dried up entirely however, I can I, my competitors now can call into that account, you know, easier. I’m there in front of their desk and in front of their, in their workspace. more frequently, they’re taking less in person sales calls, but that doesn’t mean that they won’t be getting more direct calls from my competitors. So all of a sudden my ability to be in the right place at the right time, you know, just using that relationship has become more challenged because all of my competitors are going to be at the right place at the right time as well. Because they there’s lower barriers to entry for me getting in front of that person, because I’m getting in front of them remotely. Now I’m getting in front of them via the phone, I’m getting in front of them via my zoom account, I’m getting in front of them, you know, using LinkedIn, I’m using all sorts of tools now where I can get into places where I maybe wouldn’t have been able to get in before because I don’t need to have that written In order to get the front door open any longer. So, again, I think what people are, what sales reps need to think through is, you know, how do you continue to build on relationships where, again, you can’t do the norms of social interaction, regular engagement? And how do you find customers that again, you can add value to that you can bring insights to on a regular basis, without necessarily having to sit in front of them to be able to do that. I think those are really the shifts that people are thinking through right now. And they’re all in businesses are thinking through, do I still need do I still get the same amount of benefit from this type of salesperson who is used to entering facilities used to being able to get past the physical gatekeeper used to being able to get past and create relationships once they step foot into that building? Is that the same type of salesperson I’m going to need tomorrow. Even though you know, even though they were bringing value three months ago, will they bring the same level of value three months from now? And I think that’s again, the consideration that organizations are also going through when it comes to you know, fielding more costly typically outside sales reps versus maybe moving more to an inside sales model.

Kyle Hamer 10:20
Well, it’s, it’s interesting because I think in at least in my history with with sales, it is definitely a different process in selling face to face versus selling over the phone. But in software, it’s kind of irrelevant. For the most part, somebody going in and being able to shake hands isn’t as important as maybe it is for other industries. What industries Do you think right now or sales reps or outside sales reps are really having to look hard at it. Is it software, is it everybody or is there are there specific industries individually disciplines where Field Sales or outside sales guys are taking a really hard look at how much value can I bring?

Neal Benedict 11:07
Yeah, I mean, I think it certainly does lend itself more specifically to certain industries. I think, you know, across the board, everybody is facing this dilemma and considering what their options are at this point, and if they’re not they need to be considering what those options are. I do think if you if you consider something like medical devices, medical devices are one of those things where if I’m selling stents to a heart surgeon, and I need to be able to demonstrate the latest technology and I need to be in the surgery while they’re using that stent, because that’s what a lot of these medical sales professionals ultimately do. They give you not only the product, but they give you guidance and and support as you as a physician use my newest technology for an example. So I think those outside sales reps would be very difficult to replace and very difficult to move into a different model. Right, because those things are so hands on. But, you know, if you look at all the data that was being accumulated by companies prior to COVID-19, and they asked decision makers, how do you prefer to interact with a salesperson 70% of the time, the person responding to that the decision maker said I would prefer to interact with a salesperson remotely than sitting with that salesperson in person. So it was already it was already a trend that was well with on it well on its way to being a shift in the overall way that salespeople are interacting, not to say that outside sales reps are ever going away entirely. But decision makers have less time today to be meeting with salespeople, decision makers have less time to meet with people that don’t have a clear agenda and a clear set of things they’re bringing to that person to solve problems and generally Speaking they’ve been less and less reticent over time, even if there was a carrot associated with that meeting, meaning you’re going to get a free lunch. They’ve been less incentivized, and less interested in attending these face to face meetings with salespeople. And again, that’s not a new trend that was happening well, prior to COVID-19. So the really successful salespeople, the people that have been on this trend for a while the people who have understood it and realize it, have continually hone their skills on the phone, they continually hone their skills using remote selling tools, you know, they’re they’re trialing tools like, you know, I know you’re not a huge fan of connecting sell, but something like a connected sell platform. So they’ve been they’ve been, you know, if you look at the sales stack today, the sales stack looks the way it looks for a reason because people are asking for better ways and more, more technology neck technically advanced ways to engage with people from a selling standpoint in the, in the tech industries responded they’re building. I mean, I get calls from people every week from companies I’ve never heard of before, that have a new product in the tech sales stack and are looking to make a name for themselves as a new technology to help salespeople sell better. So it’s it’s, again, it’s not a trend that was created by COVID-19. And it’s really been one that’s been exacerbated by COVID-19.

Kyle Hamer 14:24
You know, there’s, there’s a, there’s a couple of things that you hit on there that I think are, are are hidden. And it’s, it’s interesting to me and let me let me provide a little bit of context. The, the part that’s interesting to me is what happens to salespeople that are really good face to face, belly to belly, elbow to elbow, when you put them on a phone when you put them on a zoom. When you remove them from the outside experience. It’s a it’s a totally different set of skills. But interestingly in off, when you get into the doing stuff remotely, all of a sudden your space gets really busy really fast. And what I mean by that is if you’re a senior sales outside salesperson, I’m sure you have some level of a Rolodex. But when you go to move to only the phone, you’re now competing on a phone message or an email message with somebody who’s fresh out of college. Somebody gave them a list through connect and sell and now they’re blowing the same person up, and you have to figure out how to differentiate yourself and stand apart without being able to do stuff face to face. I have a close friend who’s really high up top, top 10 key people at a large credit card company here in the United States. And one of the things that this executive told me and he shared with me was is that it’s really hard When you’re looking for something, give a specific problem you’re trying to solve, to separate the truth tellers from the pretenders. Talking to that sales rep, that outside guy, how would you counsel him? Or what would the things be that he needed to look at, in order to develop the skills to continue to stand out or working remote? And how would he get in front of executives that he’s used to walking in and shaking hands or getting past gatekeepers? You know, senior senior type decision makers, even your doctor, how do they need to change and behave differently? At least for the next six months as they try and continue to hit their quota?

Neal Benedict 16:43
Yeah, yeah, I think those are those are

really important distinctions between, you know, the inside wrap and the outside wrap. And I also think that there’s some distinction there between you know, a sales per sales profession in people who treat it more like a hobby. And in don’t treat it as if it needs to be refined. And it needs to be fine tuned and it needs to be continually improved upon. So I think so, really good salespeople, whether they know it or not, they’re always they’ve always been following some process in order to do what they do well, so almost no salesperson who is out there winging it from day to day is actually achieving their goals. And a lot of salespeople are doing that. And that’s why if you look at the most recent statistics that are being published, you know, during COVID-19, it used to be where at least 50% of sales reps were missing their number missing their quota, that numbers jumped up in what I consider a fairly dramatic way where that number is moved to about 6061 62 63% of sales reps are now missing their number. So there is a huge gap between you know, performance expectations. In performance delivered at this point from from sales organizations and so but but if you look at the really good set of sales reps, what they’re focused on is refining their process. And that process isn’t the same across the board. Many of them use processes that they’ve developed, unique to themselves over the course of their selling career. And other of them have jumped on board to a process like Sandler for an example, a process that they can use effectively that they can continue to learn, you know, from people like us, so that it improves their overall selling process. Right. But most good salespeople have really focused on the idea that I really, it really isn’t about me, right? Nobody they’ve realized very early on in their selling fairly early on in their selling career, that nobody cares about them. Right. Nobody cares about what they do. Nobody cares about what their product does. Nobody cares about what their company does. I mean, you know, I’m a I’m a

I’m not a Simon Sinek critic, but I Always, I always look at Simon Sinek and say, Simon, nobody cares about your why, right? I get what you’re talking about, I get that, at some point, it might be useful to explain why you do what you do. But when you’re a sales rep, if you go in and you start talking to a prospect about why you do what you do, you know, the prospects gonna glaze over and say, great, you know, that’s good for you, you know, and they, they generally don’t care, right. So we as salespeople need to make sure that we understand that the client is all that matters, right? And, and sometimes that client has a real problem in pain that needs to be solved. And sometimes that is an immediate pain, or it’s a past pain that they feel is going to resurface itself, or it’s a future pain, that they can look out into the future and say, if I don’t do something about this, I’m not feeling it right now. But I feel like I’m going to be feeling it in a little while down the road. So it’s some level of problem you’re solving or there is a certain set of outcomes. That they are trying to achieve in their business. And that certain set of outcomes are well defined. They’re documented people in the rest in the organization understand them, they’re being held accountable to them. And there’s a lot of pressure to make sure that those outcomes get accomplished, right. And if I can go to a site, and sometimes I don’t know how to accomplish those outcomes, I signed up for things as a senior executive, I have no idea how I’m going to get there, right. And in some cases, it makes sense for a salesperson to show me how I’m going to get there right to help me figure that out. And so the two aspects of really focused that a salesperson needs to have in their mind whether you’re, whether you’re going to stay outside or move inside is, I really need to understand my clients problems or the outcomes that they have, that are critical to them that are important to them that they can articulate, and that they can they can actually use my help to try and achieve and so if you can’t find a pain or a problem, and if you do Don’t know what the company or the individuals outcomes are related to how you your product or service can support that, then you’re probably not doing a great job as a sales rep, whether you’re inside or outside. So you know, refocusing your efforts on truly understanding. I mean, when you’re on the phone, you lose 50% of the communication, you know, that 50% of that communication interaction, right? Body language is over 50%. And yeah, I can see you on zoom. But quite honestly, it doesn’t give me the same ability. There’s the delay that’s there. There’s the focus really on the upper one third of your body, your head movements. So again, there’s some Indic indicators there, but the way I communicate with you, now that I’m on the phone with you, or I’m on zoom with you still doesn’t give me the complete view for me to be able to use the same skills and techniques I’ve developed over time from a communication standpoint, so I have to adjust that as well. So I mean, I guess to make a long, a short answer long they’ve got to adjust me regards to how they find out what the client’s needs are. Because no longer Am I going to be able to present a great demo. No longer Am I going to be able to to have a really slick PowerPoint deck no longer Am I going to be able to do a song and dance in a boardroom. And you know and convince people that I have the right solution, I really have to talk more about their pains, their problems, their objectives, their outcomes, to be able to be successful in the new world of selling and the razzle dazzle that you know, and again, I don’t mean we’re misleading people, but the razzle dazzle that we typically can perform as salespeople just as relevant or less relevant today than it was you know, two or three months ago.

Kyle Hamer 22:41
All right, so that’s the person. But what about the company? I mean, the shifting whether it’s in an executive level, looking at how you’re now managing your outside team or it’s changing the the mechanics of the team, how does how does a company begin shifting whether its metrics Or quotas or process in order to support this transition regardless of whether they’re going to keep it, keep the position or keep the the function of an outside rep or, you know, face to face Rep. Post everything kind of going back to we can we can move freely about the country. How does the company set this person up and then themselves up for success during this transition time?

Neal Benedict 23:30
Yeah, well, I think we’re at a, we’re at a really great time for actually sales organizations and companies in general who have who are looking at selling and how to improve that overall process in their company. So inside sales organizations typically, excuse me are much much more metrics driven than outside sales organizations typically are and you know, there are reasons for that that are quite practical in nature. And there are also reasons that you know, because Excuse me, there are reasons, again, that are quite practical in nature. And you know that that lends itself to being more metrics driven when I’m sitting in an office, and I’ve got a whiteboard, and I’ve got computer software, and I’ve got the latest, you know, tracking devices available to me, it’s easier for me to gauge how many sales calls my team is making, it’s easy for me to record those calls and understand how well they’re being executed. It’s easy for me to look up on the big board or the monitor to see where, you know, Neil is versus where Kyle is on any given moment. So we as inside sales organizations tend to be more metrics driven in general, because it’s easier for us to do that. So it’s a great time if you’re not a currently a metrics driven sales organization to become a metrics driven sales organization, right? How do I look at you know, moving those people inside, because, you know, a, it’s important for me to be able to do that at this point, so they can have more conversations more effectively. But now all of a sudden, I’ve got software at my disposal. I’ve got They’re there, they’re somewhat constrained behind four walls so I can have regular conversations with them. You know, my phone system is set up so that it will track all these metrics specifically. So it’s a great time if you’re thinking, Hey, I should have been a metrics driven sales organization before, but my outside sales reps were kind of really hard to nail down, you know, how do you know exactly what’s happening in an eight hour day with an outside sales? Rep. You know, that that you know, that only enters their CRM data on Friday at 5pm? Right? You really don’t know proactively what’s going on. And you know, now you can now you can be set those metrics now you can know what metrics are going to work for your organization, you can change those metrics on a daily basis to say, Hey, we’re getting a lot of traction on LinkedIn right now. Hey, guys, let’s, let’s do a two hour LinkedIn Blitz today and shift our focus on LinkedIn. hit this topic hard and see if we can generate leads. in that, in that capacity, our inside sales team can make that level of change and shift by us monitoring those metrics on a daily basis and making us more successful that way, which is just extremely difficult to do when you’ve got an outside sales role. And you’ve got primarily outside salespeople. So, again, I think, as an organization, I want to be thinking about if I bring people in, in the in the operation indoors, or whether they transition to an inside sales role entirely, what do I want to be measuring? How am I going to gauge their performance? What tools do I need to make sure that their performance is contributing to the bottom line? And how do I make sure that the investment I’m making and inside versus outside is the one I need to be making? So but it’s a great time because you can track almost everything when you’re doing inside sales, right? You can track every activity, you can shift those activities on a fly. You can be very, very flexible when it comes to them. number of calls and the number of emails that you’re doing every day sequencing becomes really important. I mean, all these things that really are, are really cool things that, you know, marketing teams like you help us work on, we can we can do all those things really, really well and measure their impact almost immediately, versus the way we would do it and outside sales, where most of the time we’re measuring the lagging indicator, which is how many sales we brought in over the course of that month over the course of that quarter. So organizations now have the ability, in the end, really the responsibility to become sales driven, or metrics driven much more than they ever have been.

Kyle Hamer 27:40
So let’s talk about let’s talk about metrics driven for just a minute. I mean, you talk about organizations that are in different phases, there are those that are very mature in their metrics, but maybe those metrics are predominantly mature just because they’re inside sales. The numbers that you would hold an inside sales team to Probably you’re different than an outside sales team. You have groups that are experimenting or have been trying to set up systems. And then you have groups that are just like, hey, just deliver a number. I don’t care what you do as long as the number comes in.

If you’re in the ladder too.

How do you begin the journey of becoming a metrics driven organization? Where do you pick what the inputs should be? How do you identify what the behaviors or activities are that you begin to measure? so that you get the output that you want? What what’s that process look like for an organization?

Neal Benedict 28:35
Yeah, it’s a good question. I think it starts with understanding how, you know, you certainly, certainly organizations need to know what the outcome of that activity needs to look like. Right. And that usually revolves around, you know, to your point, revenue generation, increase profits, number of new customers brought into the organization if I’m a sastra company, reoccurring revenue month to month. You know, you they’re looking at things like lifetime acquisition value of certain customers. So you want to make sure that whatever is driving your business metrics forward, that you you have those really well defined, right? Because I see a lot of sales organizations that are functioning without even understanding what their outcomes need to look like, right? They say, yeah, sell more today than you sold tomorrow. But that really isn’t an outcome, right? That’s just, uh, you know, if we get there, great, you know, it’s a hope. So, defining your outcomes first is really important. Then when you find define your outcomes, you can back into a lot of the things that are going to drive those outcomes. So for an example, if I’m, if I’m a organization and I’ve got five inside sales reps, reps, and I need to generate a million dollars a month in revenue, then you know, I can I can start, you know, if I haven’t done this before, I can start by saying, Okay, well, that’s $200,000 per Rep. per month of revenue. You know, if I’m an organization who understands and has the ability to measure, you know, the sales process, I can say, Well, how many? How many meetings does it take for an example to get somebody into an opportunity stage? And how many opportunities do I need in order to close one sale? And I can back into those metrics, right? I can back into them and say, you know, if it takes me if it takes me 100 outbound calls, to set five meetings, and I need five, I need five meetings. For every one opportunity, and I need, I need 10 opportunities for every one sale that I can, again, I can back into all those metrics, and start to track those and apply the right metrics to the right people to make sure that those metrics are, you know, impacting the end result. So if I know what my end result is, in a lot of organizations, however, don’t haven’t really tracked this before and don’t know what those metrics are. So you’re gonna Have to start tracking right, you’re gonna have to have a plan in place fairly early on to start tracking basics, right tracking, how many opportunities are coming into my funnel? How do I create those, how are those opportunities being created, how many of those opportunities are moving to into this funnel so that they ultimately are being closed? You know, so once you start tracking those metrics, you can start to apply those to the individuals on your team. But the point is, if you don’t know what they are, then you’re gonna have to draw a line in the sand, you’re gonna have to make some assumptions, you’re gonna have to start tracking them. And then you adjust your assumptions as you learn what the real data looks like, right? And that’s ultimately what we want to be doing. So one of the things we held off and help clients understand is, how do we get that process started? How do we if we’ve never tracked metrics before, where do we where do we build the systems and structure to be able to do that? When we start measuring, how do we adjust those to make sure that sales rep a In sales rep, they don’t necessarily have the same metrics because they’re not robots and they don’t perform at the same levels. So how do we customize metrics to individual salespeople to make sure that those metrics reflect their capabilities, their skills, their their contribution to the organization? And again, we help organizations define that and then put those plans in place to be able to do it. But it’s, it’s it’s non trivial, right? You have to start tracking the data first.

Kyle Hamer 32:26
No, you’re absolutely right. It’s non trivial. I mean, it’s, it’s it’s definitely a big effort. I know that my last corporate role. The first eight weeks that I was with the organization, we just spent time deep diving into the lead production, the opportunity in each state for territory assignment to make sure that the the reps and the territories were were aligned to quota because you had some people that were in very rich highly volatile are not volatile, but highly high commerce areas and lots of population. And so they were, it was much easier for them to hit their quota than somebody that was like in Montana, right, where there’s not as much population. And so I think one of the things that we learned during that time, or at least I learned during that time is, is it’s really, really important that when you go in, you’re right, you’re looking you want to know what you’re looking for, from an outcome standpoint. But that you shouldn’t treat each rep into or inside or outside, you shouldn’t treat them as the same. And just take your number, call it a million bucks and divide it by five. There may be somebody that is in there’s somebody that’s serving Iceland in your inside sales rep team, and they can’t carry a quota of $200,000. for that particular month, users think it’s it’s it’s really important to have those exercise those muscles inside your business of critical thinking and and really understanding what you’re trying to accomplish with your sales team.

Neal Benedict 34:08
Yeah, I would agree, I come into organizations a lot of time. And to your point, they haven’t done any real metrics tracking. And so we’re trying to set up a process of allocating quotas and allocating territories and allocating, you know, the the, the actual activity metrics that they need to set up in order to achieve their goals. And we have to start somewhere, you know, there’s, you know, you’ve got to start somewhere. So I have to explain to the reps that, you know, as we get started, this probably isn’t the right quota for you. These probably aren’t the exact right metrics for you. However, the reason why we’re assigning them in the way that we’re are is because we have no historic data to draw upon. And we have no real understanding of the performance levels of these individual territory. So we are going to begin and give you guys a relatively consistent level. Have requirements. And then as we figure this out, we’re going to adjust this as we go, right? We’re going to understand it, we’re going to evaluate it, we’re going to we’re going, these are not going to be your numbers, probably six months from now, because we’re going to know a whole lot more in six months than we know today. Right? And so to your point, we, but it’s also it’s also problematic because we can get lazy with the metrics, right? It’s easy for us in management, to get lazy with the metrics where, you know, yeah, we’ve got a, we’ve got a $10 million quota that came down from corporate, I’ve got five guys on my team, each of those guys needs a $2 million dollar quota, right, it gets late, we get lazy because either we don’t know how to effectively assign that quota. Or we feel like we don’t have the time to go through the process that it really takes to review it and assign it effectively. So it’s not uncommon that we as sales managers, take a bit of a lazy approach to assigning those metrics to your point, and you really don’t want to do that because you know, it’s going to impact performance, impact morale, and potentially just cause people to spin their wheels in a way that’s more frustrating than anything else.

Kyle Hamer 36:10
Wait, we wait somebody in sales taking the path of least resistance? Yeah,

Neal Benedict 36:15
yeah, right. Right.

We will do that if you let us.

Kyle Hamer 36:20
I don’t I don’t think it’s I don’t think it’s exclusive to sales by the way. I think it’s just human nature.

Last question, before we wrap up today, if you’re a senior leader in corporate America, no matter the size of your business, five sales reps all the way up to 500. What hacks or advice would you provide for them to navigate outside sales? You know, one or two points between now and say Christmas, what are the things that that would be critical to being successful?

Yeah, I think

Neal Benedict 36:54
the first thing you’re gonna need to think about and evaluate is, is the market. I’m playing Are they going to come back? Am I going to be able to engage people face to face? And I know nobody has the full answer to that. But you’re going to have to make some general assumptions to the fact that, you know, am I in an industry that you know that it’s going to be really important in? Am I in an industry that can’t conduct business in any other way? Am I in an industry that generally recovers faster and is leading the charge forward? All these things, I think you’re first and foremost going to need to consider, you know, where am I? Where’s my target audience sitting at this point? And am I going to have the opportunity to, again, engage in the same way that I had been engaging and going, you’re going to have to make some assumptions and take some guesses and, and talk to some people in your industry and get a feel for where they are. So I think that’s first and foremost. Second is, you’re going to need to consider even if we do go back to operating in some level of normalcy, you know, do I need to think about reducing my cost of sale Do I need to think about Applying a more metrics driven approach to my overall sales organization, do I need to think about how to utilize tools that are geared to deal with people in a non face to face manner more effectively? And if all those things are true, then I need people internally who not only know how to do it, but are excited about doing it, right. I mean, it’s very difficult, I think, for the most part to pull somebody out of a 20 year field. And I’m not saying this doesn’t happen. So if you’re a 20 year field rep, and you’re listening to this, again, I know you can do it if you want to, but I find very few 20 year Field Sales Reps that want to be pulled back in between, you know, the walls of an organization and sit you know, in an in a bullpen somewhere and engage with clients remotely at this point. So so I think you need to think through the idea can I pull some resources back and chances are, most of those senior level people are not going to be a good fit to do that. So I may need to rethink my overall hiring strategy and the types of sales reps that I bring into my organization, both today and in the future. If I know I want to be driving a lot more business through through non direct interactions. So again, I really need to think through my strategy, I need to go back and look at my sales plan. I need to go look back and look at my sales staffing plan. And I need to make sure that that stale staffing plan has a fair amount of focus on remote selling, and again, I won’t call it inside sales rep. I won’t call it SDR. I won’t call it but you know, remote selling, how do I how do I look at desktop that sales plan and make sure that that sales plan has a component of remote selling that that is now prevalent in that plan?

Kyle Hamer 39:46
That’s great advice. I’ll add one simple thing to that. And then we will wrap today because this has been this has been really great. I think for folks. The one the one aggregate that I’ll add is is you’re going to make sure you have somebody with from systems It software technology on the Rolodex. You need to be able to quantify and measure. And usually you can’t do that just with the habits of folks. So if you don’t have a CRM, or your CRM is not set up, right, don’t assume that it can’t happen. You have to set it up so that it can and and there are so many technologies today that are out there. Some are really expensive, some are pretty lightweight. But at the end of the day, if you’re going to move towards remote selling, you’re absolutely going to need some sort of technologists to help you make that transition if you’re not there today.

Transcribed by

Neal Benedict
Neal BenedictSales Trainer and Fractional Sales Leader
Neal believes that sales is the noblest of professions. Neal founded Silver Brick in 2015 to help small and medium businesses understand, appreciate, and excel at sales. Silver Brick builds sales strategy and implements sales plans focused on people, process, and tools as a foundation for the client’s success. Neal is also a Sandler Training partner delivering world-class sales training for salespeople and sales management. Neal helps good sales teams become great through consistent training and coaching. Neal’s goal is to ensure that everyone he comes into contact with has a better understanding and appreciation of the sales profession.