Last week we found ourselves among many of Chicago's elite sales professionals at the first ever Sales Hacker Midwest event. The event (and organization) is dedicated to uncovering the most innovative and cutting edge strategies, tactics, hacks and trends in sales today.
At the onset, the event was intended to be a few hours where sales professionals could share best practices, lessons learned from failing and discuss the nuances and future of the industry. However, due to the caliber and wealth of senior level sales professionals, the event became an entire day filled with fireside chats, panels and presentations. And while each session spoke to a different aspect of the sales process, there were two overwhelming themes that caught our attention; trust and process.
Successful selling begins and ends with trust
Every single speaker at the event had something to say about the importance of trust throughout the entire sales process. Trust affects everyone from a global sales team leader all the way down to a first-time salesperson. Michael Gamson, SVP Global Solutions at LinkedIn, was asked, “what makes a great sales leader?”. And among the characteristics you might expect, (ability to inspire others, knows own shortcomings, etc.) he stressed how trust plays into successful leadership. Your team needs to trust you that you have their best interests in mind and are aligning those with the best interests of the entire organization. And, on top of that, you need to instill trust in every relationship you and your team build with your customers, and that starts from the top down.
During a morning panel, Sales, from the Buyer’s Perspective, several C-level professionals shed light on how they proceed through the sales funnel and process information as the buyer. The overwhelming theme of the panel was that buyers need to be able to trust their sales reps and account managers, both at the onset of a new sale and through any cross or up-sells. As a sales professional, if you correctly set expectations and the customer is satisfied with the product and your interactions, they are more likely to do two things:
- Purchase another product from you
- Refer the organization to their peers
These actions are incredibly valuable to your organization’s bottom line. Your current customers have a greater impact on driving revenue than new acquisitions. And, it’s no secret how vital customer referrals and reviews are to any organization. So, build that trust!
Sales and process go hand in hand
Trust helps close deals but documented processes make deals happen. While the speakers may have had differing opinions on need for AI’s place in the sales process, how best to reach out and what tools are most valuable, they overwhelmingly agreed on the absolute need for documented processes to be in place. Our CEO & co-founder, Jeremie Bacon, moderated a panel, Building a National Sales Organization, where the five panelists spoke about their experiences building expansive sales teams. And, it should come to no one’s surprise that efficient growth and expansion is reliant on solid processes. Building a large team takes time and it’s incredibly important to take the time to document how to hire new team members, how to onboard them and how to train them. This ensures consistency across all offices along with greater efficiency which will save your organization valuable time and money down the road.
During a separate panel, Pat Rodgers, VP of Sales at LearnCore, couldn’t speak enough about the importance of processes for successful teams. Documented processes act as a guide for your sales and account management teams to follow. They help to highlight best practices that people can learn from but they also serve as a layer of transparency that helps build trust among teams. As a leader, your teams know what is expected of them and as a team member you can show all your activity to stakeholders.
This idea of process for the sake of consistency and transparency also extends to the customer experience. When your team follows a strong process, your customer can have a consistent (read, familiar) experience with anyone on your team, regardless if they’re communicating with their main point of contact or someone who is filling in if their Account Manager is on vacation. Coming full circle, consistency with the customer experience builds greater trust and strengthens relationships.
This post highlights two of our biggest takeaways from the event. Trust and process were given a lot of well-deserved lip service but the entire day was a gold mine of information that can benefit anybody who interacts with customers. If you want to more information from Jeremie’s panel or have questions about the selling process, reach out: [email protected]
Looking for new ways to improve your sales process?