Sales in the Subscription Economy #17

Here's what subscription sales leaders need to know this week:

U.S. Businesses Must Take Meaningful Action Against Racism by Laura Morgan Roberts and Ella F. Washington on the HBR blog

Key Takeaways

  • Amanda's note: Sales leaders: apply these principles to your teams. You don't have to be in the C-suite to make a positive difference and this might be the most important thing you read this week, so don't skip it! Here's what you need to do:
  • Step 1: be aware of the situation, “There are black men and women in Zoom meetings maintaining ‘professionalism,’ biting their tongues, holding back tears and swallowing rage, while we endure attacks from a pandemic and police. Understand and be mindful.”
  • 3 Missteps to avoid: keeping silent, becoming overly defensive, and overgeneralizing.
  • It's time to take meaningful action, again not just from top leadership, but very importantly, at the managerial level.
  • First: Acknowledge – It’s important to acknowledge any harm that your Black and brown coworkers have endured. This means committing to lifelong learning about racism. Seek the facts about racist events, as well as the aggressions and microagressions that your minority coworkers have most likely faced inside and outside of your organization.

Sales in the Subscription Economy #16

Here's what subscription sales leaders need to know this week:

22 Responses to the Sales Objection "It's Not a Good Time to Buy" by Leslie Ye on the Hubspot Sales Blog. Pass this one on to your reps – it's fast, dead simple, and already in bullet point format!

LinkedIn dropped the State of Sales 2020 Report
Again, it's short, sweet, and to the point and will take you 2 minutes to read. Here's a great quote: “We are seeing a few trends among sales organizations adjusting to the current climate. Everything has shifted to virtual selling, using video conferencing, sending emails, creating webinars and info sessions. … We’re also seeing a rise in data-driven selling. We are finding that sales organizations are placing more emphasis on using data to help a client make informed business decisions based on quantifiable information and numbers.”

Gut check time: Are you a leader or a manager of your team? by the XANT team. Go skim their 20 or so questions and see where you fall. Hint: be a leader!

17 Common Virtual Selling Mistakes to Avoid by Dave Shaby, COO at RAIN Group. Here's another one to pass on to your reps. It's basically a 1 minute, bullet point checklist for sales over Zoom.

Scan Abby Sullivan's article entitled, "Petition for a post-crisis change" in Profitwell's Recur Now newsletter today. Abby has been a major proponent of mental health in the workplace and we all need to heed her advice for our teams, lest the decline in mental health that's bubbling up over the surface right now (though it has been for years, largely ignored...) becomes an entire crisis of its own.

Sales in the Subscription Economy #15

Here's what you need to know this week:

Close put out a new ebook, Leading Sales Teams Through Crisis, this week. It's free, it's great, it's timely. You get the idea, go get it!

I guess I'm all about Close this week: check this article out. It's chock-full of disastrous emails that real salespeople have sent to folks at Close during the COVID crisis. It's a true field guide on what not to do & why. But even better, Amy Copadis offers more empathetically worded phraseology that will resonate with your prospects. Great job, Amy!

10 Good Habits of Natural Salespeople by the Xant Team

Key Takeaways:

  • Know your product: duh, right? But often overlooked. Not only does each member of your team need to know your product like the back of their hand, but how it solves problems and brings demonstrable value to your customers.
  • Be persistent: The data shows it doesn't just take 7 outreaches anymore to get a response, try 14...
  • Personalize your pitch: show the customer that you care about who they are as a person, not just as a source of cash. You care so much, in fact, that you set aside a block of time to look into the customer’s wants and needs.
  • Don't be salesy: Disarm your prospect by doing away with the sales cliches. You want to come off as someone who loves the product and wants to share it with others.

Sales in the Subscription Economy #14

Here's what you need to know this week:

Passionate Leadership: 4 Must-Have Traits by Derek Gaunt of The Black Swan Group

Key Takeaways:

  • Bring transparency, honesty, and trust to the office every day, making a conscious effort to use Tactical Empathy as a tool, and you’ll connect with your employees on a level you didn’t even know was possible.
  • You want your subordinates to believe that what they’re seeing in you is genuine—not an act. Show openness, humility, sincerity, and integrity to lead by example.
  • The job of a leader is to select the best candidates, train them, and then get out of their way.
  • Not asking for feedback is leadership negligence and stunts your growth. Engage your team, bring them in, and chances are you’ll learn something.
  • Stay genuinely curious. ABC-Always Be Curious. Stay in constant pursuit of getting smarter. Understand that all of your actions matter, and govern them wisely. Try to bite your tongue. Every now and again, human nature might cause you to say something you regret. When that happens, retract it immediately and get ready to eat crow.

Sales in the Subscription Economy #13

Here's what you need to know this week:

Xant.ai put together a point-by-point playbook for leading a successful change initiative in sales. It's already in bullet point format, so if you're rolling out major changes across your department, make this your cheat sheet for getting it right the first time while dramatically increasing your chances of widespread adoption.

Need some help motivating your WFH sales team? The Center for Sales Strategy put out a list of 20 motivational videos for your sales team!

How to respond when buyers say, "I need to think about it" (according to the data) on the Gong.io blog by Devin Reed

Sales in the Subscription Economy #12

Here's what you need to know this week:

How to Grow B2B Sales During the “New Normal” of 2020 & Beyond by Sanjit Singh, Founder and CEO of Boltt.io

Key Takeaways:

  • It’s critical to redefine your company’s value as customers redefine their definition of value as we move into the “new normal."
  • You and your company will have to do some deep thinking about the new business environment post COVID-19. What does this new world need from your company? What are your company’s strengths? Regardless of your position, can you encourage your leadership to pivot if necessary? If you were building a company from scratch right now, what would it look like? What can your company learn from this exercise? Brainstorm and iterate until you feel like your company is on the right track.
  • Put yourself in your customers’ shoes and ask yourself, “How are they re-prioritizing right now? How would I spend money if I was in their position? Am I helping my customer unlock more value? Sell more? Cut costs? Sell more while cutting costs?” And listen to your customers more intently than ever and help them do more with less.
  • You can certainly reference the crisis and let people know how you can help them through it, but don’t focus exclusively on it. And remember, emotions are running high, so downplay any strong opinions you have about COVID-19 and its impact.
  • Members of your own sales team may be dealing with a variety of emotional, medical, and financial issues. Be kind, compassionate and patient with them. Listen and be supportive and provide whatever resources you can. We all need that right now.

Sales in the Subscription Economy #11

Here's what you need to know this week:

I really enjoyed It's Time To Build on the a16z blog by Marc Andreessen this week. It's a 5 minute read, not particularly sales related, but knowing you, it will excite you about our future and give you the swift kick in the pants you & your team need to get moving again!

Win top sales talent with this interview scorecard by Amy Volas, CEO of Avenue Talent Partners on SalesHacker

Key Takeaways:

  • "It may seem like you’re always taking a blind bet on a new hire, but there’s a way to rig the game in your favor so you win more often than not. That secret weapon is a hiring scorecard."
  • Amanda's note: Once you're down to your top 3 candidates, you need an objective, repeatable process for hiring top sales talent that can do the well-defined job you need done. Creating & using a scorecard for each position you hire for will skyrocket your odds of making the right hire. Save this article and refer back to it next time you hire someone. It's chock-full of excellent questions and more process details that you need. Amy Volas is a total boss, listen to what she says!
  • Step 1: Ask yourself the following questions to determine what your ideal hire should look like:If the new hire is exceeding expectations in the next 6–12 months, what does that look like? Why? If the new hire is struggling in 6–12 months, what does that look like? Why? What are the top performers in my current team doing? How? Why? What’s missing from the members of my team who are struggling? Why?

Sales in the Subscription Economy #10

Here's what you need to know this week:

  1. Get these:Good (Crisis) Email Templates from Close.io. All they require is your email address. They're worth it. Do it.
  2. I deem this article unsummarizable ;) yet absolutely worthy of your time. Mary Grothe, CEO of SalesBQ nails what kind of infrastructure and Sales & Marketing alignment we should all be shooting for.Read it!
  3. Dan Martell is a really smart and enormously successful guy. If you're a leader and don't follow him, you should. I heard him speak at a conference back in 2018 and his path to success is a roundabout and compelling tale. And I may or may not have sent my 9-year-old son this video to watch:How to Start Your Day Like a Multi-Millionaire. I may or may not also put sticky notes on the books I read (on book #29 of the year) with the appropriate age for my son to read them...
  4. Read How to Comp Sales Teams in a Crisis. It's already in bullet point format for you, so check it out! By Lindsey Armstrong of Xant.

Sales in the Subscription Economy #9

Here's what you need to know this week:

24 Ways to Effectively Coach Millennial Salespeople by Beth Sunshine at The Center for Sales Strategy
Key Takeaways

  • Schedule one-on-one time with them, ask how they want to be managed, position yourself as a partner in their success, get their input on rewards that motivate them.
  • Paint a picture of their career path at your company to help with retention.
  • Allow/encourage them to work in groups when possible – create a highly collaborative environment; offer cross-training opportunities so they can learn the entire business, and know that your best teaching moments will happen when you work alongside them.
  • Invest in training on business etiquette and soft skills.
  • Challenge them while managing their expectations and offering flexibility, while also making sure you provide a framework & necessary instruction for what needs to be done.
  • Have the “try versus results” conversation. You know they are the trophy generation, raised to believe that all you have to do is “try.” But now, at work, it’s about the results. This is a hard transition—help them make it.
  • Provide ample feedback, praise, recognition, and check in with them often.

Sales in the Subscription Economy #8

Let's level with each other for a second.

We're all feeling the devastating effects of the global pandemic – this is uncharted territory for everyone. Despite some bouts of debilitating anxiety, the first round of absolutely devastating COVID-19 deaths in our small city, unexpectedly homeschooling, and sanitizing endless deliveries, (I know you can empathize), my mission is to help get subscription sales leaders back in the saddle with a confident team roaring to go!

Salespeople doing what they do best (sell!) is what's going to bring our economy back to life. Your team is relying on your leadership more than ever to provide the right playbook to get the job done.

To that end, today I'm releasing the Sales in the Subscription Economy Podcast – a conversation with Sales VPs for Sales VPs competing in the subscription economy who are trying not to just survive this crisis, but emerge from it even better.

How to Scale Your Subscription Company

If you’re responsible for revenue at a SaaS, online subscription, or membership organization, this is for you. With 15+ years of experience in the online subscription space, I’ve built a tried and true framework for achieving organizational health for online recurring revenue businesses.

If the following 5,000 or so words resonate with you, there’s a link at the bottom to request a free 60-minute strategy call with me.

Treat this article as a litmus test: how does your business stack up to what a healthy, thriving, wildly profitable subscription company looks like?

It might seem obvious to start by picking on Sales.

After all, sales takes a lot of heat when things aren’t looking so good. They are often the squeaky wheel in an organization, and my job is to help provide the grease.

But I often find that Marketing, Customer Success, and Product all need a little grease too, to make the subscription flywheel spin in perpetual motion. Product is the linchpin of the flywheel. But that flywheel won’t turn a single revolution without tight collaboration with the revenue generating arms of the business: Marketing, Sales, and Customer Success.

The degree to which Product successfully communicates with Marketing, Sales, and Customer Success (as they are all inextricably connected) directly affects sales & expansion revenue – and therefore organizational health.

A SaaS, subscription, or membership company that can communicate well internally and work toward a common goal can scale faster, more effectively, and more profitably than one with siloed departments with ever-increasing levels of resentment for one another. That’s obvious, right? Not so fast.

Sales in the Subscription Economy #7

"We know from past crises, in fact, that companies that take a slash-and-hold approach fare worse than those that both prune and thoughtfully invest." - McKinsey

Are you investing in your sales team (hiring, onboarding, training, mentoring), sales infrastructure (play book, battle cards, SOPs, etc.), and committing to helping bring the economy back to life, or are you waiting for someone else to do it?

It's our responsibility as sales leaders to ask ourselves: "What do I want our team to look like on the other side of this thing, and what am I going to do about it now?" We all know that fortune favors the bold & nothing happens until someone sells something, so let's get to work!

Sales in the Subscription Economy #6

Since WWII, there hasn't been a more important time to provide demonstrable value to your customers and prospects. You don't have a chance to weather this storm without that at the forefront of your mind.

The focus of my newsletter during this season will be actionable tips on managing remotely and upping your team's game. I'm also offering a value-based Sales Battle Card service right now that will be customized with your UVP in mind, think: objection handling, social proof, empathy statements, and more at the fingertips of your sales team during every call. Email amanda@subscriptioncoach.com for more info.

We all know that sales makes the world go 'round, so let's do it – here's what you need to know this week:

Sales in the Subscription Economy #5

Sales VPs: you don’t have time to read everything out there, but no worries, I’m doing it for you. I read, curate, and summarize the best content on subscription sales & sales team recruiting on the web every week.

Here's what you need to know this week:

Tips for Managing a Remote Workforce During Coronavirus by Lydia Abbot with LinkedIn

Key Takeaways:

  • Establish a remote leadership team: which of your current managers have remote work experience? Rally a team of internal experts to lead the charge who are highly skilled at tackling the communication challenges come with managing a remote team.
  • Create a handbook chock full of true north documentation: keep everyone's eyes on the prize(goals), create clear & well documented expectations for your remote workforce, refine SOPs (standard operating procedures) for everything your team does, ensure your tech stack is up to snuff and everyone knows how to access your full suite of tools from home.
  • Set up a formal, and informal, communication plans: how, when, and where (Zoom?) will your team communicate? How will you need to adjust your management style? How much oversight will you have over your team's daily activity and how will you accomplish that?
  • Prioritize transparency and open communication in all things.
  • Minimize the number of communication tools you're using for collaborative documentation, online team chats, and video conferencing, etc. KISS: keep it simple stupid.
  • Be patient. This is going to be an iterative process. Managing a remote team comes down to trust, communication, and moving toward the same company wide goals.

Sales in the Subscription Economy #4

Sales VPs: you don’t have time to read everything out there, but no worries, I’m doing it for you. I read, curate, and summarize the best content on subscription sales & sales team recruiting on the web every week.

Here's what you need to know this week:

Last week I told you how much reading it takes to become a business legend. You don't become one without being a dedicated, life long student. Here's a killer list of books that all sales leaders, ahem, YOU, should read, courtesy of Kathryn Aragon & SalesHacker.

How to onboard reps faster, more effectively, and retain them longer by Tirzah Thornburg of the Center for Sales Strategy

Key Takeaways:

  • The statistics are alarming: 46% of new reps get fired within 18 months with an average ramp up time of 6-9 months. This sucks and is astronomically expensive to your organization.

  • First, If this sounds like your team, you need better quality reps, let's talk.

  • Second, you need to up level your onboarding efforts. Here's how:

    • Get clear on expectations. What are the big picture goals and what (exactly) is the new rep's role in helping achieve them? Create a 30, 60, and 90 day plan and break down the granular steps to achieve the stated objectives. Hold them accountable to the baby steps required to meet the big goals.
    • Assign the new rep to shadow a (willing) sales veteran. Let them observe a variety of selling situations: how the veteran handles prospecting, follow up, objections, closing, upselling, and losing deals.
    • Use sales enablement tools like a sales battle card to ensure the rep understands the company's unique value proposition, ICPs, and can fluidly handle objections.
    • Let the new rep know that you've got their back: have an open door policy, encourage dialogue, and provide regular feedback.

Sales in the Subscription Economy #3

Here's what you need to know this week:

What Gates, Buffet, Oprah & Musk do that you should be doing too!

Key Takeaways:

  • Most of these business legends set aside at least an hour a day (or five hours a week) over their entire career for activities that could be classified as deliberate practice or learning
  • The activities: reading, reflection, and experimentation
  • Warren B spends 5-6 hours/day reading; Gates reads 50 books/year; Elon read 2 books/day growing up – yes, per day; Mark Cuban reads for 3+ hours/day – Wow!
  • Do you ever schedule in time to think? If you don't, you're behind. Get quiet and let your brain get to work, no distractions.
  • Do you promote a culture of experimentation and permission to fail? Experiments lead to innovation – innovation will make you look good. Let people you trust run with the ball. If they fall on their face, be the first to congratulate them on getting closer to a win.
  • Though I (Amanda) don't schedule myself 2 hours/day to think, I do allow myself a half day strategy session once/month on how to drive my business forward. If you're new to this, start with an hour.
  • I read. A lot. I've completed 15 books year to date and am tearing down 4 more as we speak. I get up early to read; I listen to Audible while running errands, walking to the dog, driving. We most often skip Netflix at night in favor of a books. If you want to uplevel, there's no substitute for just doing the damn work. Set goals, reprioritize, and make hard cuts.

Sales in the Subscription Economy #2

Here's what you need to know this week:

Saleshacker put together a stellar list of the best sales conferences of 2020. Which ones are right for you and your team?

Steli Efti, sales grand master & CEO of Close.com breaks down Kim Scott's book, Radical Candor, with a sales team twist.

Key Takeaways:

  • Radical Candor requires a culture where everyone on your team feels respected, heard, and empowered.
  • Caring personally (taking the time to build authentic, real, human relationships) + Challenging Directly (respectfully confronting colleagues face-to-face when someone's upset the apple cart) = a culture of trust, vulnerability, and positive change.
  • Radical Candor is a 2 way street, sales leaders. These same rules should apply when a subordinate approaches you with a conflict or problem.
  • Salespeople can apply these principles by truly caring about their prospects and demonstrating that they understand their situation, rather than using manipulative sales tactics for a quick sale. After all, it's not 1992, but some sales teams still promote a culture of manipulation and putting the squeeze on prospects – just stop. Seriously, stop it.
  • Read the full article, but here's the gist of implementing Radical Candor successfully: assume the best of others, be genuinely interested in them & then don't be an asshole.

Sales in the Subscription Economy #1

How to effectively recruit & interview top sales talent, negotiate better, and more:

Sales VPs: you don’t have time to read everything out there, but no worries, I’m doing it for you. I read, curate, and summarize the best content on subscription sales & sales team recruiting on the web every week.

Here’s what you need to know this week:

How to Successfully Negotiate Via Email

Key Takeaways:

  1. KISS – keep it simple stupid. If your email is more than 5 sentences, it’s too long. Make one point with the email and GTFP, fast.
  2. Before you hit send, read the email out loud in the harshest tone possible, because that’s how the receiver is going to read it.
  3. Use diffusing language like, “I’m sorry” and “I’m afraid”
  4. If the email is delivering bad news, call it out in the subject line, “This is going to sound horrible”. Though counterintuitive, will help your message land softer.
  5. End the email on a positive note!

Notes & Summary: The Essential Guide for Hiring and Getting Hired by Lou Adler

In The Essential Guide for Hiring and Getting Hired, Lou Adler makes a strong case for what he calls Performance Based Hiring.

What follows is a combination of quotes from Lou’s book, my summaries of his ideas, and occasional additions and interjections of my own. This is one of the best books I’ve read on the hiring process soup to nuts and I highly recommend purchasing, studying, and highlighting the daylights out of it if you’re in talent acquisition or HR.

The Gist

If you want to improve your ability to hire strong people, here’s how: clearly define the performance required for success. Use this description for recruitment advertising and screening and then find people who have done something comparable. In the process, you'll discover if your candidates have exactly the right level of skills, experience, and motivation to do the job. This is what performance based hiring is all about.

Clarifying objectives up front has been shown to increase employee satisfaction, improve on the job performance, and reduce turnover.

Minimize the risk of hiring someone who isn't a perfect fit by having the candidate demonstrate evidence of exceptional past performance – any pattern of achievement in a variety of comparable situations.