One of my earliest influences in the sales world was Jessica Steel. She was one of the first employees at Pandora and their VP of Partnership Sales for seven years. I interviewed her for a website I used to run interviewing successful people, and she shared some insight into what a day in the life of an enterprise sales executive looks like.
I don’t remember everything from the interview, but what I do remember is how she used to prioritize what to work on every day. She kept a list of the top deals that needed to be closed, and every single day she would go down the list, doing whatever she could to work on each deal before moving on to the next.
Once a deal closed it would be crossed out and the next one would move to the top.
This is an obvious but genius way to keep priorities straight. It’s so easy to get muddled up with all sorts of distractions in sales, and what often happens is that the squeaky wheel gets the grease. (meaning that whichever prospect bothers you the most gets paid attention).
The problem with having no plan is that you’ll get to the end of the day without following up with a $10k/year deal, instead having answered questions for a bunch of potential $1k/year deals. The ROI on your time drops because there’s no priorities.
Based on Jessica’s advice, I’ve put together a model for our inbound reps to follow in order to maximize their time and not always be bouncing from loud customer to loud customer.
1. Follow up with top prospects.
These are people close to closing. With inbound that probably means they are talking with their team or perhaps getting approval from a higher-up to make a purchase. This is by far the most delicate time in the sales process. It’s far along, so typically there’s already been a significant investment on our side (10+ touches). If a deal is lost from this column that hurts, which is why it’s the most important (and therefore the first) thing the reps do each day.
Typical check-ins here involve sending resources or relevant examples to the prospect based on previous conversations. I’ve found that if you continue offering free help in this period that really aids in building trust and the deals tend to close.
2. 20 Calls into the Pipeline
Inbound sales get so much easier when we pick up the phone. It’s not the most common thing in inbound, with many companies choosing automated email sequences to nurture prospects along.
However, I’ve found that conversations with people in our pipeline (made contact but not closed), are very helpful in understanding objections and fears about purchasing that just don’t get conveyed well over email. I encourage reps to spend as long as possible on the phone with each person because the longer the conversation the more likely they are to reveal what they are actually hoping to get out of the product.
3. 30 Emails into the Pipeline (prospect if needed)
After making calls, reps switch to email. These emails go out to less-ripe prospects that have gone cold. We keep a database of deals that just never closed (usually had a trial and never upgraded). These emails generate good conversations and often will lead to a prospect just coming back and upgrading.
4. Create sales materials/learn the product
This is something unique to Interact. Everyone on our team creates content in some way or another. Sales reps are responsible for creating slideshares and videos for our accounts to help educate prospects. This is the last thing for the day, and as reps get more and more deals in their pipeline this becomes a less prominent part of the day. At first (the first month or two), reps create a lot of content (a slideshare and present it to all other salespeople every single day). This not only helps the rep learn, but also creates material for sending to prospects at appropriate times.
That’s our process for now, it certainly is a work in progress and I’d love to hear your thoughts on it.