It’s not often that you hear of a sales leader who actually planned on going into the industry, but Kevin Dorsey is one of those rare few.
“I realized in college that being in sales was going to guarantee me job security for the rest of my life,” Kevin said. “I didn’t really know what I wanted to do, but I did know that there were always going to be sales jobs available.”
Today, in his role as VP of Inside Sales at PatientPop, Kevin is still learning and growing.
“I wasn’t a natural salesperson when I started my career and I’m still not,” he said. “It takes a lot of work and a lot of failures but I think that’s why I love it. Sales is something that anyone can succeed at if they’re willing to put in the hours.”
After more than 13 years in the sales world, Kevin is not only helping lead the full inside sales team at PatientPop, but is also sharing his insights into how sales leaders and reps can become more efficient, more effective salespeople. We hope you enjoy the following conversation with Kevin!
What has changed in the industry that has made selling harder than it used to be?
Access! It’s all changed when it comes to access to people and access to information. If you think back 10 years ago or so, salespeople were actually providing unknown information to consumers. People actually needed to talk to salespeople to learn what was being offered. Today, people can just go online and learn everything they need to about a company or a product. Some consumers are even more knowledgeable on a subject than salespeople, which is crazy.
On the other side, there is access to people. More than 10 years of cold calls, emails, and spam have taught people not to answer when someone unknown calls or emails. Especially now, with more Millennial leaders in place, people don’t even have landlines and, if they do, they aren’t answering because they’ve been trained not to. It’s created a barrier between salespeople and our target audience.
What are some of the biggest roadblocks when it comes time to actually execute in sales?
I’d say it’s the human element in both salespeople and our prospects. People, in general, don’t do what’s in their own best interest anyway, so trying to get a group of people to do what’s in their best interest is nearly impossible. It’s incredibly hard to change behaviors.
You can think about it like this: most people don’t accomplish their own personal goals. It’s like wanting to eat healthily and not doing it. So trying to take a group of people and try to turn them into salespeople, aka getting them to follow a script or learn a new process, it very difficult because of this ground-floor human element.
Can you tell us a little more about your recent LinkedIn post, “Your Sales Methodology is Irrelevant“?
I’m a big believer in pattern recognition. I write a lot of things down as they occur and try to pick up on patterns. A big pattern I found in my own organization was that 99% of my time spent coaching reps and 99% of my managers time spent coaching reps were on the same topics. We weren’t trying to teach new things, we were trying to get people to actually do things they’ve already been taught how to do. The issue isn’t what we were teaching them, it was that it wasn’t getting done.
I see a lot of sales leaders struggle to get people to do what they’re supposed to do. I could have the perfect sales process in place but if my team doesn’t do it then it’s irrelevant. Human beings aren’t designed to thrive, we’re designed to survive. Efficiency is getting by on the least amount of effort and because of this mindset, we aren’t designed to be better than we are, which is why sales is so difficult for people to grasp and really work towards.
How did you change your training regime to offset this stagnancy and lack of execution?
The biggest change I made was the amount of repetition put into learning the methodologies and the process. Getting good at something takes thousands of reps (your favorite athletes will tell you the same thing) and sales is no different. There is no such thing as a natural salesperson, so I just make my team do it more. I’ve implemented things like speed training, which makes a rep read a script as fast as they can for as many times in three minutes. Or there’s flashcard training, which literally puts an objection or pain point on the table and makes reps come up with an answer or rebuttal in real-time.
In my opinion, training starts with onboarding. I have a 4-6 week onboarding program where nobody hits the phones in that time. I think that putting people on the phones two weeks in is a waste of time. It’s all about training and planning. After the first week, I have reps doing role play exercises for 3 hours a day. Then, during our department meetings and even our one-on-ones, I carve out some time for role play and practice. It all comes down to practice. That’s why I have all my SDRs regardless of tenure doing practice every single day from 11:30-noon. Every. Single. Day.
How do you measure the success of this type of training strategy?
When it comes to onboarding, I’ve been able to get my team ramped up and hitting their quotas in two months instead of four. My reps are coming out of onboarding and are able to hit their quotas the next month. I think what gets us here is that reps can have the practice and can go through the demo situation without any fear of failing. The practice and repetition are so helpful as new reps learn how to be creative and think on their feet.
When reps come out of onboarding I look to managers to help inform me about the best metrics to track for individual reps. Take Julia for instance. If it’s her close rate that is low, I personally can step in and help with targeted practice and individualized training. This is actually a real story. When Julia’s close rate was low, we developed a new discovery plan and made sure she was talking to the right people. Her close rate doubled in just 45 days.
What role does research play in planning out your methodology?
I’ve learned that it comes down to ‘what you should teach’ and ‘how you should teach’. So I’ve found a few good resources that have helped me combine these two parts of learning in the best way possible. From a sales content perspective, I think Keenan’s Gap Selling is phenomenal, as well as Nick Kolenda’s Methods of Persuasion. The ‘how to teach’ side of the coin is where I’ve been spending most of my time lately. It’s all about knowing how people learn and how they comprehend new things. Books like The Science of Accelerated Learning by Peter Hollins, Make it Stick by Peter Brown, and Peak Performance by Brad Stulberg have all been really enlightening.
What are some of the best practices or tips you’ve learned?
I learned the importance of repetition in teaching new skills. Also, I’ve learned that learning styles are actually a myth. People don’t learn differently, they just have a preference. So every lesson plan you create should have a visual, auditory, kinesthetic, and a feedback component. People need to see something, hear about it, actually do it, and then be tested on it.
I’ve also learned more about a concept called the ‘forgetting curve’. In order for true learning retention to occur, it’s better if people actually forget a little bit and then come back to it later. As trainers and managers, we want people to get a little rusty on a certain topic before we come back to it. This will help people remember the main points in the long term.
Now I’m also a huge fan of the pre-learning process. Because I record every training session I do, I send these recordings to people a day or two beforehand. Then, when people walk into my lessons they’ve already had a 45-minute lesson and this is going to be the second time they’re hearing the content. Pre-learning helps people get into action faster than just hearing it for the first time day-of.
What advice do you have for sales leaders looking to improve execution but don’t know where to start?
For sure the most important thing is to be aware of what’s happening around you. The unfortunate truth is that most VPs and sales leaders don’t even know what their reps are doing or saying on the phones. It’s hard to correct something if you don’t know it’s happening. Also, make sure your managers are spending the majority of their time coaching.
I always tell sales leaders to remember how long it takes people to actually learn something new. If you don’t give salespeople the time they need to absorb new information then they won’t be able to execute. Telling someone to do something vs. teaching someone to do something is totally different, but realizing this difference at the moment can be a challenge.
My final piece of advice is to make sure what you’re teaching and what your managers are relaying is actually proven. While it may be tempting, you don’t want to force-feed people to do things the way you want them done. Sales leaders should always remember to not try to change people’s processes if there isn’t a strong reason behind it. What you teach and what you share with your team should continue to evolve as you yourself learn more.
Ready to Learn More?
For more information on best practices of great sales leaders, check out the Costello resources below. If you’d like to see Costello in action, request a personalized demo of our real-time sales playbook software.