An Interview With Rex and Ryan of The Sales Developers: How the Sales Formula Has Changed

By: Teresa Weirich

May 29, 2018

At Costello, we love having conversations with sales coaches and thought leaders that share different and sometimes remarkably similar views to our own. Recently, we had the privilege of connecting with two individuals, Ryan Reisert and Rex Biberston, who share many of the common beliefs that we also hold true to, including our beliefs that sales should be a highly regarded position and that every prospective client conversation is uniquely important.

Rex Biberston

Ryan Reisert

But Rex and Ryan didn’t always think they wanted to be in sales—and that’s part of the reason they later joined together to create The Sales Developers, a consultancy service that focuses on 3 key aspects of sales: the process, the technology, and the people. Both Rex and Ryan were initially skeptical of sales professionals, and each went to school seeking to become a teacher (Rex for English and Ryan for math and engineering). While they individually had unique experiences that drew them into sales professions, it wasn’t until they experienced what it was like to help prospective clients, solve problems, and provide value while controlling their own destiny that they began to realize that sales is underrated as a career.

Rex’s story turned around when he landed a job at InsideSales.com. He soon realized that he could help solve big challenges for prospective customers from the comfort of a chair. It also soon became apparent to him that if he wasn’t solving a problem or providing a solution to a need, then he was wasting his time and his prospect’s time.

Ryan, on the other hand, was looking for a teaching job in 2008 when it seemed the world was turning upside down. Thanks to unforeseen circumstances, he found himself in San Francisco and landed a job selling consumer home finance products. When the company financial backer pulled out of the investment just 8 weeks after Ryan started, he had already built enough of a foundation that launched him into a full-fledged sales career. Ryan credits the skills he learned early on (learning Salesforce.com, building strong prospective customer relationships, and networking) to his success.

As luck would have it, Rex and Ryan eventually met due to cross-over work and they soon realized that they shared a common worldview that would serve as a baseline for their recent book (Outbound Sales, No Fluff) and soon-to-be dream of building The Sales Developers together.

On The Perception of Sales as a Career

It’s easy to pick up on the excitement from Rex and Ryan as they share stories of their sales careers. Both began in individual contributor roles, but both have also led sales teams as well as consulted them. When we asked what they want the perception of sales to be in a perfect world, they shared that they want others to see the good that comes from a career in sales. Throughout their collective careers, they have had hundreds of opportunities to help prospective customers reach internal goals, get promoted, solve a major problem, bring in more revenue, and so much more. In Rex’s words, “It’s a sales professional’s job to make sure products reach those who desperately need them.”

“We want future generations to choose sales as their first pick careers and not end up in sales because it’s ‘all that’s left’. We want recent graduates to choose to pursue a fulfilling and fruitful career in sales, and to feel great about their decision and to know that if they accomplish their sales goals, they’ll be putting good into the world,” said Ryan.

The Sales Developers’ Worldview: Sales Is About Great Conversations

Rex and Ryan explained that when a company actually achieves a true product-market fit and also has the mindset that the reason for engaging prospective customers is because the solution will actually solve challenges, then sales becomes fun, consultative, and incredibly valuable. In some cases, it can even save lives or change the entire industry landscape. Other products may improve work/life balance, reduce risk, or allow users to reduce time spent on tasks so they can spend more time with family.

Rex and Ryan focus their business on top-of-the-funnel sales activities (such as cold calls and outbound sales) and because of the exposure they’ve had to sales processes of all kinds, they have seen first hand why sales is really all about having great conversations on every single call.

As Ryan explained, “Sales isn’t about checking off tedious tasks, but rather is a conversation to find out if the prospective customer and the solution I’m selling are a good fit for each other. If a sales professional or sales development rep doesn’t enjoy having conversations with ideal buyers, then they need to find another role that’s better suited to their skills and passions. The sales profession as a whole would drastically improve if we all realized that sales is truly about having great conversations with potential buyers—and then put it into practice.”

Advice to Sales Professionals: Test, Iterate, and Invest In Your Network

Rex learned early on in his sales career that it’s never wise to take someone’s orders without testing it for yourself. In one of his jobs, a manager handed him a script and told him it was the only script he’d ever need. After just 5 calls, Rex found that the wording wasn’t right for him, and he came across as unnatural and robotic. From that point forward, Rex decided he would test, iterate, and improve himself constantly. Each day, he would sit down with a notebook and write out his introduction from memory. He would continually adapt it to make it sound more natural and more human, and he would test it to see what resonated and revised areas where he would get stuck. Rex cautions new sales professionals that they should never, ever take anyone’s advice to heart without first testing it. He also believes that sales professionals can instantly grow in their careers simply by watching and learning from top performers.

Ryan’s advice to sales professionals comes from his own personal experiences of building strong networks. He has seen firsthand how many sales professionals—both those starting out and those well into their careers—invest only in building relationships that will create short-term revenue. Ryan believes that to be successful in sales, it’s key to invest in relationships of all kinds—not just those that will pay financially. Ryan has learned so much from unexpected individuals across different industries with various mindsets and contrasting worldviews. Finally, thanks to the laws of attraction, Ryan truly believes that those who go out of their way to build relationships will be surprised by how many opportunities are created when creating those opportunities isn’t the actual goal. He also encourages sales professionals to take advantage of powerful digital tools and social channels and to give back by spending time sharing and networking with others.

Advice to Sales Leaders: Invest In Your Team and Continually Reinforce Concepts

Ryan and Rex have had the opportunity to work with many sales leaders, and they’ve been able to separate the best from the rest. For them, it all comes down to taking the time to invest in those on the team and reinforcing the advice provided above. Rather than just talk about the importance of reading sales articles or attending networking events, include those activities in KPIs. For example, require each sales professional to read a point of view article each week and report back to the team on learnings, or require each team member to attend at least one networking or social event per month (such as WeWork’s meetups). It’s easy for sales leaders to become so metric-driven that they forget the short-term growth opportunities that are right in front of them.


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    Teresa Weirich

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