In our first three People > Process posts, we featured Melissa Gindling, AE at Levementum, Jonathan Sherman, SAE at Pluralsight, and Simon Mutlu, Large Enterprise Accounts at Slack. As you’re reading through our previous conversation highlights, we hope you gain some interesting and valuable perspectives from frontline sales professionals and leaders who have established strong personal reputations by living out their professional lives with integrity. Our goal for this series is to share in depth stories that exemplify how it’s not only possible, but why it’s in the best interest of those in sales to always prioritize people > processes.
We continue along in our People > Processes series with our fourth article featuring Adam Weber, VP of Sales at Emplify, a mobile-first Software-as-a-Service platform for employee engagement. Adam took a very unique path that ultimately led him to his present role of managing a sales team, but his career didn’t start that way—in fact, he was a pastor at a church for five years before one of his friends recognized the ‘sales spark’ in him. While his journey into sales is certainly different than most, it’s resulted in many transferrable perspectives.
Know Your Purpose and Pursue It Diligently
As Adam pastored a church for several years before launching a career in sales, he learned two very valuable lessons that have helped him become the high integrity sales leader that he is today. First, the church started with just a handful of individuals and grew rapidly over time. From that experience, he learned how to bring a vision to life through hard work and discipline, coincidentally, two very important skills for those in sales. Second, he had to genuinely relate to and care for the people of his church. While he carried a heavy weight while pastoring, he learned how to be present in others’ lives, how to ask good, heartfelt questions, and how to truly invest in people—all important skills that have served him well.
The two lessons Adam learned by the ripe age of 25 set him up for a successful career in sales. Additionally, Adam shared a story that also helped to set his compass:
“Before I started my first job in sales, I attended a sales training class where the trainer told us that just two individuals in the room of thirty would someday become world-class sales professionals, whereas the rest of us would be mediocre sales reps for our entire careers. It was then and there that I decided to make sales my craft and to develop a pursuit of excellence in the field. I can point back to that ‘aha’ moment when I decided to have a mindset shift and to become a world-class sales professional—even if only to those I come in contact with daily.”
Uncover the Prospect’s Catalyst Moment
Adam loves to ask questions—but not surface questions that don’t get to the heart of the problem. He strives to understand his prospect’s situation better than anyone else. In fact, he’s been told by many of his eventual customers that he was able to summarize their problem better than anyone else had in the internal organization. How does Adam accomplish such a difficult task over and over again? He shared that it’s because he has a fresh, outside perspective (and thousands of conversations with similar prospects to bring to the table) that allows him to see the problem and opportunity from a different angle—one that his prospects aren’t always able to see as they have become blinded by living in it every day.
Rather than conduct basic discovery, he and his team of sales professionals take a different approach which involves context and stories. First, he asks for the big picture of what’s going on so he can listen in for clues or keywords. Then, once he believes he’s identified the catalyst to the problem, he digs in and asks very specific questions, such as:
- Can you bring it to life for me?
- What does that look like in your world?
- Can you tell me a story of how this has been an issue?
Adam views this type of discovery as a genuine framework for listening that’s key to his ability to provide the fresh perspective his prospects are looking for him to provide.
Empower Sales Professionals to Be CEO of Their Pipeline
Adam has played the role of both individual sales contributor as well as a sales leader, so he has developed a unique appreciation for both aspects. As a sales leader, Adam seeks to empower his team and give them the freedom to own their pipeline, or “be the CEO of their pipeline”, as he likes to say. He sees his role as ensuring his sales professionals are always equipped with the best, most relevant messaging and know how to communicate well with prospective customers. But ultimately, he wants them to feel a sense of ownership.
Adam is also a big believer in receiving and providing feedback. He constantly coaches his team members 1:1 and helps them to identify one skill or area that they can improve upon at that time. While he’s constantly providing feedback, he also shares his sales calls with his team and asks them for feedback as well. This mindset of “continual improvement” he believes is key for a sales professional’s success.
Adam’s Advice: Invest in Your Team Daily
Emplify’s solution helps companies develop engaged employees, so it’s no surprise that Adam’s advice for sales leaders is to focus on the culture aspect of the sales organization. In his words:
“The most important yet underrated thing I can do is to invest in my team every single day. I believe the culture that we’re creating is highly dependent upon my willingness to empower my team and to trust them to do their jobs well. The belief that I can make a difference in the lives of those on my team is the reason I get out of bed each morning and work hard to ensure each individual is developing and improving on their sales journey.”
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 agile deal management platform.