In our first collection of People > Processes articles, we featured mostly individual quota bearing sales professionals who serve their clients relentlessly. We had such a tremendous response from our collection of 10 posts that we decided to create an ebook of the interviews so our readers could easily take their advice and apply it to their sales roles. Our goal for this series always has been and always will be to share in-depth stories and practical tips 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.
But as we continue along in the series, we’re broadening our focus to sales leaders, VPs, and even CROs who also demonstrate these same characteristics, but in different ways as they lead teams, diligently hire, and coach their sales reps on a daily basis. The challenges they face are both similar and vastly different, as you’ll see from Meggie Dials’ interview below. Meggie, not unlike others in our series, started at a very entry-level sales job, making endless calls (80-100+ a day) for an automotive marketing company first and then later on, a 3rd party recruiting and staffing company where she played the role of matchmaker. Both were challenging jobs, but they helped her cut her teeth in the world of sales and gave her the confidence she needed to begin her long-time career at ExactTarget (later acquired by Salesforce.com) where she still works today.
As Regional Vice President of Sales for Health and Life Science at Salesforce, Meggie carefully balances the role of a leader and a “Super AE”, a phrase she learned from one of her career mentors, Andy Kofoid. Because Meggie is both leading her team and playing an active role in the sales cycle, she has incredible advice for others doing the same, and some practical tips for how to ensure the prospective customer always remains at the center of the conversation.
If We Aren’t Delivering Value, We Aren’t Selling
When we asked Meggie to share how she and her team of 7 field-based sales reps deliver value to prospective customers, she responded by saying, “If we aren’t delivering value, then we aren’t selling”. As her team is focused on the highly-regulated health and life sciences industry, building trust and credibility is non-negotiable. To do this, the team asks prospects 3 important questions that help them to guide the entire sales process:
- Where are you now?
- Where do you want to be?
- What’s stopping you from getting there?
For Meggie’s team, it’s mission critical for them to demonstrate the positives of change—especially when healthcare tends to resist it—and then show them a path to achieving their goals. But the biggest factor in delivering value? It comes down to empathy, which Meggie believes is the true super power in sales. By asking questions and understanding the prospect’s position, the sales rep can deliver a better solution and therefore deliver value. Some of the team’s default questions include:
- What would this change do for your career?
- What happens if this new solution or process fails?
- I understand you’re having troubles securing budget… can you talk to me about that?
Build Trust With Deep 2-Way Transparency
Creating transparency in sales is often easier said than done… and tends to be a buzzword that isn’t quite tangible. But Meggie’s team decided to take action with one of their biggest clients to go beyond the traditional sales review session to an entirely new level: a face-to-face Quarterly Business Review (QBR) client fireside chat where the client side was represented as well as Meggie’s Salesforce.com sales team. So how did they pull it off and what was the end result?
Meggie and her team set aside a 1.5 hour block of time where nothing was off the table. The client shared deeply about what they disliked about the process, what wasn’t working from a services perspective, and which features they didn’t like. But, they also shared how over-the-moon they were with the sales team, the platform, and the experience overall. Additionally, Meggie’s sales team had the opportunity to ask questions that would help them in other deals:
- What would make you leave your partnership with Salesforce?
- Do you ever respond to cold calls or cold emails?
- What is it about this partnership that works (and doesn’t work)?
At the end of the incredibly raw and honest fireside chat, everyone involved left feeling more connected and more sure of the partnership than ever before. And while those 1.5 hours were intense, it helped them to forge a lasting bond.
The Importance of Hustle, Grit, and a Point of View
When Meggie’s hiring new team members, her requirements boil down to 3 major characteristics: hustle, grit, and a point of view.
“I want someone that’s going to jump in right away. When I work with seasoned enterprise sales professionals, I need to make sure they still have the fire they had when they started their careers—and I need to hear examples of what that looks like,” said Meggie.
When a new sales rep is interviewing, Meggie digs deep into the 3 characteristics:
Hustle: Do they still have the fire they had when they first started in sales? What kind of obstacles have they overcome in prior roles? How will they work hard for the customer?
Grit: Can they handle rejection and will they bounce back from failure? How will they work through internal struggles with other departments?
Point of View: Does this candidate have a point of view about the industry, about Salesforce.com? Do they know what they believe and can they point to why they’ll succeed?
Once Meggie has vetted the candidates on the above 3 characteristics, she has each candidate stand and deliver the presentation as if they were the sales rep and she was the prospective client. To her, this is the most telling part of the interview process as she can quickly determine who did their research, who was too rehearsed, and who was naturally engaging and empathetic.
Meggie’s Advice: Empathy—Both Internal and External—Builds Trust
When we asked Meggie what her advice is for other sales leaders, she quickly responded: it comes down to empathy.
“I’ve thought a lot about empathy the last 9 months. As I have 7 team members, I’m very close to each one. And because I know them so well—their processes, hiccups, struggles to sell, and even sometimes personal matters—I question whether I’m too empathetic and not pushing them hard enough. But I’ve come to believe that it’s because I’m so empathetic that they have learned to be transparent and real with me,” shared Meggie.
Because of her empathetic management approach, Meggie’s sales reps come to her with issues very early on so they can work collaboratively, and they also freely share frustrations with her so they can work on a solution together.
Meggie concluded, “At the end of the day, I truly believe my team works harder for me. And as their RVP, I’m not just their leader—I’m their Super AE. I am constantly asking myself, ‘How am I supporting you without doing your job for you’?”
Ready to Learn More?
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