A sales leader from a high growth SaaS company was updating me on how his sales reps were doing. He had let one of his reps go. I asked him why and he said:
“He wasn’t fast enough”
The sales leader explained: ‘We sometimes have five minutes to get ready for a sales call. My other reps can look at their website, LinkedIn, etc and be ready to speak to the prospect. He just couldn’t.” Example B: “He never learned anything. It was like Groundhog Day. He was the same person he was when he started.”
A CRO was giving me a post-mortem on their business after their recently successfully exit. I asked about his demand generation hire who didn’t make it. I asked him why. He said:
“He just couldn’t work quick enough.”
“He could only do one thing at a time.”
The CEO of one of my clients let his VP of Sales go after 4 months. The VP of Sales was an “old school guy” who was “waiting” until the “product was fixed’ and until the “website was re-done”. But here is the thing: He had 3 sales reps, a sales engineer, and a product that was being used by a fair number of clients. Me:
“Can you just start going?”
Him: “Not until I get those things done”. Me:
“Dude, you don’t have time.”
The message: You have to be agile. It’s “go-time” and the business world is moving fast. Your buyer is moving fast and as importantly, YOU are moving fast. By “you”, I am referring to individual contributors, leaders, marketers, etc. Time is the enemy. Mix in the fact that buyers have high expectations today for their sales people — you have to know their business and as importantly, you need to understand what they are saying and be able to process this information and react accordingly.
I have a front rule seat on the “need for speed”. I am based in Silicon Valley and we are back to the age of “go big or go home”. Stand it up and learn as you go quickly and then scale hard. As a result, organizations are looking for new types of sales people and leaders who can keep up. In order to be successful, you have to
Equip yourself to learn and learn fast
That’s why I liked Jill Konrath’s book Agile Selling. I don’t do book reviews but Jill’s book was perfectly timed to coin Agile Selling and provide sales people the insights and tips to learn to learn fast. I thought Greg Alexander’s review of the book was spot on. As he points out, the key to Jill’s book is the idea of agile selling is that it applies to all different types of sales methodologies. It’s like putting gas on a fire.
While the idea of an agile approach is not new, I would say that for many in sales it is new. Or maybe there wasn’t a name for it. Either way, it’s agile selling.