Sales leadership is a complex calling. Everyday looks different, and pressure to scale both team and quota is omnipresent. Among the key functions of a sales manager is the ability to design a system where their reps can succeed—and thrive.
Patrick Cameron is the Chief Revenue Officer at JumpCloud, where his sales teams sell software that helps companies manage their employee directories and ensure secure connections to the systems, apps, and networks that they use everyday. Patrick has a wealth of experience overseeing rapidly scaling sales orgs—and offered some wisdom about how to create a funnel from new hire to successful rep.
Design a Process
Countless problems cross a sales manager’s desk every week—the best sales leaders don’t just solve problems, they create processes that prevent the problems from recurring. Patrick cites the example of sales onboarding, “At the end of the day, you can get one person to be successful, right? That’s not really what you’re trying to do…the key challenge is scaling your organization.” To do this, Patrick has designed a sales management process from hiring to full productivity for his sales team.
Top-of-the-Funnel: Get the Right People Onboard
Hiring is a core function of every sales manager. Patrick considers this the “top of the funnel” to build a great sales team. But hiring is challenging, so Patrick recommends qualitative scoring and grading to guide the process. “The interviewing group, usually two or three people, pick the criteria that they think are most important for the role—then make sure that they’re quantitatively scoring the applicant based on those criteria.” The goal is to ensure that interviewers are aligned about both the applicant’s capabilities, and the skills needed to do the job.
Patrick also recommends asking a potential sales hire to demonstrate their skills. “For an SDR, that might be cold-calling or trying to move a prospect through email or phone conversations. For a rep, it’s probably more about qualification and understanding where we fit in the market and how they would present our feature set. On the account management side, it’s about escalation—you’ve got a hot customer and how do you handle them? The idea is to make it as life-like as possible so that you get a real sense of how they’re going to behave.”
Patrick also suggests discussing cultural fit with prospective employees—including communication and work styles, mission alignment, and more. He notes, “When we talk through those in a very open and honest way, we make sure that we’re clear on where we think friction might come.” This combination of quantitative grading, demonstration of skills, and cultural fit fills the top of the sales productivity funnel with talented teammates ready to offer above-and-beyond contribution.
Mid-Funnel: Build Out the Structure
The next step for a sales manager looking to help their team perform at the highest level is to build a structure where salespeople thrive. Patrick refers to this as building “lines of defense”.
“Make sure that the employee has the right places to go to ask questions and get answers before escalating to other people. How much can they teach themselves first?” tweet
In order to create a system that promotes independent employee skill and knowledge development, Patrick suggests four sales management strategies:
Open channels for discussion
Use a software tool to create an online forum, group, or other space where employees can learn from one another, or ask questions if they get stumped. This enables employees to find the answers they need—quickly and effectively.
Set up a learning hub
Online training software helps sales teams create, retain, and distribute training and enablement content. Ensure that this platform offers opportunities to practice pitches, new decks, and more—and cultivates feedback loops from other reps, managers, and sales leaders.
Review game tapes
Record conversations with prospects, and review them with your team. Sales managers should view this as the perfect opportunity to coach reps on best practices and effective tactics that help close deals.
Focus on sales enablement
A regular meeting dedicated to discussing sales processes, product updates, competitors, techniques, and more will do wonders for your team. Patrick suggests, “Get feedback from the team as to what topics are most pressing at the time, and figure out, ‘how can we talk through that?’”
Whatever tactics a sales leader uses to help their team improve, ensure that reps have the tools they need to do their best work—the investment pays remarkable dividends.
Bottom-of-the-Funnel: Develop a Culture
Once the right people are onboard and they’ve been empowered to succeed—what happens next? How do good teams become great ones? The answer lies in developing a culture that is compelling to employees and fosters high performance. The importance of sales management to set the tone for the rest of the team is indisputable. Patrick accomplishes this in a few different ways:
Celebrate both success and failure
Both success and failure are important to recognize with your sales team. Reviewing game tapes is a simple and effective method for sales leaders to do so. Patrick explains, “If you’ve got a recording of a real-life interaction where somebody did a really good job, you can share those across the team. It’s about cultivating or encouraging the idea that we’re learning together. Everybody screws up, it’s going to happen. Let’s learn from it.”
Coopetition is the marriage of cooperation and competition—a team that works together but also pushes each other to perform at their best. Patrick uses digital signage to present leaderboards and team-wide metrics to spur rep coopetition, “I want competitive individuals who are trying to better themselves and do more. But at the same time, you want those folks to feel like they’ve got an environment where they can risk things and share things. Fostering both the competition and the collaboration is oftentimes tricky.” But, he asserts, the effort is well-worth it.
Sales reps who intentionally think about where they’ve been and where they’re going grow faster. Patrick built a system that encourages this type of reflection. “We’ve got a nice quarterly cadence around our quarterly business review process. At the beginning of each quarter, you do some self-reflection and present that to the team. Later, in your one on one, we discuss what you’re trying to do next, and what skills you need to apply.” This personal process for each rep fosters perpetual growth.
One of Patrick’s mentors reminded him that, “The sales world is incredibly competitive. As a knowledge worker, it’s only gonna get more competitive. So you have to really love what you do, be willing to like read about it in your spare time, and really dive into it—because that’s what’s gonna drive the level of expertise you need to be successful.” Ensuring that every member of the team is inspired towards self-improvement is a surefire strategy for a high-performing culture.
Building a high-performing sales team is no easy feat. The nature of sales management is that the work is never done—it takes intentionality from hiring to designing processes to nurturing a team culture. Patrick’s concluding advice for those who want to become visionary sales leaders?
“Figure out what your passions are and drive toward those. For me, I love building teams. I love the challenge of helping people do things they haven’t done before. So be passionate about what you’re doing, and don’t be afraid to experiment. If you see an opportunity that has elements of passion and challenge, don’t worry about getting sidetracked along the way—that sidetrack might take you where you actually want to be.” tweet
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