Roderick Jefferson On Why Hope is Not a Sales Strategy

An excerpt of, Selleration CEO, Nick Rini’s interview with sales expert Roderick Jefferson.  Roderick is the Vice President of Global Enablement at Marketo, founding member of the Sales Enablement Society, and an Advisory Board Member of Selleration™.

Rini and Jefferson discuss the Sales Enablement metrics that really matter.

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NR: “Your hashtag is something that I subscribe to: #HopeIsNotAStrategy…”

RJ: “It’s something I came up with years ago. I started looking at what was going on in the Sales Enablement space. What I saw was a lot of people who were saying:

  • ‘I hope that I get the right salespeople.’
  • ‘I hope that we can be successful.’
  • ‘I hope we got the right program.’

Now, hope is not a strategy. Hope is great to have. However, without a solid strategy, plan, and the all-important metrics – then it’s just a dream.”

NR: “Kind of a funny thing. Where I have thought in terms of “Hope is not a strategy” is making quota. There are a whole lot of folks out there who are just hoping their way through the sales process – and maybe it will come together and maybe it won’t. It’s the same basic principal as what you are talking about.

One of the things I wanted to explore with you is the notion of one size fits all sales development and training. I know you hate the phrase “sales training” – but a lot of people relate to it. It seems the industry is finally realizing that different reps have different needs. How do you address that in a sales organization the size of yours when you are trying to scale sales development?”

RJ: “We start from the very beginning and when I say the very beginning, I mean that our team is involved in the initial interview cycle on the front end of bringing in the right individuals. Once that is done, we move it into our onboarding program which we actually split out role specific, whether it be SCs, SDRs, AEs, etc. from a quota carrying perspective.

What we do is make sure that we have the right content at the right time to get these folks into the right sales conversations, so that they can position key differentiation, competitive advantage and business value, but that it comes at the correct time in the sales cycle. This brings value to their role.”

NR: “When you bring your sales team together, what types of things do you cover with them that would be one size fits all?”

RJ: “We start before we bring everyone together with mandatory pre-work in our sales bootcamp. In that pre-work, it’s really a baseline. Let’s get all the product and solution information, and company overviews done and out of the way before you come. That’s stage 1.

Stage 2 is the exams and quizzes needed to ensure that the learning experience can be validated, but also so we can have a stand and deliver component that gives us a chance to do some sales coaching right up front. Both Stage 1 and 2 are mandatory and happen before new sales reps even come to the bootcamp.

Our sales bootcamp is a four day experience. It’s literally built on the life cycle of a sale. So we start with discovery qualifications, we talk about competitive analysis, we look at how to position the sale. We tie it all together with a case study, which is broken into roles. Throughout the boot camp there are times we keep all the reps together, and there are times we break out reps into groups for sales development. We break them out so they can get a true ‘how to do your job’ experience that is segmented by role.

NR: “When you take a look at sales skills, do you find that when you bring folks into your sales organization there are 3, 4, or 5 things that are deficient?”

RJ: “It depends on the role. If we are bringing in a SDR, we are generally looking at a profile that is younger and this is their first or second job. So, there is a lot of deficiency there. It could be basic things such as:

  • Business acumen – how to do a 10K
  • How to do call qualification
  • How to get on the phone and get past the fear of reaching out

When we move further up the sales experience food chain, the deficiency seems to be more around the space of marketing automation because we are bringing folks in from a variety of sales experiences, but rarely are we pulling them from the sales automation space unless they are coming from a competitor.

So, its really understanding the space, the players, and what is top of mind for our customers. How to communicate differently to different layers of organizations, and how to spread yourself across the sales organization so that you are tied into multiple spots.

We are unique. We don’t subscribe to the basic theory of marketing automation, we have really carved out our own spot that we call the ‘engagement economy’. That is really about getting closer to our customer, understanding their needs and then tying that back to what fits for them as an individual company. We don’t try to be all things to everyone.”

Hear more of the discussion on sales development and training, on Sales Acceleration with Selleration™ on iTunes.