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Sales Leader Interview Series – Jake Dunlap

The Modern B2B Sales Play

As a C-level sales leader and entrepreneur with more than a decade of experience, Jake Dunlap has developed and led multiple high-performing sales and operational functions. Before founding Skaled Consulting, Jake previously ran sales at Nowait (acquired by Yelp), Chartbeat, and Glassdoor. 

We sat down with Jake to get his take on leveraging LinkedIn in the sales process, coaching best practices, and managing an automated sales team.

What advice do you have for sales managers looking to make their coaching more effective?

I think first you have to know if the issue that you have is teaching or coaching. Coaching is for when “I have proficiency at something and I need someone to help pull out my best,” whereas teaching means “dude, I don’t even know math, so you’ve got to teach me how math works first.”

Whether it’s with peer-to-peer coaching or managerial coaching, focus on going deeper in fewer areas. I find it to be most effective when there’s an upfront contract before you start the learning process. If you’re going to listen in on a call, have your rep lay out the most important things they’re working on first, then talk about those things after the call. Nobody runs a perfect sales call, and if you give your rep all these disparate pieces of feedback after the call, they’re not going to implement anything. 

The second piece of advice I have is that it’s always more powerful when people come to their own conclusions. You’ll never achieve a consistent success rate if you force your thoughts onto someone. Work with them, ask questions, lead, help them to uncover—it’s a much better outcome if you follow this model. 

How do you recommend reps use LinkedIn to help them in the sales process?

So, here’s the modern play. Step one, create a list in LinkedIn Sales Navigator. Step two, connect with everybody who is following your company and look for everybody who has changed jobs in the last 90 days. If somebody changes their job in the last 90 days, there’s a high likelihood that they are starting to think about new solutions. Then, DM all of those folks with a relevant message, “Hey, I know you’ve just started at XYZ, you’re on day 30…let’s put some time on the calendar for three weeks from now…” 

The other tab you should look for in Sales Navigator is “posted content in the last 30 days”. Click on those people and go and comment on their posts. Then, come back four days later and see if those same groups have posted content again, and then guess what? Comment again. Now, they have seen you and read your insightful thoughts. Then, the final step is to call them. 

I think every single sequence should be front-loaded on LinkedIn because in building this relationship capital, your likelihood of getting a meeting grows exponentially higher. The modern play is to use LinkedIn in the front, then if they’re not responding move on to calls and emails. If they’re not active on LinkedIn at all, move straight to calls and emails. I think most reps should be spending two to three hours a day on LinkedIn. When people actually adopt LinkedIn as a tool, the results are silly.

What is the best way to integrate automation tools and how should sales managers understand performance when automation tools are being used?

I think we have to move to a world wherein we’re focused on effectiveness over volume. Volume and efficiency worked when email was a new thing—more emails equated to more results. Now though, there are 128 million business emails sent every day, and that was even before COVID-19. We should be automating the manual things that are process-related, as opposed to trying to strip out the human interaction in sales. We can use automation for the baseline interactions, such as getting people to a certain initial interest level. Where do humans come in? That is going to be the debate for the next five years, and I think the companies that are going to win are those that actually back off a little bit from automation around outbound and customer messaging. 

As far as performance is concerned, I think we have to change again from being focused on volume to being focused on outcomes, because that actually takes into account what the job is. Not every activity from a sales team is an intent to set up a meeting. Sometimes you’re just interacting with people to try to build up that relationship before you go and set up a meeting. So, we’ve got to move away from simple, volume-based activity metrics and be smarter about what we’re analyzing. 

What is one thing that sales managers can do right now to improve their results?

One of the first things I learned as a sales manager was the importance of goal-based one-on-ones. It’s a one-hour, once a month meeting where you sit down with your sales rep and talk about them. Ask them, “what are your professional goals? What are your personal goals?” For a lot of people, the answers to those questions meant that they left my company, but success comes down to understanding the motivators of your people. So, start a goal-based one-on-one immediately.

Thanks, Jake, some great tips on using LinkedIn from the LinkedIn master himself! Stay tuned next week for another blog post in our Sales Leader Interview Series. Meanwhile, check out the rest of the BuyerSight Blog for more interviews and content from other sales leaders.

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