Sales Rep of the Future: Half Man, Half Machine
Seth Dehart is a consultant and advisor to tech companies in Europe with 16 years of sales and sales management experience. Recently, Seth was the VP of Sales at Framer in the Netherlands and led sales teams at Revinate in both the US and Europe.
We sat down with him to get his insight on leading remote sales teams, implementing automation tools, and the difference between American and European sales culture.
What advice do you have for sales managers who are looking to integrate remote reps into their sales team?
I think it’s much easier to transition to a decentralized team once you’ve nailed the playbook and have figured out how to actually sell your product. It comes down to how codified and repeatable your sales process is. Putting a rep out on an island and telling them to figure out how to sell a product creates so many variables that it becomes hard to pinpoint what’s going wrong. We found that whenever we launched a new product, the centralized folks were able to sell it more successfully than the remote folks. Once we codified the playbook and pushed that out to those remote reps, they started becoming more successful. So I think once you’ve figured out the system, then it’s much easier to go decentralized.
The other thing I recommend is continuing the regular standup meetings that a lot of VPs of sales normally have in office. Having regular, structured meetings continues that camaraderie. I think whenever anybody asks for more meetings it raises a red flag, but I don’t think there’s any other way to replicate the office camaraderie.
What else do you think is going to change about sales in the coming years?
In the early days of the internet, you’d never buy anything online. Now we’re comfortable spending multiple thousands of dollars online without talking to a human. It’s almost like a form of inflation in online sales. So I think the implications of this are that sales reps have to move up the value chain and start selling bigger and bigger deals, because the smaller deals can be freemium or self-serve. Bigger and bigger deals are being done both self-serve and over the phone. Consequently, fewer deals need to be face-to-face.
How do you recommend successfully adding automation tools into a sales rep’s tech stack?
I love sales automation. In my opinion, you want to use automation, but for scaling the human interactions. The downside of automation is that you can use these products to send more spam. I would spend a lot of time writing an email, making it highly personalized and specific to the individual, and then automate emails to remind them, “Hey, I read your content and wrote this really great email, I think this is a really good fit…” I think the goal is to marry the two; half man, half machine, but with the machine scaling the human’s ability to interface with more humans, not the human driving more robotic interactions.
What are some of the key differences you have noticed between American and European sales culture?
An obvious one is that in Europe doing deals face-to-face is the expectation. In Europe, you can do that and it’s affordable. You might argue, “in the States, we do $100,000 deals on the phone, and I’m not going to fly to Berlin to show you our $400 MRR product.” If you don’t accept that culture, you’re just going to fail.
Another key difference is in creating urgency. The example that I use to illustrate this is that in the U.S., we often interpret price and value to be inversely correlated. So, if the price goes down, we feel like the value just went up; the thing went on sale, so now we’re going to buy it. It’s not exactly inversely correlated, but it’s enough such that end of quarter discounts create sales. By contrast, in Europe, value and price are positively correlated. So, if I’m on the fence about buying your product at a certain price, if you lower that price, then in my mind the value has gone down. If I was on the fence before, I’m definitely not going to buy now. So, in the U.S. you would create urgency and get a deal done with a discount and a deadline, but in Europe with the same end-of-month or quarter discount you often kill a deal that you’re not going to get back.
My advice in general would be to employ the “American Dream” type of hustle, but employ the European cultural style of buying in Europe, because they’re going to buy in their own culture regardless of what the sales rep would prefer. If you can combine those two things, it’s pretty powerful.
Some great insight from Seth! We love talking to people who have such diverse sets of experiences selling around the world.
Stay tuned for more upcoming posts in our Sales Leader Interview Series. In the meantime, check out the BuyerSight Blog for more expert insight into the world of B2B sales.