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Sales Leader Interview Series – Sherri Sklar & Janine Buis

The Inside Sales Approach

Sherri Sklar and Janine Buis are co-founders of GrowthTera and veteran revenue executives. They have managed all aspects of revenue, from strategy to building out the teams and processes at startups and Fortune 500 market leaders. They co-founded GrowthTera to help emerging tech companies accelerate revenue and maximize their growth.

Sherri and Janine gave us advice on selling through a crisis and how to think about the modern sales tech stack.

What is your advice for sales managers leading through a crisis such as the current COVID-19 pandemic?

During a crisis, one of the most important things you can do is be human and empathize with your customer. Reps need to be prepared to talk to customers and show that they are there for them—ask how they’re doing, what’s changed in their life, or how they’re achieving their goals during these times. 

Reps also need to be equipped to add value with each interaction. What insights or experiences can reps share to help customers navigate through the crisis? The value-add can include information on what other companies are doing, relevant research and benchmarks, and additional insights customers will find useful.

The salesperson who is most closely aligned with the customer and has the strongest relationship is the one who will win with that customer. It all comes back to being customer-centric, understanding your customer inside and out, and positioning yourself as a trusted partner.  

What do you think changes when sales teams become remote?

Working remotely adds new challenges for a sales leader as in-person meetings, conversations around the coffee machine, and team get-togethers are all replaced by video meetings.  

It’s a challenge for managers to find ways to maintain critical elements of their sales culture. Managers need to “check-in” and see how their reps are doing, not just “check-up” on their activities. Rituals may change. For example, how the manager celebrates wins, promotes comradery and teamwork, and keeps everyone aligned on the goals and strategies.  

Coaching and development changes. Suddenly, everyone is now in “inside sales,” and you may need to help some of your AEs adapt and learn new virtual selling skills. It requires leaders to be much more intentional about coaching and communications because you can’t just pop in to listen in on a call or be there to answer a question.  It’s essential to continue to have reps learn from each other’s experiences, talk about wins. Any advice that a sales rep can give to their peers about how they did something should be shared with the team. The manager should also have some great stories to share about sales and marketing wins.

Depending on your customers, your playbooks may need to change. You might need to adapt your strategy—what you’re selling, your products, your services, the packaging, the pricing—to something that would be more meaningful to the customer.  

What do you think of the current state of sales automation? Are teams over-automated?

Technology can play an essential role in the sales process. In our experience, the challenge is when people implement technology without a clear understanding of how that technology is going to support the sales team’s goals. You think it’s going to improve productivity, but at what cost? If you’re integrating something that does not support the team’s overall goals, then you’re just creating extra work for people. 

When technology is thoughtfully selected to help the sales rep build better relationships with their customers and be more productive, automation is a force for good. Any automation tool needs to be integrated into the overall sales tech stack. With so much technology out there, it’s essential to avoid the “shiny object” syndrome. Your automation strategy must support your sales motion. Technology choices have to be thoughtfully selected and implemented to ensure that you and your team have access to the data you need to make decisions to help you grow revenues, reduce costs, and increase sales efficiency.

Thanks to Sherri and Janine for their insight into best practices for a sales team in today’s environment!

Stay tuned next week for another Sales Leader Interview Series post, and check out the rest of the BuyerSight Blog for more tips and advice from other leading sales professionals.

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