Abstrakt’s growth has been incredible – going from just a handful of sales reps in 2009 to hundreds of sales reps today. How have you scaled your sales coaching program as your team has grown?
At this point, a plan for our sales team structure is outlined for the next several years. We mapped our sales growth and know exactly when to add to our Training and Development Departments to get there.
Currently, our new sales trainer steers the classroom training for a new sales rep’s first ten days. Each new sales team focuses on continued sales training for the next 90 days with a sales manager that is well versed in coaching salespeople. This helps maintain sales training long term. We sit at 17 teams today on the client side and four teams on the acquisition side, which means there are 20 sales managers directly involved in Sales Training on an ongoing basis. Additionally, our quality assurance (QA) department provides supplemental resources for every three sales teams added.
We use an on-going learning platform to offer additional sales and product training. We observed a huge spike in the continued training with this tool due to the quality of content and ease of use during off-hours.
By staying ahead of growth, Abstrakt is able to support their salespeople through their entire career.
Certainly, there is room for improvement, but we are in a better spot compared to a few years ago.
Training is a top priority at Abstrakt. Even after the initial 90 days, we offer continuing sales education. Each person has a goal of at least 50 hours of additional sales training, which is tracked and incentivized through a system of earning “Belts.” Our salespeople are fighting to learn more because they want to reach the ultimate goal of becoming a Black Belt.
If you had one suggestion for a new sales rep making cold calls for the first time, what would it be?
Pick up the phone, dial often and make sales mistakes. Remember the value that your product provides to your clients. At Abstrakt, we aim to solve a customer’s problem with one of our client’s solutions. If our sales reps remember that they are simply connecting two people to put both in a better spot, the work becomes more manageable. I also encourage sales reps to follow a process. In fact, Abstrakt has designed a sales process that we actually sell, and sticking to it ensures reps close as much business as possible.
What characteristics make for the best sales managers? What advice would you give to a newly minted sales manager who’s looking to make a significant impact out of the gate?
At Abstrakt, we believe the following “Captain Characteristics” are the most important attributes for sales managers to exhibit:
- Courage – Have the strength and knowledge to bring up difficult issues and provide honest and professional feedback. Face challenges head-on with confidence.
- Strategic Management – Know the company’s overall goals, and facilitate a plan to accomplish them, taking into consideration both internal and external factors.
- Focus on Compliance – Follow all federal, state and company laws and policies. Strictly adhere to company values.
- Thoroughness – Meticulously review all aspects of a situation to ensure understanding before, during and after any action is taken.
- Creativity – Identify, explore, understand, create, and experiment with new ideas to help improve efficiencies, aesthetics, and client and employee experiences.
- Motivation – Propel your sales team forward with both words and actions, to avoid mediocrity and encourage growth.
- Interpersonal Skills – Build relationships, earn respect, and produce results from different personalities and people from different walks of life concurrently.
When you have hundreds of sales reps making calls, how do you keep sales strategy consistent? How do you make sure sales reps are all following the same procedures?
We developed an in-house sales strategy that our reps use. With the help of our quality department and the use of an “A Player” score that identifies key elements of the job and provides sales reps real-time performance analysis, we ensure the usage of the continued usage of the process. Also, pay increases and promotions are determined based on their performance within these metrics.
What have you found is most helpful in motivating a sales team?
First, hiring the right salespeople. If they can do the job, everything else is easier including sales management. Providing a clear vision of expectations and success is key. Then, celebrate it often. Our extensive sales training department doesn’t overshadow our significant focus on company culture and vision. If our salespeople are having fun, understanding our goals and their role in accomplishing those goals, sales results skyrocket.
There are always a lot of new trends in sales – do any stand out as especially promising?
Sales technology that allows for the use of multiple channels within the business development process. Using multiple channels to reach people where they are results in appointments for our partners, so if it takes a call, an interaction on social media, a connection on LinkedIn, an email, or additional content that drives them to a sales decision, we want to be there. Getting there requires processes and technology and our backbone is Salesforce, but we also utilize Pardot and some custom tools we’ve developed internally.
As technology plays an increasingly prominent role in contact centers, how do you envision sales rep’s roles changing in the future? Do you foresee any significant changes happening in the near-term?
Management of multiple channels and knowledge of social media and different software packages will be paramount to their success as producers.