Richard Harris has been training salespeople for a long time via his consultancy The Harris Consulting Group. He’s also The Director of Sales Training and Consulting Services at Sales Hacker. Harris sees the same sales problems come up again and again, especially in early stage SaaS companies.
“You have people with early stage companies who don’t even know how to have a sales conversation, “ says Harris. “They’ve created some niche. They’ve been able to generate some interest, but they don’t know how to ask a question. All we have right now is a bunch of technology to get us into meetings, but we don’t know what to say when we get there.” Harris’s job is to teach people what to say, but training is only half the story.
“Training is me coming in and teaching people what to do,” says Harris. “Coaching is what happens afterwards. That’s what the manager’s job is. What’s an SDR’s job? Hit the number. What’s the manager’s job? Make sure the SDR hits the number. How do they do that? Coaching. It’s very simple.”
“The problem is there’s no longer any good middle managers in America. They keep getting dumped on. They keep being asked to handle more reps than they can and put together more reports for upper management that don’t actually affect the day-to-day and take them away from the coaching.”
If there are any sales managers left out there, they have a new sales problem: losing SDRs to the rest of the company. “SDRs are the lifeblood of your organization,” says Harris. “The SDR role is the gateway to getting young, talented, smart people in the door of your company. People should stop thinking of them as only being sales people. SDR’s can move into marketing. They could go into customer success. They could go into HR departments. Every department could pull from the SDR team.”
“You’ve got to be careful if you tell sales leaders that the SDRs are now the recruitment spot for the rest of the organization. The sales leaders will freak out.”
The final sales problem is that nobody is upselling. “Many AEs don’t want to call their old clients and upsell them,” says Harris. “They hate it. They’re afraid they’re going to get sucker punched with a, ‘Oh I really love you guys, but this thing is broken. Can you help me fix it?”
They rock at nurturing! They will take more grief and more angry customer calls than any AE ever will. But getting them to cross sell and upsell is a problem. The only way they are going to get better is to give them real sales training, and teach them how to have a selling conversation.”