For months, the team at New Story has been interviewing potential sales professionals. The roles were live 2-3x longer than other positions and we had a fraction of the applicants. Finding qualified sales professionals and fundraisers is hard. We sought advice from dozens of friends and mentors and received similar feedback.
It was discouraging and prompted a moment of pause.
Rather than proceeding forward with a few top candidates, we opted to run a week long bootcamp with our existing team. (The brainchild of Sarah Lee, New Story’s Chief Growth Officer) We devised a curriculum, brought in speakers, enlisted coaches from the community, and pushed the team to think differently about their roles.
For context, we generate money for three things at New Story:
- Builders. A small group of donors who fund our operating expenses and research/development efforts. There are 3 team members focused on identifying and supporting Builders.
- Architects. A committed group of families and businesses that fund our home construction programs. There are 3 team members focused on increasing our network of Architects.
- Felix. Our software product, build to help governments and aid organizations increase their impact through realtime data and reporting. There are 2 people, myself included, focused on selling this product.
In total, that’s 8 team members focused on three distinct offerings. Building homes is a costly intervention. Ending homelessness it’s freaking expensive. While the complexity is unavoidable, it’s even more of a reason to get aligned.
While I intend to publish our reflections and agenda for the week, here are some key learnings.
Do better math
If you’re going to hit your goals, you need to start with 3-4x the number of qualified prospects as you expect sales. The numbers should improve over time but starting with less than 3-4x qualified prospects is asking for disappointment.
It’s about listening, not talking. Roughly 80% of time spent should be listening and 20% talking. How do you expect to help someone when you don’t know their interests, concerns, or expectations.
Start with Service
If you are going to do sales well, it must be a service. Service involves adding value as part of the sales process. Sales is more complex than ever. Effective selling must put the buyer first and the process itself must provide value.
It’s about serving the person you’re in the room with.
Set yourself apart
It’s important to differentiate yourself from the typical professional, especially in sales. Fortunately, there are a few simple habits that stand out.
- Followthrough. Do what you say, always.
- On time. Not only is being late disrespectful, it eliminates the opportunity for small talk, which is how rapport is built.
- No phones. It’s impossible to be fully present when one/both parties have their phones in eye-sight. You can’t control the other person but you can control the signals you are sending.
- Proactive delight. Look for ways to add unexpected moments of enjoyment throughout the process. It could be a grant gesture or a subtle nudge.
Sharpen you tools
We walked the team through an exercise: Kill, keep, combine. Kill the duplicates or what’s not being used. Keep what’s working. Combine things with similar functions.
We listed all the tools used by each team members throughout the prospecting and sales process. Within minutes we were able to cut the list in half and level up the teams understanding of what we use and why. Here are a few tools from our refined list:
- Google Suite. Mail, calendar, slides, and documents.
- Hubspot. Recording contacts and tracking sales pipeline.
- Sales Navigator (Linkedin). Prospecting and research.
- Loom. Filming video followups and checkins with prospects.
- Grammarly. Improving grammar and eliminating typos.
Standardize your language
There is a lot of language in sales. We spent the first session covering sales jargon and terminology and it was clearly time well spent. Throughout the week, team members began using words differently and correcting their speech when using a term incorrectly. Here are a few sales terms we discussed:
- Lead Qualification
- Total Contract Value (TCV)
- Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC)
- Annual Recurring Revenue (ARR)
- Monthly Recurring Revenue (MRR)
This was just the beginning. Stay tuned for our agenda and reflections from the week.