TEXCHANGE Austin kicked of 2011 with a full house for their January meeting at the AT&T Executive Education and Conference Center.
The topic was "Secrets of B2B Sales Organizations" and the discussion was lead by a panel of local executives who had a plethora of experience growing start-up companies from the ground up.
Sam Decker, CEO and Founder of Mass Relevance
Paul Dodd, VP of Retail Sales at Bazaarvoice
Janice Ryan, Entrepreneur and Technology Executive
Andrew Westmoreland, CEO and Founder of AdRevolution
Andrew Westmoreland began with strong advice that "knowing what you do is key to sales success". Too often young companies lose sight of who they are and what they sell. To achieve your goals in regards to sales you must know your "DNA".
When you are launching a new venture you need to be focused on who is the buyer. If you do not know the persona of the individual inside a company who will make the purchasing decision, you will miss the mark.
Janice Ryan talked about "identifying the zebra". When you are on a safari there are many animals that are hard to see because they are camouflaged, but the zebra cannot hide. It's stripes give it away every time.... and thus you need to know all aspects of your buyer so that they do not blend into to the background.
Paul Dodd added that the whole company must be clear on the problem they solve for the customer. This is easy to do in a conference room on a white board, but much harder in execution. When you understand the customers need, you can sell your solution. When you do not honestly identify the problem, you will always fail.
Getting in front of customers early is important, even before you build your product or service offerings. Ask the companies the questions about their pain points and your solutions, and they will tell you the answers.
Hiring the right sales person is hard. Seeking professional help in the hiring process is important. Many CEO's fail at understanding what it takes to sell their products because they have never sold them. It is a good idea for leadership to have gone out and sold before they develop a sales team. This not only will educate them on the process, but also help them figure out the compensation model.
Different types of sales people will succeed at different stages of the company. Early on a company needs a sales person with a mind for the whole business, not just someone who will go out and sell. Early on the sales person will be in the trenches with the customers and if they are tuned into to vision of the company they can help shape future products.
Sales has to be part of the company culture. In the best companies, everyone is part of the sales team. All deals, win or lose, should be communicated throughout the whole company. Too many businesses look at the sales team as if they have "magic fairy dust", and place the sales team off in their own silo.
When companies start to find success and get the momentum is the moment they need to start looking deeper to see what they are missing. Often "firing on all cylinders" is a clue that failure is right around the corner. This is when leadership becomes paramount. Great leadership will trump flawless execution. The CEO is mission critical to the success of sales. In most companies the leadership fails before the company.
Have A Great Day.