Elevating the Sales Profession

Author:

James Ski
Reading Time: 4 minutes

Episode

72

Elevating the Sales Profession

Aurelien Mottier

CEO at Operatix

James Ski

CEO at Sales Confidence

No business is succeeding in a viable way unless its sales department is achieving.

That being the case, why are sales professions so often viewed with negative perceptions and stereotypes?

I was honored to interview James Ski, Founder at CEO at Sales Confidence, about how to elevate the sales profession by shifting the focus onto how sales is the core driver of a business. 

James has been in the sales and software industry for over 10 years and was the world’s #1 social seller on LinkedIn while working for LinkedIn. Sales Confidence also hosts the SaaSGrowth 2020 conference in London.

“Our vision is to build the world’s largest B2B sales community,” James said. “Day to day, we’re focused on helping elevate the sales profession and helping people in each stage of their career with their performance, mindset, and wellbeing.”

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Fundamentally, there is no single company out there that is surviving unless their sales function is performing.

James Ski


Negative perceptions of sales professionals

Put simply, businesses need salespeople to achieve results in order to grow. But many consumers — despite how much we love to buy — view purchasing something as transactional. “As a buyer, we’ve often been left disappointed with the buyer experience,” James said.

Buyers’ negative perceptions of sales professionals are impacted by our everyday experiences being rushed or pressured to make quick decisions.

In reality, B2B sales professionals, particularly within the software industry, are incredibly thoughtful, caring, and often emotionally intelligent sales professionals. 

They  really do care about understanding their buyer, understanding their buyer’s needs and providing the right solution at the right stage for that individual in their company.

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When you elevate yourself and you want to add value strategically, you truly have to understand the organization and the people that you’re looking to advise.

James Ski

The strategic function of sales professionals

A considerable part of the problem with negative stereotyping of sales professionals — in other words, one of the best ways to elevate sales — is to recognize its strategic function within an organization.

“It’s really important as a sales professional to intimately understand your target buyer, the type of company, industry that they operate in, and stage they are at in their research,” James said.

Sales professionals should be rewarded with recognition for the extent of research that they commit to learning how to become an expert and trusted advisor to their clients. “If you understand the company that you’re talking with, then you will be in a better position to advise them at a strategic level,” he added.

When selling to enterprise companies with 10,000 employees, there will often be 10 or more people involved in a decision-making process, so a sales professional should invest time in understanding the different needs of these different individuals.

“When you elevate yourself and you want to add value strategically, it’s not good enough just to know your own product. To understand the type of buyer, you truly have to understand the organization and the people that you’re looking to advise,” James said.

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Those companies right now in 2020 that have focused on the mental health of their leaders and professionals are going to be much more successful than their peers in the industry.

James Ski

3 ways to shift perception of sales professionals

1 — Compensation

A large part of the earning of salespeople is based on commission, and rightly so. 

“Making a sale and closing a deal is an extremely positive thing to do as an individual,” James said. “Fundamentally, there is no single company out there that is surviving unless their sales function is performing.”

James also advocates sharing the rewards of a sale beyond the sales function. Just as sales is supported by marketing, customer success, products, PR, and content, these other people in the business should be rewarded in the success of sales.

“We should be proud of sales, and we should be proud of closing the deal — and we should extend the rewards for those individuals around the sales organization or supporting the organization,” he said.

At Sales Confidence, the results of every annual conference ticket sale that’s not directly closed by a sales professional is shared among everyone in the whole company (even freelancers).

2 — Community

When sales professionals belong to a community where they’re being educated, meeting mentors, and accelerating their career with industry insights, that raises their performance and serves their organizations.

James is invested in telling the story of salespeople within the SaaS industry, as well as in mainstream press. Narrating the experience of salespeople will effect a positive perception shift.

“We are going to tell the story that salespeople, like marketing people or product people or any type of person, are just human beings. We care about each other like anybody else,” James said.

He wants to focus on sales professionals within a caring community, learning how to do the best job they can, the importance of emotional intelligence and self-awareness, and how to create better buyer experiences in the marketplace.

3 — Mental wellbeing

James is committed to raising awareness of the importance of mental health. “I’ve been impacted by my own mental health challenges over the last 10 years. I’ve spent time in a mental health hospital, which is quite unusual to hear from a public figure, a CEO, and a founder,” he said.

Sales leaders are under immense pressure to meet the high expectations of the organization, manage self-doubt and pressure, and coach a sales team to deliver on numbers. Yet, viewing them exclusively as charismatic or inspirational isolates them from getting the support that they, like all of us, need day to day.

“Those companies right now in 2020 and over the next decade that have focused on the mental health of their leaders and professionals are going to be much more successful than their peers in industry,” James said.

Contact James Ski on LinkedIn and let him know you heard this B2B Revenue Acceleration podcast episode. If you want to attend SaaSGrowth 2020, use the discount code Operatix50.

To hear this interview and many more like it, subscribe to The B2B Revenue Acceleration Podcast on Apple Podcasts, on Spotify, or on our website.

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About Operatix

Operatix is a Sales Acceleration company specialized in supporting B2B Software vendors to identify new revenue streams, increase qualified sales pipeline, and accelerate channel development across Europe and North America. Operatix has a wealth of experience in working with the biggest tech players worldwide as well as a multitude of emerging software vendors.

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Channel Transformation

Digital transformation is changing how companies buy and use business solutions, making vendors re-assess the capabilities of their channel ecosystem. With channel dynamics in constant flux, vendors need to be ready to cut ties with partners that don’t share their vision or have connections with the right B2B buyers.

 

Operatix has supported numerous vendors in their path to Channel transformation by assessing current partners and recruiting new partners that are more aligned with their new channel strategy. Once the right partners have been identified, Operatix built scalable outbound sales development programs that accelerated their routes to market.

Inbound Response Management

In a competitive industry like technology every lead counts. Operatix can help you maximize conversion from MQL to SQL and from lead to pipeline, increasing both your revenue and ROI on marketing activities.

Account Identification

Identifying the accounts that are more likely to buy from you is part of our expertise. We will research the market, identify verticals and industries that can benefit from your solution and set up qualified sales engagements for your teams to kick-off the sales process. 

Cold Prospecting

Our team will identify new sales opportunities within the strategic accounts that you haven’t been successful in penetrating through your sales & marketing efforts. By applying the ‘Challenger Sale’ methodology we use a tailored, multitouch approach to connect with prospects, generating qualified sales engagements for your team and ultimately increasing your pipeline.

Outbound Sales Development

Using a proactive outbound sales approach has been proven to be one of the most effective methods to engage with prospective customers. By applying the ‘Challenger Sale’ methodology we use a tailored, human approach to getting in touch with prospects to increase your qualified sales engagements and ultimately generate more pipeline.

Outbound Sales Development

Using a proactive outbound sales approach has been proven to be one of the most effective methods to engage with prospective customers. By applying the ‘Challenger Sale’ methodology we use a tailored, human approach to getting in touch with prospects to increase your qualified sales engagements and ultimately generate more pipeline.

Partner Concierge Service

Our Partner Concierge Service helps vendors accelerate their channel programs, by engaging and nurturing channel partners and supporting them to get to revenue quicker.

Demand Generation

Whether you need to implement a demand generation strategy or get more results out of your existing demand gen engine, Operatix can work alongside your marketing team to yield better results out of your demand generation programs.

Account-based Marketing

An Account-based Marketing strategy is only as successful as the revenue it generates. At Operatix we will support your 1:1, 1:few or 1:many approach to get your team in front of decision makers in the accounts that matter the most to you. 

Lead Qualification

If your marketing leads aren’t converting, it might be a lead qualification issue. Operatix can help sieve through leads that need further qualification, so they are ready for an AE or sales team member to engage with.

Account-based Selling

At Operatix we will support your 1:1, 1:few or 1:many approach to get your team in front of decision makers in the accounts that matter the most to you. 

Pipeline Generation

Generating Pipeline for our clients is our key-objective. And we do that by using a multi-touch, multi-channel approach to generate qualified sales engagements for our customers’ sales teams.   

Account Intelligence / Deep Dive

Understanding buying centres, hierarchies and relevant personas in strategic accounts is a fundamental step to increase conversion rates. By leveraging account intelligence in a sales conversation your team can tailor their message and provide value to their prospective customer. But sales & marketing teams often struggle to dedicate time and resources to do the deep research and this is where Operatix can help.

DMID – Decision Maker Identification

Finding quality data is an on-going challenge for B2B Tech vendors. The accuracy of data platforms is questionable and that is why Operatix developed a manual process to identify & verify contact details for decision makers within strategic target accounts.

Playbook design

Operatix can develop Sales Playbooks that enable teams to sell more effectively. Your Playbook will be fundamental to get your messaging right, accurately position your solution against competitors, and adapt the communication of your value proposition to different buyer personas.

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Sales Playbook Development

Operatix can develop Sales Playbooks that enable teams to sell more effectively. Your Playbook will be fundamental to implementing the correct messaging, accurately position your solution against competitors, and adapting the communication of your value proposition to different buyer personas.

Lead Qualification

If your leads aren’t converting, it might be a lead qualification issue. Operatix can help filter through leads that need further qualification, ensuring that they’re ready for an AE or sales team member to engage with and progress through the funnel. 

Partner Portal / Marketing Concierge Service

Vendors often spend thousands of dollars building multifunctional Partner Portals to help channel partners educate their teams, manage opportunities, and create marketing programs. Still, these portals are often underutilized due to lack of bandwidth and capacity from vendors to offer support in enabling their partner community. Operatix, through their Partner Development team, can support your partners to make the best use out of your partner portal, managing the relationship with your partners and helping them set up co-marketing campaigns to drive more revenue for both businesses. 

Marketing & Sales Alignment

The sales development function is often seen as the “glue” that brings sales & marketing teams together. By working as an extension of your teams, Operatix will be your predictable source of pipeline, sales & revenue.

Optimization of MDF

Market Development Funds are an important component of any channel ecosystem, though vendors believe they are not maximizing the return on investment they should be getting from their MDF programs. At Operatix, we build scalable outbound sales development programs that will give you the visibility of return over the invested spend and will provide clear value for your channel partners.

Increase Partner Productivity

The 80/20 rule is still very applicable to the channel, which means that investing in partner productivity should be a priority for vendors looking to grow their businesses. Operatix can increase partner productivity and shorten sales cycles, by identifying ready to engage sales opportunities for your most valued channel partners.

Virtual Channel Account managers

Our VCAM team is responsible for building, maintaining, and managing sound relationships with current and prospective channel partners. They can get involved in opening up new sales conversations as well as closing small businesses up to $ 10k.

Tier 1 & Tier 2 Activation

Whether your business decided for a Tier 1 or Tier 2 distribution model, Operatix can help your channel partners get to revenue quicker. By providing qualified sales engagements to your channel partners we can accelerate your route to market with tangible and easily measurable results.

Solution Selling Training

Far too often vendors insist on enabling their channel partners to talk about features and technical details of their solutions. Customers don’t buy features; they buy the benefits your solution can bring. Operatix will work with your partner community to train them in articulating your message from a high-level business perspective, enabling them to talk to prospects about the value your solution can bring to their company from a board-level perspective.

Channel Enablement

Enabling your channel partners have measurable wins for your business when done right. Operatix has a proven track record in enabling channel partners from a sales & marketing perspective, providing them the knowledge and tools to successfully pitch your solution and sell the value & benefits of it. 

Partner Recruitment

Recruiting the right Channel Partners is the first step for a successful channel program. Operatix has helped over 350 B2B Software vendors recruit suitable channel partners across EMEA and North America, supporting them to scale and expand their presence in different geographies and verticals. 

Risk/Reward Business Model

To truly work as an extension of our client’s sales & marketing teams, we have also adapted our business models to show how our clients operate, and how their success is measured. With our risk/reward business model your investment is proportional to the results our team delivers.

Sales Qualified Leads

On average, 52.5% of the sales engagements set up by our team progress into a next step in the sale process. That means that 5 out of 10 meetings will progress either into a POC, a Demo or a pipeline opportunity.

Geographical Scale

Trading in different geographical markets not only requires a knowledge of the native language, local rules & policies, but a deeper understanding of the local culture and habits. We have the ability to deliver campaigns in multiple countries with flexible resource allocation. This is through our team of international speakers, who have the ability to sell in 17 different languages across the globe.

Increase Revenue & Decrease Cost

Building an internal sales development team comes with many additional costs and challenges that aren’t always taken into account: recruiting resources, training and enabling them etc. You also need to take into account the need for having the data and tools to make them successful, which in turn requires time, capital and effort. By outsourcing your sales development to Operatix you will see your revenue increasing, while decreasing costs and business risk.

Predictable Pipeline Generation

On average, our clients see a 26X ROI on the programs we deliver. By understanding your revenue targets and sales pipeline gap, we will work on a sales & marketing plan that will deliver tangible results.

Vertical Growth

Entering new industries or launching new product lines? Operatix can accelerate your growth by supporting your go-to-market strategy, and getting your sales teams in front of decision makers in key target accounts.

Reduce Headcount

By outsourcing your sales development and partner programs to Operatix; we reduce headcount and the challenges that come with managing people, technologies, and processes. We take care of your sales development, so you can focus on what matters the most: growing your business.

Revenue Acceleration

Operatix helps your business get to revenue quicker. By providing qualified sales engagements for your direct sales team (to kick-off new sales cycles), or by accelerating the growth of your channel partners, our focus remains on delivering tangible results for your business. 

Persona-based Selling

Operatix team will design specifically tailored messages to influence the different levels of decision makers in the sales process, tailoring the communication according to each job function. Our focus is to sell the value of your solution from a business perspective, not its features.    

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