Product-Market Fit, Relationships, Startup Sales

The Best Sales Pros

I’ve got a sneaking suspicion that the best sales pros and thought leaders out there come from girls and guys who have faced, and overcame, adversity in their lifetime. I really can’t back that up beyond anecdotal evidence, but to me, there’s a not-so-fine line between those that sell and those that are trained to sell.

That’s not necessarily to insinuate that the worth of these individuals is not the same or one may always generate more sales than the other,  but I do think it’s worth knowing or seeking to identify, who the best performers are going to be.  There will probably be an eternal “causation-correlation” debate on the matter. But when it comes down to it, and you can hire all A-players for your team, you’re going to aim for all A-players on your side.

There are those who follow the playbook, go through the motions, hit all their targets, get along well with their team, follow the pitch framework, and get promoted every few years. Until they then jump into the manager playbook and begin the process all over again. We’ll call these the trained sales pros (TSPs) who generally opt for companies already on their rocket trajectory.

And then there are those who sell who we’ll call the natural sales pro (NSP). These pros tend to attract people and naturally build relationships. They’re not comfortable being just a sales professional, but a genuine advocate and friend. Even if the prospect does not end up buying the solution, you will find seller and buyer connecting on LinkedIn, MSP, SalesStack, and interacting with one another. NSP’s are avid social sellers, have their own blog and personal brand, interact with, and support one another as sales pros.

I think these are the individuals a hiring manager should be aiming for to build out there outbound sales team. NSP’s have a story behind them, often of struggle and constant challenges. They didn’t have the silver spoon at birth and instead through their past journey and struggle found that this was the profession that fit them.

And these NSP’s are always impatient, outspoken, yet eager to learn, and can help take a raw product to PMF – often forming the same playbooks that TSP’s end up learning from.



Powering up with your Peers

Put down the ROI for a second. Yes, you’re right – we do need more revenue, growth, and we do need to maximize our revenue-building time. But we are social creatures and functions of our environment. The environment, tech ecosystem, surroundings, whatever you want to call it, helps shape who we are, what our companies do, how our strategies are formed, how to obtain growth, and also help us to think in new ways.

Real relationships come in all shapes, forms, and sizes. You have:

  • Family
  • College friends
  • Team Members
  • Industry peers
  • Field peers
  • Advisors, Mentors
  • Board Members
  • Prospects
  • Clients
  • Mentees

Each unique relationship that falls underneath these silos provide unique perspectives, advice, guidance, and outlooks. They also can help when you’re in need. Paying it forward is great, but relationships need to be actively managed. Relationships shouldn’t be strictly transactional, but I do feel that relationships are made up of a series of transactions, over time.

They build:

  1. Familiarity if you meet someone for the first time. Perhaps you’re sharing a few extra details on the presentation you made. They know you as that person who knows x or y.
  2. Credibility as you engage and share what’s happening at your organization or challenges in life. Usually, this is is a result of repeat interaction.
  3. Trust. This is the “closed deal,” the outcome you’re seeking. These relationships represent the ultimate outcome in which you can bet on someone and their word because you know them so well. You no longer question them and their expertise. Instead, you lean on them, or they lean on you for their professional or personal advice.

We’re never perfect as human beings, and we should always strive to be intellectually curious. Sales professionals especially should always be in a constant state of learning and networking. Regularly take time out of your week to meet with these people. It is a continuous cycle of actions representing giving and receiving.

Close the deals, but maintain the relationships so you may continue to grow as a person.