Putting sales at the heart of your technology company culture

Paul Kenny of Ocean Learning shares some thoughts on putting sales at the heart of your technology company culture at the BLN Growth Forum.

Paul Kenny, Ocean Learning at BLN Growth Forum

What is growth?

  • At first, growth means making payroll.
  • When you cover payroll and start to make progress, growth becomes about something else – return on assets, investment etc, value of the business.
  • At the heart of growth, lies sales.

Frank – the archetypal sales guy

  • Worked at every big technology company – Oracle, Microsoft, SAP, Business Objects. Knows everyone everywhere.
  • Should not be taken into a small company. Will spend your money and destroy your business by doing things the big company way.
  • Frank probably wasn’t a very good sales guy in any of the organisations that he was in in any case.
  • Until you work out what kind of sales function you need and want, you haven’t got a hope of growth.
  • Remember, this is YOUR sales organisation.

Questions to ask before you hire people

What is your attitude to sales and sales people?

    • Be honest about how you think about sales and act on the information and knowledge this gives you.
    • You can run a business successfully in any of the four boxes but they take different approaches
      • Call centres classically love (parties, team bonding etc), but don’t trust them (standard scripts etc)
      • Red Gate loves and trusts everyone.

What kind of sales organisation are you?

  • Smarketing vs Value Creation Sales Organisation
    • Companies with awesome smarketing need people at the end of a sales funnel to be nice and patient. Social skills are more important than sales skills.
      • At the other end, you need people who can find a prospect, breach the corporate defences, identify all the people needed for the sale, manage a process and make some money.

What systems do you use?

  • CrM vs cRm
    • A CRM system should just be about RELATIONSHIPS, not CUSTOMER MANAGEMENT

What reward and how?

  • Reward and recognition drives culture
  • You have to be clear about what you want to reward, whether that is first time sales, long term relationships, insights.
  • Time spent discussing commission for sales people is time wasted unless you are completely clear about what you want the business to achieve, what kind of relationships you want your customer facing people to have?

How will you define your sales story?

  • Stories trump data
  • The stories you tell about customers, about why you exist, about where the company came from and the problem it solves are powerful.
  • Remember the ‘founders’ advantage’ – the founder usually has the sales story wrapped into a series of anecdotes. They are worth sharing and getting past the founder.

What are our sales standards?

  • It’s all about performance
    • What is totally critical is HOW SOMEONE GOT THERE.
    • Too many salespeople have built careers in rapidly expanding markets
    • Quality, quantity, focus of effort are all key metrics.

How do we simplify everything?

  • Focus and Magic
    • Everything you give a sales person to do that is NOT selling will become their priority.
    • To build a strong sales culture, you don’t need to be controlling, you need to simplify their lives.
    • Sales people can only do their magic when they are engaged with customers.
    • The more people your organisation talks to through your sales organisation, the more value you will create for the business by helping to define key metrics, generate value.

Don’t hire sales people unless you understand the kind of organisation you are.

Learn to love them.