As Managing Partner of The Bridge Group, Laurie works with clients to conduct sales assessments, improve the effectiveness of sales teams, and assist managers in developing the skills required to manage and coach their teams. Laurie uses her two decades of strategic sales management experience to help B2B technology clients build, expand, and optimize their inside sales teams. We were super excited to have her stop by the TalkIQ blog and offer insight on her process. Make sure you follow Laurie on Twitter for more sales tips and tricks.
When did you realize you were a saleswoman?
I always knew. I really believe that. I started as a paper girl when I was 10 and ever since then, I’ve always had commission and customer-facing roles. I can’t imagine being anything else.
What’s your favorite sales hack?
Skip the bullshit. Tell the prospect what’s in it for them. All engagement with the buyer should have a single focus and that focus is how you’ll help them build a better business. Again, skip the bullshit.
Tell me about a sale you really screwed up. What would you have done differently?
I was a sales engineering recruiter very early in my career. I had this huge placement I was excited about. The engineer was a perfect fit for the company. When it came time to sign, his wife, who I’d never considered a key decision maker, wouldn’t let him move forward with the offer.
The experience taught me the importance of qualification. I’d never asked about his personal life or some of the obstacles that would stop him from changing jobs, which meant I wasn’t prepared with an offer that would overcome his objections. In the end, my failure to qualify killed the deal.
What is the most common mistake you see sales organizations making?
The lack of continuous training and development, and most critically, reinforcement. Companies will go out and hire a trainer or have managers who provide ongoing development and training, but they underestimate the importance of constant reinforcement via coaching.
Eighty five percent of what’s learned without reinforcement is forgotten within a month. You have to review the same thing again and again until behavior changes, which is right about the time they can’t bear hearing you repeat the same information.
What’s the best invention or innovation for inside sales in the last decade?
Technology in general has helped inside sales become a viable channel by lowering how much it costs to sell something. Cloud-based CRMs really changed the game. Power dialers have allowed us to make more calls. Technologies such as LinkedIn and ConnectandSell, make it incredibly easy to prospect and connect with more prospects.
Perhaps most important of all is the introduction of Sales Development Teams. Technology companies in particular have created this new function because they realized they need a team focused specifically on generating and qualifying leads. This is something that didn’t exist not too long ago.
How often should sales training occur for maximum benefits?
I consider training to be what takes place in a classroom, while coaching is one-on-one and consists of listening to calls and participating in sales conversations. Coaching should be ongoing, along with reinforcement of what’s been learned in the classroom. Everything is constantly changing, from your competition to the technology reps use. If training isn’t ongoing, the organization will suffer.
What’s the most important metric sales organizations aren’t measuring?
Conversion metrics. Sure, a dial is important, but at the end of the day, it’s conversions. You can measure it a few different ways, but what matters is whether your buyer conversations are converting. Sometimes companies track it, but don’t do it well, which negatively impacts planning and strategy because you’re making decisions without knowing the most important part of the equation.
Sales seesaw! Which side do you fall on?
nature or nurture? nature, but the right training makes a difference
quantity or quality? quality
wide or narrow? narrow
cold call or social? there’s no such thing as a cold call anymore
energy or experience? energy
talk or listen? listen
call or email? call, but it depends on the target audience
art or science? equal sides of both
systematic or flexible? systematic
script or improv? script, but I call them “call guides”
Have other questions for Laurie? Let us know in the comments and she’ll be sure to answer them! Interested in being featured in an upcoming interview? Drop us a line at email@example.com or leave a comment!