BTM Q&A: CEO and Founder of Sparta : James Pember

Most important thing to learn for new sales managers?

The biggest mistake that we see inexperienced sales managers making is focusing too much on the “end result”, for most salespeople ­ revenue. Pushing your team, or a sales rep to “close more deals” isn’t actionable advice ­ however, I see it happen every day of the week. The best and most experienced sales leaders know that in order to increase the end result, you must focus on the behaviours further up the funnel.

We now have the technology in place to accurately (and easily) measure every step of the sales funnel. Every call, every email, every appointment can be measured and diagnosing where sales reps are falling short is a sinch. Nine times out of ten, the answer to why a sales rep isn’t performing is right there in front of you ­in the activity levels and core metrics.

What do you think of cold calling? Should sales teams still be using it?

Cold calling isn’t dead, too many teams are just too scared to do it

Yes, customers are more enlightened than ever. Yes, they don’t need us salespeople anymore. Yes, it’s much nicer to generate a steady flow of leads from content marketing. Yes, you want your product to “sell itself”.

That is what I call “The Dream”. We’re all striving towards “The Dream”. I’m not telling you that cold calling is the only way. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Do content marketing, work with paid acquisition, work with LinkedIn InMails. Don’t stop doing all of those things, but don’t wait for them to deliver the thousands of warm leads per day you’re longing for.

Until you have that steady lead velocity, your sales team needs to generate it’s own flow of prospects, and the best way to build a pipeline of prospects is, in my mind, still to pick up the phone.

What’s the most effective short term and long term motivation techniques you’ve seen someone use?

We (obviously) spend a lot of time at Sparta thinking about motivating salespeople, it really is our core business.

To be honest, short term is relatively easy. Competitions, coaching and goal­setting are easy ways to boost short term motivation. Highlight success, hold people accountable and provide clear and tangible goals and your staff will rally around them.

Long term sales motivation is a trickier question, and I think in order to really answer this question, it’s important to step back and look at what really motivates salespeople?

One of the biggest (and most pervasive) myths about sales motivation is the that we all overestimate the importance of financial compensation, such as commissions, bonuses and fancy prizes.

A majority of the research (try this one from McKinsey) suggests that non­financial motivators are a far greater long­term driver of sales performance, yet sales leaders persist with using financial compensation as their primary method of motivating salespeople.

With Millennials, or “The Trophy Generation”, this problem is simply amplified. Whilst Millennials are absolutely money­driven (they often have strong opinions about what they deserve), financial compensation has proven to be a tiny fraction of what gets them out of bed in the morning.

In order to drive true long term sales motivation, it’s ALL about the environment you are creating.

1. Create an environment in which praise, affirmation and recognition is the norm.

2. Give feedback constantly. Annual reviews don’t work anymore. Remember, it’s not just about giving praise, modern salespeople just want to ensure they are doing the right thing, so they can make adjustments if need be.

3. Celebrate incremental progress. Working towards big annual goals is great (you should definitely do it), but salespeople respond really well to incremental progress, checking boxes and taking bigger goals and breaking them into smaller achievements.

Do you believe you’ve built a metrics driven environment? What’s an example of something you’ve done that other organizations may not have thought of?

We are absolutely metrics driven, however I think a mistake that too many organisations make is being “metrics­driven” but not being hyper­accountable to those metrics. We’ve implemented something internally which has had a great impact. Measuring a few metrics and having laser focus on improving them, is far better than measuring everything and being accountable for nothing in my mind.

In terms of how we manage our metrics and coaching, we took the idea of the “daily standup”, something that most product and engineering folks will know about, and tweaked it to fit our sales process.

Essentially, every morning before you hit the office you need to “check­in” your goals and focus tasks for the day. Then, just as you leave every evening, you report back your progress towards those goals.

We call it ­ “The Sparta Daily Roundtable”, the idea being we go around the table, and set goals and expectations for yourselves, digitally of course.

How important is your sales technology stack to your sales organization?

Technology in sales is a cornerstone of our strategy. Technology helps us be more efficient, gather more insight into how we’re performing and supercharge our sales in general.

Our stack:

  • is our CRM of choice ­ and the hub to which everything else is connected.
  • We use to help drive increased CRM usage and adoption.
  • We use SalesLoft for outbound prospecting and sales development.
  • We use for email tracking, document analytics and presentations.
  • We use InsightSquared for reporting and business intelligence.
  • Lastly, of course we use our own product Sparta daily to drive focus, excitement, recognition and high levels of motivation and sales performance at all times. We run competitions, training campaigns and goal­-setting



AAEAAQAAAAAAAANnAAAAJGFlZTYzMWVhLTczMjMtNDMwYS05NTAyLTliNDhkZGM5YjFlMgJames Pember is the CEO and co-­founder of Sparta, an enterprise sales acceleration platform. Sparta helps sales organizations optimize coaching, competitions and sales training to take results to another level.