Our goal at Building the Sales Machine (BTM) is to enable sales leaders in the tech community to help and learn from each other. We’re all in this boat together, trying to help revolutionary companies disrupt the norm. To make people’s lives easier, better, more fulfilling. We’ll aim to bring some of these great teams, leaders, and strategies to life through our articles, meet-ups, speaking events and interviews.
For today’s Q & A, we’re publishing our chat with Mark Kosoglow, the VP of Sales of Outreach.io, a powerful sales automation platform. Prior to that, Mark was the Founder of the Mercenary Sales Group, and Regional Sales Director of The School Specialty Planning & Student Planning, managing a $14mm annual business.
Something you’ve learned from a salesperson in the last 3 months?
One of my SDRs has really worked to unlock ROI that we know is in LinkedIn Sales Navigator. He wrote a 35 page playbook on how to use Sales Navigator, and it is resulting in a 20% bump in demos booked for our team. Using Sales Navigator inside of an established and automated sales process has taught me that there is a ton of value my team was missing out on in Sales Navigator.
Whats the best piece of advice you’ve received from a mentor?
Don’t chisel a wheel out of a rock when there is a tire store across the street. Too many salespeople have to do it “their” way or the way that “works best for them.” I used to be that guy. Then, I started stealing what all the best guys did and doing it exactly like they did it. Changed my results, and after I really understood what I was doing, I was able to make it mine. Trying to build something that you don’t really understand is dumb. Just go buy the tire and leave the rocks for some other knucklehead.
Most interesting thing you’ve learned about your sales team from looking at the numbers?
Biased, but our [number of] demos booked is a direct reflection of the amount of prospects we have in our product. The more people you are reaching out to with a structured sales process that leverages personal touches with automation, the more results you get. Sounds simple, but being able to see that number and throw up a dashboard that shows the direct correlation was an eye-opener for my team.
Best tip for sales teams that are scaling?
Build processes. Scaling is all about having a repeatable process new people can step into. If you are making sales more of an art than a science, you are going to be left only having Picassos as your reliable performers. Anyone can do science; art is hard. That doesn’t mean that there is no art in sales. It means you should take care of all the controllable parts.
What do you think of cold calling? Should sales teams still be using it?
Cold calling is essential to sales success. I don’t define cold calling as picking out someone on LinkedIn and dialing in to their company and asking them what they do. That’s insanity But, calling people that aren’t expecting your call is essential. At Outreach, we never make a call without a clear sense of what value we can add to their company. We’ve figured out a way to do this at scale, and it is a highly effective way of getting meetings set.
What traits do you look for in a sales person?
Only 3. Work ethic. Winner. Smart. We have training and support (and a tool!) in place at Outreach that empowers anyone to be great at sales. We can teach anyone to sell, but we can’t teach someone to work hard, to want to win, or to be smart. You either got that or you don’t. I’ve had people that were teachers, missionaries, college drop outs, sanitation managers, and craft store clerks become great salespeople because the followed our system, worked hard, wanted to win, and were smart.
Best technique for helping new sales people ramp in your organization?
1 week hard core boot camp that covers everything soup to nuts. Each day needs to include what my Director of Sales Ops calls Peer Programming. He developed a way for reps to mirror an established rep to practice and understand the skills they learned that day. So, learn in class, then do with someone that knows how to do it, then do it yourself. This learn, reinforce/understand, and then go approach really helps us to have people most of the way there before they start selling on their own.
Thoughts on performance management minimums? How do you set the minimum expectations for your org?
We measure how long it takes a proficient person to do a task, then we create a block of time during the day for them to do that task. So let’s say it takes 5 minutes to do a personalized email using our proven email structure (thanks again to our product for showing us what that is). That means in a 2 hour block you can write 24 emails. We set that as the standard and then use the Pomodoro methodology to drill people into proficiency. It’s a fun, visible, and effective way to improve skills. We believe salespeople can only control their activities and techniques. Results come as a result of working and working the right way. So, we look at what it takes to get the results we need from that perspective and marry to what an actual human has the potential to do in the real world at his/her desk.
How do you get buy-in from the people you manage?
Simple. Care. I am a man of faith. Because of that, my leadership philosophy has been slanted a certain way. I believe my job, as a leader, is to serve, to push others up, and to help people unlock what they have inside of them to become the person they are supposed to be. I tell my people your job is to work, my job is to turn your work into success. If a salesperson works his/her butt off, I should be able to turn that into him/her exceeding quota. It doesn’t always work out, but when it doesn’t, the rest of the team sees how I won’t quit on someone if they are working hard.
Most effective coaching techniques for giving feedback to a sales rep or sales manager?
NEVER manage in groups. Most people try to give feedback and coach in groups because they are lazy and it is easier. A single hour long “coaching” meeting per week for your team is a ton easier then having an hour long meeting with the 10 people counting on you for feedback. The key to these meetings is having them tell you what they need help with and only working on that. People know where they suck. If they don’t fear failure, they will be open and tell you where they suck. Then, the magic happens, because most know how to fix it (and their fix is always better than yours). The leader’s job is to hold them accountable to the plan they have to fix the issues they want to work on.
As a teenager, Mark watched videso in the back of a storeroom on a 7″ black and white TV to learn how to sell shoes at the mall. The experience offered a great foundation in sales. After that Mark ran a small business, Nittany Notes, with 200+ employees and learned the hard way how to be organized. Then Mark moved on to Great American Opportunities, where he created a highly profitable sales territory from one that had been dead for a decade. He learned the value of hard working and grinding it out. After that he moved to School Specialty Planning to manage 12 salespeople across 9 states, and cemented his sales philosophy.
Currently Mark is the VP of Sales at Outreach.io, where he is building a sales team with, by far, the best, smartest, hardest working people he’s. ever worked with. You can find him on Linkedin here, and on Twitter here.