7 Incredible Tactics Sales MVPs Deploy To Stay On Top Of Their Game
Atlanta was sweltering hot at 85F at 8 AM on a random Monday morning a few months ago. It was after all living up to its famous moniker “Hotlanta”. I was sweating profusely at the Octane Coffee bar and no the weather wasn’t the reason for my sweat. I wasn’t working out either. I was actually about to meet my first customer development interviewee. A B2B sales rep and that too a sales MVP.
For the uninitiated, customer development is startup slang for sitting down with your future customers asking them to talk about their problems in depth so you can learn their pain points plus discover rare golden nuggets of insights. Paul Graham, David Cummings and almost every successful entrepreneur advocates doing this before writing a single line of code. Now by sales MVP, I don't mean a rep who does his/her job well. In my book, it is someone who goes above and beyond their quota and job duties. A true sales rockstar.
Firstly, a quick background into why I was chasing packs of B2B sales reps passionately. I had previously co-founded and led an award-winning B2B content design agency for 3 years and was itching to foray into the tech startup scene — which was a dream. After carefully evaluating our options, my co-founder and I agreed that we will dive in to the sales industry and chase a pain point that’s worth solving. But I needed to educate myself on sales and who else to learn from than who you think could be your future customers.
So, in the course of the next 9 months, I met more than 40 B2B sales professionals in some of the fastest growing companies of Atlanta like Salesloft, Terminus and Salesforce. Most of them worked in the tech industry and sold SaaS products to either small business customers or the big enterprises. The vast majority of them were doing inside sales (phone or online) but towards the end I did meet a few field sales professionals as well just so that I didn’t miss their perspective.
As I was compiling a summary of my interviews, I observed an interesting pattern in the top sales reps' answers and attitude. So, today I decided to look through my notes and audio interview clips to share some valuable lessons that we can all learn from the Sales MVPs. Below is a collection of such incredible tactics:
1. MVP sales reps strive to make sales personal.
I was surprised at how many sales reps already knew where I was working before I met them and could mention a thing or two about my accomplishments. That was impressive! As suggested in this article, the modern sales reps that I met were clearly used to doing their research before any meeting, even though I was not their customer. The MVP sales reps don’t like to wing it although they could. They put in the dog work of meticulously researching about the customers and their digital breadcrumbs so they can make the sales meeting as personal as they can.
2. MVP reps aim to make the sale as relevant as possible.
In my questions to sales reps about what they think is a hard nut to crack, they all unequivocally cited “relevancy”. When you get on a sales meeting with a potential customer, you don’t know what exactly is their problem and how urgent/important it is to them. Unless you ask questions. There is a dedicated term in sales for this. Customer discovery. MVP Sales reps know that intentional probing is fundamental to relationship building, and the more skilled you are at utilizing open and closed ended questions, the stronger the relationship you will be able to create.
3. MVP reps don’t just show case studies. They tell gripping stories.
There is absolutely no doubt that sales people love talking but the exceptional ones go beyond that. They tell a story. Of their previous customers, of their success in the industry, of how passionate their company is in solving this problem. In this brilliant Harvard Business Review article, Prof Ryals makes a very interesting point about anecdotes. She asserts that the case studies and anecdotes have an inverse “U” curve effect to success. That is, Moderate use of examples is interesting and engaging for customers, and is linked to sales success. Low use is linked to poorer sales meeting outcomes, because customers like to hear some real-world applications of the product or service. Very high usage of stories and examples is also linked to weaker sales performance, perhaps because the sales person ‘talks through the sale’ or — the ultimate sales sin — bores the customer. But the best reps know how to use these in moderation and engage customers.
4. MVP reps don't make sales pushy but act like consultants and advocates.
Most reps like to save time by directly going for the kill. The sale. But the MVPs save the actual ask until they listen and evaluate the customer's need and urgency.
Like pointed out in this Forbes article, the top crop reps don't shove a sale down their customers' throats. They simply act like an authentic consultant and try to solve the business problem at hand with their knowledge. It is risky and hard to do because pitching is too tempting. That's why this is such a rare quality only demonstrated by the MVPs.
5. MVP sales reps don't make excuses to stay updated on the latest tools.
Sales is one of the fastest moving industries in the world. Thanks to a few successful B2B sales companies, we're living in unprecedented times where rate of technology innovation today in sales is sky high. Naturally, it can be hard to keep up with the latest tools and platforms in use.
Most of the sales reps I met knew their stack in and out. The real MVPs though -- were miles ahead of the others. They not only knew more tools than average, they even had played with the free trial versions even though their teams may not be using them daily. They also paid close attention to social signals about which tools their competitors were using. I was startled to learn how up-to-date they were on many of the 160+ companies mentioned in this list.
6. MVP reps find ways to delight the buyer throughout the sales journey.
In this Huffington Post article, Tiffany Bova from Gartner argues that customer experience is going to be the new battleground. Experience is at the center of the B2B sale. Buyers often drop off because of a poor sales experience while buying and the top 1% sales reps are fully aware of this. They take pro-active steps in avoiding any friction — be it on the first discovery call a customer engages with the brand, during the product demo or during the post-demo closing phase. Friction is the opposite of the seamless. And nobody likes that.
7. MVP sales reps follow-up promptly before and even after a sale.
Some of the sales MVPs I met shared that writing personalized follow-up emails did wonders to their closing rates. Of course, they also acknowledged that it is time-consuming but they do it anyway. It was fascinating to learn that they actively anticipate the most common roadblocks customers face and share relevant sales content to make the closing phase as seamless as possible. However, it was interesting to learn how painful it was for them to still be using the archaic method of attaching sales docs to emails and not knowing if their prospects even checked out the content. Most of them agreed this needs to change.
The other lesson was about follow-ups AFTER the sale. Most reps would forget their former customers and focus on the latest pipeline. But the MVPs described how they carve out time to reach out to the existing/former customers consistently to check for a chance to make a higher sale. According to BDC, it costs 7 times more to get a new client than it does to sell to an existing client. Clearly, this tactic is a game-changer just as the other tactics shared by them above.
Thanks for reading this post!
The last point on this list is particularly special to me as it reinforces our belief in building ClosingPage to make sales follow-ups exceptional and seamless. Stay tuned for the launch of our beta at ClosingPage.
Written by KP, Co-founder & CEO, ClosingPage.