article | December 15, 2014
Sales Leaders: Wisdom From the Other Side of the Table
Recently, I spent a few hours meeting with Amy Slater. Amy is the SVP of World Wide Sales Operations for Rovi Corporation. Before Rovi, Amy was a VP of Sales at both Acxiom Corporation and Salesforce.com. She has more than 20 years of leadership and global sales experience.
Amy had asked me to review SBI’s 2014 Research Report with her. You can receive a copy of the report here. As we talked, it became obvious that Amy has a passion for extraordinary results.
I asked Amy about her move from Sales Executive to Sales Operations. In her current role, she’s often a buyer instead of a Sales Exec. Amy calls it being on the “other side of the table.” Here’s Amy:
“I’ve been in Sales and Sales Leadership for more than two decades. When I finally decided to take the leap “over the table,” it initially felt awkward. Now I see it as a tremendous learning experience, because now I’m the customer. It has challenged what I thought I understood about the buying and selling dynamic.”
“Because of my perspective, I’m equipped to provide some advice and guidance to Sales Leaders. Trust me, I know what it is like to carry the bag. It’s not for the faint of heart.”
We continued to talk. Amy said “It’s got to be all about the buyer. Don’t sell. Help me buy.” She told me about a book called The Four Agreements, by Don Miguel Ruiz. Amy said the four tenets applied beautifully to the art of selling. Here they are:
“On the other side of the table, I am bombarded with solicitations. E-mails, vmails, LinkedIn requests, calendar invitations, etc. You name it; I get it. Some Sales Leaders push their team members to prospect and leave no stone left unturned. In reality, less is more. Make connections appropriate to the circumstance.”
“I received multiple messages from one sales rep. She berated me for not responding to her unsolicited emails. They were about a product that has no applicability to what my company does. Do your homework. If your product or service is relevant to me, I will reply. Prospecting is a critical part of selling, certainly. But do so respectfully and from a position of knowledge. Nurture me. Send me something different. Inspire me.”
“It isn’t about you. It is about the buyer and what matters to them. Since being in Sales Ops, I have become the customer I used to hate. I have very little time to get my work done, let alone meet with strangers regarding products I may not need. Don’t take this personally. I may rush you. I know you spent time on your presentation. Don’t get defensive. It is not about you. Help me buy the way I want to buy. Keep meetings to the point. I want to get what I need in the shortest period of time.”
“Salespeople make all sorts of assumptions because they lack the courage to ask questions. This is critically important in Sales. In my new role, I am fascinated by the lack of questions from sellers. A trusted advisor doesn’t make assumptions that may or may not be true. Ask questions, and don’t worry about the outcome. Ask your buyer how they are measured in their job. Ask…really, just ask.”
“Buyers are people, too. We all have an agenda. If you ask, I will tell you mine. That takes the guesswork out of your job. Be sincere and authentic. It is that simple.”
“This last tenet summarizes the preceding three. If you do your best, you will win. Lead your teams to do their best and the numbers will follow. Recognize and value people when they do their best. If you lead people simply to chase a number, they will do uncharacteristic things. They’ll become pushy and even threatening.”
“Here’s an example: A few months ago, a prospective vendor said, ‘and if you could sign it by Tuesday…’ That was four days away. I had only been in my role for 30 days. My response was ‘Why? Is this the end of your quarter?’ Trusted advisor? Far from it. This seller was putting his own interests first. Do your best. Don’t play games. If I like what I see, I will move the earth to buy it. Trust your buyer.”
As you can see, Amy has a powerful perspective. Her thoughtfulness was obvious based on our meeting. We spent a few hours reviewing the 2014 SBI Research, titled “How to Make Your Number in 2015.” She was particularly interested in our ideas about how to sequence sales initiatives. If you’d like to see what Amy reviewed, go here and have a look.
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