AsSeenIn

According To The Data, Salespeople Should Work On Saturday And Play Golf On Monday

This is  a guest post from Mark Roberge, Chief Revenue Officer at Hubspot. Mark has done some amazing things at Hubspot and the data they’ve been gathering on sales and marketing is impressive.  This post on email timing is a great example of connecting with prospects.

I hope you like it.

Break it down Mark –

This is an actual email thread I had with the VP of Global Sales Operations at a $10B+ revenue company.  After a good discovery call with a strong next step, the executive went dark.  Here is my follow up exchange with him.

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On Jun 1, 2014, at 9:29 PM, “Mark Roberge” wrote:

Hope the weekend went well QQQQQ.  I wanted to follow up on scheduling this call.  How is your schedule this week?

Best,

Mark

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On Sun, Jun 1, 2014 at 9:44 PM, QQQQQ wrote:

Hello, I am out of the office for the next week. Can we shoot for connecting week after next?

QQQQQQ

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On Jun 1, 2014, at 9:45 PM, “Mark Roberge” wrote:

Definitely QQQQQ.  Is there a time that works for you?

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On Sun, Jun 1, 2014 at 9:50 PM, QQQQQQ wrote:

How about 4-5PM Friday the 13th?

QQQQQ

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On Jun 1, 2014, at 9:53 PM, “Mark Roberge” wrote:

 

Confirmed QQQQQ.  Enjoy your time off.

 

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There is nothing that notable about this exchange.  In fact, many can probably criticize the overall approach to this stage of the process.  However, if you look closely, there is an interesting take-away.  This entire exchange occurred between 9:29 PM and 9:53 PM on a Sunday night.

At the time I wrote the email, I was not running an experiment or setting myself up for a blog article — I was simply preparing for my week before the craze of Monday morning.  One of my salespeople had requested I make this follow up.  I had planned to schedule the email using Signals for Monday morning, hoping to be the first email in the executives Inbox.  However, I literally forgot to.

Good thing! As you saw, the meeting was booked less than 30 minutes later.

According to some new data, this result was not a fluke.  Our recent report on Sales Email Best Practices analyzed the days and times when sales emails are most successful.  One of the key charts on this analysis is shown below.  In this chart, we analyzed 6.4 million 1:1 emails sent by Signals, and compared the volume of emails sends with the open rates of those emails by day of the week.

 

email-open-rate-time-from-signals-by-hubspot (1)

The gray line shows the number of emails sent each day of the week.  This line illustrates that most emails were sent on Monday, with over 1,000,000 sent that day.  The least amount of emails were sent on Saturday and Sunday, of course, with under 200,000 sent on each of those days.

The black line shows the open rate of the emails for each day of the week.  The worst days for open rates are Monday and Tuesday.  However, the open rate gradually increases over the course of the week and then spikes on Saturday and Sunday.

Interesting.  So what is going on here?

Perhaps I can speculate.  Salespeople jump into their week energized from the weekend with high hopes for a big week.  They pound the phones and their email, prospecting to as many of their leads as possible.  As the week progresses, they lose a little steam.  Maybe they do happy hour on Thursday.  Maybe they leave early for the weekend on Friday.

However, for the executives receiving the sales emails, the opposite behavior occurs.  Executives are bombarded with the week’s activities on Monday morning.  The first half of the week is jammed with meetings.   Finally, as the week comes to a close and things slow down a bit, they have a chance to catch up on email.   Some of that email flows into the weekend when they finally have a chance to clean out the inbox after the kids are asleep.  That certainly describes my work week.

What do you think?  Am I close in my speculation?

So how do we respond as a sales team?  Should we really take Monday off and work on Saturday, as I suggest in the title?  Probably not.  However, I think there are some really important tactics that can be taken away from these results.

  1. When you are behind on your goal, digging in on the weekend can be a very productive exercise.
  2. Schedule call blitzes for the end of the week, not the beginning.  Consider a weekend email blitz if the team is behind or needs a big month.
  3. Use sales email scheduling tools like Signals to schedule some outbound emails for the weekend.  This is the opposite of our instincts but the data suggests it will work.
  4. Download the free mobile version of Signals to stay on top of executives opening your sales emails on the weekend while you are away from your PC.  Don’t be afraid to spit off a quick response at the moment of the open to instigate an email dialogue while you have the executive’s attention.

What other ideas do people have based on this analysis?

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2013 Roberge 2Mark is Chief Revenue Officer of the HubSpot Sales Division.  At HubSpot, he increased revenue over 6,000% and expanded the worldwide salesteam from 1 to 450 employees. These results placed HubSpot #33 on the 2011 INC 500 Fastest Growing Companies list. Mark was ranked #19 in Forbes’ Top 30 Social Sellers in the World. He was also awarded the 2010 Salesperson of the Year at the MIT Sales Conference.

Mark holds an MBA from the MIT Sloan School of Management where he wasawarded the Patrick McGovern award for his contributions to entrepreneurship at MIT.  He holds a bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering from Lehigh University.  Mark has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Forbes Magazine, Inc Magazine, BostonGlobe, TechCrunch, Harvard Business Review, and other major publications for his entrepreneurial ventures.

What Stock Picking Can Teach Us About Hiring Sales People

Hiring is a skill. It’s a skill that you as a hiring manager better get good at, because those who can hire the best sales people win.

The single biggest differentiator in sales teams isn’t the product, or the strategy, or the market. It’s the sales people hired to go execute and if you and your organization don’t know how to hire the best of the best, you’re gonna lose.

I get it, hiring is hard. It’s like picking a stock. Pick the right stock and you can makes some serious coin. Pick the wrong stock and you can loose some serious cash. And like picking stocks, there is no perfect formula. No matter how much research you put in, you won’t always be successful. You’ll pick some stocks that should have been home runs and they crash and burn, while others that should have been bombs crush it and exceed expectations.

In the world of stock picking there are two methodologies to minimize the risk, technical and fundamental analysis.

Technical analysis evaluates securities by analyzing statistics generated by market activity, such as past prices and volume. Technical analysis does not attempt to measure a security’s intrinsic value, but instead uses charts and other tools to identify patterns that can suggest future activity. 

Fundamental analysis evaluates a security by attempting to measure its intrinsic value by examining related economic, financial and other qualitative and quantitative factors. Fundamental analysts attempt to study everything that can affect the security’s value, including macroeconomic factors (like the overall economy and industry conditions) and company-specific factors (like financial condition and management). 

Picking people is very similar to picking stocks. It’s so similar that like stocks, it leverages the same methodologies; technical and fundamental analysis. Like stocks or securities you can look for past trends of the candidate and ignore a candidates intrinsic value (technical analysis) or you can look to measure the intrinsic value of the candidate (fundamental analysis).

And this is where I become irreverent. Attempting to hiring candidates leveraging technical analysis is just stupid and short sighted. It prevents you from finding some of the best, most  productive candidates and employees.  When we use technical analysis in the hiring process, we are using things like a GPA, years of experience, degree, etc as the data to predict whether or not a candidate can do the job and that’s the problem. GPA, years of experience, college degrees etc are not predictive and provide very little insight into whether or not a person can actually do the job you need them to do.

“One of the things we’ve seen from all our data crunching is that G.P.A.’s are worthless as a criteria for hiring, and test scores are worthless . . . we found they don’t predict anything” — Laszlo Bock – Sr. Vice President People Operations Google

Technical analysis is the cheap hiring process of those who are incapable of identifying a candidates intrinsic value default to in the hiring process.

There was a time in my career that a company was extremely interested in hiring me to head up the their sales organization and after they found out I didn’t have my degree (I’ve since gone back and finished my BA), they quickly told me I was no longer a candidate. This is technical hiring.

At A Sales Guy Recruiting, we are constantly educating our clients on NOT leveraging the technical methodology. It’s not uncommon for us to deliver a killer candidate who they reject because they don’t have a degree, or their GPA was too low, or they didn’t have the industry experience they wanted.

It’s maddening. At A Sales Guy Recruiting we don’t subscribe to technical hiring, we subscribe to fundamental hiring and are working to perfect it. We believe so strongly in fundamental hiring, we won’t work with clients who subscribe to technical hiring. We don’t believe it produces the best candidates.

Fundamental hiring, like fundamental analysis focuses on the quantitative AND qualitative data. It’s sole purpose is to understand the intrinsic value of the candidate. This is even more valuable in the hiring process, because people are far more complex and unpredictable than stocks.

Technical hiring ignores candidates who lack the appropriate degree, who don’t have the particular industry experience or product knowledge or appropriate GPA. Technical hiring puts tremendous emphasis on the measurable and will eliminate candidates who don’t have the requisite requirements. The premise is, these past measurements are predictors of future performance. The goal of technical hiring is to identify measurements that correlate to success and hire based on those criteria.

Fundamental hiring goes further, taking into consideration the uniqueness of every candidates personality, background, environmental factors, identity and more. Fundamental hiring, like that of fundamental analysis in securities trading, looks for the intrinsic value in the candidate. Fundamental hiring goes further. Fundamental hiring can look at GPA, industry experience, degree etc but as a way to determine how it can or does affect a candidates ability to do the job, NOT as a criteria that must be met to be hired.

Fundamental hiring asks, can this candidate do the job?

Technical hiring asks, does this candidate have the criteria to do the job and these are two ENTIRELY different questions.

I know, most of you are thinking, I leverage fundamental hiring. But, if you cut a sales candidate out of the process because they don’t have industry knowledge, a particular GPA, a degree, a particular number of years of experience, then you are a technical hirer.

I don’t like technical hiring. I work very closely with our recruiters to hone their fundamental recruiting approaches. We push our clients to broaden their approach and hone their fundamental recruiting skills, because that’s how the best people are found and hired.

In the world of technical hiring, Richard Branson, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg and Jet Blue founder David Neelman would never have been hired as none of them have their degrees.

Take a look at your hiring process. Do you focus on the hiring criteria or the intrinsic value of the candidate? It makes a difference!

Don’t be so short sighted. Learn to measure the intrinsic value of your candidates and stop taking the short cut, ’cause if you or your company leverage technical hiring, you will lose the talent acquisition battle.

 

 

 

Can You Simplify the Complex?

Can you simplify the complex?

Can you turn complex concepts into simple ones?

Can you explain the complex, complicated and difficult in simple, easy to understand, digestible pieces?

You should.

Sales is about helping people understand their options, it’s about helping them fully grasp their opportunities and if that’s too difficult to do, then you’re not selling as well as you could.

Too often sales people toss around industry jargon and acronyms rather than just saying it straight. They provide long winded answers to questions when a short and simple response is more than adequate. They run people through two hour demos, when a 15 minutes would have worked just fine. They show all the features, when showing only one would have done the job.

Don’t assume your buyers want to see every single feature your product has. Don’t treat your customers like they’re idiots and over explain. Don’t act as if your customers need their hands held. Instead, keep it simple. Boil things down to their simplest form. Avoid the circuitous route and take the straight line.

I know we’re supposed to educate, inform, and teach our customers, but that does’t mean we have to perplex the hell out of buyers.

Learn to win by simplifying the complex. Regardless of what you might think, being complex doesn’t make you look smart, it just confuses everyone.

The Sales Barter Dance, How Awkward Most Sales People Look

It’s the big on site customer meeting coming up.

or

It’s the follow up to your last meeting.

or

It’s the first meeting since you cold called in.

or

It’s any other prospect, customer interaction.

You’re meeting with the customer, your investing your time, they are investing theirs, so what’t the goal? What is it you want the customer to do?

Every prospect interaction needs a goal. You need to understand what it is you’re asking the prospect to do or deliver. What’s the purpose of the interaction?

If you don’t know, you’re not in the driver’s seat. You’re giving something away for free and that’s silly.

Even if the buyer asked for the meeting because they wanted to learn more about a certain feature, or to get a better understanding of the pricing, you still need to have an action goal for the end. The buyer is asking for something from you. What it is you’re going to get in exchange?

Every step of a sales cycle is a series of little deals or sales. It’s a barter dance, each side offering something in exchange for something else. We’re exchanging time for information, access for time, insight for information, access for insight, etc. and knowing what you’re bartering for is critical.

The buyer has something you need, access, information, their time etc. You have something they need, insight, information, expertise, or knowledge. The key is to know what is being bartered and it’s value. You’d never barter a stick of gum for car, yet sales people do it all the time.

Know what you want from your prospect and what’s being bartered. Don’t take too much and don’t give too much. Fair deals are always good deals.

Too often we get hung up on the end game, the end goal of wining the deal and we lose sight of the deal(s) in the deal. Every sale is a series of little deals or sales that must be negotiated. There is ALWAYS consideration at play, it’s just rarely money. The key is to make sure you know what the consideration is and what you’re paying in the deal and what you’re getting in return.

Are you a good sales barterer? You need to be.

 

 

 

 

Risk vs Unpredictability

A client of mine was telling me the other day about the misconception people have of entrepreneurs. He said that people see entrepreneurs as being OK with risk. But, they’re wrong he said. He said being an entrepreneur isn’t being OK with risk, it’s being OK with unpredictability.

My client nailed it.

I see sales the same way.

Putting 50%, 60%, 75%, or even 100% of your income on the line in commission isn’t risky. It’s unpredictable and it’s not for everyone.

People with amazing sense of self, confidence in their ability and drive are comfortable with unpredictability. They trust and have confidence they will deliver and can manage the unpredictable nature of starting a business or selling for a company.

Most people aren’t in sales people or aren’t entrepreneurs because they don’t like risk, it’s because they can’t handle unpredictability and that’s entirely different.

Don’t confuse risk with unpredictability.

 

 

Creativity Takes Guts Most People Don’t Have

I’ve talked about the importance of creativity on this blog a bazillion times. Creativity is the killer differentiator. It’s what separates the average from the bad ass.

In many cases being creative however takes guts most people don’t have.

Could you do this if you were a flight attendant?

A better question, would your company let you do this? Would you let your employees do this? For most people who are honest with themselves, the answer is no to both and all. We just don’t have the guts.

Here’s another one of my favorites from Kmart.

I’ll be honest, I can’t believe this got through Kmart’s bureaucracy, but good for them. It did.

These two commercials have something few commercials, ads, or even people have and that is they’re creative, the don’t rely on the norm or the status quo.  They allow themselves to go to untested places. They allow themselves to take risk AND they accept unpredictability and it’s these two reasons most people aren’t creative. They can’t stomach risk and unpredictability.

By definition, creativity means it’s new, it’s never been done, it’s outside of the box, it’s different, unique, etc. etc.

Here’s the formal definition in case your wondering;

CREATIVITY

The ability to transcend traditional ideas, rules, patterns, relationship, or the like, and to create meaningful new ideas, forms, methods, interpret actions, etc.; originality, progressiveness, or imagination.

Most of us don’t like to “transcend the traditional,” it’s too uncomfortable. We don’t like the risk and unpredictability so we default. We default to the norm, the traditional.

Here’s the problem. Being the best, staying on top, changing the game, being a leader, growth and solving big hairy problems, requires creativity.

If success is what we crave. If being good is what we want, then we’re gonna have to figure out how to get comfortable being uncomfortable about risk and unpredictability.

Creativity takes guts and most people don’t have em.

Don’t be most people.

 

Do You Have The Grit of This Honey Badger

You’ve got to watch this video.  Not only is it cute, but this little shit is persistant. He just keeps coming and coming, not matter what his zoo keepers throw at him.

Persistence, determination, grit, stick-tuitiveness, or what ever you want to call it, is at the core of all successful people and sales people, good sales people personify it.

Stoffle (that’s the honey badgers name) can teach us all a few lessons;

1) Attitude is everything, Stoffle never gets mad or defeated, he just accepts his new challenge and moved on. This is the greatest opportunity for people to grow. All too often after a defeat, particularly at the hands of someone else, we become bitter and angry. We then turn ourselves into victims. Once that happen’s it’s over. Yeah, I know the little bugger is only a badger. Regardless, bitterness isn’t part of his world and it shouldn’t be part of ours.

2) Creativity makes the difference, Stoffle is always coming up with new and different ways to get out of his pen. No matter how much they change his surroundings, he finds another unique, creative way to free himself.

3) Tenacity and grit, in the end Stoffle just keeps going. It doesn’t matter whether he’s successful or not, he just keeps on trying and trying and trying. Stoffle never stops, he never quits, he is always looking for ways to get out of his pen. The crazy little bastard has incredible grit and determination, nothing gets between him and his goal.

If you’re in sales, this little guy can inspire you. If he doesn’t, you might want to consider a new profession.

If you’re curious on how gritty you are, you can take a Grit Test here.  Either way, grit matters.

 

 

It Takes Heart To Sell

Selling is more than the numbers. It’s more than quota. It’s more than pipeline and conversion percentages. Sales is more than dollars that exchange hands. Yet we dedicate crazy amounts of time to these very things.

To sell we have to connect with the pain of our buyers. To sell means we’ve connected with the challenges our prospects face. To sell means we see the same opportunities for growth our customers do. To sell means we feel the same stress and fear of failure our buyers are struggling to avoid. To sell means we are keenly aware, connected and intimately effected by the world of our clients.

If we’re not emotionally connected to our customers world, we’re not selling we’re pushing and that’s entirely different.

It doesn’t take numbers and data to sell. It takes empathy and that comes from the heart.

Why Lost Deals Are Almost Impossible To Save

It looks like a client of mine is about to lose a big deal.

The problem, the sales person has no idea what they are selling and although they made it to the finals on sheer luck and the strength of the features, it’s not looking good.

When I say the sales person doesn’t know what they are selling, I mean he doesn’t know why the client needs to buy. He doesn’t know what the motives for change are. He knows very little about the competition. He doesn’t know if the competition is a better fit, because he doesn’t know what the prospect is trying to do. For all intents and purposes, he knows nothing about what he’s selling, why the prospect needs it and the impact to their organization.

This is why he’s gonna lose this deal.

To make matters worse, he doesn’t have a relationship with the decision maker. As you can see, he is in deep shit.

On the surface all of these issues are a problem, but it’s the result of these misteps that I want to call out. Because this sales person has little to no clue on what’s happening in this sales, he’s in NO position to try and save it.

To save a deal, we have to be ready and capable of challenging the customer. Saving deals rests almost solely on our ability to challenge our customer and when we can’t we’re fucked. We’ve heard a lot about challenging prospects, and there is no time in selling where challenging a customer is more critical than when trying to save a deal you’re about to lose.

When we’re in a position where a deal requires saving, it’s because we messed up somewhere. We didn’t deliver the right value, we missed the buying signals, we didn’t understand the buying process, we didn’t understand the clients motivations, we didn’t understand the competition and more. This is where the irony comes in. It’s these very things, this very information we need to save the deal. When we don’t have this information, saving a deal is almost impossible. We can’t argue why our solution is a better choice and that they are making a bad decision. We can’t because we don’t know what their problems are. We don’t know anything about the competition and we can’t even get to the decision maker. Without this stuff, you can forget about saving anything.

Saving a deal is as complex as the deal itself, that’s why few can be saved.

Saving deals requires the same things that selling the deal required. Therefore, in order to save a deal you need to know, why the customer is buying in the first place and what they expect to get from buying. You need to know what future state they are trying to achieve. You need to know why; why it matters and why the current state is not acceptable. You need to know what other options they have and who your competing with. In other words, what other possible solutions are available to them and how does your solution stack up to the alternatives. Without knowing these things you won’t save the deal.

I’m not saying deals can’t be saved, because they can be. I’ve seen it. But it doesn’t happen very often for all the reasons I mentioned above.

When a deal is saved, one of two things happens. The sales person already knew all the above and made a mistake somewhere in the selling process. When this is the case they are able to pivot their deal strategy quickly in order to get the buyer to reevaluate their decision. The sales person identifies a “gap” in the buyers decision process and they are able to highlight the gap and it’s negative consequences to the buyer. By doing this, the buyer opens the deal to the sales person for further evaluation to ensure they are making the right choice. (This doesn’t include dropping your pants on price. In my opinion, it’s not “saving a deal” if you’re whoring yourself out by dropping the price big time to get back in the game). This isn’t common, but it happens. Things can be missed in the sale, creating gaps. Saving a deal when this happens is hard,  but not impossible. It all rests on the strength of the solution.

The  other scenario, and it’s extremely rare, is when a sales person recognizes they have non of the above and are able to get the buyer to slow down the process and give them a chance to recalibrate. When this happens, it’s usually because the sales person has a strong relationship with the buyer or someone very influential. In essence what happens is, the sales person falls on their sword and says, they didn’t do a good job in articulating the value proposition and ask for another chance to demonstrate why their product/service is critical to the buyer. If the buyer says yes, they use this precious time to get all the discovery info they DIDN’T get initially and deliver a stronger value proposition on the fly. But, I’m telling your this is no small order and rarely works. Just thinking about it is giving me anxiety.

Saving deals is a bitch. It’s a position you don’t want to be in. If you’re in a position where you have to “save it,” nine out of ten times it’s because you fucked up. You didn’t sell it right.

There is nothing heroic about saving a deal, unless you were brought into clean up someone else’s mess. Saving a deal is more like plunging your own toilet. You’re happy you were able to get the shit to go down, but everyone’s pissed it happened in the first place.

Don’t put yourself in a position where you have to save deals. It’s just bad selling.

You Don’t Care Enough

Here at A Sales Guy we’re experiencing the oddest phenomenon. It has caught us completely by surprise and we’re really not sure what to make of it. We’ve been hiring a lot at A Sales Guy, for both our clients and ourselves.  When we hire for ourselves, we take a very different tact to find talent. In our job postings we specifically ask applicants NOT send a resume. We don’t want some boring piece of paper outlining their accomplishments. We don’t want them wasting their time on it and we don’t want go through them. We can learn everything we need to determine if we want to interview someone from their social profile and LinkedIn.

At A Sales Guy we want to know who people are and how they operate. Getting past the paper and to the person is most important to us. To accomplish this and get to the heart of the matter we ask applicants to do something different and we put the following in our job postings;

NO RESUMES!!! We ain’t your typical recruiting firm. Read and if this is you then follow the directions at the end of job description or just move on — just sayin’.

This is the very first sentence in the job description. This is followed up with the job we’re hiring for, the goals and objectives we’re trying to accomplish, the skills and expectations and then this;

If this is you, hit us up with your online presence at badass@asalesguy.com 

NO RESUMES!!! Send us links to your entire social presence: LinkedIn, Twitter, Blog, GooglePlus, Facebook etc. with a brief description on why you’re a badass recruiter/sales person.

I learned this approach from Fred Wilson and I love it. We learn so much about people through their social presence AND their description of why they think they would be good in the job. We give people an opportunity to sell themselves.  It’s the ultimate environment for a sales person looking for a job. We’re begging them to engage us.

Here’s what’s funny. In our most recent search we’ve received 37 applications. Of those, only TWO (2), yes just 2 fucking people followed the directions — that’s it!  Two people out of 37 did what we asked. We’ve taken this approach for every hire we’ve made and the results are almost ALWAYS the same. A fraction of the people who apply actually follow the instructions. We get inundated with submissions where the candidate simply hits reply in LinkedIn and attach their resume completely ignoring the directions.

Just recently, I called one of the applicants to figure this phenomenon out myself.  What was he thinking. Why didn’t he do as asked? His LinkedIn profile suggested he was a fairly savvy guy and a successful professional. I thought, there has to be a logical explanation. I asked him why he didn’t follow the directions. His answer astounded me;

“I didn’t read the entire job posting, I just quickly scanned it and applied.”

Are you fucking kidding me? This is how people apply for jobs today? This is the pool of applicants we get to choose from? Unbelievable!

You can’t catch this shit from an applicant’s resume and that’s why we do it this way. We’ve hired one person who didn’t follow the directions and she lasted less than a week. It was a terrible hire and I blame myself for not sticking to my guns. We put this process in for a reason. It works. Deviating from it was a mistake.

I’m not sure what to take from this. I know that 4 job listings and 100′s of applications isn’t statistically accurate, but it’s not irrelevant either. Less than 10 people from the 100′s of applications we’ve received actually followed the directions and applied as requested. Our data is telling us that people don’t care enough to read the directions, to understand what they are applying for and to put in the effort. Like fast food, they want all the benefits without the work and that my friend does not make for a good employee and I certainly NOT an A Sales Guy employee.

At A Sales Guy we hire only bad asses. People that have more talent, drive, attitude, gumption, work ethic, brains and ability to have fun than anyone else. Our bet is those are the people who actually follow directions.

It doesn’t matter how good you “think” you are. If you can’t, don’t, or won’t follow the directions in a job description. You’re not good — period!

Care enough to follow directions.