8 Ways To Motivate The Sales Team After A Rough Patch with SaaStr CEO Jason Lemkin (Pod 620 + Video)

The last half of the year has been rough for some, but Cloud and SaaS aren’t dead. When a rocketship blasts into space, like the explosive buying and growth during the Boom of the last two years, it eventually has to decelerate. Deceleration doesn’t mean recession or downturn. It just means we’re experiencing a mild hangover. 

So what can founders, CEOs, and VP of Sales do to motivate the sales team after a few bumps? 

In this week’s Workshop Wednesday, SaaStr founder and CEO Jason Lemkin shared 8 ways you can inspire the sales team today. Most of these ideas are pretty basic, yet many organizations aren’t doing them. 

Deliver sales a true 10x feature.

Figure out the 1, 2, or 3 features that people have been begging for, the ones your team can win deals with, and go make them. They almost always inspire the sales team. Of course, feedback can be exhausting, and all sales reps tend to be myopic in their requests, so you’ll have to drive this.

Takeaway #1: Give one 10x feature in Q1 to inspire the team, especially if they lost a deal this year.

Let the bottom 10-20% of the sales team go today.

Everyone sells more immediately. Why? Because you reroute their leads to better reps, who close more deals, and revenue almost automatically goes up. It’s basic math and always works. Always.

It’s the simplest upgrade you can do—literally today. We’re in a record time of layoffs because we had record levels of hiring due to vast amounts of capital in the system.

Takeaway #2: If you check off this one task, you can increase bookings by 20-30% instead of flushing them down the drain with poor-quality sales reps.

Promote your number 1 rep. Now.

Even if you’re going through a rough patch, your number 1 rep is still doing reasonably well. Promote them to team lead or even director if they want and can do the job. If your team is struggling, rep #1 should be closing as well as ever while the rest may be floundering. Everyone wants to see a path to grow because they want to make more money.

Takeaway #3: Ask the #1 or #2 rep or SDR how you can promote them because when you do that, you signal to your team that you’re investing in their success.

Ask your team how to sell better.

Your sales team does nothing else every day except sell. Ask them how to do it a little better. You’ll hear lots of noise and complaints, but you’ll also glean some gems from each and every person. They’re on the front lines and can give the best product feedback. They also have some of the best ideas on selling better — alongside some of the worst ideas. It’s your job to determine which is which.

Takeaway #4: Show your team you care by asking them about sales, and then synthesize that knowledge to get better.

Get them more leads and finally hire that VP of Demand Gen.

Just 2x the leads, even at the same lead quality, equates to more sales. It also shows the team you’re doing something to help. How can you get more leads? Hire a VP of Demand Gen. Founders go way too long before hiring them. A senior or junior marketing manager doesn’t count. A content marketing manager making infographics doesn’t count. Someone writing three blog posts a week doesn’t count. Find someone who has owned a number.

Takeaway #5: Hire a VP of Demand Gem who owns a number for your sales team, and see a 20-40% increase in leads.

Reset the plan. But only once.

In tougher times, you do have to reset once a year. But only once a year. You can’t do it every week or month, and you can’t not have a plan, which is more common than you might think. Look at your last four months of growth and burn averages. If you don’t change anything, this is what the next four months will look like.

Takeaway #6: The best leaders, founders, and VP of Sales only do a reset once, and it’s based on data, not on a promise of some crazy Q4 magic. Make sure your team can hit the plan, so it doesn’t lead to disaster.

Focus on driving NPS up this quarter.

And every quarter thereafter. This won’t magically make the sales team happier, but it will drive up sales, especially upgrades, which will make the sales team happier in the long run. You can drive NPS up by giving the sales team what they want, that 10x feature, and what they need, which is a better product.

To achieve the want and need, have more loss meetings to see what’s falling through the cracks and how to improve. Nothing is less inspiring to a sales team than a product that sucks.

Takeaway #7: Make it a top 3 goal to force the whole company to drive NPS up. Happier customers make for happier sales teams.

Lead from the front.

You can’t sit behind your monitor all day. Go out yourself and close a deal. Invite customers to the office. Start a weekly customer webinar. This week. Schedule it right now. Hop on a plane and visit all of your top customers. Get out there and watch how it improves everything.

Give every rep a 2-week quota meeting they can drag you into. This is a magical trick. Prospects love talking to CEOs and founders. Do 5 more customer zoom calls in a week.

Takeaway #8: Be on the front lines as much as possible. You’ll inspire your team, create great relationships with customers and prospects, drive more leads, and increase revenue.

These are all actions you can take right now. Take this checklist, and be honest. How much of it are you currently doing? Too many CEOs, VP of Sales, and founders hide during tougher times. It will catch up with you, and the team will smell it.

Make 3-4 of these incremental improvements. They’ll compound, and, if nothing else, you should see more sales after. Make it a goal to sell more in Q1 than you did in Q4. If you show up, your team will do even better. It’s a natural cause and effect.

Published on December 28, 2022

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