Management Pet Peeves of 5 Inside Sales Leaders




  • May 4, 2015

    What are SDRs and Account Executives doing that upset their sales leadership the most? Here are 5 answers from rising stars in the Inside Sales world.


    What gets under the skin of a successful Inside Sales manager? We asked 5 up-and-coming Inside Sales leaders to come clean about the things that tick them off the most, from a managerial standpoint.


    No two Inside Sales orgs are the same, but these 5 individuals are running some of the highest-performing teams in the industry. Their frustrations are worth hearing.


    (And, if applicable to you, worth repeating to your own sales team).


    5 Pet Peeves From Emerging Inside Sales Leaders

    We asked 5 emerging Inside Sales leaders a simple question: What is your biggest pet peeve as a manager?


    The responses were swift and emphatic. Our participants:



    • Daniel Barber of ToutApp
    • Sean Kester of SalesLoft
    • W. Alex Turner of PeopleLinx
    • Joel Felcher of Yesware
    • Rossi Khoun of Datanyze

    Beyond being successful Inside Sales leaders, our 5 respondents also run teams that sell sales technology. Here is what most upsets each of them as a manager.


    Daniel Barber – Director of Sales Development & Operations at ToutApp



    Background: Daniel is responsible for a team of 10 people at ToutApp focusing on two areas of the company. One being focused on the pipeline (both inbound and outbound). The other being Sales Operations which includes any technologies, processes, commission plans, territories, etc. for the sales team. AA-ISP named Daniel one of its Top 25 Most Influential Sales Professionals in 2015.


    Pet Peeve: Putting yourself first in prospect outreach.


    My biggest pet peeve:


    Salespeople who appreciate the value of the voicemail are a dying bread. I learned this technique from John Barrows: Don’t start with your name first. Far too often salespeople assume the buyer needs to know who’s calling – this is egocentric.


    Let the buyer know why you’re calling and deliver value in the first 15 seconds. Every touch point is an opportunity to deliver value – every time you put yourself first you’ve already lost.


    Sean Kester – Director of Sales Development at SalesLoft



    Background: Sean has ascended from being SalesLoft’s first Sales Development Rep to Head of Sales Development. TOPO recognized SalesLoft as the top two percent of highest performing teams based on their annual Sales Development Benchmark Report, which reveals the patterns, plays, and behaviors that define the most successful SDR teams.


    Pet Peeve: Lack of process.


    As a sales leader my biggest “pet peeve” is a lack of a process. Sales Development organizations must create a cadence and rhythm of outreach taking advantage of technology (phone, email, social drips) to execute which will drive the highest rate of conversation/conversion.


    If you do not build a process, you cannot test strategies, attain predictable results, or scale a team.


    There is no silver bullet or “one size fits all” solution to building a process. It will be specific to your unique business needs. The most important part is to have a process so that you can acquire data and always be testing ways to improve.


    W. Alex Turner – Head of Sales & Development at PeopleLinx



    Background: A two-time recipient of the Top 25 Most Influential Professionals in Inside Sales Award by AA-ISP (2014, 2015), Alex has helped PeopleLinx emerge as a leader in Social Selling technology. He also spent 3.5 years as VP of Client Services & Sales at NexTel, where he helped grow NetTel from 5-38 employees, including an Inside Sales team of 30+ outbound “hunters”


    Pet Peeve: Lack of a plan.


    As a Sales Leader, my biggest “Pet Peeve” is a lack of a plan.  BDRs / AEs, Managers, everyone for that matter needs to start each day, week, month, quarter and year with a plan.  Approach each call , meeting, demo with a plan. Every account you target needs a plan.  Then you must execute that plan.


    A great example of this can be found in the Philadelphia sports scene.  Both my beloved Phillies and 76ers have seen better days.  But the similarities end there.  The Phillies are in free-fall mode without a plan, and this city could not be more frustrated.


    Conversely, the Sixers made a plan (whether you agree with this approach is another point entirely), and are executing said plan.  There is excitement and energy about what the future holds for the Sixers, not so for the Phillies.


    Plan your work and work your plan.


    Joel Felcher – Sales Manager at Yesware



    Background: As the Sales Manager at Yesware, Joel possesses 4 years of Inside Sales management experience and is responsible for ensuring the efficiency, productivity, growth, and happiness of Yesware’s Inbound and Outbound Sales Development Reps. After using Yesware for about a year, he realized he couldn’t sell without it and joined the team to do what Yesware does best: Help salespeople close more deals, faster.


    Pet Peeve: Lack of accountability.


    For me, a lack of accountability would be the biggest concern.  It’s critical for any salesperson to able to look back at any given day, week, month, or quarter, measure themselves against their goals, and be able to adjust accordingly — both in terms of effort and results.


    That’s why we weight “effort-metrics” (like calls/emails) the same as more strategic metrics (like % of pipeline sourced by SDR and the % of that pipeline that ends up Closed-Won).  As I say at every stand-up, “the activity is only as good as the results it yields,” which is basically a masked way of telling the team accountability is key.


    Most salespeople can make 100 calls, send a bunch of emails, and get some meetings on the books — but being accountable to the end-goal (being able to attribute revenue to our teams’ effort) inherently makes people avoid simply going through the motions of calling and emailing for the sole purpose of hitting a target.


    And while the SDR Team isn’t closing, they operate with an emphasis on creating qualified opportunities that are more likely to lead to revenue.  That way, we can draw a straight line from that closed-won customer all the way back to the initial outreach of a given SDR.


    And because of that, everyone on the team can be held accountable not only for hitting call, email, and meeting targets — but also turning those calls, emails, and meetings into actual revenue.  That creates an environment where the SDRs are accountable to themselves, their closer-counterparts, and company objectives as a whole.


    Rossi Khoung – Account Executive at Datanyze



    Background: The ​former Director of Sales at KISSMetrics, Rossi spent 2 years helping build KISSMetrics into a SaaS juggernaut, before following Datanyze Founder & former KISSmetrics/TRUSTe colleague Ben Sardella to his current role as Datanyze’s premiere Account Executive.


    Pet Peeve: Inaccurate sales forecasts.


    I based my sales forecast on my team’s pipeline and if the reps’ pipeline is inaccurate, it’s throws everything off and


    My biggest pet peeve as a sales leader is trying to rely on the accuracy of sales forecasts.  There’s constant pressure to meet aggressive sales goals in addition to pressure from management to accurately forecast them.


    I base my sales forecast on my team’s pipeline in our CRM and if my reps’ pipeline is inaccurate, it throws off my sales forecast, which then leads to me try to figure out how to make up the gap of falling short of our sales forecast and eventually our sales goals. At that point, I have to figure out what we need to do to change course and meet our target.


    In general, sales forecasting is challenging whether you’re an individual contributor or in a lead role, however, the ability to have an accurate sales forecast is important since it enables me to make informed decisions.


    My other pet peeve is not having enough time for mentoring and coaching as my day was inundated with internal meetings (sigh).


    Staying on Your Inside Sales Manager’s Good Side


    The key to effective management is to set clear guidelines to your team, especially in the realm of inside sales. These 5 inside sales managers know a thing or two about running a high-performing organization, so if none of their above pet peeves trouble you, you might want to re-evaluate your stance on that particular issue.


    Special thanks to Daniel, Sean, Alex, Joel and Rossi for agreeing to appear and for their thoughtful responses. We encourage you to check out the companies they represent and to contribute your own pet peeves, as well as any questions or thoughts regarding these answers, in the comments section below.


    Thanks for reading.

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