6 Tips For Sales Success In The Channel

A Good Sales Strategy Goes Beyond The Sales Team

A good sales strategy isn't just about having a superstar sales team; it threads throughout the organization, from the highest executive down through the organization, Adam Slutskin, ConnectWise vice president of worldwide sales, told CRN at the last week's ConnectWise IT Nation Partner Summit in Orlando, Fla. Slutskin said sales are about establishing the right environment in your organization and hiring the right people to carry out those goals going forward.

Slutskin shared six tips with CRN on how solution providers can start improving their sales.

6. Culture Above All Else, Even Superstar Salespeople

When bringing on a new sales professional, it is important to make sure from the get-go that they are the type of person that fits well within the organizational culture of the company. Slutskin said that he has fired some superstar salespeople simply because didn't fit well within the company.

"I've definitely had to let go some people along the way, some top sales guys. Culturally it's so important that you fit and have the right attitude. I've had to let go some high producers along the way because of it," Slutskin told CRN. "We let them go, but because of it we grew even more."

5. The Element Of Surprise

Once you have your cultural direction established, the next step is making sure you are picking the right people both for the job and to keep course on your cultural trajectory. It's all about making sure the salespeople you hire will fit well with the company, Slutskin said, and the rest will trickle down from there.

Slutskin said his secret tip for surpassing the stiff formal applicant interview presentations is leveraging the element of surprise. He said that it can be difficult to tell from an interview what a candidate is actually like, so he likes to surprise the candidate with a call in the evening a few days prior to the official interview. Slutskin said he has found people are more likely to be candid and genuine in those conversations because they haven't prepared canned answers and don't have interview jitters. He said he can usually tell from that quick phone call if the person would be a good fit for the organization or not.

"It's something I started doing a while ago and I never stopped," Slutskin told CRN.

4. There's No Magic Bullet In Sales

After you bring on a stellar team of salespeople, it's not the end of the road quite yet.

"Unfortunately, what happens a lot is there is no magic bullet. If you hire a sales guy and assume he is going to sell, it will probably fail," Slutskin told CRN.

He said it is important to get the employee fully on boarded and then train them overtime on skills, the goals of the company and industry knowledge. Through this type of training, sales professionals can get a more "holistic" view of the market, Slutskin said, and because of that, they are better able to find the needs and pain points of their clients. Training also helps reduce turnover because it makes the salespeople more effective and integrated with the organization.

3. Know Clients A To Z

Slutskin said it is important that sales teams know their clients from "A to Z," especially their needs and pain points. It's not only just so you know what more you can sell to them, but also about building relationships, understanding and trust with your clients.

"The difference is I can be much more beneficial, useful to a prospect, because I understand all of it. I don't have to be the person who is a really aggressive sales guy," Slutskin said. "Every consumer, everybody that buys anything wants that kind of interaction."

The relationship allows a solution provider to be the "trusted advisor" to the client. He said the moment he was most proud of at ConnectWise's IT Nation conference was when clients he talked to knew exactly who their account manager was and had that relationship established.

"Revenue is revenue," Slutskin said. "If you build relationships the revenue comes."

2. Align Incentives With Goals

Sales professionals often receive incentives for their work, but the key is making sure those incentives align with the goals of the organization. For example, if a salesperson receives a 5 percent commission on sales across the board, it does not necessarily align if an organization is trying to grow a new client base because it is much easier for the sales person to ramp up sales with existing clients. However, if the organization weighted commissions too, for example 10 percent for new client sales, the incentives would align better with goals. While that may not be the goal for all organizations, the theme is the same: Make sure the goals match the incentives, Slutskin said.

To help encourage its employees, ConnectWise also promotes from within, Slutskin said. When people feel they've reached the top of their company's ladder, they move on. ConnectWise tries to prevent that feeling and promote an atmosphere of professional growth. "They see all their peers do it, and they say 'Hey I can do it too! I can be the guy who starts off in the mail room [and moves up],'" Slutskin said.

1. The Customer Above All Else, I Mean It

Slutskin said he always works to put the customer first -- even if it means sacrificing the bottom line or working at break even.

"If we can get you engaged in a community, you're just going to be so much better off," Slutskin said. "I think that's just a big differentiator: We have a community. The competitors want to have it, but they don't invest the time and the money into the community."

He said the better clients do, the better ConnectWise, or any company, will do.

"As we grow, they grow; if we shrink, they shrink. It's a win-win," Slutskin said.