I never really imagined sales would be my career until I closed my first cloud deal as an inside sales rep at Microsoft in 2016. At the time, I made the deal with a small company – and it was worth about $32,000. I was beyond excited about the effort that went into that win. (Now, I know you might be thinking that’s a tiny deal, but consider the average deal size at the time was $10,000 to 15,000. I felt really good.)
Fast forward to summer 2016. I had just been handed my territory in a brand-new role and was off to the races.
My territory at the time was just shy of $8.5 million, but my thinking was not about the size of the portfolio. The entire time, I was evaluating how I would tackle 168 accounts as the new guy.
In preparation for the year, I took a step back and did the following four things to really help me crush the year and kill Q4 – leading to a blowout of my quota.
Four Ways to Blow Out Your B2B Sales Quota
#1: Attend your customer’s quarterly earnings calls.
One of the most unique approaches I had with my territory was viewing it through the lens of a business owner.
This is common feedback, but I took it one step further. I actually attended the quarterly earnings calls of my top publicly-traded customers – and what I learned on those calls was invaluable. Understanding the financial position on top of industry trends provided me true insight into my approach, allowing me to tactically go after my customers. I learned so much that any shareholder would want to know!
And aren’t we all shareholders with our customers – invested in their success?
If you cannot get on an earnings call, though, do not worry! There is plenty of information available on customers, but it may take a bit more hunting than you expect. Invest the time to know your customer. It will help when talking to C-level executives or selling across an organization.
#2: Humanize your interactions with customers.
Sometimes, I did not even sell to my customers when I talked with them. Often, I would spend more time getting to know them as human beings.
The approach transferred into my discussions when it came to our solutions. I was able to take the influence or trust that had been built and humanize the technology so it would make sense for the customer. There were some conversations where customers would ask me if they should buy and I would tell them “no” or “wait” – showing that not everything will always be recommended or a go-forward answer. At the same time, injecting the financial element (acquired either from earnings calls or some other source) to drive my recommendations was powerful. Leaders don’t make decisions from their gut; they make decisions based on data.
#3: Leverage your sales process, but don’t feel you have to follow it “perfectly.”
Because Microsoft is a massive company with a large sales force operating around the world, it has a sales process. However, when I was an account executive, my focus was to get to the customer conversation and not worry about perfecting the sales process.
The sales process is the guideline, corporate framework, or proverbial “North Star” to shoot for during the sales cycle. However, in reality, great sellers are able to leverage the sales process while knowing when to be flexible and go off script to ensure customer engagements are authentic. Forget perfecting the process, and perfect being yourself.
#4: Do right by your customers.
Do right by the customer and you will kill everything – quota, expectations, pressure, stress, and whatever else we deal with as sellers.
It is more important to build a sense of empathy that translates to a “customer first” mentality. The impact of driving toward the customers’ goals is the beauty of what successful sellers do really well.
While driving toward the goal, focus on building influence, trust, and commitment from the customer. The sales cycle breaks when trust is not established or the customer is not committed to the transformation.
At the end of the day, did these four principles work for me? Of course! Remember, my territory was $8.5 million in existing business. When the fiscal year ended, my territory had grown 44 percent year over year, and my total attainment was 124 percent to target (target = 100 percent). Keep in mind: Payout starts at 75 percent attainment, so what I am sharing was definitely effective for my approach. I hope it helps you, too.