Why, in your opinion, do most sales people fail?
I think they pick wrong.
- It’s important first to understand, do you need to be in an environment with lots of training, systems, process, and micromanagement? Big Companies, at least some of them, are generally very good at this. Larger, fast-growing start-ups often become excellent at it. Small start-ups are almost always terrible at it. Don’t join a company of less than 100 or maybe even 200 employees if you need this infrastructure. Most of us do.
- Pick a price point you know how to sell at. I’ve seen sales reps great at $ 20k deals join a start-up with tons of leads but at a $ 2k price point and fail. And vice-versa.
- Pick a sales process you are comfortable with. Are you good at in-bound? Out-bound? Farming? Account management?
- Can you do truly competitive sales? Many sales professionals can win in an environment like Salesforce or Twilio where you have a dominant — not sole, but dominant — brand, but melt in an environment that is hyper-competitive. One is not harder than the other. It’s just different.
- Can you sell without a brand backing you? Related to the prior point. Selling a product without an established brand, at least a mini-brand in its niche, is different. It can be fun, because you get to interact with early adopters — but it’s different.
- Do you or at least can you believe in the product? If you don’t truly believe, it will be really tough to hit quota.
- Can you self-organize? It can be very tough to excel in almost any smaller environment if you can’t self-organize. But larger sales organizations put sales operations processes in place that keep you more organized. This may be the #1 reason AEs fail joining very early start-ups.
- Don’t skip too many steps of development. This is a very 2018 issue, but these days, so many sales professionals skip too many steps. From 60 days as an SDR straight to a quota-carrying AE. From a good AE without ever having hired anyone, straight to a VP of Sales. Push hard, grow faster for sure. But when I see folks skip 2+ stages of development, I’ve almost never seen that work out.
- Pick a great boss. This doesn’t control for everything, but it sure does control for a lot. A great boss will find ways to backfill your weaknesses, get you trained one way or another, get you into the right role with the right leads. This is #1.