As Ron Wille, CEO of two INC 5000 companies, launches One Down Consulting Group, a consulting firm focused on aligning technology, process and people to grow sales, he sits down with Launch Team President Michele Nichols. Follow along as they discuss trends and tips to improve sales.
Part 1: Market Outlook for Technology Companies
What’s the attitude and outlook in the market right now for tech companies?
Ron: Cautiously optimistic. Most CEOs are following the election closely, but they are taking the attitude of ‘let it play out’ and are plowing ahead with projects that will improve revenue and profits.
Michele: I’m seeing a lot of smart, conservative steps forward. A lot are using a phased approach with major initiatives, starting with foundational projects. They are taking deliberate action.
What do you see as the biggest barrier to growth?
Ron: Themselves. A lot of companies we meet with have a good product, a good market outlook, but can’t figure out how to get different results with the same people and tools. They need to do something different, but recognize that they don’t know what they don’t know.
Michele: Status quo and risk aversion. Companies in startup mode are hungry and fast moving. Once they’ve hit a level of success, it’s more difficult to spur well-coordinated action from an internal team. There seems to be an openness to outside help, whether consulting or a mixed team of internal resources and outsourced talent.
Download our free sales guide for tips on building a healthy sales pipeline and a productive sales organization.
What does an effective salesperson look like in a modern, scalable company?
Ron: Ooh, good question. In traditional companies, sales reps are good at handling objections and convincing prospects. In a modern company, salespeople are well versed in technology, efficient, and are focused on servicing prospects and answering technical questions versus convincing.
In one company I talked with, the CEO is looking to increase revenue, and the last two salespeople he tried to hire asked if he had a CRM in place—without one, they turned down the job offer.
Michele: Don’t you wish you could watch job applicants use their phone and computer in the screening process? Consistent, daily use of the tools you’ve implemented is pretty critical to their success. We get asked a lot, would you rather hire for a ‘gold rolodex’ or application expertise?
Ron: It depends on the industry. It’s always a question—what book of business will a new hire really be able to bring? Regardless of their relationships, prospects may not be ready or be a fit for your solutions.
It usually means short term gains. Deep industry and technical knowledge can bring a real leg up.
Distributors or outside reps with the golden rolodex are a win, though. They interact with enough customers and offer a range of solutions, so they’re able to identify opportunities with the right relationships at the right time.
The ‘golf’ relationship is a bit of a cliché. The business world has changed.
Michele: I do think breaking bread is certainly still important, but it comes at a different point in the sales process. Especially when selling globally through an inbound marketing strategy, relationship building often comes later in the sales process—even post-sale. It’s still important to spend time face to face to build trust and develop a shared understanding. Inbound lead generation changes the goal of activities like tradeshows—they’re for spending face time, learning more about the prospect’s business, and visiting existing customers than lead generation.
Ron: Very true. As you look to change your go-to-market strategy, you’ve got to revisit your sales methodology. Do managers know how best to deploy technology? Do sales reps have the capacity to use it well? How much time should you invest?
Michele: When implementing new sales tools, what about the attitude of, “Let’s let Bob do his thing."?
Ron: So much has changed. When you implement marketing automation there’s so much you can do to support salespeople. Reps can get so much help along the way. By letting them sell as they always have, avoiding using tools like CRM and marketing automation is a missed opportunity. They’re not leveraging their time and expertise, and it’s just a matter of time before those who do will outperform them.
So is this the driver to creating One Down Consulting?
Ron: Yes. We see so many companies leaving money on the table due to misalignment between sales and marketing, and who are struggling to implement technology and processes to improve sales.
We really like helping companies perform better and are experienced in implementing sales methodologies that work. It’s a huge opportunity—companies may have great product, great people, and strong sales management but still have a gap in process and technology.
Check out Ron and Michele’s 11 tips to improve sales in Part 2 of this series.