Tips from a $100M sales team to boost your sales
Updated: Mar 24
Time management is vital to the success of a business-to-business sales professional. The pace of the job makes it challenging to stay on top of what can feel like a never-ending list of tasks and responsibilities, leading to feeling overwhelmed and falling behind. This causes the stress and anxiety of feeling unprepared when communicating with customers and can contribute to a lack of confidence in front of them and your manager.
In this article, we discuss the proper mindset required to excel in B2B sales; and provide simple tips and tricks to help you in build a successful career.
Do you remember the movie The Pursuit of Happiness? In it, Will Smith plays the role of Chris Gardner, a struggling salesman who will do whatever it takes to make a sale. One of Chris’s strategies is not to drink water at work so that he does not have to take breaks from cold calling to use the bathroom.
So…this is one approach. Chris’s strategy does emphasize the importance of time management and making the most of every moment in order to achieve success, but it may not be the healthiest way for a human being to get ahead. I think you can stay hydrated and still make the most efficient use of your time. Let’s talk about some more common-sense strategies.
Customer first wins in the long run
To sustain a career in sales, avoid being a shark. Rather, prioritize your customers' success and satisfaction as a good salesperson. Although you might make some quick gains from a few lucrative but unethical deals, your reputation is at stake, and negative news travels fast. Armed with a "customer first" attitude you need to develop an efficient and effective process so you are equipped fulfill your customers' needs.
Establishing consistent routines is essential for laying a solid foundation for your sales career. Your routines should aim to maximize your productivity and streamline every aspect of your workday, particularly your sales process. Remember when we talked about building routines so that you free up time for more pressing items? Ensuring you always have time to put your customers’ needs first is a perfect example of that.
Do you know why people like eating at McDonald's? Because people like consistency. You can walk into a McDonald's anywhere in the world, order an item off the menu, and you know what you’re getting.. That menu is a promise, and McDonald's delivers. In this situation, people don’t like surprises; they want to know what’s coming. The benefit to the customer is that they get exactly what they ordered every single time.
So, what does this have to do with you? This kind of consistency is what builds customer loyalty.
Customers don’t like salespeople who are sporadic and inconsistent. You won’t instill trust with your customers if your process is different every time, and they don’t trust the end result, any more than you would go back to the McDonald's that consistently got your order wrong. This is what happens when information gets lost and opportunities fall through the cracks. That inconsistency makes your customer stop and wonder if they should be coming back to you if you can’t deliver time and again. You can achieve consistency in sales through the implementation of strong internal processes that guarantee the timely delivery of products and a consistent experience for your customer. The same way you did for your personal routines, for steps you need to repeat over and over: think about it once in depth, decide on a process, and stick with it.
When I was managing four people and transacting $100M in revenue annually, we had a saying: “1% better every day.” This motto covered everything, including efficiency. When problems arose, we would discuss them as a team, and implement a process to solve them. Here are some of the bigger systems we delivered a consistent clean and efficient experience for our customers.
Track all opportunities in a CRM
We were meticulous about this! It is essential to keep track of all opportunities, regardless of size, in order to effectively manage your business. This includes large transactions with high potential commissions and small, yet meaningful interactions.
The devil is in the details! Sometimes those small low dollar transactions are extremely
important to your customer. Remember, you can’t drive the $400,000 Ferrari without the key.
Assign close dates to each opportunity to help keep you organized and on top of your sales pipeline. Additionally, implementing stages for each opportunity helps you sort out what needs to be done. Here are the stages we used:
Prospecting - A project that was mentioned - just a reminder to follow up
Gathering requirements - the project is real, but need info from the customer
Quote requested - Action! Finish the quote, proposal or contact
Quote Delivered - follow up with customer (don’t be shy, you’ve done your part)
PO pending - yes! It's going to close - commit in your forecast
Closed Won - Order received, but not done because you still need to deliver
Closed Delivered - Customer is happy, all is done
Have a good file system
It blows me away to watch a librarian find a book in a library: they make it look so easy! Well, for them it is easy because they understand, commit to, and follow a logical system.
Just like you track every opportunity, every opportunity should have a file. And every quote, contract, or proposal you send should have a reference number so it's easy to find. Here is how my team organized our folders. Additionally, we all shared these folders in dropbox so that everyone had access to the latest version. Like a good librarian, we could all find what we were looking for.
We connected our important deal emails to ThreadLive, which enabled us to connect the email conversations to the CRM opportunities they related to. This made it easy to keep track of emails and keep our email communication clean and consistent. ThreadLive is the product I am building today.
Even if you don’t have a team, make a habit of creating tasks for things you need to complete. This is nothing more than a good “to-do” list linked to your CRM. Tasks are a great way to prioritize work.
Review & clean up your pipeline at least once a week.
Dedicate at least an hour (it usually took us two) to review all the opportunities with close dates in the next two months & update them. You’ll be amazed at how many things pop up. This is a great way to refocus your business and set clear goals for what the team needs to accomplish for the week. Additionally, this process ensures you and your team forecast accurately to your management.
Personal efficiency & life hacks
An efficient morning routine starts with a quick and easy breakfast. Minimize prep time by keeping quick and healthy options on hand, and have your coffee maker or tea kettle and to-go cups clean and ready, so you don’t spend time cleaning at the last minute or stopping on the road.
Time your commute for maximum efficiency. Know the traffic patterns in your area and leave at the optimum time so that you minimize commute time and maximize your productive time. For example, if you live in Marin County and work in San Francisco, leaving at 6:30 am instead of 7:45 am can save you 30 minutes in your daily commute.
Additionally, leaving work earlier can also help you avoid the evening traffic. That’s an hour back in your day! Think about how your personal or professional life would benefit from an extra hour doing something, anything, other than sitting in traffic.
Where the heck did I put that thing?
The French have a saying: "une place pour chaque chose et chaque chose à sa place." You may be familiar with the English translation, which is: "a place for everything and everything in its place," and it’s easy to see how important this concept is when we’re talking about efficiency. When things are organized, keeping everything in its designated place becomes a routine, so you minimize the time and energy you spend searching for items.
Your work bag presents another opportunity for efficiency: it should contain everything you need, and only what you need. Just as important, every charger, pen, notepad, and widget should be in the same pocket every time you put it away. That way, you can always find what you’re looking for, and you know right away if something is missing.
When you build this efficiency into your routines, your approach translates to how you manage work and how your customer perceives you. If you waste time digging through your inbox trying to find something someone said or sent to you, you create more work for yourself that you could have avoided!
These little decisions or tasks wear on you more than you know. Decision-making is more exhausting than other types of thinking or reasoning, even when the decisions are small and inconsequential. Remember when we talked about routines? This is the reason. For simple, repeatable tasks, you make the decision once, decide on a process, then stick with it.
If it’s broke, fix it
Are you making the same bad decisions over and over? If you’re stuck in daily routines that don’t help you maximize your efficiency, you need a better system. Implementing routines in both your professional and personal life can eliminate the need for constant decision-making, freeing up your mental capacity to focus on more pressing tasks. If you can develop a simple routine and maintain it for a year, that means you’ve made one decision and gained 365 opportunities for productivity.
These are some of the things that worked for my team; your business may be different. Regardless, take each problem one at a time, think hard on it, put a process in place, and stick with it.
Your customers will appreciate your consistency, you will earn their trust, and that will lead to a successful career in B2B sales.