In sales, it's either feast or famine. Here's how 4 Austin teams make sure they're eating well

February 7, 2018

We’ve covered the sales team traditions of Austin tech before. But for anyone who has worked in sales, you know the celebrations are only half of it.

What do sales teams do to support one another during down times? How do they keep morale up when there isn’t something to celebrate? We asked four sales leaders from Austin tech just that, and more. Here’s what they had to say.

 

alertmedia austin team
photo provided by alertmedia

AlertMedia’s sales team remains proactive, getting ahead of potential pitfalls whenever they can. Peter Steinfeld, VP of sales, said they do so by training sales reps to ask the right qualifying questions. Reps can then identify what opportunities are worth their time, those that are not, and what work needs to be done to ensure a positive outcome.

 

What are some common objections your team gets, and how does leadership help them overcome those objections?
Peter Steinfeld, VP of sales: The price is too high. We didn’t budget for this. Your competitor does “X.” We hear all of the usual objections. We help our sales reps overcome them through training and by building an amazing product that delivers real value. AlertMedia helps our customers keep people safe during emergency events, and we’re passionate about it, so objections are just minor diversions in meaningful discussions about improving safety outcomes.

 

What's unique about your company's salesforce that you hadn't seen elsewhere?
Brian Cruver, CEO: AlertMedia focuses on transparency and collaboration, so our salesforce is incredibly aligned with the entire organization.The company encourages this alignment with a company-wide bonus pool and stock options, so every employee, regardless of department, strives for the same goal: to make AlertMedia great.

 

When the team hits its goals, how does your team celebrate?
Brett Andrew, CRO: We have a combination of weekly, quarterly and annual awards and recognitions. We take top sales performers on an annual trip with the executive team, while giving out different weekend trips as awards for hitting performance milestones. Our sales team also enjoys team-based competitions and awards throughout the year, with winners enjoying offsite activities like Top Golf and Alamo Drafthouse. The sales team also competes for a variety of awards, including those sponsored by the leadership team.

 

bigcommerce team
photo provided by bigcommerce

Brian Parks, VP of enterprise sales at BigCommerce, said his team is filled with naturally kind people who pick one another up without hesitation. One of the most common objections his reps hear is lack of money. To overcome that hurdle, each rep is loaded with an ROI calculator to build a business case for BigCommerce solutions.

 

How does your sales team keep spirits up when teammates start to get down?
For us, maintaining good "mojo" starts with building a strong, team-oriented culture where we encourage people to support each other all the time — not just when things are challenging. We also talk about gratitude and revisit the bigger picture opportunity so we don't get lost in the weeds of the day-to-day.

 

What are some common objections your team gets, and how does leadership help them overcome these?
The biggest objections we see are usually a combination of time, resources and cost, which are really just ways of customers saying they don't have a strong enough business case to make the change now. We coach our sales teams to develop the pains that made the customer start evaluating new options in the first place, uncover additional "latent" pains that they might not have been aware of, and help the customer build a business case for why they need to move. Ultimately, it's all about time and money; if we can show a prospect how they are going to save time and make more money, they will make a change.

We've developed training around discovery questions to uncover the pains as well as tools like ROI calculators to help build the business case for prospective clients.

 

What's unique about your company's salesforce that you hadn't seen elsewhere?
Sales teams are often passionate, fun-loving folks, but what I think makes this team special is how much they really love our industry and product. E-commerce is such a fun space to be in. We get to help all kinds of people, from the tiny, one-person startup selling out of their garage to the biggest Fortune 100 clients and everyone in between. Our products really help them succeed and grow their business. That impact is not lost on our team.

 

When the team hits its goals, how does your team celebrate?
Our CEO Brent loves to celebrate wins. He’s a great host with impeccable taste in wine, so our favorite celebration is heading over to his house for BBQ and popping bottles of his finest wines.

 

lithium technologies
photo provided by lithium

Eric Owens, a manager of sales development at Lithium Technologies, said the company’s sense of community makes its sales organization unique. Owens said the CEO and executives know everyone on the sales team from top to bottom and work with them to support their individual career paths.

 

How does your sales team keep spirits up when teammates start to get down?
Working in sales is tough — we know that. There are definitely ups and downs along the way. However, at Lithium you aren’t just another employee on paper. Our culture promotes personal relationships across the entire company, and we constantly strive to keep spirits up during the tough times. As a group of talented and tenacious reps, we work hard and know how to handle adversity while not taking ourselves too seriously.

To keep up morale, our leadership consistently invests in our team by providing events, activities and travel opportunities to maintain an enjoyable and dynamic culture (plus we allow dogs in our office).

 

What are some common objections your team gets, and how does leadership help them overcome those objections?
Since Lithium sells primarily into large-scale enterprise companies in specific industries, the most common objections we get are from smaller companies and that our software is too robust and extensive – there really isn’t much else. To make sure we go after the right accounts, our sales team aligns closely with executive leadership to make sure we have the right targets.

 

When the team hits its goals, how does your team celebrate?
We set ambitious goals at Lithium, and when we hit them we make sure to celebrate our wins (we also make sure to keep our kitchens stocked with beer and wine!). Typical celebrations include team outings, happy hours, dinners, professional sporting events, and activities like mini-golf, bowling or go-kart racing. Plus, individual top producers have the opportunity to qualify for our annual President’s Club, which is an all-expense paid trip to luxury locations throughout the world.

 

logicmonitor austin
photo provided by logicmonitor

LogicMonitor just moved into a new downtown space off West 2nd Street. The new office features beer on tap, foosball and more to ensure teammates stay optimistic and motivated. Steve Khan, director of enterprise sales, said that in addition to in-office activities, the sales team kicks off each quarter with a clean slate.

 

How else does your sales team keep spirits up when teammates start to get down?
One of the unique things about working in sales is that it is always feast or famine. In other words, everyone that has been in sales for any considerable amount of time has had their share of good quarters and bad quarters, big wins and miserable losses. At LogicMonitor we foster a culture of learning, collaboration and feedback, so our reps know how to learn from a loss and come back even stronger. They know how important it is to share feedback on why we lost so the rest of the company can leverage the learnings to shape our strategy, which is how we turn a short-term loss into a long-term win for the business.  

 

What are some common objections your team gets, and how does leadership help them overcome those objections?
In our space, enterprise SaaS, a common objection is the perception of increased costs due to moving from a CAPEX model to an OPEX model. This is where enterprises use budget reserved for ongoing costs instead of budget reserved for one-time purchases.

We enable our sales reps to handle this objection by developing tools and sales assets that show the customer total cost of ownership as well as return on investment data to ease their minds about the relative cost of our solution. We invest in developing our people and provide lots of opportunities for sales training, sales coaching and attending workshops and seminars.  Even the most seasoned leaders can always learn a new sales strategy.

 

What's unique about your company's salesforce that you hadn't seen elsewhere? LogicMonitor solves highly technical problems encountered by even the most skilled IT organizations. One thing that is unique about our salesforce is that each rep is able to understand these super technical concepts and advise their customers on best practices and peer examples to achieve operational efficiency. The combination of technical knowhow and sales skills is never easy to find, but my reps excel in this area and it truly shows in their interactions with our customers.

 

When the team hits its goals, how does your team celebrate?
We provide rewards for individuals who crush their goals from commission accelerators to our annual President's Club, which this year is in Hawaii. But celebrating our wins is part of our daily DNA. We have a real gong in the office that we bang with great fanfare at every win and follow that up with a detailed email out to the company about how we won that highlights all of the teams across the business that helped.

On top of that, we're never too far away from a celebratory happy hour on West 6th Street, or team dinner on 2nd Street. We also organize outings like stand-up paddleboarding on Lady Bird Lake or tickets to watch the PGA stars compete in the Dell Match Play tournament at Austin Country Club.

 

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