- Sales quotas are necessary evils. They can be stressful, but it feels great to hit them (until we have to do it all over again).
- Author, consultant, and Salesborgs founder Justin Michael says it’s important to constantly “find systems and processes that generate the most impact.”
- Justin shares best practices for meeting your quotas consistently, including streamlining your tech and tips for productivity that maximize your ability to fill that funnel.
Selling can be like a drug. It’s an adrenaline rush. Hit quota, and we feel like we’ve won the Super Bowl. But instead of going to Disney World, we cash that commission check, pay the mortgage, and the very next day, we’re back at zero with a new number to hit.
That’s a bit of an understatement, especially now.
In the midst of the COVID-19 crisis, “there’s a lot of compassionate management going on, to rethink some hard KPIs, because they’re such a moving target,” he adds.
But as we look to the future, we can empower ourselves to crush our goals no matter what’s happening around us.
In his book “Tech-Powered Sales,” Justin talks about “TQ” (T as in technology, Q as in quotient) and how to leverage technology to create a robust sales pipeline regardless of economic downturns and industry-wide disruptions.
No matter the challenge, Jeremy has a cure. “Pipeline cures all ills,” he says.
On an episode of INSIDE Inside Sales, Justin shares his top tips for hitting quota on a consistent basis, including streamlining your tech stack and ways to increase productivity that maximize your time so you can do what really matters: find new clients and make more deals.
Majority rule: Leverage the 80/20 principle
Justin has “been in the trenches” of sales for 20 years. About 13 of those have been at SaaS companies.
He was lucky enough to work at Salesforce and LinkedIn, for [Napster co-founder, former president of Facebook, and serial investor] Sean Parker, and about a dozen startups. He’s worked as a consultant with roughly a hundred more.
Over time, he’s realized what really works: “asymmetric warfare.”
When you zoom out and look at the big picture, “no matter what you’re scheduled to do, 20% of your activity will be valuable, and 80% will be a waste,” he explains.
It’s not a new theory. Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto first identified it in 1896; Richard Koch wrote about it in 1997’s bestselling “The 80/20 Principle,”; Tim Ferriss revamped it in “The Four-Hour Workweek.”
The upshot? No matter the era, it’s always worthwhile to assess how you spend your time and refine your process toward what actually produces results.
Reach out and triple-touch someone
When Justin first got involved with SaaS companies, he began looking for ways to optimize his cold-call scripts and targeted emails.
“But I also had doubts about the technology catching up,” he says. Back then, sales engagement platforms were just a glimmer in his eye.
That’s why he discovered best practices for meeting quota by observing people who reliably did exactly that, studying patterns in the messages and channels they used.
Based on what he learned, he decided early on to “use every single channel” at his disposal.
Justin points out that research from TOPO and Jeb Blount, both advocate for a “triple touch.” His own experience managing SDRs confirms that “folks using multiple channels in rapid succession” get more replies than those who use a single channel.
It’s just that simple. No magic formula, just more outreach.
Hack the ‘Frankenstack’: Streamline your tech
We all use quite a few tools on a daily basis: Slack, GSuite, or Office 365, and a great sales engagement platform like VanillaSoft, as well as LinkedIn and probably several other apps too. That’s our tech stack.
But LinkedIn has a closed application programming interface (API), and unless (or until) Microsoft changes that, “you can’t really automate your full sales stack,” says Justin.
APIs are the “glue” that sends signals back and forth between software applications, he explains.
When you don’t have them, you need one login after the other, dozens of tabs and windows open, and before you know it, you lose track of what you’re doing because you’ve got a “Frankenstein stack of tools.”
That’s just one of the reasons he recommends choosing just a few and mastering those before branching out to anything new.
Start with the non-negotiables: the phone, Sales Navigator, and a sales engagement platform that enables you to automate sending emails, “so you can be superhuman with 3-5x your output but still personalize,” he says.
Justin also recommends a business intelligence system to manage triggers, direct emails, and phone numbers, along with front-side chat capability (such as a chatbot). A conversational intelligence application is also useful if you’re coaching yourself so that you can listen to your calls.
Critical mass: Batch processing and time blocking
As sales professionals, our lives are often consumed by admin instead of selling. Whether we’re doing research, writing up the results of a call, or scheduling a task to follow up manually, these tasks tend to suck up valuable time better spent prospecting.
So how do we work smarter, not harder?
Justin swears by time blocking, and its close cousin, batch processing.
He recommends spending an hour per day to do focused work of just one kind, like what he calls “dedicated triples”: placing phone calls, leaving voicemails, and sending emails quickly, but manually, so they include a high degree of personalization.
But the secret to time blocking is to protect it fiercely. Your reserved time is sacred, and you shouldn’t let anyone take you away from it, including your boss and those pesky electronic notifications.
One at a time, please: ‘Mono-tasking’ FTW
Batching his work with zero distractions allows Justin to work at extremely high volumes of scale.
He calls it “mono-tasking,” and it may be difficult for those of us who are glued to our smartphones. But Justin, and science, suggest we give it a try.
“Our brains have certain limitations,” he says, citing the Dunbar Theory, which claims the human neocortex can only process 150 connections at once. But today, most of us have thousands of people in our social networks.
That’s why he suggests a tactic that might seem daunting but promises to change the game: Batch-respond to social media.
Sure, we’d all love to address every alert we get in real time. But it’s usually not realistic, especially for Justin, who has tens of thousands of followers on each of several social networks.
He has mobile push notifications turned off for all of them, “because if I don’t batch process, my life would blow up,” he says.
So mute those mentions and get to selling.
“All this does funnel into hitting quota,” Justin adds. “The higher up you go, the bigger the deal size, the faster the mobilization of capital.”