It all started with a thank you note from a sales leader.
Drew Ellis of SAP was so specific in what he shared in a LinkedIn message that I appreciatively replied asking for a short Zoom meeting so I could learn more. It was in that conversation that he dropped so much sales and sales management brilliance on me that I took a full page of notes. After 45 energizing minutes (the meeting was only scheduled for 20), I did something that I had never done before. I invited someone with whom I had not worked and did not know to be a guest on my show. And am I glad I did.
Drew’s sales career took off like a rocket during the Great Recession of 2008-2009 where he produced breakout results from becoming a true trusted advisor, value-creating, problem-solving, consultative sales pro. He then parlayed that success into a coveted sales position at SAP where early on he had to overcome “impostor syndrome” doubting whether he even belonged there. As you will see (and should listen here), Drew belonged!
Knowing that some of my readers don’t do podcasts, I’m including below a taste of the highlights from our conversation because I don’t want you to miss what Drew shared with me. Sellers and sales leaders alike will benefit from his perspective and prowess.
My biggest takeaways from Drew’s success…
From Part 1 for Salespeople:
As a self-proclaimed introvert, Drew admitted that he loathed the idea of becoming a (stereotypical) salesperson even though he was attracted to sales by the opportunity of solving problems and making an impact on his customers’ business.
- Drew revealed that everything changed for him when he adopted the mentality that his mission was to bring value and solve the prospect’s/customer’s problem.
Becoming “Thick as Thieves”
- Drew became as “thick as thieves” with his biggest customer…the status where the customer stops seeing you as a salesperson and you become a trusted business partner. He says he accomplished this when he learned to “stop talking about our company and our product and started talking about their business and what they were trying to do…”
- He implored sellers that in order “to get that point where your customer trusts you with their goals and their future — you have to bring them value and be seen as someone who is an enabler to that goal, and not just trying to get into their pocket”
- Drew continued, “I built the reputation that they could trust that what I was bringing to them was going to be in their best interest and not mine”
- Benefitting from the approach outlined above, continuing to invest in his professional development, and from some helpful mentoring, Drew closed several career-defining deals that altered his career trajectory. And as he so eloquently told me, closing one huge deal can be chalked up to luck, but when you do it a few times, you get viewed differently. These significant sales successes built his internal brand and put him in position to pursue a leadership role.
FROM PART 2 FOR SALES LEADERS:
In the second half of our conversation, Drew shared about his hunger to move into leadership and the journey that ensued. He offered a ton of wisdom and practical advice for (new and veteran) sales managers. I was most impressed by these six gems and hearing how he…
1. Went after two open sales management roles…and professionally prepped for interviews by building out frameworks (using Sales Management. Simplified.) for leading his future sales team before he even had the job! P.S. – he got both offers.
2. Articulated his understanding that being a top rep is not enough to be great in a management role, and the realization that playing team superhero is the wrong approach.
3. Hired for culture, passion, grit, and fit.
4. Was confident and secure enough to bring people onto his team who he saw as better than himself.
5. Implemented disciplines around proactive new business development and sales process.
6. Adapted my 1:1 Sales Management Accountability Progression (results then pipeline then activity) to better align with his new team and business.
As Drew and I dug into #5 and #6 above and discussed the importance of sellers being perpetually proactive, along with his belief that the number “first dates” are possibly the most important sales metric, he offered this powerful perspective:
“One of those things I have done wrong in my career is get to your number and have nothing else to work on…because you stopped prospecting….
I think there is no greater tragedy than to have a salesperson at 100% of their number with half a year left and no pipeline…
You end up prospecting when you should be closing.”
I had a ton of takeaways from Drew, and I am hopeful you will, too!
To becoming thick as thieves with customers and winning more New Sales and career-defining deals than ever,