Understanding the Acquisition and the Need for Change
As the host of the Sales POP! Online Sales Magazine and Pipeline CRM. I had the pleasure of interviewing Andrew Swiler, the CEO of a leading software suite for Microsoft users. Our conversation revolved around his experience acquiring and turning around a software company. Andrew emphasized the importance of understanding what you’re buying when acquiring a company and the need for significant changes when sales are flat.
The sales team he inherited had no objectives or KPIs and lacked modern sales tactics. They were solely focused on farming the current user base for revenue and were resistant to change. Andrew shared that the existing sales process was not really a process at all, with each salesperson having their own way of selling. This lack of structure and resistance to change were the first challenges Andrew had to tackle.
Implementing a Personalized Approach to Sales
To turn things around, Andrew implemented a more personalized approach to the sales process. He encouraged the sales team to make personalized calls and send personalized emails, showing genuine interest in the prospects’ businesses. He also emphasized the importance of curiosity in sales, comparing it to the mindset of entrepreneurs. Andrew believes that salespeople need to be curious and constantly seek new knowledge and insights to succeed.
Rebuilding the Sales Team
Andrew discussed the process of rebuilding his sales team. He let go of most of the existing salespeople, except for one dedicated individual who had been with the company for ten years. This person was highly knowledgeable about the product and always went the extra mile to support the team. Andrew decided to give him a chance to prove himself as an asset, even though he wasn’t the best salesperson.
To rebuild the team, Andrew worked with someone to create a sales playbook that outlined their processes and steps for lead management, email sequences, and more. They then hired a few new salespeople, but one of them turned out to be unreliable and had taken another job without informing Andrew. This experience highlighted the importance of honesty and integrity in a small company like theirs.
The Challenges of Hiring Great Salespeople
Andrew emphasized the need for candidates who have held a job for more than three years. He finds it confusing how some people with a history of job-hopping still get hired. We also touched on the entrepreneurial nature of salespeople and the importance of curiosity and adaptability in a constantly changing market.
Andrew mentioned that he tries to hire more women in sales, as he believes they tend to be more honest and wants to address the gender imbalance in the industry.
The Importance of Authenticity in Sales
We discussed the importance of authenticity in sales and the shift towards more human-centric selling. I mentioned that women salespeople often bring a natural level of empathy and authenticity to their interactions. Andrew agreed and added that many salespeople, both men and women, are naturally competitive. Sometimes this competitiveness can manifest in a toxic way.
Andrew shared an example of a toxic salesperson who would yell at people on the marketing team and treat others with deference. He emphasized that authenticity is crucial in sales. As people can see through inauthentic behavior.
The Need for Genuine Connections
Before the pandemic, there was already a growing desire for human relationships in sales. The pandemic has further highlighted the need for genuine connections. Andrew mentioned a statistic from McKinsey that 80% of software buyers prefer not to speak to someone. Before purchasing software, which surprised him. I suggested that this preference may stem from bad experiences. If a salesperson can surprise and provide value to the buyer, they will stand out from the competition.
John is the Amazon-bestselling author of Winning the Battle for Sales: Lessons on Closing Every Deal from the World’s Greatest Military Victories and Social Upheaval: How to Win at Social Selling. A globally acknowledged Sales & Marketing thought leader, speaker, and strategist. He is CSMO at Pipeliner CRM. In his spare time, John is an avid Martial Artist.