Qlose is an interview format that meets the best experts in sales reps to find out how they contribute to their company's sales performance.
1. The context
Can you introduce yourself?
Pauline Brun Messa, I've been Head of Sales at Ringover for 3 and a half years now. Ringover is a SaaS software publisher, with particular expertise in telephony.
When I arrived at Ringover, we had less than 50 employees, just 3 sales reps, and today we have 350 employees, including 40 sales reps.
2. The foundations of sales rep management
How is your sales rep team structured?
In a hypergrowth company, as the years go by, you have to structure and destructure the sales rep organisation, it's part of everyday life.
When I arrived at Ringover, a large proportion of our prospects came from the inbound channel, so it was fluid. However, the problem was that a large proportion of these prospects were small companies with fewer than 50 employees.
To achieve the growth we were hoping for, we needed to sign up larger companies. To achieve this, we created an Outbound team.
Initially, our sales team was organised geographically (Paris, Marseille, Lyon and Barcelona), and according to 3 account sizes (1 to 10 employees, 11 to 50 employees and over 50 employees).
Today, we have 4 different account sizes (1 to 10 employees, 11 to 200 employees, 201 to 500 employees and over 500 employees) with an Inbound team and an Outbound team.
Inbound and outbound are two different professions, and managing a sale with a small business versus a large company are also two very different things.
In your opinion, what is the most important thing for a successful sales rep?
Over 60% of employees who leave a company do so because of management.
Today, a manager has an impact on the performance of his teams by being inspiring and motivating, and by understanding the ups and downs of his teams.
In my opinion, there are two major challenges to be met: firstly, to be the information relay for your team, to be the spokesperson for your teams to management and vice versa. This is vital, because there are often problems to be solved, improvements to be made, good ideas to be passed on, and so on.
The second challenge is to take an individual interest in all the members of your team, to identify their motivational drivers and their prospects for development.
How do you monitor the sales rep performance of your sales team?
Today, one of the essential tools for monitoring our sales rep performance is Ringover, which allows me to track the activity and performance of my team.
Our CRM is also essential, in fact it's the key tool because we can connect all our tools to it and monitor all the data in real time. We can easily produce very clear reports, by team and by employee.
I also use the Empower tool, which is a continuation of Ringover, and which is a conversational analysis tool that allows us to see a summary of each discussion between sales reps and prospects, and to analyse the mood and commitment of prospects.
3. Individual sales rep management
How are the one-to-ones structured?
The quality, timing and content of one-to-ones vary from company to company.
One-to-ones are extremely important for achieving the desired performance, both individually and collectively.
It's precious time between manager and employee, and it saves us precious time too. Without this special time, sales reps come to their manager all day long to discuss a wide variety of topics, whether urgent or not. If we want to be productive and focused, we need a weekly check-in to exchange ideas and take the temperature of the employee.
At Ringover, the one-to-ones have had a considerable impact on both employees and managers.
We do this every week, me with the managers and the managers with the sales reps. We adopted this method because it's very difficult to do one-to-ones with more than 10 people.
The structure of these points is as follows:
- The employee's mood: how he or she is feeling, how the week is going, what topics need to be discussed this week, etc.
- The past week's activity, supported by the CRM report: number of calls made, number of Meetings made, number of opportunities opened, number of new opportunities, etc. This is a report that every member of staff has beforehand, so that they can better address the issue. There are also colour codes to show where the employee stands: green for outperformance, orange for the intermediate phase and red to indicate that the employee is falling short of expectations.
- The objectives for the week: the actions to be implemented in the short term depending on the employee's situation. These objectives must be SMART, and as detailed as possible.
At Ringover, these meetings generally take place on Monday afternoons or Fridays.
What indicators should be monitored during 1 to 1 sessions?
In my opinion, the first indicator is the number of calls made. Today, there's no better channel for obtaining information, whether it's about the prospect's availability, their problems and projects, etc. An e-mail or Linkedin message is like throwing a bottle into the sea.
An email or Linkedin message is like throwing a bottle into the sea - we all receive a lot of them, and on a wide variety of topics.
The telephone is essential for forging links and finding information quickly. Of course, these calls need to be analysed in detail to determine how many have the potential to lead to a real project.
The number of Meetings booked is also an important indicator. There's no secret about it: this indicator is closely linked to the number of calls made.
Finally, there is the number of Meetings held and the number of new opportunities created.
We mustn't forget that if an employee doesn't achieve his or her objectives, there may be reasons for this, and we must try to understand them. A sales rep goes through several cycles in his or her life. An employee can't always be at the top of his game. It's our role to identify the levers that need to be activated, the factors for immediate success, so that the employee doesn't have to pay the price for his week the following week.
Another very important indicator is the value of the current pipeline, i.e. the number of prospects in the sales rep's portfolio. To achieve your targets on a regular basis, you need to have 10 times the value of your monthly pipeline.
How do you deal with underperformance in one-to-ones? What strategy and communication do you adopt?
Everyone has to deal with underperformance. The life of a sales rep is made up of cycles, periods of outperformance and periods of underperformance.
To begin with, you need to conduct a discovery phase with the employee, asking them questions and finding out whether they are aware that they are underperforming.
Then, you need to go back over the results together, asking for feedback, what you did well, what you did less well, how you explain it, why you didn't achieve your objectives, what indicators justify it, etc.
Once this stage has been completed, you need to ask the employee what concrete steps they intend to take to get back on track.
Ultimately, we can identify the source of this under-performance: a drop in motivation, poor portfolio management, major contracts that have been lost, etc.
Sometimes, sales reps underperform even though they have put a lot of effort into their day-to-day work. That's why, as a manager, you have to remember that it's not just the result that counts, it's also how far you've come. Perhaps, as a manager, you haven't given the sales reps all the resources they need to achieve this, so you have to question yourself.
Particular attention needs to be paid to whether the employee's underperformance is temporary or recurring. In the latter case, the topic is approached in a different way and the actions to be taken are different.
At Ringover, after 3 months of underperformance, we provide our sales reps with personal support for 3 months. During this period, the manager will listen twice to the calls they make, provide coaching, give them all the resources they need to help them sign new customers, and so on. The employee becomes the manager's priority, and there will be regular oral and written exchanges.
4. Sales rep team management
What are the team Meetings? What are their objectives?
Apart from training courses and company meetings, we have two weekly rituals.
The first meeting takes place on Monday morning, during which we discuss the results of the past week, or the past month if it's the beginning of the month. At this meeting, we talk about a success story, where a sales rep tells us the story of a contract signed with a customer, including the objections and difficulties encountered. Next, the managers will share their priorities, current opportunities and the opportunities they are confident of winning.
The second meeting is much less formal, taking place on Friday, and each manager will have a meeting with his or her team. The aim here is to take the temperature of everyone and gather as much information as possible. The aim here is to take the temperature of everyone and gather as much information as possible, which the managers can then pass on to me at a later meeting.
What indicators should be monitored at team meetings?
The MRR generated is the first indicator that is monitored at the team meeting. We also look at the percentage of objectives achieved by country, and by team (Inbound, Outbound), and then by account size.
This is a time when we also put the spotlight on the best sales reps.
How do you deal with underperformance at team meetings? What strategy and communication do you adopt?
Firstly, team underperformance is only addressed if it affects a large part of the team.
Secondly, frankness and benevolence are essential when tackling such a topic in a team. You have to understand, find out what the team is missing to achieve its objectives, and make yourself available to support them, whether collectively or individually.
If I'm underperforming overall, it means that I've missed something - we're all in the same boat.
Based on our discussions, we put in place a short- and medium-term action plan to help us catch up. For example, this could involve increasing the average basket or making additional and/or complementary sales to our existing customers.
5. Managing new sales reps
How are new employees managed during the ramp-up?
Firstly, each new employee has targets to achieve in 30, 60 and 90 days. During these first 3 months, it's vital that the employee knows exactly what we expect of them.
A review is carried out at the end of each month in the same way as for the other employees, with a particular focus on their sales activity: number of calls made, number of Meetings arranged, number of Meetings completed, etc. But also their knowledge of the product, their motivation, their relationship with other employees, etc.
The aim of these first 3 months is to get them up and running by the end of the period. He or she needs to practise the sales pitch, the product, our business verticals, our targets, our different offers and so on.
Ringover's Ops and Sales Enablement departments also give us feedback at 30, 60 and 90 days on the employee's strengths and areas for improvement.
The last word...
Do you have one or more resources that you like to consult to help you improve your Sales approach?
There's the Women Sales Club, which enables me to meet some very inspiring women, and which I've just joined. You have to realise that 70% of its performance is linked to networking and mentoring. These are very diverse and varied exchanges that enable you to challenge yourself, acquire new skills, explore new avenues, etc.
Then there's a book that has helped and inspired me a lot, called 90 Days to Success. In it we learn that to succeed, there is necessarily an observation phase first, and the second thing is that you mustn't try to change everything. It's important to identify the priorities that can easily be implemented so that you can make a difference in the short term.
I don't think you should hesitate to talk internally with your peers, to look for mentors within your own organisation.