It was a Monday. April of 2013. I was scheduled to take a road trip to the west coast. Shortly before leaving, I was called into an important meeting with the VP of sales.  

I walked into the conference room, ready to prepare for my trip. But I was stopped short when I noticed an HR representative sitting at the table.

I quickly realized I was being put on plan.  

My heart began beating quickly. I was soon shaking as I realized the seriousness of the discussion.  

My first impulse was to bring up the exact reasons why I had fallen behind. I was embarrassed, hurt, and ashamed with my performance.

The meeting was painful.  

The VP started discussing his concerns with my performance and overall understanding of what an enterprise sales rep needed to be successful.  

I immediately stood up, and confidently stated that I’d been very successful over the past three years, and this would be no different.  

HR began reviewing guidelines.  

I interrupted.  

I couldn’t let any decisions be made right there and then. I requested an extension before moving forward with putting me on plan. 

mary-6-month-what-happened

Sitting on a plane for six hours to the west coast gave me time to think about what got me to that meeting. I reviewed the past six months:

  • My motivation was at an all-time low.
  • My demonstration activity had decreased by 50%.
  • I had not hit my quota in two months.

In fact, I hadn't brought in a single deal in the past sixty days.

I knew that I was not performing at the level I needed to, so I constructed a plan to meet five prospects per quarter with a concise sales process -- BDR qualification, specialist qualification, influencer demo, executive demo to a close. For three of the five demos, executive representation would be present to review the processes. 

mary-3-month-later-change

It's now July of 2013 -- a full three months after that HR meeting -- and my new process started to pick up steam in the third quarter.

I started using resources more wisely, working with ...

  • Sales leaders to establish executive support with decision makers.
  • Sales engineers to answer customer questions around technical implementations.

All of this added tremendous value to the sales cycle.  

In a specific situation, I brought our VP of Enterprise Sales onto a call for an established customer when they were considering an upgrade. The customer needed reassurance that they’d be supported through onboarding and building a playbook for adopting our inbound methodology.  

Our VP discussed my background and experience; he instilled confidence with their team that we care deeply about their success, and that I would be involved through onboarding and adoption. Not only did we win the deal, this customer often references that one meeting repeatedly when she refers other companies our way.  

Suddenly, I felt inspired and motivated.

Hearing the leader of my team share his confidence in my experience and ability to work with this customer was redeeming. My confidence soared, and with each call I felt more able to take on complex situations within the sales process knowing that leadership supported me completely.    

I had earned the right to be an Enterprise sales rep -- and it felt great.

mary-9-month-later-history

I’m sitting in a conference room again. But this time it’s much larger, and instead of HR, our company’s entire sales and marketing team is present.

As our CEO reviews the sales numbers, he requests a drumroll for the highest revenue generating sales rep of the month. But this time, the individual isn’t just the highest revenue generator of the year, she broke the company sales record.  

That’s when my face appeared on screen, and the room burst in applause.  

After a 9-month sales cycle with tremendous support internally, I finally hit jackpot by onboarding the largest account in HubSpot history. Things were taking a turn for the better and I realized that my skills were in place. I was out of my rut and gaining momentum.

I was back in business.

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Originally published May 15, 2014 10:03:00 AM, updated February 01 2017

Topics:

Hustle in Sales