Uber sales leader eliminates ‘the myth of the closer’

In November, we staged the 2nd ever Sales Confidence live event at Peakon HQ in London. We were privileged to hear some of the best sales leaders in the SaaS industry share their ideas. Based on the talks at the event, we’ve put together the Sales Confidence Skills Series. Even if you couldn’t be there, you can still get inspired.

Erinn Collier

Our final speaker was Erinn Collier. Erinn is currently Head of the UK at Uber for Business, the B2B side of Uber. Before that, Erinn spent many years at Salesforce, achieving the role of Regional VP. Erinn has strong views on the future of sales, and was happy to share them with us at our event. The title of Erinn’s talk was ‘Automation – Unlocking creativity in your team’.

The legend of ‘The Closer’

Erinn spoke about her early days in sales, and how the traditional stereotype of salespeople almost put her off. The legend of ‘The Closer’.

You know the type of salesman (and it’s almost always a man). It’s the Glengarry Glen Ross, Wolf of Wall St type. ‘ABC. Always be closing.’ Sharp suits, strong language, arrogant manner.

In a previous article, I wrote about Sales Jerk, the unhelpful, arrogant salesperson. However, the difference here is that ‘The Closer’ is more successful, most of the time anyway.

However, these ‘closers’ have an aura around them, which can be off-putting. Here’s how Erinn put it.

‘We build up a mystique around sales. A ‘Closer’ is great. A ‘Closer’ is going to be successful anywhere. He has the secret sauce. He goes in and he can sell it. He can sell it to you even if you’re not really buying.’

‘I thought. ‘What if I don’t have that? What if I can’t persuade people?’’

The case for the defence

Of course, Erinn needn’t have worried. However, while I’m here I’d like to offer up a bit of a defence of the salesperson.

I always say at Sales Confidence, salespeople deserve a lot of credit. Every business needs someone who can sell, or there is no business. Good salespeople have many skills, Of course, there’s no need for arrogance about it though. Humility is an essential trait for a good salesperson.

Additionally, in today’s world, the best salespeople use their expertise and empathy to sell, not bluster and bombast. We prize relationship-building, a consultative sell. Plus, it’s not a numbers game like in the old days. Most of us have more leads than we can handle!

Mythbusting

Anyway, back to Erinn’s talk. Erinn believes the sales industry has not done enough to get rid of these attitudes.

‘A lot of that is still really relevant. The mystique. The ‘I am a ‘Closer’. I can get them. I am a star.’ This attitude still prevails and I think it’s damaging to us.’

However, Erinn identified something that is destroying this style of salesperson, and their legendary status. Automation.

Automation is creating unbelievable change in the sales industry, and salespeople will have to get on board fast.

‘Think about how fast our industry is moving, how fast the technology is moving. We all have a supercomputer inside our pocket. We need to be a lot more open change, and a lot less tied to the old mentality of how we bring revenue to our company.’

How will automation affect sales?

Automation will affect sales in incalculable ways, I’m sure it already has for you.

What Erinn spoke about was basically making the sales process a lot more self-service. Automation provides the means for the buyer to find out all they need to know about a product, buy it and onboard it.

‘We’ve been talking about how we can move our SME sales through more of a self-service funnel. You have a guided, intuitive experience on a website. You go in, you get different sorts of comms. Right now, we already do that for companies with between 0 and 50 employees. I see a path to it being 0 to 200.’

That’s a whole group of companies that never get to meet ‘The Closer’, and that group will grow. Salespeople will have to refine their skills to succeed in this new world. There will be a place for creative people with great ideas. There will certainly be no place for ‘The Closer’.

The question is what we salespeople do instead, and that’s for a future article.

Are you ‘The Closer’?

Over to you now. Have you experienced ‘The Closer’? Maybe you are ‘The Closer’? How has automation affected the way you sell? Please let us know in the comments.

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