What makes a great enterprise salesperson?

Selling into FTSE 100 and enterprise accounts takes a particular type of person, with special qualities. At SaaSGrowth2018, 4 experts told us what they believe those qualities are.

In June we staged our first Sales Confidence conference at HereEast, in London’s Olympic Park. We called it SaaSGrowth2018. We had over 200 SaaS professionals in the audience, watching more than 30 of London’s foremost SaaS experts share their knowledge. Even if you couldn’t make it, we want to share the inspiration and education with you through our SaaSGrowth2018 articles.

Enterprise questions

Our first panel discussion of the day was about successfully navigating, negotiating and selling to FTSE 100 and enterprise accounts. We had 4 terrific speakers share their tips, then afterwards we had a round of questions, moderated by Hannah Godfrey from Winning By Design. Hannah kicked off with the first question.

What is the main quality you look for in an enterprise salesperson?

Brendan Walsh

Our first answer came from Brendan Walsh. Brendan is VP at Zuora, the SaaS software creator powering the subscription economy.

‘I can kick this off, as it’s a conversation we’ve been having very recently. We break it down into 4 areas, and we call it IDEC.’

Brilliant. I love an acronym. It gives you something you can take away and remember easily.

‘I is Intellect. Can they make a complex subject simple? D is for Drive. When you’ve got a 15 to 18-month deal cycle, how do they respond to adversity? Have they been through some tough times and been able to respond in a positive fashion. Next is Experience. Enterprise is generally an older profile. The last part is Character. Have they got the character to engage internally and externally? That’s what we look for when we’re hiring enterprise salespeople.’

Ben Kiziltug

Next came Ben Kiziltug. Ben is Regional Sales Director at Stack Overflow, the community for online developers to share their knowledge and build their careers.

‘For us, we let data drive every decision we make. We mapped out every single salesperson that had ever worked in the organisation. We looked at who was successful and what were their key characteristics. We also looked at the key characteristics of the people who had washed out.’

‘That gave us a plan for what to look for. It actually was quite similar to the characteristics Brendan identified. I’d encourage using data to find out what works at your company.’

Dan Hughes

Dan is The Negotiation Guru, a master negotiator and trainer who has trained people at some of the biggest companies in the world. He has also appeared on Channel 4 and BBC Breakfast.

‘One word. Resilience.’

Tom Castley

Our final answer came from Tom Castley, RVP Account Management EMEA at Apptio, the IT business management organisation. Tom is a long-time friend of Sales Confidence. He spoke at our 2nd ever live event, and it was great to welcome him back.

‘There’s a famous quote about Michael Jordan, how he has missed more shots that he’s made. That means he has resilience, but he also turns up on the day. He also doesn’t take a ton of shots. He understands when it’s time to get in the game, or not get in the game.’

‘For me, I’ve hired some stinkers in the past, so I’ve had a period of personal reflection about how to hire talented salespeople. I learned a lot from people I met at the last Sales Confidence event. Rocket-speed thinking. People who are able to work and learn at rocket speed.’

‘People who are constantly learning. It’s not just being self-aware, it’s about what you do about it. What book are you currently reading about sales? Are you willing to fail?’

Great advice, and it’s incredible to see even experienced sales leaders like Tom gaining insights from our Sales Confidence events.

How about you?

We’ve heard from our 4 experts. Now it’s your turn. What, in your opinion, is the primary attribute of a successful enterprise salesperson? Let us know in the comments below.

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