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July 25, 2017

Why Sales Reps Shouldn’t Select Their Own Accounts

072517 - Mark Kosoglow

GUEST: Mark Kosoglow, VP of Sales at Outreach.io

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“The more complex you make the sale, the less success you’re going to have.”

As Mark Kosoglow, VP of Sales at Outreach.io, puts it, “humans suck at making decisions.” Therefore, the way you sell has to be focused and value-driven.

In the most recent episode of the B2B Revenue Executive Experience, Mark shared some of Outreach’s greatest successes and obstacles, as well as why revenue executives shouldn’t allow their reps to select the accounts they prospect into.

This post is based on that interview.

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Why Revenue Executives Shouldn’t Allow Their Reps to Select the Accounts They Prospect Into

There are two general buckets of sales shops. One is end-to-end, which is more traditional, where you do your own prospecting. You hunt it down, kill it, and eat what you kill.

That type of person is very busy, and the last thing they’re thinking about is how to get a high-quality account into their pipeline. They’re thinking about how to get anything into their pipeline.

Then there’s the new shop, which has a division of labor, specialization of roles, and an SDR function ahead of the closer that is booking meetings and is typically an entry-level sales position. The question Mark asked at the beginning of Outreach was, “Do I want entry-level salespeople or full-cycle, super busy sales reps determining the future of the company?

“What is more important than the accounts that enter your pipeline?” Mark said. “Really nothing.”

Those accounts determine how big the contract will be, and whether they’ll renew. Inputs equal outputs. For most companies he’s worked for, garbage went in, so garbage went out.

So Outreach decided to put processes in place and invest in operations. They developed a way to mine accounts, enrich them with data, and tier them out. This allows them to only put quality stuff at the top of the funnel for sales reps so they can only go after great accounts that the company wants to do business with.

How Does Outreach Have It Broken Up?

Theirs is a specialization of roles type of shop. They have an SDR function, which gets fed accounts by sales ops.

Sales reps always say, “I need more accounts, I need more accounts.” But Mark says, “You don’t need more accounts: you need better messaging. If I give you 600 accounts that are pre-vetted and enriched, then it’s your job to figure out how to get me those customers.”

So Outreach gives reps high-quality accounts and tells them to “go do it.” After that, all that’s left is to have great conversations.

The Top Business Objective for Mark in the Rest of 2017

Mark’s initial reaction to Outreach was, “Holy smokes. This changes everything. What do I need to do to get my hands on this?”

Oddly enough, he doesn’t get that kind of reaction enough in prospects’ discovery. He’s not sure if his team isn’t connecting to pain enough or if people are just jaded to the sales experience. One of the main things he’s working on is making sure everyone who leaves an initial discovery with Outreach says, “Get me in now, and let me see if this works for me.”

There’s a lot of fear and doubt in the market about giving too much control to automation. A great tool that’s wide and deep, used for complete personalization and by everyone, is unfamiliar. Perhaps tools in the past were so narrow that people don’t expect Outreach’s tool to work, either.

Changing that perception is Mark’s main priority this year.

What He’s Most Proud of Over the Past Year

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Mark’s team quadrupled in the last year or so.

“I don’t think I’m the smartest cat in the room,” Mark said. “Half the stuff I’ve learned somebody beat it into my head or some rep showed it to me and I stole it. For me, what’s really important is for us to feel that when we come into a meeting or have a discussion with a peer or leader, that we all have this hat on that says, ‘My job is to contribute to the conversation and make things better.’”

Having camaraderie means putting heads together to solve problems. “We” trumps “me.”

What is most effective when someone is trying to sell to you?

We like to ask all of our podcast guests this question. Here’s how Mark responded:

“I’ll tell you one thing that doesn’t work. If you tell me, ‘Hey, I went to Penn State University. Great to see that you’re playing the Buckeyes…,” I’ll delete that crap right there. I don’t care that you can look on LinkedIn and see where I went to college.

This is what I want: an email, voicemail, or social connection that says, ‘I see you’re a VP of Sales. These are the three problems that we help VPs of Sales solve. Would you be interested in seeing how we solve them?’

If I relate to any of those three issues, I will take the meeting—every time. It’s that simple.”

Acceleration Insight

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In each episode of the B2B Revenue Executive Experience, we ask our guests for one nugget of wisdom they would impart to a sales professional. Here’s this one:

“The number one characteristic I hire for is curiosity. If you in a sales call are talking to me, and you seem curious, I am pulled into your web. I think that’s how most people are.

The reason is simple: curiosity is the antidote for selfishness. Selfishness doesn’t allow you to create trust, and it makes the conversation one-sided.

The minute you become curious, you start to get the focus off of you and onto the person you’re talking to. I don’t care about the direction of the conversation: I’m just curious about how your brain works. If you can be curious, that unlocks all the information you need to do what you need to do to close a deal.”

This post is based on a podcast interview with Mark Kosoglow from Outreach.io. To hear this episode, and many more like it, you can subscribe to the B2B Revenue Executive Experience.

If you don’t use iTunes, you can listen to every episode here.