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6 Things Every Sales AE Needs to Do for Success

By Lenore Lang, Vice President of Strategic Sales, Quip

This blog is brought to you by Salesforce’s Trailblazing Women Community. A community for women in business across industries developed to help women – and allies – learn more about paving the path to equality through diversity and inclusion programs in the workplace, mapping out success paths and career journeys, and building a personal brand. 

Many sales leaders know from experience what it’s like to be an account executive. We worked our way up the sales ladder—but we never really leave those tenacious roots behind.

I’ll always have the perspective from my time as an AE. Now, as an enterprise sales leader, I can see where many of our AEs are doing things right or may need some nudges in the right direction. Here are six of the most common insights I like to share with our AEs to further their sales success and careers.

1. Know the Difference Between Nerves and Excitement

Going into sales meetings early on in an AE’s career can be brutal. I like for them to think about this scenario. You’re 10 minutes out from the start of a meeting. What do you do with those nerves?

Over the years, I’ve realized the nerves are excitement. It’s actually exciting to go into a meeting. I still do this to this day: I take three big deep breaths, tell myself it’s going to be okay, and walk in, knowing that it’s not nerves, it’s excitement.

2. Always Follow Up

The best AEs are following up directly after the meeting with next steps in order to stay top of mind. The follow-up can really vary depending on who you’re meeting with. An executive may just want a text message and for you to follow up with their admin in order to schedule the next meeting. Maybe you want to make sure you got your points across and you can send a very succinct email with two sentences, three bullet points, and a closing ask. Knowing your audience is key, but always follow up in some way!

3. Become a Trusted Advisor

When customers know you have their best interests in mind and will help them solve their challenges, the more you become their trusted advisor. And they become an internal champion for you.

No matter what anyone says, people still want to buy from people. That’s the most important thing you can do: Make sure you become that trusted advisor to your internal champions. They have always gone to bat for me in any meaningful sales cycle I’ve had. AEs should start building these relationships early and often.

4. Show the Value Before the Price

When it comes to pricing, AEs must be very transparent. Before you present the price, you need to demonstrate and articulate value. AEs should prove the value to customers so they will see the return on investment that they’re expecting. Always ensure the customer understands the value before putting any sort of number in front of them. 

5. Keep a Living Account Plan

AEs need a living account plan to put all of their notes from important meetings and next steps. It should also record who you met with and maybe a briefing document to a relationship map. It’s always important to keep a historical record of what’s transpired in your relationship with the customer. 

6. Ask the Hard Questions

If you don’t ask the hard questions, you don’t know if you’re in the same place you started. The biggest mistake I see is not asking.

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