As a growing business owner, you probably want to consistently generate leads and get more sales through the door. However, that’s a lot to take on your own, while also striving to successfully run everyday operations. When getting leads and securing sales opportunities becomes too much for you to handle on your own, it may be worthwhile to hire an outbound sales team that can take care of all that for you—especially “closers” AKA sales executives.
So what exactly does a sales executive do, and how do you make sure you hire the right one? Keep reading to learn all you need to know about the sales executive role.
Sales executives (also known as sales reps) are responsible for closing deals with sales qualified leads (SQLs), generating more revenue for your business. They are tasked with providing a targeted sales pitch and presentation to potential buyers, aiming to convert them into customers.
Sales reps often collaborate with marketing teams to provide them with valuable insights from their sales pitches. They share feedback on customer preferences and pain points, enabling marketing to create more targeted campaigns and content. This department collaboration ensures that marketing efforts align with sales goals, leading to more conversions.
What Makes Sales Executives Different From Account Executives?
Sales executives focus on acquiring new clients and closing deals. On the other hand, account executives (or account managers) are tasked with nurturing existing client relationships and ensuring satisfaction and retention. While both roles involve sales, sales executives primarily engage in new business development, whereas account managers maintain and grow established accounts.
Many small to medium-sized businesses often combine sales and account executive roles to save money from hiring more staff. However, this limits the individual’s ability to accelerate in their role, because it often results in non-converting sales presentations and high client turnover. Therefore, it’s important to separate the roles to ensure you provide customers (both potential and existing) with a positive experience.
What Makes Sales Executives Different From Sales Managers?
Again, sales reps are responsible for selling products or services directly to clients. Sales managers are tasked with leading and supervising a team of sales professionals—from BDR to sales executive teams. They’re responsible for making sure lead generation teams hit their sales targets and keeping morale high even if team members are struggling to hit their goals.
While many small to medium-sized businesses often use sales reps to take care of every step of the B2B lead generation process, this limits their ability to grow in their sales career. By having them wear too many hats, you limit your company’s ability to generate more (and higher quality) leads. This also increases the risk of employee burnout and high employee turnover, which means you must consistently hire and train salespeople to understand your brand voice and company product and service offerings.
In a nutshell, sales executives are ultimately supposed to close the opportunities generated from lead generation and marketing efforts. Therefore, you must have a team of B2B lead generation and marketing specialists behind sales execs to provide them with high-quality sales opportunities. From here, sales reps present decision-makers with a targeted sales pitch that drives them to the end of the sales cycle.
It takes more than a sales rep to fulfill lead generation. Download our free guide here to learn who should be involved in sales enablement and what role they play in business growth.
Sales executive responsibilities range from planning, to execution, to strategy follow-up. Here’s a breakdown of the key responsibilities of sales reps:
Converting Sales Opportunities into Customers
Ultimately, sales executives are tasked with transforming potential sales opportunities into loyal customers. While this may be the end-all-be-all for sales reps, there are a lot of tasks needed in between to fulfill this responsibility. More often than not, B2B sales conversion doesn’t just happen overnight. It requires a series of steps leading up to it that they must follow to reach this conclusion. Therefore, sales reps are so much more than revenue generators—they’re sales strategists.
Building and Implementing Sales Plans
Before conversion can happen, sales execs must first build and implement a sales plan. This involves creating a streamlined sales process from beginning to end.
If you are practicing an outbound lead generation strategy, it’s important to consider how prospects are being put into the sales pipeline, what the lead qualification and nurturing process looks like, who is involved with it, and how qualified sales leads are turned over to the sales team.
If you’re practicing an inbound lead generation strategy, sales teams must initially decide how they want to generate marketing qualified leads (via website, social media, newsletter opt-ins, networking events, etc.), what kind of content to distribute to consistently engage leads, and how the leads generated are handed off to the sales team for closing.
Presenting Leads With a Sales Pitch
Sales reps must present qualified sales leads with a targeted sales pitch and presentation. A well-crafted pitch tailored to a lead’s specific needs and pain points demonstrates the rep’s understanding of their problems and how your company can be a valuable asset to their everyday business functions.
To have a high-converting sales presentation, sales executives must:
- Research the sales lead ahead of time
- Personalize content based on their needs
- Provide a clear value proposition on why they should work with your company
- Engage the sales opportunity and encourage them to talk
- Highlight the benefits of your product or service over features
- Provide visual aids to help them follow the conversation
- Be ready to overcome any objections the lead might have
- Be able to showcase credibility (often through case studies)
- Use closing techniques to help the lead understand what you want them to do
- Create a follow-up plan and define what the next steps are
For more insight on how to create the perfect sales presentation, read our blog here.
Deal negotiation is pivotal for sales execs because it directly impacts a company’s revenue generation and client relationships. Effective deal negotiation between the sales rep and the decision-maker maximizes revenue generated and ensures mutual satisfaction between both parties. Additionally, it showcases the sales executive’s skill in finding win-win solutions, fostering trust, and ultimately driving business success.
Hitting Sales Quotas
Hitting sales quotas is a significant part of the sales exec role as it ensures they are staying on track with revenue generated, providing an ROI, and retaining a predictable and sustainable sales process. Achieving quotas signifies a company’s financial health, investor confidence, and growth potential. It also maintains a competitive edge by ensuring consistent revenue streams, enabling strategic planning, and reinforcing the sales rep’s role as a valuable asset in driving business success.
Giving Growth Teams Sales Feedback
Providing constructive feedback to lead generation and marketing team contributes to the alignment of marketing strategies with real-world sales needs. Feedback helps refine lead quality, ensuring that marketing targets the right audience with relevant messaging. It also aids in optimizing the lead nurturing process, enhancing the likelihood of conversion.
Additionally, a sales executive’s insight on customer preferences, objections, and market trends empowers marketing teams to adapt and fine-tune their strategies, ultimately fostering a more efficient and profitable business growth ecosystem. Collaboration and feedback create a symbiotic relationship that drives success for the long haul.
The sales executive role isn’t easy and can’t be done by just anyone. Therefore, you must identify candidates who possess the right skills and qualities for the role. Here are key things to look for as you’re on the hunt for a successful salesperson:
- Sales Experience: Candidates should have prior experience in a similar sales role, ideally in your industry. For the greatest impact, consider if they’ve served in the BDR or SDR roles before. This will indicate that they have a solid understanding of the B2B sales process.
- Proven Track Record: Look for a history of meeting or exceeding sales targets and quotas. This is the time in the interview you would ask them able the obstacles they’ve gone through in past roles, and how they were able to overcome them.
- Communication Skills: Effective verbal and written communication is crucial for potential client interactions and presentations. Sales reps must be able to keep a conversation going, actively listen to the needs of the potential buyer, and respond in an empathetic, and professional way. They should showcase that your company genuinely cares about relieving their pain points.
- Negotiation Skills: Negotiation is a significant part of the selling process, and reps must know how to do it properly to provide value for both the buyer and your business. Sales exec candidates should demonstrate the ability to negotiate and close deals with decision-makers successfully.
- Product Knowledge: Familiarity with your products or services indicates their readiness to engage with potential clients. However, as an interviewee, they more than likely only know the surface-level components of your product or service. They will always learn more during the onboarding stage, so don’t hone in on this too harshly.
- Customer-Centric Attitude: A focus on understanding and meeting customer needs is vital for building relationships. Therefore, sales rep candidates must have the ability to demonstrate that they have a people-first attitude.
- Resilience: Objection is more common than not in the sales industry. Sales can be challenging; candidates should exhibit resilience in the face of rejection. They should also know the best ways to respond to prospect objections to secure the deal.
- Adaptability: Market interests and engagement are changing all the time, and your product or service features probably are too. Therefore, candidates must have the ability to adjust their sales strategies based on market changes and feedback.
- Team Player: Sales execs are often leaders in the B2B sales process because they’re ultimately the ones responsible for generating revenue. This means they must be effective team players who encourage team and department collaboration. Collaboration with marketing and customer service teams is essential, so it’s vital to assess their teamwork skills.
- Problem-Solving: Sales executives encounter many obstacles, so candidates must be quick on their feet and able to solve problems quickly, especially during a sales pitch with a potential buyer.
- Tech Proficiency: While it may not be entirely necessary, familiarity with CRM systems and sales tools is beneficial. The more familiar they are with the software and platforms your company uses, the quicker they are to train and start selling.
- Industry Knowledge: Sales rep candidates should have a good understanding of the industry they serve, and ESPECIALLY have sufficient knowledge of the sales industry. As an added bonus, it’s a perk if they have good insight into the industries your company usually pitches. This allows them to think in the eyes of potential buyers.
- Motivation: Motivation in the sales industry goes a long way. Without being motivated, you risk having lackluster sales. Therefore, you should look for candidates who are self-driven and motivated to achieve results.
- Continuous Learner: The sales industry is constantly evolving and advancing to new heights. Therefore, sales execs must be ambitious to learn about the latest sales trends and eager to consistently grow in their profession.
As you conduct sales executive interviews, it’s important to make sure they possess most (ideally all) of these qualities. Additionally, if possible, include role-specific scenarios or assessments to gauge their skills and suitability for the sales executive position.
The sales executive role is crucial for B2B lead generation and securing more revenue for your business. While it is important to hire one for everyday business growth functions, it’s also vital to ensure you hire the right one that provides your business with a positive ROI.
Sales executives are well-seasoned experts in the sales industry. However, if you want the greatest impact from their efforts, it’s crucial that you don’t put every step of the B2B lead generation process on their plate. By fully relying on sales reps for business growth, you risk yielding poor leads and an unsustainable sales pipeline.
Therefore, you must have a team of lead generation experts that help bring in the leads so sales execs can prioritize giving them a targeted sales pitch and converting them into customers. If you don’t want to handle this all internally, risking a negative impact on your company’s bottom line, you have options—outsourced sales and marketing.
Abstrakt Marketing Group is a leading outsourced sales and marketing firm that empowers growing businesses like yours to generate consistent sales opportunities that result in closed business. And even better—we can do this for less than the cost of a full-time employee!
When you’re ready to maximize the way your company approaches business growth, contact the lead generation experts at Abstrakt!