I was back in the studio this week with David Levy, an Account Executive at Crittercism, to talk about territory sales versus headquarters sales in a podcast we called “Selling SaaS At The Outpost.” You can listen here to it. David is a former CPA who moved into SaaS sales and joined Crittercism in 2013. He was the first remote sales hire and territory sales leader for the company and has since grown the NY Metro and larger East region to be a fairly large component of Crittercism’s revenues. He learned a ton on the ground in NYC but also paid a fair amount of attention to his connection back to HQ. We care a lot about listener feedback on the podcast and this topic of territory sales has come up numerous times in hearing from our listeners who sell outside of headquarters. How do you manage the first 30 days of getting hired into a region outside of showing the obvious sales wins? How do you communicate effectively with HQ? What processes and structures do you put in place to maintain best practices and help those that come after you? David and I dive into pretty much all of it and for anyone selling in a particular region outside of your company HQ this is your podcast. Below were a few key takeaways from our discussion.
(1) Leverage Current Customers From Day 1 – Most companies don’t hire someone in a particular region cold turkey and tend to make the hiring decision based on existing customer wins relative to opportunity. As a result one of the easiest things that David leveraged were the existing customers in region when he joined. He threw a fair amount of customer specific events mainly focused around a speaker series, developed a strong referral network with existing customers, and held a lot of meetups and networking events for existing customers. This is one of the easiest ways to really start to build a foundation as a territory sales person.
(2) Network With Outside Company Reps – David stressed working at the street level alongside other reps at other companies. Obviously don’t make friends with AEs at competitors but it does make a lot of sense to talk consistently with AEs at other companies that are selling tangential or other SaaS products in and around your space. David first made a quick list of the companies and reached out cold to other AEs via LinkedIn to meet up for coffee. The hit rate was pretty high and he continues to leverage his friendships to better understand buying cycles, decision-makers at specific accounts, pricing, and other information via these channel checks and connections.
(3) Make Sure You Get Back To HQ – Making sure you have budget and can get back to HQ with some regularity is also a very important think. David believes once a quarter is best or at the least twice a year. If you don’t have budget for this a nifty trick is to try and use your existing events or sales marketing region’s budget to get back to HQ. Meet with non-sales people like engineering, marketing, product, and anyone else that can give you a fresh perspective on what they are seeing. You should also reciprocate with what you are seeing on the ground as many non-sales related employees love to hear how sales people are seeing the product take shape in the market.
(4) Be Proactive With Internal Comms – When you are remote, you are on your own island. From a sales organization standpoint, make sure you are consistently keeping in touch with other territory sales people in regions on a consistent basis. Sure you will have your weekly sales call with the sales org but this does not count. Be proactive and keep a cadence of communication beyond what is normal with territory sales people. For David, this really has helped him win large accounts as many of the AEs in other regions ultimately have customers that have some component of the business in his region. For instance, Turner Broadcasting is an Atlanta based company and due to David and the Atlanta territory sales reps strong internal relationship they ultimately upsold Turner on adding CNN Money and True TV (both NY companies under David’s coverage) into the account.