Selling Through Change: Leading My Sales Team Through Rough Waters

By Jeremy Thies

Jeremy Thies is Quip’s Area Vice President for North American Sales, Commercial and Industries.

As a Salesforce Area Vice President for Quip, I have the pleasure of running a North American sales team of first line sales managers, individual reps and a team of business development reps whose physical locations are all around the country. As sales people, we all know selling is tough in the most idyllic of circumstances; scaling the “psychological walls” of a prospect to show them how you can help them improve their business and drive their success is fraught with difficulty even when everything is going according to plan. During a global pandemic, we must reimagine how we can help our customers and prospects and relearn some of our most basic skills in a fundamentally new way.

To that end, here are a few ways that I’m helping my sales team (and our customers and prospects) stay productive, connected to their prospects, and also connected to each other during these most interesting of times.

Embrace Your Ohana

As a Field Sales team, we’ve always used techniques to stay connected virtually and to make sure we’re working together to get things done. However, this crisis has created a situation where the people we spend most of our day with may not have many other outlets to engage socially and may be feeling increasingly isolated.

We’re using Quip docs and Quip chats to connect these teams in a more personal, human, and fundamental way. For example, we have a Quip chat room called “We knead a breader chat name” where team members can share their bread and home-baking experiences with photos, comments, links and emojis. A chat room was created within a few hours of our “shelter in place” order in San Francisco entitled “Help! I’m stuck at home...” with tips and tricks, great stories, best practices for home office equipment, and much more.

It makes me proud to be able to use the products we use for work every day to take care of the person, not just the business process.

Be a Trusted Advisor

Our customers and prospects are finding new challenges (and opportunities) every day during this crisis, from new markets opening to their products and services to formerly stable and consistent markets shutting down nearly completely. As a sales team, we have always worked hard to align to the values and goals of our customers and to help where our products can best align, but now, being a trusted advisor means helping drive their success even when there is no deal in the works.

For several of our customers, we’ve reached out with Quip docs to bring them into a COVID Brainstorming Hub where we can bring the best of what Salesforce is offering (such as, discuss new ways to use their existing Salesforce investments with us, and work with them on the best ways to repurpose all of it to meet these new challenges. Using Quip to get out of email, out of document versions, out of conference calls, and to bring in everyone that can help — Salesforce, partners, board members, consultants, etc. — means faster response, better outcomes, and happier teams.

Further, our Account Plans have taken on additional importance as we make sure that we can marshal the internal and external resources needed for our customers and to understand the impact this pandemic has had on their business. Having a single collaborative document that contains all the best structured and unstructured data on our key customers and the ability to share it externally and internally is key. It means we know what is impacting them and not only where best we can help now, but how best to help as we come out of this crisis and business returns to a new normal.

Connecting a Different Way

In-flight deals and ongoing deployments and implementations must go on. We have to “land the planes that are in the air.” When we can’t be face-to-face with a customer or when we can’t find a time that works for conference calls or video chats (due to WFH schedules), working asynchronously, but in a connected way, becomes critical. By bringing our prospects into a Mutual Success Plan in Quip, we can collaborate in real time or whenever a resource is available, via laptop or phone.

This ability to work when available, to keep the deal and project accountability without the physical presence or the calendaring “backflips” has actually accelerated many of our conversations with our colleagues and customers. We can leverage the built-in Quip Project Trackers, calendars, chat functionality, and Salesforce integration to bring any live CRM data (like Cases) that we need to keep the projects moving fast, so customers see immediate value.

Importantly, these documents (Account Plans, Mutual Success Plans, etc.) reside inside our Salesforce instance attached to the objects where they make the most sense such as Account or Opportunity. This means when business returns to normal, we haven’t created a random set of business processes or documents that need to be found again; it’s already aggregated and secured in our single source of truth, Salesforce.

Work Anywhere

Working from home in a house with two teens, an 8-year-old, my wife, and a six-month-old puppy has its upsides and downsides (as I’m sure you’re all finding out as well). One of the things I love about Quip is even if I’m walking the dog (to burn off some of her frenetic energy) or in the back yard with the kids, I can still be running my business and keeping up to date with deals and customers.

Our Business Live Feed capability allows me to see realtime changes in pipeline and deals in a quick view on my phone. Good news can be celebrated and we can take fast action on unexpected changes with a chat or a quick phone call. I can also see changes in my Forecast documents as live CRM data is pulled in real time. With a glance on the Quip mobile app, I can see how we’re doing against goals, growth, and commitments to senior leaders. This frees me to be more flexible in these tough times and be there for my family as well as for my team and my customers without feeling stuck at my desk or my laptop.

To learn more about how sales managers can use Quip to stay connected with their team and their customers, while maintaining business continuity, watch this short video.

To learn how Quip for Customer 360 empowers sales reps with the tools and data they need, all in one place, and accessible from anywhere, take an interactive guided tour.