Fireside Friday with Kevin Cochran
Sales Assembly: Give us your quick background in sales.
Kevin: I started in sales, but I've worked behind the scenes on the sales and marketing operations side for the last 15 years, optimizing marketing automation, sales conversion and sales pipeline acceleration. While my background has most heavily focused around Salesforce.com, I've also been customizing sales acceleration efforts, marketing optimization and lead scoring models using marketing automation platforms like Pardot, HubSpot and Eloqua. Now at Lumere, my primary focus is optimizing our sales processes and pipeline using account-based marketing strategies, streamlining the "handoff" from marketing to sales and driving the revenue ops side of the business.
Sales Assembly: What's your biggest accomplishment in sales or sales leadership?
Kevin: I've spent a great deal of time researching and building lead scoring models that go beyond just traditional, out-of-the-box scoring methods, where in this model we would be optimizing the process to the fullest extreme. At my prior company, we were eventually able to lead score and route leads down to the city, state, day of week and hour of day, and match them to the sales reps that were best fits for any of those variables. We were able to eventually drive win conversions up to 1.5-2% higher, which doesn't seem all that much. However, when you are dealing with thousands of web leads a week, 1-2% can make significant impacts to the business. I'm most proud of that accomplishment, because I was able to take a concept that worked in theory and then map out a "how to" plan, work with the sales teams and executive leaders for buy-in, and then execute the design within the technologies. When it actually worked, there was a tremendous satisfaction in all of that.
Sales Assembly: What's the best piece of sales advice you ever got?
Kevin: "It's just business." One of my first bosses out of college said that to me one time when he thought my feelings were hurt on some issue we were having. My feelings weren't really that hurt, but that's always stuck with me since then. How you interpret it is really where the advice comes into play. What he meant was, "hey, it's not personal" which is advice that's been around forever, but this was an alternate version of that. How that has always resonated with me is that sometimes you have to firmly draw that line in the sales world between personal feelings and the business. Everyone's got their own problems, issues, bills to pay and vacations they want to take. Sometimes you have to sacrifice personal feelings for the sake of the business. And sometimes you have to speak up and not be afraid to voice your feelings on important business issues, even if it rubs people the wrong way. One of Lumere's core values is "welcome respectful debate" which helps orchestrate the importance of speaking up and collaborating.
Sales Assembly: What's the biggest challenge facing a sales rep today, and how would you recommend they overcome it?
Kevin: For us (and I think it applies to sales reps anywhere), it's getting to that first conversation. When our target customers are getting literally thousands of emails a day, we need to think outside the box of just simple email marketing and traditional email marketing. Email will always have a place obviously, but what else can we do to get the attention of our prospective buyers? How can we learn everything we can about our potential customers and cater the messaging to fit their needs?
Sales Assembly: Do you currently have a sales mentor, or have you ever? If so, what did they teach you?
Kevin: Not exactly sales mentors, but I've been around sales long enough to understand all the different personalities that come with the sales world and have had some really good marketing mentors and leadership training over the years. The greatest things I've learned is that people all have different styles of communication and preference. Some are introverts, some are extroverts, some are passive, some are aggressive. And there isn't one that is the right way or wrong way or the best way. But understanding how you can work within your team of personalities and understanding how each personality likes to communicate will not only help you do your job more effectively, but the business will benefit the most.
Sales Assembly: What's the best sales book you've ever read? What are you reading now?
Kevin: Flipbook, all things sales and marketing articles and getting perspectives from everyone and everything
Sales Assembly: Best sales or business related books, articles, podcasts or newsletters?
Kevin: Flipbook and Sales Pipeline Radio
Sales Assembly: What's the best advice you'd give to someone just starting a career in sales?
Kevin: Try, try and try again. Test everything you possibly can. Optimize. Write down what is working and what your customers are talking about... Share those findings with your team and the marketing team, so they can use what you are learning on the actual frontlines and can help you make your job easier. Suggest ideas.
Sales Assembly: Do you see any interesting future trends as it pertains to sales?
Kevin: Yes. More so in the B2B world, people talking on phones is already going away. So will email eventually. Phone and email will always be there obviously once people are fully engaged and interested in your product, but, up until that point, what can you do that differentiates yourself prior to those conversations? What new methods of technology can help you, so you can eventually get to that point (i.e. chat bots, social selling, targeted messaging, etc.). So hypothetically what would you do as a sales leader, if someone said phone and email weren't options... Where would you start?
Sales Assembly: What's something all companies should do?
Kevin: Celebrate and embrace mistakes. Encourage your employees to take chances and embrace failure and even give awards for it, as long as you use it has an example of how they learned from that mistake and how they can use it as an example of what to avoid or do differently in the future.