by Krystal Covington, MBA
The company sales team is the life source of the business, pumping resources into every aspect of operations. Effective sales teams provide the resources to lead a powerful enterprise, scale to reach new markets, and sustain the business for years to come, but building and sustaining a successful team is easier said than achieved. Businesses spend thousands on sales training seminars, conferences, and events with the hope that inspiring their people will result in more money in the door, but these types of programs often result in a temporary lift that doesn’t justify the cost. Woman-led SalesBQ takes a systematic approach to sales training, helping companies at the $1-10 million mark build and train their sales teams to improve long term results. To learn more about how the company was formed, we interviewed company Founder Mary Grothe about her journey and the team’s approach to sales development.
How did you discover your talent for sales? Years ago after becoming frustrated with bad part-time jobs and late hours I ran across an administrative position for a Fortune 1000 company called Paychex. At the time, I didn’t even know what sales was, but was offered a role that required me to support a sales team of eight along with the sales manager as well. That sales manager ended up being an incredible mentor, teaching me everything about sales infrastructure, process, methodology, and what a life in sales could look like. He helped me create a sales training curriculum comprised of books, classroom education, and hands-on learning by slowly taking over critical functions from the sales team members.
I led projects such as telemarketing, following up with leads, picking up paperwork for closed sales, acting as an account executive and performing many other operational tasks for the sales team. Eventually I decided to make a career change and pursue a role as a mid-market sales leader and within 30 days I became the #1 rep, bringing in millions in revenue.
Sales has a reputation for being a male-dominated field. Do you feel this is an accurate assessment, and if so how have you been able to thrive in sales as a woman? Sales is a male dominated field, however, many women are taking on sales careers now. Early on, it was difficult for me to fit in and feel like “one of the guys,” which resulted in me bending who I was and acting more like my male counterparts. It took several years for me to become secure in my own identity as a woman in a sales role.
It took even longer to have the confidence to pursue a sales leadership role. Now in my 30s, my confidence is high, and I consciously work to help inspire, motivate, and train other women in sales to excel in their careers and pursue a path to sales leadership if that’s a path they want.
What’s the #1 problem facing sales teams, and how can they overcome it? The #1 problem facing sales teams is lack of infrastructure. All teams should have a sales playbook, congruent sales approach, sales enablement tools, achievable activity plan, clearly understood expectations, and a high-accountability culture that includes coaching and training embedded in weekly job duties. To overcome this, a sales leader or executive should meet with the team and conduct a strategy planning session together where everyone has an opportunity to share and, most importantly, feel heard.
In those sessions it’s important to pull experiences from the role that work, consolidate the data into an easy playbook, and rewrite expectations for activity and quotas that the team can agree they’re willing to work to achieve. Create a buy-in culture by leveraging the knowledge and expertise from everyone in the sales department. If the sales leader is not a sales coach or trainer by trade, hire one. Embed weekly sales coaching and training into the culture. Allow each person to grow and develop new skills. Work together as a team, communicate, and grow sales.
Tell us about your team and the philosophy you use to select those who work with you. My team is extremely important to my business, so it’s imperative that I only surround myself with the best. I always believe in the concept of showing humility by hiring people who are better, faster and smarter than me. I’ll never let my ego get in the way of a great hire.
The people on my team have grit written in their DNA and the role they’re in comes naturally to them without being draining. They also have a passion for learning and take regular action to continue building their skills to be more effective in their roles. I also believe it’s my job to continue developing them, so they can achieve greater career heights. That’s what my mentor did for me, and I expect no less from myself as a leader.
Do you have a special philosophy for leading your business and serving clients? As a Christian business woman, I follow the principles laid out in the book “Business by the Book” by Larry Burkett. Our core principles are to love our team members, our clients, our competitors, our vendors, and our partners. We are to serve first. Always. We are in business to do right by others. We picked CEOs and sales reps as our “somebody.” We choose to develop them and provide profitable sales growth so they can have the business and careers of their dreams. We are here to serve. If we serve first and lead with love, we will all live a life of joy and bountiful provision.
Why do you do this work? What’s in it for you when a sales team you’ve worked with starts to see exponential growth? I do this work because I was put on this planet to do it. It comes naturally, and I seem to have nearly endless energy to run this company and lead a team of 8. I get overly excited and passionate every time I lead a sales training or meet with our CEO clients to develop their plans for growth. I am honored this life was chosen for me and I get the opportunity to help grow sales for so many front range companies.