The Sales Development Podcast

Episode 19: James Nielsen

Summary:

In this episode, David interviews James Nielsen, CEO and founder of Sales Bootcamp. David and James talk about the disconnect between what universities teach students and what is ACTUALLY needed by companies from their sales representatives.

James shares the origins of his own sales experience and how the lack of mentors and training sparked his idea of a Sales Bootcamp. James aims to bridge the knowledge and skills gap in sales for the benefit of both the company and the student— a win/win situation for everyone.

3 Key Points:
1. No matter your focus is in university, take a business class as this will help you in your future endeavors.
2. Learn to personalize your emails and have a soft call-to-action when approaching your target prospect.
3. Optimize for a RESPONSE rather than just another meeting.

Time Stamped Show Notes:

  • 00:34 – David’s interest for his show is sales education—especially for those who are just coming out of school
    • 01:20 – James agrees that universities should be offering sales courses
  • 01:34 – James is an electrical engineering guy and has always wanted to be an entrepreneur, but did not know how to do this at first
  • 02:18 – In working at tech companies, James found himself moving towards the sales profession
  • 02:40 – James got into a sales engineering role
    • 03:05 – James was told to stick with his work and let the salespeople do their work, but he proved that he could do anything and taught himself to sell
  • 03:30 – While searching Google, James realized there was a lack of information on how to do sales other than to go buy a sales book
  • 04:10 – David says people go into sales without having any training at all
  • 04:32 – James got the idea for a Sales Bootcamp because he had trouble looking for a mentor; he learned through just doing it
  • 05:05 – In the first quarter of 2009, James got the opportunity to train others in sales
    • 05:30 – James was fascinated by the process of training salespeople and realized that the problem of finding good sales reps was shared by several companies
  • 05:46 – James realized there is a need to train people in tech sales and that is why he built Sales Bootcamp
  • 06:27 – “The best way to sell is to actually sell” is the business model for the company
    • 07:27 – Sales Development leaders don’t want someone with less than a year of experience
    • 08:16 – Three months is the magic number for actual on-the-job sales development experience
  • 08:42 – Students are training with the program and are on a fellowship with another company learning how to do actual sales
  • 08:46 – The program starts with a free 5-day online bootcamp
    • 09:05 – The fundamentals of sales development are taught and it includes one-on-one personalized coaching
    • 09:25 – After the bootcamp, the company chooses the people that will go through the fellowship; they will be placed in a partner company while also doing the 12-week program
    • 09:47 – This includes online video tutorials, assessments, assignments, coaching and office hours
  • 10:21 – The product-market fit works for both the corporate partners and the students
  • 11:08 – Training is time consuming for the sales development leaders and the program helps in addressing this problem
  • 12:42 – Every SDR has their own strengths and weaknesses and the fellowship looks into each individual traits
  • 13:16 – David worked for a company that has a sales enablement manager and sales analytics person and thought he would get support from them, but they were also working on the sales stuff and did not have time for training SDRs
  • 14:18 – Small usually companies do not have time to train SDRs
  • 14:40 – David asked, in Linkedin, what people thought the biggest problem in sales development was, today
    • 14:55 – Most answers include the viewpoints that executives have in sales development as a function
    • 15:22 – There is a lot of finger-pointing towards millennials
    • 15:50 – James says he has seen companies NOT give priority to building the pipeline through sales development training
    • 16:54 – Companies are unwilling to invest in good SDRs
  • 17:13 – SDRs are the first filter of an organization
  • 18:50 – The generational gap is always present and the reality is that generations are just different from each other
    • 19:18 – The millennial generation does have different expectations and is more outcome-oriented
    • 20:01 – James thinks millennials are great SDRs
  • 20:48 – Promotions can be programmed into the company and this can keep your employees happy and more willing to stay with you
  • 21:31 – You can put into play the process of giving micro-promotions
  • 22:13 – David hosted a podcast with Matt Amundson of EverString where he said that people do not want to be treated like sales machines, so he created a program where they can circulate and be involved in the different aspects of the company
  • 23:24 – People have a lust for knowledge and want to learn everything about the business
  • 23:50 – Sales Bootcamp is successful because people want to learn and participate
    • 24:23 – A good SDR is thirsty for knowledge and wants to improve
  • 25:21 – Business acumen is part of the bootcamp
  • 25:49 – There is a current debate on universities and companies regarding skills and education
    • 26:25 – There is a disconnect between what is being taught in universities and what companies need and James is trying to bridge that in the sales aspect
  • 27:46 – Learning business and economics is something you can use no matter the course
    • 28:30 – James advises everyone to take a business classes
  • 29:32 – Differentiate yourself by knowing about the company and not just sending templated messages
  • 30:10 – Sales development has changed over the years and it has become more challenging
  • 31:18 – James’ work with Ooyala involved referral email marketing even before companies started doing it
  • 32:40 – Aaron Ross’ book, Predictable Revenue, talked about referral emails and it has now become mainstream
  • 33:44 – It has never been harder to get meetings and it is important to personalize them
  • 34:33 – Stop doing things that do NOT work
    • 35:37 – Check the size and the growth of the business and what you are offering to make sure that you can get your ROI
    • 36:10 – If you are a small company, you might need to spend more time personalizing your message to get a meeting
    • 36:44 – Optimize for a response rather than a meeting
    • 37:38 – Come up with a soft call-to-action and stick to that to get a reply
    • 38:14 – Follow up on your initial email and ask for feedback
  • 39:29 – Gary Vaynerchuk says the attention economy is when we are overwhelmed with content marketing; getting one’s attention to just plant a seed is what matters
  • 40:07 – Grant Cardone says 80% of value creation is helping people and the 20% is where you offer your service or product
  • 41:25 – There is a lot to learn outside of the tech space
    • 42:12 – The sales development space needs fresh ideas and it can come from outside the industry
  • 43:42 – David got a LinkedIn email explaining their product and wanted to set a date to call him
    • 44:35 – Companies do tend to get stuck in the past and there is a need to adapt their strategies
  • 44:57 – David has a meetup on June 15
  • 45:18 – Sales Bootcamp is working on their own marketing and growth in terms of company partnerships and students
  • 46:36 – The best way to sell is to actually sell and universities cannot give actual experience—Sales Bootcamp will do this for you
  • 47:29 – Sales Bootcamp is the model on how sales teams should be built
  • 47:47 – Check out Sales Bootcamp
  • 48:19 – Connect with James on Linkedin

 
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