Developing world class salespeople

Is there a proven method to build a great sales team? The answer is YES. There are fundamentals you simply cannot ignore. We have discussed methodologies and looked further into the steps you can take to make a great salesperson with Scott Schnaars, VP of Americas at Cloudinary. And this is what we found out…

Sales needs to stay positive to succeed. That’s one thing. But where do people most often miss the ball? In sales there’s a lot of gaps where you can easily fall through. Therefore, Scott has made a list consisting of five concrete things that he has observed to be the key ingredients needed to develop world class salespeople or teams. And as a little bonus treat, Scott actually came up with a sixth key ingredient, which sparked after talking to ARPEDIO’s Head of International Sales, Max Opp. Keep on reading to find out what makes just a good salesperson versus what makes a great one and the best sales methodologies to pair with world class sales teams.


Scott Schnaars – Vice President of Americas at Cloudinary 
Cloudinary provides a platform that enables developers, marketers, and creative professionals at companies of all sizes to manage their image, video, and other digital assets. Cloudinary works with 500,000 users and over 5,700 customers worldwide. Scott’s personal career has spanned from the early days of SaaS to international expansion to global revenue and customer success responsibilities.

How to motivate your team

Before getting to the five (or now, six) key ingredients let’s establish how you create a good foundation for your salespeople to operate and develop from.

In order to maximize results, you need to understand the goals and motivations of the people you work with. Being empathetic is essential, and according to Scott, it doesn’t matter if you’re doing a transaction or managing a team; one of the single most important aspects is to be aligned to the human side of the discussion. Another crucial factor when developing sales superstars and keeping them motivated is goal setting. Scott states “the great part about sales is that it is binary – you either make the goal or you don’t”. So much of the success of a sales organization comes from setting clear goals, holding people accountable and giving them the resources to be successful. Now that you have your team motivated, let’s break down how you can develop their skill set even further and help them rise to become world class salespeople.

1) Relentless Focus

The first thing that makes a great salesperson is relentless focus. Ever too often, sales people – especially new salespeople – get to the end of a meeting, and they start talking about next steps. Sure, it seems obvious, but reality is that it’s simply not a good idea to ask open questions about what the next step should be. Instead, what you should be doing is trying to phrase your question more like: “when we started this conversation, we agreed that our next steps were going to be A, B, and C – do we still agree on that?”. Aim to be as upfront as you possibly can. Your client is then much more likely to go either “yes” or “no, that’s a little too much for me”. Either way, you will know very quickly whether you have the deal or not.

Simply by asking if you’re on the same page, you allow the client to respond with a clear answer, and you will be assured that they understand how to manage the process of the deal.

2) Client Success

Secondly, it’s extremely important to be consistently thinking about client success – this may actually be the hardest one for a lot of sellers. A great salesperson is going to ask questions about what else the client has got going on besides the particular project you’re working on. The thing is, you never know if you might just know someone who can help make those other projects go a little bit faster. Too often salespeople get wrapped up in their own deal and they don’t think about the larger picture. They forget that the customer has a job that’s not secluded to buying whatever it is they’re buying from you; they have other projects going on and a lot of things happening. So anything that you as a salesperson can do to help make the prospect more successful in other areas of life is going to make you successful in return.

The best salespeople will have multiple people involved in the deal instead of getting stuck with one single person.
Scott Schnaars
Vice President of Americas, Cloudinary

3) Navigate the organization

Another extremely important thing: you can’t get single threaded. Data shows that if you don’t have four people in your deals that you’re regularly engaging with, then you’re very likely not going to win that deal. The work that goes into managing relationships is a percent worth it. That’s why you need the right tools to manage your stakeholders. The best sales people will have multiple people involved in the deal instead of getting stuck with one single person.

Ready to start taking advantage of sales enablement technologies like account-based selling? Ramp up with ARPEDIO’s account-based selling platform. 

4) Prepare like crazy

Good sellers prepare like crazy. This is the single most important thing. If you want to look great in front of a prospect or a customer, you need to prepare – and it needs to be amazing, not just OK. You need to have meeting protocols, agendas, call protocols, and it’s not just for your own sake; it’s something that we owe the clients. The amount of work that goes into your preparations will make the actual process so much easier in return. Be sure to have a question- and answer chart that includes “what are the top three questions they might give us” and know what your answer will be. It’s all about giving the client a high level of confidence that you’re gonna make them successful. Preparation is an invaluable skill to possess throughout a sales process, and the best thing is: it can be learned, trained and developed by everyone. A good rule of thumb is: be structured, be prepared, and leave nothing to chance.

5) Ask the tough questions

Anybody can ask a question – it’s about doing it with tact, and not come off as rude or offensive that truly reflects if you’re a good seller or not. As a salesperson you should not be afraid to ask the difficult questions in order to move the deal forward. But don’t be a bull in a china shop. Make sure you do it in a way where people are persuaded to gladly give you the information you need. Ask questions like “who else needs to be involved, what’s the process, tell me about the last time you bought software, what’s your legal team like” and so forth. These are examples, but when it comes to asking the hard questions, you either have the ability to do it or you don’t. The point is, you really have to dig in and ask the tough questions in order to get valuable and critical information for your deal to move forward. 

6) (BONUS) Leverage your resources

After talking to ARPEDIO’s Head of International Sales, Max Opp, Scott came to think of a sixth thing to add to the list of what makes a great salesperson:

Sales is a team sport! If you have a seller on your team and he’s trying to achieve or do something by himself, he’s probably not using his resources well. You win as a team and you lose as a team. Every single sales organization has an entire company that will bend over backwards to help their sales reps win a deal. If salespeople take a look at their pipeline or take a true inventory of their deals, and then stop to think about where their deals are stuck; more likely than not there will be people in their company that they have never talked with who can in fact help them get that deal done. But you have to get people out of their comfort zone. If a person is a lone wolf seller, that person is probably always going to be a lone wolf – then it’s your job to push them by saying for instance “why don’t you get Bob, he can help you get the deal done”. So do that deep dive on your pipeline! Take a good look at it, and think about who else in your company can help you make that deal move forward. 

A proven sales methodology

Now that the steps towards becoming a true sales superhero has been established, the real question remains: how do we pair these skills with a sales methodology to support the entire sales process? In Scott’s experience, the MEDDIC sales methodology is the easiest way to uncover the blind spots in your deal. By using the MEDDIC framework, you can go directly from report to assessment and break down sales cycles into tangible guides, questions, and tasks. As a Key Account Manager or a Sales Manager it’s not always easy to know why one opportunity is progressing and why another one isn’t. If you’re looking at something and ask “do we know who the executive buyer is, do we know what the decision process is”, and you can’t answer these, then you need to establish a process of figuring them out. With a best-practice framework that guides you to take the best next steps, you are enabled to forecast more accurately and coach in the right places. Bottom line is, if there are not certain processes in place, the deal simply won’t go through.

Did you know...

With ARPEDIO’s Opportunity Planning tool, you can easily qualify your pipeline and opportunities through the MEDDIC sales methodology

Key takeaways

There’s a series of steps you can take in your journey towards developing world class salespeople, but at the end of the day, the single most important thing is to remember that there’s an actual person behind the salesperson. Scott has experienced firsthand how goal setting without losing sight of the human side of business has proved to be a unique combination. And this combination has allowed him to continuously grow revenue while having under 10% regrettable employee churn on his teams.

When all comes to all, we’re all human beings and we want to be treated as such. In Scott’s experience, it’s extremely important not to focus too hard on the numbers, but still set clear expectations – while recognizing that working for a spreadsheet manager in most cases is a terrible employee experience. Don’t be the guy that says “you only made 96 phone calls vs 100”, that’s never a great experience for your employee. The key advice to any aspiring sales leader is: find that balance between managing to the metrics while also managing to the person. That’s what makes a good leader, and a good leader develops great salespeople.

A big thank you to Scott Schnaars for sharing all his wisdom on this topic in our LinkedIn Live. It was truly inspiring! If you’re interested in watching or re-watching the session, you can find it below.  

Picture of  Maximilian Opp, Head of International Sales

Maximilian Opp, Head of International Sales

+45 53 50 78 33
[email protected]

Follow us on LinkedIn to get all the newest perspectives and insights around strategic relationship management and sales innovation.

Picture of Maximilian Opp, Head of Sales International

Maximilian Opp, Head of Sales International

+45 53 50 78 33
[email protected]

Follow us on LinkedIn to get all the newest perspectives and insights around strategic relationship management and sales innovation.

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