It’s always a good idea to take a step back and look at your sales strategy with a fresh and candid perspective. Cory Bray, CEO of ClozeLoop, prominent sales thought leader and author of The Sales Enablement Playbook, shared a few of his past experiences with sales. Cory also touched on the ways he sees data and analytics influencing sales in the future, and areas where sales is still going to be sales. Take a look at our recent Q&A with Cory below!
You got your start in sales at a consulting company. What kinds of experiences built your sales strategy and led you to ClozeLoop?
I had previously built the sales onboarding program at another company, but I quickly learned there’s a huge difference between sales onboarding and actually closing deals. One of my mentors told me that if I wanted to learn how to sell, I needed to enroll in Sandler Sales Training President’s Club. I spent $10k of my own money and hired the local Sandler coach. It was the best money I have ever spent.
Since then, I’ve noticed that so much selling time is wasted by covering the same basic topics in meetings, 1-1s, and on social channels such as Slack. At the same time, there is a huge gap between the tactics used by top performers and everyone else. I wanted to create technology that handles basic and mechanical information transfer so human beings can have the best possible chance of success and focus on more important and impactful activities … like closing deals.
What is your favorite part about working at ClozeLoop?
The challenge of building a company from scratch is by far the best part of being a startup founder. In September of 2015, I decided to quit my job to start a software company … that’s it. Complete blank slate.
Since then, we’ve built two products that we threw away and are currently on the 3rd. We’re highly confident that this is the right direction and started closing paying customers within 4 months of writing our first line of code. There are constant ups and downs, which I love. I told my dad that it feels like I wake up at the craps table every day. His response was, “Yeah, but you’re the dealer, right?”
“Data is totally part of the sales equation, but it’s way more valuable to talk to people.”
How does data influence your sales solutions?
I spent a couple of years selling Business Intelligence (BI), so I’ve thought about this topic a lot. My current stance is that in small companies, data is often overrated, and in big companies, it’s often underrated.
Most small companies have tiny datasets, so trying to implement data-driven decision making is a science project and probably a waste of time. Data is totally part of the sales equation, but it’s way more valuable to talk to people than it is to sit around and look at dashboards full of vanity metrics and charts that are not statistically significant.
Big companies have the data, but they often under-invest in their ability to use it. When I was selling BI, I can’t tell you how many large organizations claimed to not have budget when there’s obviously a goldmine of insights waiting to be unlocked in their data.
Which sales influencers inspire you the most?
My two sales coaches (Roger Kemper and Hilmon Sorey) had the biggest impact on me by far. Hilmon is now my co-founder, and he’s probably the brightest sales mind I’ve come across. Anyone who is serious about sales and doesn’t have a sales coach should get one ASAP. The investment pays off and they provide an invaluable 3rd-party perspective.
Lately, I’ve tried to get out of the sales-specific mindset and start thinking more holistically about business. Often there are things that negatively impact a salesperson’s ability to do their job, but are out of their control. For example: the product is terrible, the CFO set an unrealistic budget, customer success is scared to farm referrals from customers, etc. A lot of modern sales influencers are focused in the weeds around solving problems that shouldn’t exist if they looked at the overall company and addressed the root causes.
Where do you see sales headed next?
Sales is a lot like golf. The technology improves each year to help people hit the ball a little longer and straighter, but buying a new driver won’t make you good at golf. People who invest in developing their fundamentals will continue to be successful, but no one is going to magically get good at sales overnight. There is an opportunity to use technology to improve fundamentals, which is what we’re working on at ClozeLoop, but it’s far from magic. Competence and effort are still required!
When you’re not selling, what do you like to do in your spare time?
While I still travel a little and play leisure sports (horse shoes, golf, ladder golf, etc.), writing has been my biggest hobby in the last year or so. I’ve written 50+ LinkedIn articles and recently released The Sales Enablement Playbook on Amazon. It gives me some time to clear my head, but still has an impact on the business.
Although being great at sales is a journey, using data and analytics to reduce your prospecting and meeting prep is one the ways you can focus your efforts and spend your time doing what you do best. Find out how you can use data to boost your sales performance by trying out EverString for free.