Alex Sandkuhl, Director of Sales, InSync Healthcare Solutions

Today’s installment of the iST Connect series includes insights and perceptions from one of iST’s featured presenters at iST SalesLive Miami, Alex Sandkuhl.  Making Alex passionate about sales is the art of communication and the human experience.  He landed his first sales role while completing his undergraduate program at Florida State University, leading a team of five fellow students selling campus phone books.  As part of his training program, Alex traveled to the University of North Carolina to compete against other students selling phone books for their respective universities.  He role-played a pitch to the company’s CEO, overcame all objections, and closed the deal in front of a roaring auditorium of 1,000 other students.  At that point, Alex was hooked on sales.  For Alex, a successful sales career involves the perfect combination of business acumen and street savvy, with a large dose of Emotional Intelligence mixed in.  Below are Alex’s insightful perspectives on sales leadership, strategy, and building the perfect sales engine. 

Could you please provide us with an overview of your current role?

My role has evolved significantly in the past 24 months given our company’s explosive growth trajectory. When I first started with InSync there were four sales reps including me.  Fast forward to today and we now have 30!  As Director of Sales, I’ve created five different roles within the sales organization, with each role serving as a mission-critical component in our sales engine.

Describe for us the sales culture you’ve incorporated into your organization.  

The first component of our sales culture centers around self-generated leads.  When I first entered the company, I noticed that we were spending $30K per month on inbound leads from an external source.  My first question was “What are we doing to generate our own leads?”  If our lead generation service shut their doors tomorrow, we’d be doomed.  So I convinced my leadership that we needed to create a culture built around internal lead generation.  I then hired two Business Development Representatives (BDR) whose sole mission was outbound prospecting.  In just 90 days, we generated 85 qualified leads that resulted in $350K in new revenue.  At that point, our culture of internal lead generation was officially established.      

The second element of our culture is, and perhaps most critical to our sustained success, fostering a sense of ambition.  To me, ambition means the desire to go the extra mile for the customer, respond quicker than everyone else, make the extra daily prospecting calls, and pitching in to help team members succeed– without being told to do so.  Building our culture that rewards ambition started with creating five positions within the sales organization, each with increasing levels of responsibility.  Every new team member starts in a BDR role with a clearly defined path to the most senior position on the team – the Regional Sales Manager (RSM).  We are a strong proponent of internal promotions, with KPIs in place to show us which team members are deserving of additional responsibilities.  Bottom line, the team members showing the most ambition (as measured by the KPIs) are the ones who get promoted.

In your experience, what is the greatest motivator of performance? 

Money is typically the first thing that comes to peoples’ minds, but I don’t think it is the right answer here.  After all, if you’re talented in sales, there will always be money on the table for you.  For my team, the greatest motivator is working as a single unit toward a common goal.  Part of my sales strategy includes creating an environment that encourages the “team sell”.  We have no exact geographic territories, so everyone participates together for the betterment of our company.  In sum, it’s everyone participating together, fostering healthy internal competition, and working towards common goals that motivates my team above all else.  

Can you share with us some high-level elements of your sales strategy? 

Let’s compare my team to Roman Legionaries for a second.  They were a fascinating group – during the day they trained rigorously in the art of battle.  At night though, they’d put their swords down and built a fort.  They were a powerful combination of part soldier and part construction worker.  This resonated with me.  I knew that in order to succeed, my team must consist of soldiers and builders – we have an outstanding combat force to forge new relationships and close deals.  At the same time, we’ve built and are continuously improving a sales engine that powers our sales strategy.  It is here with our sales engine that I spend most of my time.  My vision of the perfect sales engine includes scraping data and qualifying leads so my senior sales team members can spend their time where it counts – conducting discovery, demonstrating our product, and negotiating new deals. 

In the past 12 months, what have been some of the most helpful practices or tools that you’ve adopted to improve both your personal performance and your team’s performance?  Excellent question!  When I first joined InSync, we utilized a homegrown CRM system that simply wasn’t scalable with our growth path.   When we first embarked on our sales journey, I would receive a database, scrape it down, load it into our CRM, and the BDRs would begin their outbound calls.  But oftentimes the data was inaccurate, and/or we’d have duplicates, so I found that the BDRs were wasting time in the absence of clean, actionable data.  We soon migrated over to HubSpot’s CRM, complete with several of their powerful plug-ins.  My absolute favorite element of our CRM is HubSpot’s predictive lead scoring.  Predictive lead scoring has allowed me to create a system where the BDRs focus only on what I call “Sales Ready Leads.”  A key metric I use to track effectiveness of sales leads is Demo Yield, defined as the number of live demos that result from 100 phone calls.  Demo Yield is also a leading indicator of future revenue.  Once we implemented HubSpot’s predictive lead scoring system and introduced Sales Ready Leads to our BDRs, our Demo Yield tripled.  

As we look ahead in 2019, then into 2020, how is your industry’s selling landscape expected to change?  My industry’s landscape, the medical field, is rife with regulation and consolidation.  As a result, change occurs all the time.  To help InSync remain an industry leader despite the dynamic shifts in healthcare, I place an important emphasis on SPEED!  Because we consistently beat our competitors to opportunities – the first to call, the first to conduct a live demo, the first to submit a proposal, etc – our customer win rate has beat the industry standard.  So no matter what change comes down the pike, our emphasis on speed-to-market will ensure that we’re in a great position to capitalize.

Again looking ahead to 2020, what new skills should sales professionals develop?  It’s a rudimentary skill but the importance cannot be understated.  Separating the good salesperson from the great is the ability to get his/her pitch to the decision maker.   More often than not, our primary customer point of contact is not the person who signs off on the buying decision.  But this is our livelihood!  We deserve to have our pitch, that we’ve rehearsed countless times, that we live and breathe by, that we’ve connected to their priority business goals, heard by the contact that ultimately signs the contract!  Luckily for my company, technology has played a key role in ensuring that we’re communicating with the true decision-maker.  We’ve started using PandaDoc, which introduces trackability and traceability into our ROI calculations, case studies, and video demonstrations.  Combined with Wistia, PandaDoc helps me see if my proposal, and the valuable content contained within, was viewed by the ultimate decision-maker. 

We are very much looking for to you joining us at a key member of the SalesLive Miami Faculty. What are some key takeaways the SalesLive audience can expect to leave with from your participation?  It’s a topic I’m quite passionate about, which is best descripted with this simple formulaic equation…Volume + Velocity = HyperGrowth!  The rest I’ll save for Miami.