How to Partner With Your AEs (Without Over-Partnering)

Seller's Journey Episode 17
Transparent sales process - working together
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Welcome back to the From Vendorship → Partnership podcast, Season 2: Seller’s Journey! 

This season, we’re talking to B2B sales leaders about their experience building winning processes, coaching & scaling teams, and partnering with customers.

Our guest this week is Conor Dragomanovich, Director of Commercial Sales at Productboard!

Conor joined Productboard in 2018 as a founding AE, and since then he's moved up to lead and scale the commercial sales team of 20+ AEs. He and Ross talked about common mistakes in startup sales, how to successfully partner with your reps, and future trends in B2B sales.

Listen to the episode here, and get the key takeaways from our conversation below.

🙅 What do most people get wrong about startup sales?

One big mistake: looking too far ahead.

When you have past experience in a larger, high-functioning sales team – with a robust tech stack, defined sales process and methodology, enablement material, etc. – it’s tempting to want all of those bells and whistles right away for your early stage team. 

The problem is, people often skip crucial steps to get there.

“At the beginning, you should really just be relentlessly focused on your customer and ICP,” Conor says. “That should be your focus before you start getting into specific methodologies.”

👀 How do you partner with your reps on deals without over-partnering?

As a sales leader, it’s easy to jump into deals at every turn – especially calls that you’ve been invited to – because you have more experience than your reps, and you know that you can likely help close the deal.

“But it’s really important to keep the end game in mind,” Conor says. “If you’re jumping into every deal, ultimately you do a disservice to both future customers and to your AEs.”

Instead, partner with your AEs by helping them prepare ahead of their calls. Walk them through possible questions and objections that may come up, so they’re less likely to get blindsided. 

There should also be a role assigned to anyone on a prospect or customer call – whether it’s the AE, you as the sales leader, or another cross-functional team member brought in. When there are clear expectations for what’s expected of each person involved, it’s easier to avoid overstepping.

“The more trust you demonstrate in your AE, the better served they are and the better your relationship is with them,” Conor says. “Take a step back and play the long game.”

⚡ Lightning Round: Conor’s Fast Sales Insights

  • The most common misconception about sales? That it’s a selfish game.
  • Another sales team you admire? The team at Lattice.
  • Helpful book or resource? I just re-read Never Split the Difference.
  • The hardest part of scaling early stage sales? Patience!

About Conor

Conor Dragomanovich is a Founding AE & Director of Commercial Sales at Productboard, an industry leading customer-driven product management system. Before Productboard, Conor was a Founding AE at Dealpath as well as a top performing rep at AppFolio. Before entering the world of Startups, Conor managed surf shops in Santa Barbara, CA.