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Question
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New AE (4 weeks in) - feeling guilty about the amount of downtime I have

Long story short:

I was recently promoted into an AE role after about 1.5 years within the BDR organization at my current company (large SaaS org in manufacturing space). 

I am on a 3 month commission guarantee (ending in August) but have not closed anything yet and can't shake the guilt that I should be doing more - though I do have a couple small deals set to close within the next week or so. In talking with the other AEs on my team, they assured me that I was fine and that they also didn't close anything until 4-6 weeks into the role. 

Ordinarily I would fill my time with prospecting work but management does not want AEs doing large amounts of biz dev and therefore I only have a handful of accounts to prospect into. 

Under better circumstances that would be fine, but our BDR team is undermanned to support 3 AEs - to illustrate, I have only had 6 total discoveries/demos this week for an average of 2/day. Even factoring in some administrative work and following up on open deals, it still leaves me with multiple hours per day to fill. 

Any tips or recommendations on how to effectively utilize my downtime to best position myself moving forward?

thanks in advance!
🧠 Advice
💼 Productivity
📳 SaaS
26
someoneinsales
Tycoon
25
Director of Sales
I would prospect and set my own meetings anyway. If the head of sales gets mad because you are growing you own pipeline, I would leave.

The best seller dont wait for SDR's to fill their funnel.
CuriousFox
WR Officer
10
Senior Account Executive
Yes honey PREACH!
braintank
Politicker
1
Enterprise Account Executive
Agreed. You aren't going to get in trouble for building pipeline.
TennisandSales
Politicker
5
Enterprise Account Executive
yep! this is solid. also, you can always just set the meeting and do what ever you need to do to give it to your SDR.

You get pipeline, they get credit, they also love you.

everyone wins.
smokemyciggies
Valued Contributor
3
Account Representative, Software & Information Solutions
Oh yeah - I’ve made it abundantly clear to my BDRs that if I book anything in their book of business that I’ll make sure they get credit for it.
TennisandSales
Politicker
1
Enterprise Account Executive
you are going to have some huge fans haha
someoneinsales
Tycoon
0
Director of Sales
If you have limited SDR's and they have to split a bunch of different reps, you can also incentivize them to work more in your world.

I usually set up 1 on 1's with them each week, help coach and create new approaches. This will build a better relationship and help them want to work in your world more.

I have also incentivized them with giftcards or cash for any meeting set that goes to an Opp.
smokemyciggies
Valued Contributor
1
Account Representative, Software & Information Solutions
Good idea. Unfortunately opps are currently round robin amongst the 3 AEs so unless they just blatantly disregard that, there’s not a whole lot I can do to get them to focus on funneling more my way. But doing some 1:1s and coaching could prove fruitful in the long run for sure.
TennisandSales
Politicker
0
Enterprise Account Executive
yes! one on ones and coaching *with the ones who will appreciate it* will be fruitful for SURE.

when I was an SDR anytime an AE would help make my job better/easier I would work WAY harder on opps for them
smokemyciggies
Valued Contributor
0
Account Representative, Software & Information Solutions
Totally agree. I have actually just started reaching out to my BDRs requesting that they chop off a handful of accounts from their books for me to dive into. But inevitably I’ll just have to go rogue and starting farming my own accounts to keep myself busy and my pipeline healthy.
BostonHound
Good Citizen
0
Enterprise BDR
Bingo, especially as a previous BDR there you know what you’re doing and will only be driving more business. If they have a problem with that, they hate generating more revenue🤷‍♂️
SaaSam
Politicker
9
Account Executive
Strange that the head shed doesn't want AE's doing their own prospecting... seems backwards to me. But that being the case you are going to have a lot of free time for a while. Use it to learn more about your product, industry, current clients, use cases, brush up on new sales tactics, tools, methodology. Just grow your knowledge base so that you're better armed for any conversations you do have.
smokemyciggies
Valued Contributor
1
Account Representative, Software & Information Solutions
Agreed. I literally have THREE accounts to prospect into currently.

I recently picked up GAP Selling and started reading that. Any other recs you have would be awesome though.
SaaSam
Politicker
1
Account Executive
Psychological Operations in Guerilla Warfare by Tayacan.

It's short, a manual really, and if you can change the context around to fit your situation it's super useful. Much like The Art Of War
Br3k43er
Contributor
0
BDR
Never Split the Difference, negotiating as if your life depended on it By Chris Voss ( if nothing else read this one, actually an interesting read)

Spin Selling by Neil Rackham

Getting to Yes
salesguy123
Personal Narrative
0
RVP Sales
I'm going to date myself but The New Solution Selling by Eades (and I have the Fieldbook too), The Challenger Sale and Lets Get Real or Lets Not Play by Khalsa are all timeless classics and how I've made my bread and butter for years.
nomdeguerre
Valued Contributor
1
VP of Channel Partner Sales
Many moons ago I worked for a VP of Sales who was adamant about AEs not prospecting. He even said it was grounds for termination. However, his top rep did a bunch of prospecting and I was put on a plan for not being able to make my number. I learned real quick.

It doesn’t matter what leadership says, you should always be doing your own prospecting!
antiASKHOLE
Politicker
0
Account Executive
Prospect! tis silly to not and rely on someone else who may or may not actually know what to look for and only really care about setting the appt.
smokemyciggies
Valued Contributor
0
Account Representative, Software & Information Solutions
Oh I’m with you 100%. Our management team has been (weirdly) stingy about letting AEs do their own prospecting. I’ve had to just kinda go wild wild west and do it regardless though. Otherwise I’m sitting around waiting for shit to be passed to me which is not my style and is flat out unsustainable if I am going to hit my number.
Pachacuti
Politicker
0
They call me Daddy, Sales Daddy
As has been mentioned, you should spend some time filling your own pipeline. But you can do so in a more intelligent way. Try geographic prospecting, using your local-to-prospect current clients names to get in the doors when you cold call them (don't do it via email).

Or target higher levels in your prospects' organizations. If the SDR calls on V-level, try C-level. Or dig into alternative ways to reach those people - like via trade associations they may belong to. Get creative!
GDO
Politicker
0
BDM
Ja het would they be mad if you increase your pipe? As long as it does not effect your quality
champchamp
Arsonist
0
Enterprise Sales Development Representative
Wow… Management doesn’t want AEs to prospect? That’s a first.

What’s their reasoning behind it?
Sunbunny31
Politicker
0
Sr Sales Executive
Yeah, I'd definitely be prospecting to get that pipeline healthy. If the thought is that you're not closing if you're prospecting, ok....but you're currently not closing, so I'd be definitely filling the time!
adrienmc
Good Citizen
0
Founder @LaGrowthMachine
Go prospect accounts that haven’t been assigned/have no owners yet. Making sure you don’t create internal conflicts. If management disapproves, request for more deals going through you. If you get another no, leave - sales org that don’t reward commitment while not aknoowlexing their own inefficiencies are terrible sales org
Baldy
Good Citizen
0
Enterprise Sales Director
Prospecting on your own does the trick. You know the ICP from the BDR role- get a list of the top accounts in your territory and work them. It’s the most annoying almost insulting cliche ever, but it’s the best one to live by - “You control your success”
IYNFYL
Politicker
0
Enterprise SaaS AE
Wish I had that issue as without BDR support we do nothing but prospecting as an AE. I would agree to build up extra that you can to close any potential quota gaps in the future.
Kosta_Konfucius
Politicker
0
Sales Rep
100% start prospecting, because the 2nd they tell you to start prospecting then you will start being asked "have you set a meeting yet?" "We need to get you on some disco calls"
policyguy
Personal Narrative
0
VP of Sales
Prospecting is the key to your success! Anything the BDR brings you is a bonus. Go get 'em!
salezkween
Contributor
0
Enterprise Account Executive
The best AEs I know spend their first few months watching as many Chorus/Gong calls of the top performing reps as they can.

If you can increase your conversions of discovery and demo calls to evaluations, you'll make the most out of the at-bats.

Yes, prospecting is good-- but as an AE not completely focused on prospecting, you can spend more time do strategic prospecting (if you only have a set amount of accounts). Read about company news, explore their website, figure out how their current business operates and what pain they may have as it relates to your product.
npm55434
Catalyst
0
Business Development Representative
Always be prospecting no matter what. If you are reprimanded for doing so that is backwards.

At our company they say 3-5x pipeline coverage in order to hit quota. No commission guarantees. I’m in month three and already closed 5 deals because I started prospecting Day 1.

I too was promoted from a BDR role at the company so I already understood the market, ICP and product value prop. Your job as an AE is to sign clients and get revenue in the door, you will not get in trouble by doing so.
salesguy123
Personal Narrative
0
RVP Sales
Your instincts are right: prospect like a mad man. You need to earn that commission no matter what IMHO. The company will love to see some new logos come in from your prospecting. If not, its not the right cultural fit.
RTP23
0
Account Executive, SLED
I’m currently in my 4th week at my new job and have been reaching out to build my internal network, studying up on products, and prospecting while waiting on BDRs to get more meetings.
nltri
Valued Contributor
0
AE
Take this with a grain of salt, but don’t sweat it. There will come a time when you’re ramped and 2 discos/day will seem like too much. Don’t slam yourself now when that pace will force you to work 12 hour days in the near future.
5
Week 2 at new AE job
Advice
11
9
Week3 at new AE job
Discussion
6