How 13 Sales Orgs Are Winning In The New Environment
The Tenbound Virtual Sales Development Conference took place this past week and was a fantastic event! Tons of great speakers, networking opportunities, and a wealth of knowledge from some amazing companies.
In an effort to get a pulse on the sales landscape and understand how Sales and Marketing organizations are adapting to the new sales environment, I asked a handful of participants the following questions:
- From a sales perspective, what’s been surprisingly successful for you or your company this past year?
- From a sales perspective, what do you see as the biggest challenge for you or your company these next couple years?
The responses came from Founders, Marketing Managers, SDRs and more. The answers were varied, but it seems as though everyone understands the need for the change and the need to continue to progress forward.
Key Take Aways
Consolidating the responses below and several speakers from the conference, I've derived a few key-take aways:
- Focus on your clients and how you can keep them. In uncertain times, your current customers are where you can still grow.
- Adapt quickly and without fear. You have to be willing to try new things
- Double down on solving your core customer needs. Deeply understand how covid has impacted their organization, not just that it exists.
- Adopt the long tail approach. As ALL sales and marketing energy is now online, you have to find ways to cut through the noise.
Head of Global Demand Generation - Zinier | Field Service. Automated.
1. Everything has shifted to virtual. As a company, there were a lot of conferences that we could sponsor, but now for virtual events, the evaluation criteria is different. We have to understand, is this a conference, a webinar, video content? But overall we've been successful in adapting our marketing / messaging to address our customers core problem.
2. All of the effort that was put toward face to face, like conferences, lunches, meetings, road shows, etc.. are all now digital. So it's not a new challenge, but sales and marketing organizations are going to have to find new ways to cut through the noise.
Founder - GrowFlare, COO - eSUB Construction Software
1. Lead with free, pay as you grow. We let anyone use our platform for free to find their next best prospects. They only pay as they grow, which ties directly to their success and ours.
2. Failing to win, yet failing to change for fear of failing. Every week I speak to folks that want to be better at outbound, they know what they're doing isn't working. Yet when you show them a better way, they resist change because they're afraid of failing. It's the deepest irony.
Director of Demand Generation - Hearst Bay Area | Marketing Solutions
1. As someone who works in the advertising wing of news media, it has been an interesting year. I would say that our company's greatest success has been on the consumer engagement side. Our digital subscribers have been growing steadily since this crisis first hit. The amazing journalism that our newsroom is producing has helped to offset the impact of advertiser cut-backs and allows us to remain an iconic San Francisco brand that produces the stories that our regional audience cares most about.
2. Along that same vein, our greatest challenges lie in the fact that print consumers and revenues are shrinking year over year. As a company that relies on consumer reach and engagement to fuel our advertising machine, we must be competitive in our recruiting of top talent on both the B2B sales and journalism side, innovative in our product offerings, and deeply obsessed with the shifting wants and needs of our advertisers and audience members.
Director of Marketing - demandDrive | Sales Development & Lead Gen Services
1. With all of the discourse around cold calling being "dead," you would think that we'd look for alternative channels to work through.You'd be wrong.Cold calling has been, still is, and (probably) always will be the best channel for us to generate new business - both for us and for our clients. Obviously HOW we go about cold calling has changed. It's more research-backed (both on the account and prospect) and persona-based than ever before. Connecting with someone on LinkedIn, recording a video, or sending direct mail are great ways to warm up that call and make it less "cold." We focus on carving out space in our prospect's brain with the channels available to us, and that way when we get them live on the phone (cold) they're already familiar with us in some capacity.
2. Sales development is constantly evolving. The old "Predictable Revenue" model is getting phased out, and predicting that change is going to be crucial for future success. In terms of imminent changes, I think the nearest is a movement away from the SDR role as a "contact form with legs." Lots of companies are starting to do this already, but letting SDRs build more of a personal brand online to help boost authority and credibility in their outreach is going to be the new standard for the role. Plus, it helps out the company overall. Enabling your SDRs to build out that brand is like running a team of mini-marketers.
Managing Director - Jawda Advisory | Conseil & Formation en Algérie
1. From a sales perspective, we have put a lot of efforts on listening to our hidden customers needs and we did our utmost to deliver adequate solutions and ensure their full satisfaction. Seems like our efforts have paid off.
2. The biggest challenge we will be facing for the next couple of years will be to overcome this crisis with less damage. Concretely and from Jawda Advisory perspective, this means that we will have to address various sales aspects such as adapting our offers, reviewing our sales process and going through a more thorough sales selection process.
Chairman & Cofounder - Perception Predict | Predict Rep Sales Performance, Pre-hire
1. This past year the PerceptionPredict science team developed and deployed a dual Performance Fingerprint for SDRs and AEs that accurately predicts how many leads/demos a new SDR will generate before they’re hired; and if successful in the role and promoted to an AE role, how much quarterly $ revenue vs quota they’ll actually produce. This is world first achievement that enables hiring managers and recruiters to rapidly screen a massive pool of candidates that have zero sales experience, and cherry pick the gems!
2. The challenge PerceptionPredict faces is scaling our capacity to meet the demand for custom Performance Fingerprints from sales orgs that want to accurately recruit candidates with the greatest probability of becoming very high performers in order to reduce early tenure turnover whilst accelerating performance ramp.
Business Development Manager - League | Transforming Employee Health Benefits
1. We are helping individuals live their best lives, everyday. And we’ve seen the most success when we use data and insights to help employers understand that ensuring the health of their employee population is the best business decision they will ever make.
2. The COVID-19 pandemic has forced employers and employees into stressful and uncertain situations. Sales wise, this has required us to pivot our product and sales approach to make it easier for business leaders tackle their unique business issues while putting their employees’ health first in this pandemic. And I see these changes being long-term.
SDR Director - EasySend | No-code Insurance Data Collection
1. LinkedIn has been a great asset for us. People who were once upon a time unreachable via email/phone were more open to chat with us when connecting and personalizing our messaging to the prospect via Linkedin.
2. With the unknown of how long the pandemic and the after effects will last, the question that concerns me is will the sales cycle now be a standard of double the time then it used to be, meaning as an sdr group do we need to go away from a quality approach to a quantity one to help bring more to the table in order to convert quicker.
Business Development Manager - Dewberry | Architectural Services
1. Facebook. In our market, it's very common for current clients, potential clients, and networking/referral contacts to add one another as Facebook friends. It has allowed our business developers to better prospect, while also staying top of mind in a non-salesy way. I've actually included "become Facebook friends" as a fun part of my 16 step "touch" process for developing a trust relationship.
2. The biggest challenge I anticipate facing is adjusting how we build personal relationships in a virtual, 30 minute meeting world. A business norm in our market is to take prospects to lunch and continue to do so about once a quarter. These meetings are usually an hour and much more conducive to relationship building. As people are less comfortable going out and begin to see more value in quick zoom meetings over in person coffees and zooms, we have to pivot. Time spent equals relationship built and the reality is there is less time spent with sales people right now.
Senior Account Executive- Fairmarkit | The Intelligent Sourcing Platform
1. I think what's been most successful this past year is our willingness to empathize with our customers and prospects. 2020 has impacted the personal and professional lives we once knew in ways we couldn't have anticipated. Treating people like people as opposed to a means to quota attainment is the way to go.
2. Over the course of the next few years, I think the biggest challenge is going to be maintaining a unique voice that can be heard above the industry "noise" - which requires a passion for nurture equal to the passion for closing a sale. When you really boil it down, EVERY salesperson is promising cost savings, time savings, and risk mitigation in some combination. Some can keep said promises, while others can't really. How does a prospect know which voices to trust above others?
Business Development Rep - Asite | Construction Management Software
1. I've seen success calling into companies an hour before and after typical calling windows if you want to call it. I've reached C-suite people better this way.
2. We are a company that was started in the UK, and we recently just started expanding our presence in the NA region. We are trying to get our brand recognition up and get some key customers. We are the big guys in the UK and we are trying to get there in the states!
Sales Development Rep - Nimbata | Call Tracking & Analytics for Inbound Marketing
1. Cold calls proved to be the best sales dev channel. I expected cold outreach via email to be our silver bullet but it seems that people's inboxes are full of emails due to remote working.
2. Our sales cycle (outbound perspective) became longer due to covid, and we're adjusting our forecasts and activity to expect longer sales cycles for the foreseeable future.
Business Development Rep - Kespry | Perception Data Analytics & Industrial Drone Mapping
1. Our company has successfully adapted to remote work. Before Covid, half of our sales team was already working remotely, and the other departments in Kespry have adapted well.
2. The biggest challenge for myself is handling objections related to spending cuts due to the pandemic. Our analytics tools are top notch, and so it takes more skill and perseverance to overcome those objections. The bar for buyers has gone up.
Sales Development Rep
1. I have definitely seen the SDR role grow larger each year, especially compared to 5 years ago. It's easy to look past SDR's and look straight to AE's since they are closers. More companies are supporting SDR's by implementing thorough training programs and giving them all of the tools that they need to succeed.
2. I definitely think the SDR role will only grow larger moving forward. Companies are starting to shed the perception that SDR's are only good for the grunt/dirty work and should be seen just as valuable as AE's.
Enterprise Business Development Rep - Blackline
1. The work from home environment has shown a lot of organizations where the opportunities for improvement are in their financial close process. The biggest help to us during the crisis is real empathy and adapting to our clients needs. On a larger scale we’ve set up temporary programs that offer free support and resources to our customers that didn’t already have it, specifically our task management and reporting solutions. Those solutions give customers better visibility and control over their close processes with a remote team.
2. It’s hard to say what the next few years will look like but I see the category of cloud financial close automation growing rapidly and as a result I anticipate many new competitors entering the space.
How You Can Keep Winning
If you didn't read all of the above responses, I would recommend you do so. While the answers seem to vary, there are several common themes.
What I glean from this (asides from the above key take-aways), is that now is the time to adapt and win. It's time to step the game up to a new level. It's a harder playing field, but it's equally as open as before. Just a little different.
It's not too late to re-evaluate your sales & marketing strategies. It's not too late to question your efforts and try new things!
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