Recorded at the top of the summer, the insights shared on the podcast still hold true. And Jay added a couple more reflections to this blog, now that summer 2020 has drawn to a close and his team has settled into what is expected to be the new normal, at least for the remainder of the year.
When you’re ready to carve out 20 minutes of your day, take a listen to the entire podcast. Meanwhile, check out these noteworthy excerpts.
(Full disclosure: This is Jay in his own words, but we’ve condensed portions of the interview to make for a quick read.)
A lot of my background is in B2B Marketing and working with marketers to identify what they’re doing, learning about their strategies, and figuring out ways we can use technology to help them do more and, at the end of the day, get opportunities and drive revenue from their target accounts.
So a typical day for me: I’m usually working cross-functionally across our Sales, Marketing, Product, and Customer teams, and identifying areas where we can … enable our teams to do more. We really want to focus on making our customers more successful, utilizing Account-Based Sales and Marketing tactics, and working closely with my team.
I think if you look at how COVID-19 has changed that, it’s harder to connect. I think people are all kind of concerned; they don’t know what the future looks like. So, in that way, we probably aren’t pushing as hard to book meetings, preferring to be trusted advisors who can provide value.
You need to be human. You need to show empathy. We’re probably dialing back some of our activity metrics knowing that people are dealing with this in their own way. A lot of people have kids or roommates at home, and it’s hard to work during an abnormal 9 to 5. People are kind of working when they can at their own hours.
Additional thoughts: During difficult times like these, I think it is even more important to be data-driven in everything you do. One of the ways we are doing this is by understanding connect and reply rates and WHEN they happen. In the past, 8 to 9 am and 4 to 6 pm were considered the best times to connect. But in COVID-19, those are now times when our buyers and decision-makers are usually with their families or otherwise unavailable. By being able to see what the connect hot spots were and adjusting to having a majority of our activity done during those times, we saw dramatic increases in both connect and reply rates, which ultimately drove more meetings.
The first one that really sticks out to me (because a lot of our inbound channels have been cut off, whether that’s field marketing or events) is there’s been a lot more outbound—either via Marketing automation or emails from Sales engagement solutions.
And, honestly, a lot of them are missing the mark. I think a lot of people know this—this isn’t going to be a shock—but personalization is absolutely vital.
And knowing how to do personalization at scale with Sales enablement solutions like your outreach or your SalesLoft. People are expecting this and really, they’re getting inundated with so much email right now that if you’re not capturing their attention with what you do through personalization, people are just going to turn off to that message and they might turn off to your brand or your company for the next three to six months and you really just can’t have that right now.
You need to make sure you understand what they care about, not about what your product does. Your outbound message needs to focus on them, how you’re going to help them do their job better.
And if you can tie that into COVID-19—you know, I think people are starting to get a little bit worn down by COVID-19 messaging—but if you can find a way that is relevant to help them through this time, go ahead and mention that. Be really specific about ways that you can help. I think that is absolutely key in keeping your engagement metrics up.
You need to leverage all the channels at your disposal. As I mentioned earlier, video is working really well and can help put a name to a face and really help you explain the value that you can bring a little bit better.
So as part of the personalization and video strategy, you should also be leveraging all the channels at your disposal: email, phones, social, video.
And then, you know, I think there are some other tools out there—some of the conversational intelligence tools. Know what good looks like. See how your conversations are working, what did people want to talk about, what did they focus on, what led to a meeting. And similarly, you can use that same approach with a Sales engagement solution and understanding what’s getting opens, what’s getting replies. Use a lot of this data to drive what your strategy is going to be.
I think a lot of teams are probably struggling with the fact that a lot of their inbound channels are producing less than what they had before. So in terms of Sales development or prospecting, you really need to know how to pick up on these signals, utilize the tools, and develop outbound strategies that are going to get people to raise their hand because you know a lot of those Marketing channels have been cut off.
More important than how to rescale or upscale your team, I think you should always be enabling your teams. Training should be an ongoing thing. Learning more about your space, your product, updating your Sales skills, and keeping those skills sharp. If you’re not part of an organization that is utilizing Sales enablement best practices, that’s absolutely something that you need to be doing today, especially as people say there’s a lot of time for self-development right now.
Stay constantly focused on building your Sales skills. That’s really important.
Video is how you get as close to face-to-face as you can today. I think people get a little bit tired of seeing emails and checking voicemails. Video is a way you can actually interact with your prospects and customers. So that one is really key.
And then in terms of some of the digital footprint stuff we talked about, I think understanding intent and engagement signals are things that a lot of Sales technologies provide. And you really need to know how to use those to prioritize who you want to reach out to because you’re not going to be seeing success reaching out to your whole account list without understanding what people are engaging in and what they care about.
A trend that I’m seeing a lot more of is Marketing teams usually have the bigger budgets for technologies and what they’re doing is portioning off part of their budget to purchase tools that Sales can use. And they’re really focused on Sales enablement because they’re leaning more into, “Let’s prioritize accounts. Let’s try not to target our whole ICP right now because we know some industries are being really negatively impacted by this. And it probably doesn’t make a lot of sense for us to target what our whole Ideal Customer Profile was in the past. Let’s focus on industries that have use cases that really relate back to our product or service and what we can sell.”
And the last one would be, you’re seeing conversational intelligence. I think these solutions are growing really quickly and a lot of Sales teams have them today to [help them] understand how they can be getting better. And because you can’t be coaching in the office and having a lot of these in-person meetings, being able to, as a Sales manager, listen in on recordings and do a lot of this coaching at your own pace … is really important.
Make sure that your teams have access to some kind of sales intelligence solution. ZoomInfo is a great one where you can really leverage firmographic information to build a list of accounts and then you can start layering on things like technographics (if you work in tech).
So I think Sales intelligence and some of the technographic stuff. I think Marketing automation still has a lot of great information that you can utilize for account scoring and engagement.
So if you can tie those three things together to really understand the list of potential accounts you can sell into and then utilize some of the information about engagement through Marketing automation and Sales engagement, that can really help you develop your ICP.
But I don’t think you can stop there. I think you need some level of human verification. So what we like to do is get our Sales and Marketing teams together about once a quarter and go through this list and make sure that our account scoring methodology—the accounts that we understand are showing intent or engagement—actually should fit into this ICP. Making sure that for the industries and companies selected we have a valid use case that can really play well to that company or to that industry.
Well, I think building a culture of collaboration and celebrating wins and even motivating people to be more collaborative is really something that we’re seeing success with. A lot of that’s being done through Zoom or Slack channels.
I think you don’t want to bog people down too much. They’re already being invited to a lot of different Zoom calls. But have that sense of let’s overcommunicate. Let’s try to make it fun, let’s build in some types of competitions. That could be fun to do. I know we’re having some success with that.
Additional thoughts: Another thing that our team has said they love is incorporating competitions to make the day-to-day more fun and have them interact with people they wouldn’t necessarily do so with on a daily basis. We did things like an NCAA tournament-style challenge where teams of two competed in a double-elimination bracket to score points based on certain activity criteria. Recently, in an opportunity-and-activity challenge, we had our West Coast and East Coast SDR managers switch up their teams, leading the reps on the opposite coasts.
I would just like to encourage people to be really data-driven in your approach. By data-driven, I’m not talking about MQLs and leads, I’m talking about how are we actually engaging people? Are we getting these companies to our website? Are we getting them to open our emails? Are we getting them to answer our calls and take the next steps with us? What do our conversion rates look like?
You really need to understand those things, and if you’re not doing that today, I highly encourage you to do that.
And then, I’m seeing a lot of uptick in companies who are interested in utilizing intent and intent keywords to really be pinpointed in who they’re going to target and how they’re going to personalize their messaging. People are seeing success with an outbound approach utilizing intent keywords.
For more Sales and Marketing tips for Sales leaders and SDRs, check out these articles in our Sales Scoop series:
- How I Went from SDR to AE in One Year (Doing Personalization and the Little Things Right), by Anthony Natoli
- Tips for Personalization Within Buying Committees: A Key Outreach Strategy in the 1:Few, by Katharine Noonan and Sean Magee
- Humanizing the Prospecting and Selling Process to Stand Out, by Jesse Darsinos