A Sales Conversation: How Today’s Sellers Can Take Advantage

A Chat with SalesRoads and SalesIntel

We will be referencing proprietary research conducted by both SalesRoads and SalesIntel over summer 2020.

Methodologies: SalesRoads surveyed 755 sales professionals working in the SaaS industry on the state of their work and pipelines. In a separate study, SalesIntel measured connectivity success using a mix of direct dial, switchboard, and mobile work numbers while calling 100+ C-level executives. Both studies were the subject of a joint white paper, Tomorrow’s Marketplace: How Today’s Sellers Can Take Advantage. The white paper can be read on the SalesRoads and SalesIntel blogs.

Participants:
  • Alex Eckhart – Marketing Coordinator at SalesRoads
  • David Kreiger –  President at SalesRoads
  • Jason Hubbard – VP of Partnerships & Alliances at SalesIntel

Alex: Work from home (WFH) has emerged as the most debated topic of 2020. Some people love WFH, while others can’t wait to get back into the office.

93% of our respondents told us they are more open to remote work in the future. But the same group of respondents told us it was the second largest barrier to sales success.

Jason, what’s your take?

Jason: I think WFH is a mixed bag for virtually everyone. Personally, the time not spent commuting has been welcome. As an extrovert I really miss the face-to-face interaction. But as someone who was working from home about 50% of the time pre-COVID — and a lot of our team was already remote — so a lot of this was already old hat for me.

But I certainly see some people taking it in stride with minimal impact while others have really struggled.

David: I agree. I have spoken to many people in sales who want to get back into the office and really miss that social interaction. Also, many believe that there is something missing in the coaching and have struggled with on-Boarding — It suits certain organizations better than others.

I was, however, very surprised that 50% of respondents said it was a barrier to success.

Do you feel that it hurt the productivity of your sales team at all and how did it differ between your sales team and marketing team?

Jason: Yeah I agree on the coaching/onboarding piece in particular. Our sales team has gone through incredible growth in the midst of this and we have had to build out processes to manage much of which we could have counted on happening organically in the past. For marketing, we’ve just been impacted from the standpoint that we have to be more proactive in creating ways to be collaborative, but probably less so than on the sales front.

In the second graph, I’m a bit surprised at how big of a reported impact WFH has had on the ability to sell. So the obvious question is how and in what way has WFH impacted that? — I think additional context would be especially helpful.

David: Yes I agree, we did this survey in the middle of the summer, so I suspect that many folks were with kids at home. I truly believe — and have seen it first hand at SalesRoads — when you create an infrastructure and culture of WFH you can create a very effective on-boarding program, where people can listen to calls, have “live” training on zoom and replicate a lot of what you have in the office. The same goes for coaching.
The great thing with WFH is your ability to recruit great talent wherever they live, which is one of the #1 predictors of sales success, the people you can have on your team !!!

Alex: So it seems WFH is a mixed bag, but how WFH is affecting the sales process is unclear.
One obvious disruption is people aren’t in the office. Is this making them harder to reach?

As you can see, our respondents indicated they are experiencing increased success across all channels although this survey focused on the SaaS industry, which may skew those figures.

David, what are you seeing?

David: I think this was for 2 reasons:

  1. A lot of companies were caught flat-footed as they didn’t have updated direct dial numbers and cell phone numbers, so when everyone started working from home they couldn’t reach them because they weren’t there! So, they had to revert to email.
  2. With the rise of sales enablement platforms that make it easy for sales people to send out emails, a lot of sales people reverted to using these platforms in the wrong way and just blasting out their lists.

So, we saw a huge increase in emails to prospects making them harder to reach. Because we updated our direct dial and mobile numbers, the phone actually became more effective as fewer people had this information and we could stand out and actually reach our prospects!

Jason what are your thoughts?

Jason: It’s funny because what I’ve seen is that when you can get a conversation going, setting a meeting has actually become easier. And it appears that social and email have become easier to reach people on. Which is a bit surprising given the corresponding reported increases in volume of activity on those channels which would mesh closer with what you’re seeing internally at SalesRoads.

Phone seems to be a mixed bag and depends on what kinds of numbers you have at your disposal. Direct dial numbers have become no more effective than general company switchboards.

At SalesIntel it’s meant that our coverage of work mobile numbers went from nice-to-have to essential — to the point where we’re closing deals on our coverage of mobile work numbers alone. In fact, we ran a study on the connection rates across direct dial desk phones, switchboards, and work mobile numbers and found a 7X higher connection rate using work mobile numbers vs virtually identical connection rates using desk phones and switchboards post COVID.

David: That is great data! Direct dial and switchboards were almost identical?

Jason: Yeah, connection rates for switchboards and desk phones were nearly the same, vs a higher connection rate with mobile numbers.

David: Surprising, as we haven’t done a full study, but from my own calling it “felt” like we were seeing a high connection rate when using direct dials vs working through the receptionist.

What are your thoughts on social? Direct outreach via social was pretty good for us prior to 2020, but we have seen an increase in adoption and automated cadences in Linkedin that has really crowded the market and made it very difficult to breakthrough. Linkedin is still a great way to generate brand awareness as well as find information on your prospects but as a direct messaging channel it has become difficult.
Which is why phone at the end of the day has been our most effective channel by far.

Jason: So, I think the takeaway for social and email both (and really across the board) is that not a lot changes during something like COVID regarding best practices. The environment is just a lot less forgiving.
So, with more activity on those channels you really have to do your pre-outreach research, segment, customize, lead with value-add content, etc. You know, all the things that you really should have been doing… But if you do it right, people are hungry for interaction and willing to hear you out

Alex: Great points all around.

So, we’ve touched on a lot of channels including direct dials, mobile numbers, social media, and email. All these options are great ways to reach prospects at different times.

But the question remains: are prospects harder to reach because they’re not in the office? Or are there enough ways to reach out that it doesn’t matter?

Jason what’s your final verdict?

Jason: Two takeaways as far as I’m concerned.

  1. The quality of your phone numbers, work mobile in particular, is more important than ever.
  2. Take the time to follow best practices. Run true ABM campaigns, customize, segment, add value, use things to help you stand out and break through the noise.

Also one really interesting tactic I just came across last week was leveraging Cameo which I thought was super creative!

David: I think that is broken down well Jason.
Creativity will always win the day. One of the things that can be good about obstacles like the ones we have faced in 2020. It forces teams to create a relevant and meaningful connection.

Overall we have found it easier to reach people over the past few months. I think this is mainly because of the quality of our database with cell phone and direct dial numbers. Like you said, people are “hungry for interaction.” I don’t have any data to back it up but people who are at home might be more open to picking up the phone for social interaction. 🙂

Thanks for joining the first ever B2B Sales Huddle Chat, we hope you enjoyed the format! A special thanks to Jason Hubbard, VP of Partnerships and Alliances at SalesIntel, and David Kreiger, SalesRoads President.