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July 5, 2021
7 min read
Happy July 4th weekend to our readers in the U.S.! For others, we know several sales teams (and companies) have decided to take the week off at the midyear point and recharge – a must-needed mental and physical rest. We hope you enjoy it.
Our Feature Story looks at the paradigm shift happening in the sales world. The power balance continues to swing to the side of the buyer. Traditional activity metrics are no longer an effective progress bar, but volume still matters. We'll uncover a much more effective way to measure success (and it's easier too!)
We go international for the first time in Deal of Fortune. Let's travel to Barcelona, Spain, and meet Olivia Tetegan, a Senior Account Executive with startup Factorial. Olivia tells us all about a monster deal she closed with a famous French toy brand during the Christmas season.
First, our chart of the week.
Working from home 100% of the time will eventually end for most of us, but a hybrid model is probably here to stay. According to PwC's remote work survey conducted earlier this year, executives think the sweet spot is to be in the office three days a week.
We envision most sales leaders offering reps a choice but encouraging some physical presence at a minimum. That could even mean getting back out into the field and seeing customers or planning future team get-togethers in person.
Cold calling certainly isn't dead, but there's no denying the significant headwinds. That wasn't always the case. Cold calling was back on the upswing until the pandemic. Fueled by HubSpot's "inbound" marketing in the early years of the last decade, email was more manageable to execute than picking up a phone from a pure volume perspective. Why spend two minutes making a single dial when you could hit a few hundred prospects with a single click?
Right. Every rep under the sun thought the same thing. Who has time for rejection from a call, or worse yet, make fifty of them without talking to a single soul when we can click our way to an appointment? Slick automation tools like Outreach and SalesLoft exacerbated this email overload over the last few years. Now, prospects delete twenty sales emails each day (we can hear some of you laughing right now, "ha, I delete twenty before my coffee!").
This deluge of emails made calling more attractive. With average reps spending more than ten hours a week on email, the more ambitious kind returned to the phones and made more connections. Naturally, the conversion rate to meetings booked spiked as well. Cold call conversions at their pinnacle found reps booking an appointment for every three to four connections made.
Then, the pandemic hit.
Prospects – like all of us – dispersed from offices and set up WFH environments that accelerated digital transformation efforts relegating the "office line" to a nice-to-keep. Now it's much harder even to get a connect, let alone convert. Cold calling is not dead. Reps set meetings using this medium, but the best appointment setters use variety.
We provided 12 tactics to break through the noise a few weeks ago. Video, gifting, LinkedIn, email, phone, in-person events, and online communities all appear. Depending on what we sell – software, insurance, a manufactured product – will determine which channels are most effective, but an all-of-the-above approach feels right in today's selling environment.
New relationships per month. Relationships are back as the bee's knees in sales. If the pandemic taught us anything, it's that empathy and human connection matter. Sales pros are needed more than ever to quickly build trust and help sellers navigate the overwhelming options in the marketplace.
Tracking activity siphons sales down to a numbers game instead of what's at the core of why we do what we do – build relationships, be a thought leader, solve problems, and make customers happy.
Why did we get into sales?
How many and how quickly we as sales reps can build those relationships is the new unit economics, not how many dials you make or emails you send in a day, week, month, or quarter. Imagine a high-performance framework centered on our ability to build relationships across the enterprise. As basic as it sounds, aren't relationships at the core of why we love this thing we call sales?
How's this different from a booked sales appointment?
Most of us have seen the upward trendline showing the number of stakeholders who have to weigh in before selecting a vendor. At last check, it hovered around seven. Why not incentivize SDRs and Account Executives to get as many stakeholders into the sales process as quickly as possible? Establishing more relationships earlier gives you a chance to build those new connections in parallel at a similar pace. Deal velocity and sales cycles should accelerate.
Why do we expect account-based marketing and selling to work further down the funnel magically?
One thing that needs to be non-negotiable in the power dynamic between buyer and seller is the latter exercising our right to build as many relationships as possible. All too often, we relent to the initial contact who explicitly says, “everything filters through me; no need to contact anyone else.” Be fearless as it's our right and livelihood to reach out to multiple contacts who could benefit from a relationship with us.
Some tips to consider:
Why not experiment?
Consider ditching the activity metrics and the number of booked meetings for the number of relationships. How many different people can we get in front of to help? Suppose SDRs could set just three meetings a month for an Account Executive, but each discovery call includes three or four contacts from each account. Wouldn't that be more impactful than eight meetings with a single individual from eight different companies?
Experimentation is key. Shifting focus from tracking activity to relationships has potential downstream consequences with how we bonus, code MQLs and SQLs, enter data into the CRM, and set goals. Managers and sellers might fear appointment setters will build too many "below-the-power-line" relationships. These fears are justified.
But what if? Reps gaming activity numbers for activity sake cease, deal cycles shorten, win rates increase, fewer deals stall, negotiations work in our favor, getting the signature becomes easier.
There's only one way to find out!
Olivia Tetegan wakes each morning from beautiful Barcelona and always starts with a 10-minute meditation session.
"I want to make sure that I will accept and manage every situation of the day with positivity and strength."
And positivity and strength helped her close a mega-deal with a French customer two years ago.
The deal size alone meant she and her team had a lot riding on whether Olivia could close it or not. Add in the end-of-year timing, and you understand why she meditates first, sells second. Olivia begins each day with a clear mind to withstand the ups and downs of closing deals. But in this case, she wanted so badly to win this account.
"It is a famous French toy brand. And I had a chance to close it during Christmas time!"
It was her first foray into a complex sales cycle, so she had to deal with many external and internal stakeholders. Working closely with her channel and product teams, they built a successful digital ads campaign to generate a significant amount of money for this retailer. And in retail, with razor-thin margins, every euro counts.
Another challenging component, naturally, was the season. "The company makes 60% of their turnover (revenues) during Christmas. It was a super busy time for the entire company."
Olivia's big win netted the company 100K€ (around $120K in USD) in the first three months! Now, after less than three years in the Account Executive role, she has been elevated to a senior closer and coach for her fellow sellers at Factorial.
Her top-selling superpowers?
The fast-growing SaaS startup (they've added nearly 100 people in the first half of the year) builds solutions for the HR function. Her focus is on helping the company move upmarket. Olivia is tasked with closing mid-market deals in the mid-five-figure to the low six-figure range. With a big deal under her belt, she has the confidence to close more of them.
Feel free to reach out and connect with Olivia on LinkedIn. We’re excited to follow her career and rise in the sales world!
As we close it out, here are few attention grabbers to consider reading below.
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