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B2B Sales professionals are continuously faced with new challenges and obstacles they need to overcome on the path to success. In the past two years alone, sellers were forced to move to a 100% virtual roll due to a global pandemic. Most recently, the economy has quickly transformed from growth at all costs to efficient, profitable growth as the new imperative.Dipanjan Das, Service Line Leader for Sales & Commercial Service Line, Cloud, Hi-Tech and Media, at Genpact joined the Selling the Cloud Podcast to discuss the need for "disruption ready selling". The first disruption we discussed was that most B2B Buyers (70 - 75%) prefer to conduct the majority of the buying process online, beginning with research. One of the factors driving this new reality is the presence of millennials as buyers. As a result, traditional sales processes must transform to meet the buyers where they are.Dipanjan sees three major factors driving the need for B2B Sales transformation:The majority of selling will be a data insights-led process.Customer experience will be critical and must be digital first throughout the customer journey.Sales culture must change to focus on leading as a trusted advisor.Point number three was referred to as a "Sherpa led" where a modern B2B Seller serves as a guide to help the buyer maneuver through a very noisy buying journey.Over 30% of a B2B seller's time is spent on non revenue-generating activities, such as data entry, data analysis, and internal administrative tasks. Dipanjan said one of a company's primary goals is to find ways to bring JOY back to selling. Another key goal is to understand and focus on the "Value" that is being delivered to the buyer - both during the buying process and following the buying process as measured by the value that the client receives from the product...and even that the client's client is receiving."Disruption Ready Selling" is not a static concept; it is a continuously changing and evolving engagement process, especially for companies using a recurring revenue, subscription-based model. Traditionally, most companies viewed selling as a point in time, transactional process versus an on-going relationship where the customer could cancel the revenue relationship multiple times throughout the process. Dipanjan provides many thought-provoking insights on how to drive an "outcome-centric, data-driven sales process" that prepares a sales organization for the inevitable disruptions that B2B Sales professionals will face as the buyer's journey evolves and becomes even more digital.
The professional of Sales continues to evolve, and is much more nuanced and complex these days - especially in the world of B2B Sales in the Cloud.Andy Paul is one of the foremost experts in B2B Sales.  His 1,000 + episodes of the "Sales Enablement Podcast" and his latest best selling book entitled "Sell without Selling Out" provides unique insights, experiences and recommendations Andy has from over 30 years in the profession.What is the motivation for writing a Sales book?  Andy's perspective is that selling is not evolving quick enough - and that we are basically just automating many of the same old processes used for decades!  Why is that the case - that was the fundamental question Andy sought to  understand and answer.Why does B2B Sales need to evolve?  One is that the market continues to evolve and have been accentuated over time.  First, the internet has enabled more self-service by the buyers. Secondly, information about a company and their products is much more readily available by the buyers.  Third, if Sales does not evolve as a professional, buyers will find away to buy even complex, considered products without engaging with a sales person.One of the metrics shared was that 54% of buyers regret their purchase decision when they did not engage with a sales person before making the purchase.  Andy highlighted that as a society we have become less social as measured by actual human to human interactions and this is leading to a higher level of buyer satisfaction.  In fact, for decades buyers did not really want to speak to sales professionals unless the sales professional can actually help them and their company.The primary goal of a B2B Sales professional?  It's not to persuade, but it is to listen to what the buyer's need is and help them achieve that.  Buyers need sellers to be curious and go beyond gathering information (discovery), but is to truly understand the priorities, who else it is important to and what is the value of using your product or service?  The goal is not to get an "ORDER", it is to understand what the buyer's needs really are.Andy has a unique ability to blend great stories from his own experiences, the insights he has gained form interviewing over 1,000 guests on his podcast and from the broad research he conducts daily in the pursuit of his natural "continuous learning" personality.For anyone interested in learning more about the art of "Selling without Selling Out" this podcast and Andy's book are great investments.
Cold calling is both the bane of existence for many sales professionals, while also being the key to success for sustained revenue generation growth!Chris Beall is the CEO of ConnectAndSell, an assisted dialing, technology enabled managed services company conducting over 60 million outbound calls for their clients every year.The human voice is the most powerful thing in business.  The phrase the Chris started the conversation with.  In a day where social media engagement is promoted as a top strategy to engage in buyer discussions, Chris is running a company that helps sales organizations unlock the potential of the telephone call and human to human conversations.Voice mail became the first "obstacle" to successful outbound cold calling.  As a result of this challenge and the evolving use of email, the phone became a secondary prospecting tool to email.  Moreover, humans have a fear of the "invisible stranger" and an unexpected phone call can often trigger that fear that someone, who was uninvited is interrupting their day.ConnectAndSell has empirical evidence from over 60,000,000 fully navigated calls resulting in 3,000,000 targeted conversations. Think about that, insights and experience from over 60 millions calls being applied to your outbound cold calling efforts?Chris Voss, a leading FBI hostage negotiator shared that a seller only have 7 seconds to gain the initial trust of a cold calling recipient.  The secret to gaining this trust - ensure you show the person you see the world through their eyes (tactical empathy) and then show you are competence to solve the problem they have right now!  That first problem to disarm their fear that you are wasting their time, and they are not sure how much time it will take to get you off the phone - thus the hang-up syndrome.One technique is to use two voice inflections, the first being a hard flat, self-indictment voice to a playful, come with me voice during those first 7 seconds.  Do not apologize or ask for permission in those first seven seconds,  simply state the fact of your call.As an example of this technique, a team of 9 sales resources conducted a 2 hour flight-school and the results per rep hour standard of .5 meetings increased to 1.78 meetings per rep hour.  This represented a 3x increase in meetings schedule per rep hour.If you or your company uses outbound prospecting as a tactic to drive meetings and opportunity, this conversation with Chris Beall is a highly insightful chalked full of strategic insights and tactical advice to dramatically increase the efficacy of your outbound sales programs and sales professionals. 
Has the market segment you participate in evolved over the years?Have you considered rebranding your company to ensure it's aligned with the market you serve?William Tyree, Chief Marketing Officer at, found his company faced these difficult questions when it was known as "ringDNA"!The B2B SaaS market has evolved as many companies consolidate their Go-To-Market departments under one revenue leader - the Chief Revenue Officer. This trend is based upon companies viewing the customer journey as a vital area of focus, as historic department-centric processes are not optimizing the customer experience.As a result, or maybe even as a leading indicator, many revenue technologies have been broadening their features to address the needs of Marketing and Sales, and Customer Success in one consolidated platform. This trend was a catalyst for ringDNA, which was originally known for inbound lead routing and automated dialing for sales to rebrand themselves to reflect the cross-functional feature set in their was fortunate to have a world-class team of brand, design, and communications professionals who managed the strategy and execution of their rebrand internally - using resources who were intimately familiar with the market segment of B2B SaaS they were serving.One of the driving forces to the rebrand to "" was the increased focus by B2B Cloud companies on optimizing the customer experience across every stage of the revenue-creating journey, including acquisition, retention, and expansion. One strategy companies are using is introducing a "Revenue Operations" function, further promoting the concept of the need for a solution and company to provide an automation platform to enable accelerated revenue growth.When thinking about rebranding - how do you measure the ultimate impact of the rebrand? William highlighted their measurements, including social media impressions, video views, content marketing asset downloads, and even email open rates, to measure the engagement with the newly introduced "" brand - especially within their target Ideal Customer Profile.One example of a tool uses is Shield Analytics to measure engagement trends on LinkedIn for a brand or even an individual. How do you bridge the connection from a former brand "ringDNA" to ""? Initially, will highlight phrases like "ringDNA is now" - even for Google searches. Then after 6 months, the reference ringDNA will be eliminated, and then 6-9 months later, the plan is to drop the ".io" and be known as the "Revenue" company.What are some key learnings from going through a rebrand? Understand it is a long process, and you have to trust your employees to work confidentially to pull off all of the work that goes into rebranding.  ringDNA engaged all employees early in the process.  In fact, every employee knew four months before the rebrand was introduced.How important was it to "rebrand" every company asset? eliminated 30% of their content assets and then used the rebranding to refresh every piece of content to ensure messaging reflected the new brand. reviews most content on a regular basis, and after much discussion, it was decided that every asset should be reviewed on a quarterly basis in partnership with Sales during the Quarterly Business Review process.William's parting advice is to ensure you have the right metrics in place to measure if your customers and target buyers are aware of the brand change, and then ensure the rebranding is meaningful as measured by market opportunity and brand engagement.If you are considering whether a rebrand is right for your company, William Tyree is a great source of insights and hands-on experience.
The Chief Revenue Officer title is growing in popularity across the B2B Cloud industry.  Is the CRO a new role in companies, or just a fancy new "C-Level" title for the head of sales?Warren Zenna has recently launched "The CRO Collective" to educate and inform CEOs, first-time CROs, and aspiring CROs on the role of the Chief Revenue Officer.Warren identified that the CRO role was often being mispositioned within a company and too often ending in failure.  His goal is to help hire, onboard and enable first-time CROs to be successful.The desire to found and lead his own company, not work for a big company, and passion to leverage his own leadership experiences across marketing, sales, and customer success to help fellow revenue leaders who aspire to become CROs.  When Warren shared his vision to advise and assist CRO's and the CEOs who hire them to find success, he was pleasantly surprised by the overwhelming confirmation that this was a much-needed service.The traditional customer acquisition and expansion models are not performing well in concert with the evolving customer buying journey.  Traditional metrics that are siloed within marketing or sales or customer do not provide valuable insights into the entire customer journey. Moreover, the siloed nature of these three different departments is not in alignment with the need to provide each potential buyer and then customer a consistent customer experience across the entire lifecycle.How can a head of sales develop the experiences and competency in marketing to become an effective CRO?  Warren's path started with selling marketing services and solutions to CMOs. This experience allowed him to apply the practice of enterprise sales directly to impact and improve marketing ROI.  After thousands of conversations and deal cycles with marketing departments and executives, he had built the foundation to include marketing into his responsibilities as he advanced his career.When asked if we invest too much time on internal processes versus the external customer experience, Warren responded with three reasons this is the case:1. Venture Capital money comes with expectations that are primarily focused on revenue growth and not necessarily customer the short term.  This heightened focus on growth often affects the priorities and focus2.  Most CROs come from a sales background, and their experience is often far too focused on "closing new customers" and not on the longer-term customer satisfaction or the skills required to create brand awareness and/or target buyer engagement3.  When companies have three separate departments focused on specific phases of the customer journey, no one owns the customer experience across their entire journey.So what does the "CRO Collective" do?  There are three unique components to the CRO Collective members:1.  Advisory services to CEOs considering the introduction of the first CRO role2.  Advisory services to first time CROs as they maneuver through their first CRO role3. Educational services to aspiring CRO candidatesIf your company is considering introducing a CRO role or you are a sales, marketing, or customer success professional that aspires to become a CRO, this conversation with Warren Zenna and the CRO Collective is a great listen.
Energy, Enthusiasm, and Empathy personify Larry Long Jr.  In fact, his self-appointed title is "Chief Energy Officer".Larry has a long career in B2B Sales, following his college baseball career at the University of Maryland.  This experience has led to his vision to educate, inspire, motivate, energize and entertain sales organizations and sales professionals.Mindset is critical to B2B Sales success, and Larry says this requires "MBS", or taking care of your Mind, Body, and Soul.  Balancing all aspects of your life is critical to long-term success in sales.  Another key factor to success is to answer the question:" do you have a great coach that is challenging you to take it to the next level to be the best you can be"?Larry suggests doing a self-audit to identify one thing you can do to elevate a single aspect of your personal well-being. Larry suggested using the ABCD's - Action, Belief, Care, and Dream to conduct your self-audit to hold yourself accountable.Larry highlighted that sales leaders need to increase the amount of time they invest to understand, and then impact the "MBS" of every person in your organization, beyond hitting the number.  Today's modern sales professional places as much weight on personal growth, and culture as much as they do on compensation.Sales leadership is a people business, and by asking yourself, "what are you doing to help someone else" you will be far ahead of the curve on being a leader that people will want to follow.  Larry highlights that his energy delivers a "JOLT" to a sales organization, but is not the primary ingredient to a long-lasting, positive culture. A long-lasting culture requires ongoing focus to ensure each member of your team is being challenged and growing as an individual, as well as a sales professional.Larry recommends the following  EPIC qualities are critical for B2B sales success:E - Entrepreneurial spiritP - Practice, Preparation, and PlanningI -  Internal Drive and DesignC - Communication, Curiosity, Confidence, Care Continuous coaching is one of the most important yet most difficult skills for first-time managers to master.  Larry does not think we need specialized coaches to supplement first-time managers, but we do need to be careful of promoting the top salesperson to sales manager without the appropriate training, mentoring, and coaching.If you are looking for a JOLT of energy and entertainment, while also hearing some new ideas and concepts to fuel your sales career or sales organization, Larry Long Jr. is a great listen.
The average tenure of a Vice President of Sales in the B2B Cloud industry is reported to be anywhere between 16 - 20 months, with 18 months being the median.Why is the tenure so short?  Is this really an issue considering the high growth rates of B2B Cloud companies?  How can we increase the tenure of the VP Sales?Amy Volas has a broad array of experiences in B2B Technology including roles as enterprise sales professional, recruiter, and sales leadership, and is well-positioned to opine on this critical topic.B2B Tech sales experiences a 30%+ attrition every year and this was before the trending topic of the Great Resignation!Missing the VP Sales hire is a seven-figure mistake, and there are basic steps that can be taken to reduce the probability of a poor fit hire.It starts first with clearly defining the "job" that needs to be done now, and not hiring for the future state 2-3 years down the road.  Identifying the "milestone" that you want the VP Sales to help you attain is a great first step.  Being real, by clearly defining the "work" that needs to be done NOW is critical to hiring the candidate who has the experience and skill sets to accomplish that goal, but may not be the right person to lead the efforts to the second or third milestone years down the road. In fact, in Amy's 20 years of experience, she has only seen one (1) VP Sales successfully scale from $1M to $1B+.Just because a VP Sales has been part of a company that scaled to $100M+, that does not necessarily translate to what is needed when a company is just beginning to scale from $1M to $5M.  By clearly defining what is needed in the next 12 months, you can develop the criteria, including specific experiences and skills sets, all captured within an associated scorecard for the VP Sales candidates.Being honest is a top recommendation that Amy says every CEO needs to bring into the VP Sales recruitment process.  At $1M ARR, let the candidate know that you are hiring a VP Sales to get to $10M ARR, and that this person may or may not be the VP Sales when the company is trying to scale from $20M to $50M.This honesty in the VP Sales recruitment process goes both ways, as a candidate who may be a great fit for scaling a company from $20M to $100M+ may not be a good fit for scaling a business from $1M to $10M.  An example, if a candidate wants to be a CRO, responsible for marketing, sales, and customer success for a company with less than $1M ARR, they may be a "poor fit" for this stage of the company.  It is imperative to be very careful and precise in this hyper-competitive market. Stepping back and clearly defining the top goals for the VP Sales candidate over the next 12 months is critical to minimizing the risk of over or under-hiring for this critical role.A key takeaway from this conversation - with a 18-month average tenure for a VP Sales in the B2B Cloud industry may be long as both the candidate and the hiring executive is honest and transparent about the role, the goals, and the commitment to providing an environment for growth...though it may not be in the top sales executive role. Amy also highlights the importance of "self-awareness".  No one can be great at every aspect of their role, and being able to admit when you need help and then be confident in asking for help.   All too often, assumptions between the CEO and VP Sales lead to a lack of credibility and/or trust. As a sales leader, being able to say this is where I need help, here is the result of me getting assistance and this is who I need help from (type of person/resource) and what it will cost.If you are hiring or interviewing for a VP Sales role in the B2B Tech industry, this conversation with Amy Volas is a great listen!
Megan Bowen, Chief Operating Officer and Chief Customer Officer at Refine Labs is the personification of where opportunity and access meet persistence and personal responsibility.Megan's story starts with moving from Los Angeles to New York City.  Megan applied for a job at a hair salon in Manhattan., and initially did not hear back, even after daily follow-up phone calls for two weeks.  Six weeks later, that 2nd interview finally happened.  Much to her surprise, the salon owner, Julio said he had "post-it" notes all over from her follow-up calls.  Julio took a personal interest in letting Megan know "why" she had not initially received the job and then took a personal interest in mentoring Megan to become the professional that was within her.Julio went far beyond being her employer and provided Megan the advice, counsel, and even capital to fulfill her potential - a  story of where persistence meets opportunity.Many managers view the employer/employee relationship very transactionally, but many do not show the empathy, concern, and desire to treat each employee as an individual with unique needs and motivations.  Megan finds satisfaction in helping others fulfill their promise and shared her framework to accomplish this.  First, it starts with sincere empathy for each employee (and customer) which quickly leads to trust. Secondly, Megan believes a leader has the responsibility to share a vision and then communicate clear goals and expectations.  Once that foundation is created, each employee should be provided the space and opportunity to figure out how best to achieve those goals. This creates a feeling of empowerment and results in creativity and performance that will amaze.Lastly, Megan highlighted the importance of recognition. Most people thrive on private and public recognition.  Moreover, most people also crave advice and mentorship to continue their growth, as a professional and even as a person.Persistence meets opportunity and access!  During our conversation, Megan shared the importance of personal responsibility, persistence, and even self-sacrifice.  Another key lesson is that when first starting out, not to allow ambition to get in the way of progress.  Megan had been an account manager for seven years at one company.  After hitting a ceiling at the current company, ZocDoc offered her an opportunity to join the company, but with a reduced role and even a reduced salary!  Megan truly believed in the vision at ZocDoc and made the decision that taking a step back would lead to two giant steps forward.  After 9 months in the reduced role, Megan developed a business concept and presented the value of a "post-sales" function to senior leadership. Initially, the response was not right now, but after a few more months of Megan's persistence, she was offered to build a team from no employees to 25, all because Megan took a proactive, persistent, and self-accountable approach to her own career development!Emotional Intelligence (EQ) is one of the qualities that Megan identifies as key to leadership success.  EQ includes traits such as active listening, empathy, self-awareness, and emotional awareness. The conversation took a turn to discuss the differences between women and men, and if one gender has an advantage in the EQ department.  This subject needs to be heard versus read, so take a listen.Later in the conversation, we discuss the power of NO in building long-lasting credibility and customer relationships. Then we move to Megan's insights on the competencies required for the modern B2B marketer.Megan is a fantastic listen to any aspiring early career professional and managers early in their journey to becoming leaders.
Is becoming a B2B Sales professional an intentional process or a result of your early career experiences and journey?Alexine's goal after graduating from Purdue University was to become a retail buyer for a leading retailer, Neiman Marcus.  Alexine's first manager within the Neiman Marcus buyer program suggested that Alexine might want to pursue a sales career based upon her performance in retail sales during her initial training program.In college, sales was not highlighted as a potential career path and was often associated with the negative reputation of a used car salesperson.  Alexine took this advice and took a proactive, driven approach to identify and earn an opportunity to join a training program for a B2B SaaS company.Alexine finds certain innate personality traits have served her well in pursuing a career in sales, starting with being self-motivated and self-critical.  Her task orientation and natural love for talking with people are also traits she credited for her sales success.The catalyst for founding the "Women in Sales Club"?  The original goal was just to find other women with who they could share their experiences, gain advice, and connect with other people in their field.  Clubhouse was the platform selected, especially due to the popularity of the platform early in 2021.  The forum will expand to new forums including Zoom and live events. Clubhouse was viewed as a lower lift to jumpstart a new community.When asked about any common themes that have been covered, one was diversity, especially how to attract and retain women on B2B Sales Teams.  "Imposter syndrome" has been another topic that has been covered more than once.  When asked if "imposter syndrome" really existed, and Alexine there are many interesting reads on this, and that exclusionary activities in the workplace may actually lead directly to this feeling of not belonging.From the very beginning, Alexine and her co-founder, Gabrielle Blackwell were committed to making the forum inclusive, and that men were just as welcome to join.  One of the questions asked was how the leading female voices in the B2B tech industry 1.0 influenced their journey.  Alexine highlighted this is not the first and will not be the last forum for women in sales, and that they are simply trying to be as inclusive as possible, and provide a vehicle for learning and self-actualization.Mark went on to provide his "hot take" that women might actually be better equipped for success in sales than men!  Alexine shared her data-driven orientation, and that we have blended many of the cultural norms and personality traits that are assigned based upon gender.  Her perspective is that sales is a highly "personalized" profession, and it is the individual's personality traits and goals that are the ultimate predictors of success.For anyone interested in promoting and being an advocate for diversity, equity, and inclusion across the B2B Tech industry,  this is an informational and thought-provoking discussion.
Direct selling models are the primary sales motion for the majority of B2B Cloud and SaaS companies.  Can partnerships amplify and even accelerate revenue growth, even for early stage companies?Ben Pastro has a long history in professional services and systems integration in the B2B Tech industry, and has several insights and perspectives on the question of if and how to make partnerships successful for a modern B2B Tech company.After investing 8 years at Oracle, a founding father of leveraging channel partnerships to accelerate revenue growth.  Following Oracle, Ben joined Apps Associates which evolved from a traditional on-premise enterprise software systems integrator to a 100% Cloud based consulting firm focused on Oracle Cloud, AWS and Salesforce.  Ultimately, Apps Associates was sold to Private Equity. Ben recently founded Anumetric to help founders and leadership teams at technology centric consulting firms looking to scale and operate more efficiently.The value of a partnership needs to be viewed on both sides from the partners lens. In fact, having a shared focus on the customer’s business value is the best shared objective.  In the world of annual subscription, recurring revenue, maintaining a focus on the on-going business value a customer is receiving is critical to the long term success of the partnership.Traditionally, enterprise software companies would be more prone to “hand off the customer” relationship to the SI and implementation partner.  Today, with the relationship being re-evaluated on an annual basis, the software vendor and the consulting partner are better served with sharing a long term orientation to the partnership and to the shared customer.Partnerships should not emulate a relay race with a hand-off relationship, rather the partners should collaborate on the both selling process and the project implementation side.  Specifically, the implementation partner should help to design the sales process when they will be involved in the customer implementation and ultimate success.  The most successful partnerships for consulting firms start with an understanding and strong relationship with the software vendors sales resource(s).If you are just beginning to evaluate a partnership program for your B2B SaaS or Cloud company, or are a B2B Tech implementation and integration services company,  Ben is a great resource who has the experiences and insights to optimize partner programs for both B2B Cloud vendors and their consulting partners.
Data-Driven - a phrase we hear often in the B2B Cloud industry - but often as an output from sales activity versus as a primary input to outbound sales activity.Bob Scarperi, has built a company that focuses on ensuring the right and complete account and contact data are in the sales resource hands before they being the outreach and lead generation process.The amount of data available to revenue leaders is very deep and wide, however being able to figure out which data to acquire,  deploy and use effectively has never been more complex and thus difficult.40% of the time, the most junior sales resources, sales development resources are responsible for building and prioritizing the lists they use to conduct sales outreach.  Often this results in low probability account being elevated in priority to those most likely to buy?Why are we doing this to early-career sales professionals?  Sources like ZoomInfo, D&B, Lattice Engines provide great data, but most organizations have not built a "playbook" on how sales development and account executives should use the data.Often, the first step is at the corporate level, building an Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) that defines the highest priority accounts to contact.  Unfortunately, far too many companies have not defined the ICP(s) in enough detail that an xDR or AE is confident who they should be prioritizing in their outbound outreach and multi-channel cadences.Procure a list source that allows sales resources to understand the firmographics of each account in their outreach list, which includes variables including revenue, number of employees, industry, and descriptive details about the company.  Once  you have a conversation with the target account, seek to understand their buying mode, decision-making process, etc.  Then, develop an "account score" that uses the firmographic and discovery information to highlight the priority of investing more time into that account.Next, we discussed how intent data can add additional context to the account outreach prioritization process.  First, use "technographic" information to see if their existing tech stack is favorable to your solution architecture.  Intent data can often provide "false positives" if you do not compliment intent data with firmographic and buyer profile that aligns with your defined ICP and Buyer Persona(s).Quality of account signal, complete account, and contact (buyer persona) data is the winning combo to optimize and maximize the return on investment for outbound activity.  When selling to larger enterprises, understanding the decision process and the roles of the multiple members on the buying committee, which on average exceeds 10 people. This makes the holy grail of understanding the buying process even more difficult,  and yet today, even more critical to the probability of success.CAUTION: data-driven can lead to data overload.  Sales leadership needs to define the specific account information that is critical to make the initial outreach relevant.   Identify and define the highest priority leading indicators, such as MQL to SQL conversion rate, SQL to Opportunity conversion, and Opportunity to Close rates.  Having too many, or non causal metrics to the ultimate outcomes can lead to data saturation versus metrics-informed decisions.Each company's environment is unique, so ensure your data driven culture is established, continously  evaluated and then used to drive metrics informed decisions while eliminating the noise of too much or irrelevant data!
Modern B2B Sales was significantly, and forever altered by COVID-19.  The trends are not new, but were definitely accelerated in 2020 and 2021.Joseph is a multi-time founder of B2B SaaS companies, and his experience, frustration and challenge with scaling the sales organization was the catalyst to founding a company, Uvaro, purpose built to train the modern B2B sales professional.As a trained engineer, Joseph wants to see the data that measures the variables that lead to the highest performing sales organization and sales professional.  The patterns Joseph  was able to identify within the top performing sales organizations, was easy to capture and the better news, not that hard to replicate.One of the key challenges Joseph sees is that corporations cannot continuously train new sales hires.  Thus the average ramp time can be 6, 8 even 12 months.  The impact, quota delivery is dramatically decreased in the first year of employment.  The resultant goal - how to train sales professionals not only continuously throughout the year, but even before they are hired in early career roles.Uvaro  teaches and trains students with little to no B2B tech sales experience.   Uvaro's median student have a median income of $28,000 coming into training (21st percentile) and exit the training program with on target earnings of $70K and greater (46th quartile).Less than 2% of colleges have a sales curriculum or a sales major.  Joseph highlights "prestige" as a factor in the lack of adoption and introduction of sales majors in college.  However, as the Cloud industry marches towards total revenue of $800B+, the industry will need 360,000 additional sales professionals to achieve that level.CEOs, whose success depends on finding and hiring sales professionals, should be motivated to encourage their local colleges and alma maters to introduce sales curriculum, even a sales major to produce more early career sales professionals.   What are the skills required for the modern B2B sales professional of the future?  One significant factor impacting these skills is the evolution of Product-Led Growth as a customer acquisition motion.  Joseph views this as a re-allocation of investments from marketing to product, and will not materially affect the need for sales professionals,  In fact, the average B2B SaaS companies has twice an many sales professionals as they do engineers, and this trend is not changing.In a PLG company, sales professionals will need to become an expert in the industry and the business process of their customers, with an increased focus on the business value your product enables.One additional aspect of the modern sales professional will be the ability to expand and retain existing customers in a recurring revenue model. The core skill required for this - the ability to build and maintain trust based relationships with their customers.Lastly, Joseph shared that grit and understanding how to leverage a system to your advantage are two key reasons why even classically trained engineers and other technical roles can be leveraged to build a successful sales career.Joseph is a great listen for anyone considering or just wants to learn about a career in B2B Technology sales.
Who better to write a book about being a VP Sales in the B2B SaaS industry, than 5x VP Sales and leading LinkedIn sales influencer, Scott Leese.Scott's primary focus has been to help scale early stage B2B SaaS companies scale from $1M to $20M+.   This experience was the catalyst for writing a book that covers the good, the bad and the ugly of being an early stage VP Sales.Scott's style is to identify an under represented topic, lean into the subject and write a less than 100 page book that both educates and entertains.   The title, More Than a Number was selected to ensure that every person who has served, wants to serve or is serving in the role remembers they are much more than the quota number that they carry every month, every quarter, every year.  Self worth should not be measured by their productivity as measured by quota achievement."Better people, perform better" was a phrase that helped to crystalize that evaluating a VP sales primarily or worse, only by their quota performance highlights the short term, and high risk of approach of allowing one's self to be limited to the number they achieve.Mental health is a real issue that many sales professionals and leaders face.  Being able to compartmentalize your sales performance from your performance as a friend, a spouse, a parent,  and as a person  is critical to living your life with the "More than a Number" mindset.You're More Than a Number went beyond the softer side of the message, and provides a framework and playbook for first time VP Sales.  Critical elements of being a successful VP Sales such as hiring,  sales process documentation,  coaching,  script development, culture development, relationship building, goal setting, delegation and motivating your team.The power of delegation is a key ingredient to scaling a successful sales organization.  An example is the need to develop the ability to "teach by telling" versus "teach by doing". This is especially relevant when  joining a sales call with an AE.  Understanding that being able to scale a sales team requires allowing a sales person to learn by doing versus watching you do it, while also building the confidence is a critical part of the VP Sales job.In fact, Scott said the ultimate goal for a VP Sales is to make themselves "irrelevant" by having an entire team of sales people who can manage the entire sales process, end to end with no involvement from the VP Sales.If you are currently a first time VP Sales, have a desire to become a VP Sales or have been a VP Sales multiple times, listening to Scott Leese as he shares his VP Sales playbook in context of "You're more than a number" is a great listen and read!
Eileen Voynick has held senior operating roles and board leadership roles at companies including SAP, Oracle, Siebel Systems, All Scripts, Sparta Systems, and Chair of the Board at Jefferson Health.In this episode, Eileen shares the evolution of Customer Success, both as a function and as a focus in the enterprise software industry.Eileen's initial foray into Customer Success was formed in part by the large SAP partner ecosystem.  At SAP, Customer Success was focused on the business value that a customer can derive from the use of their software.  A consistent theme across every software deployment model is that business value and satisfaction have to be understood from the C-Suite all the way down to the individual user.Customer Experience has always been important in the software industry and has an elevated role in the "Cloud".  Eileen highlight that if you look at the switching costs of Cloud deployed versus on-premise are very similar in highly regulated fields such as health care and financial services. "Customer Experience" may have a higher focus today however, that is not primarily due to the deployment model, but rather the evolution of software becoming more common across industries, functions, and processes.Creating a "Customer Journey Map" which includes every touch from initial touchpoint to full implementation and deployment is a critical task to complete for every Cloud company.  This includes ensuring that customer touchpoints are also included post successful deployment to ensure that customer engagement is maintained across every customer stakeholder beyond one to two months before a renewal discussion.We asked Eileen, "what's next?" in the world of Customer Experience,  Product Management becoming more focused on customer experience versus feature/function will become table stakes. Eilleen's example of how a vendor wowed doctors after watching how they performed specific tasks and then came back with a prototype that was met with astonishment by the potential customer.At the end of the day, customer experience boils down to the "business value" that a software provider delivers to each customer. When the question "who owns an account after it's closed?" was asked, co-host Ray Rike responded with some benchmarks including, CS now consumes 11% of revenue at the median in B2B Cloud companies.  Ray shared that Customer Success should own customer value-based upon user engagement, the value received from using the software but CS should NOT own up-sells, and cross-sells,  it should be a "team" approach to ensure customer satisfaction and thus customer retention + growth.Eileen views the CSM as a great facilitator that orchestrates priorities across their company to ensure customer success.  In the "land and expand" model, she shared that having an account management team that works closely with Customer Success to identify, nurture and close up-sells and cross-sells is a preferred model.  A caveat is that based upon the maturity of the company, this approach will vary.The CRO needs to take leadership in establishing a sales-oriented, customer value culture that centers around the customer as job 1. This will go a long way towards building cross-functional alignment.Lastly, we covered the role of the board of directors in helping companies make the Digital Transformation?  Eileen shared that over the last 10 years, her primary role as a board member has centered around product and Go-To-Market strategy which are both core to a successful digital transformation journey.  Eileen shared that as a board member, understanding the investor thesis and the company objectives to ensure they are aligned is one of her key responsibilities.Finally, Eileen shared that being a lifelong learner with strong active listening skills are critical for early career profess
B2B Selling continues to evolve, especially in the context of Cloud solutions.Jamie Shanks, the founder, and CEO of Sales for Life is a true pioneer in Social Selling. Speaking to Jamie is like drinking a double shot of espresso.Social media for selling was a discovery that Jamie first identified when he reversed engineer what B2B Sales professionals had been doing in outbound sales for years, and then apply on LinkedIn.Social Selling was initially developed as an "inbound" sales motion focused on three core principles:  - Building an online brand - Grow a buyer social network - Share content 1:1 and 1:manyAs social selling evolved to an outbound, account-based motion, the category evolved into "Digital Selling" using multiple channels including social networks, video, and multi-touch, multi-channel sequences.Most recently, the category has morphed into "Modern Selling", spearheaded by companies like Microsoft and IBM which simply highlights the multi-channel aspect of outbound pipeline generation.Immediately prior to COVID, digital selling was still an "evangelical" exercise and more time was spend on "why" to invest in Digital Selling versus investing in "how" to deploy digital selling.Within 30 days of COVID hitting, the conversations shifted to the imperative of how do we ensure our sales organization has the basic skills to reach and engage target buyers digitally.  Socially surrounding target accounts and target buyers is key to a successful digital selling program.  In fact, Satya Nadella, the CEO of Microsoft said 3 years of Digital Transformation happened in 3 months!Jamie highlighted that the majority of success begins and ends with the buy-in, governance, and accountability of digital selling by senior and front-line sales management.  First, identifying the success metrics for a digital selling program is a critical first step, under the auspice of the "expect what you inspect" mantra.  Leaders need to be enabled first, to understand the evolving coaching moments, and ensure the sales plays reflect the new digital selling motion.   Jamie discussed "pipeline coverage ratio growth", which starts with quarterly milestones that drive outcomes in 90-day bursts. Then start to measure progress every quarter, as measured by pipeline coverage ratio, and then  close rates.Time-based, period over period "pipeline coverage ratio" is the number one metric to measure the return on digital selling investment.  Close rates and revenue performance are lagging indicators that should be measured, but are not good leading indicators.When asked about what leading companies have done in regards to Digital Selling over the last 12 months, Jamie mentioned that the top 20% of companies have been very progressive in investing in digital selling transformation.  80% did not aggressively invest in the digital transformation of their sales team and fell behind in both pipeline development and new account sales.Human Capital migration play is the #1 opportunity to grow pipeline. In fact, over 50% of the new pipeline created in many of Jamie's customers came from this play.  Leaders who recently joined a new company are much more prone to invest in new, higher-risk ways of growing pipeline and new customer revenue.We discussed the pros and cons of asking B2B sellers to build a personal brand versus building their employer's brand.   Jamie said it is more important to over-index personal brand building in the target buyer "segment".  This will be a candidate evaluation criteria that future, potential employers will use to determine a candidate's value to their company!Jamie is a great listen for anyone responsible for modern selling in a B2B company!
Gerhard Gschwandtner, the founder of Selling Power Magazine and creator of the Sales 3.0 Conference has been teaching and training sales professionals for 30+ years.On this episode, Gerhard shares his insights based upon his experiences interviewing hundreds of extremely successful business people including Mark Cuban, Bill McDermott (SAP + ServiceNow),  Keith Krach (DocuSign + Ariba) and training thousands of B2B Sales professionals.The B2B Sales profession has been changed dramatically by technology, including the customer/salesperson relationship.  Another change is how data impacts the profession, but an even bigger topic impacting sales success may be the "Mindset". Gerhard shared there are three key components of B2B sales success: 1) Skill Set; 2) Tool Kit; 3) Mindset.  The mindset is about how well one is functioning cognitively and emotionally.  A key question every B2B Sales professional should ask themselves, "are you Mind Full or mindful?".  Developing a positive mindset is an area that individual sales professionals and companies are not investing enough time, energy, or resources.Another topic we discussed is an emerging and disturbing trend in B2B SaaS/Cloud sales performance.  The latest research indicates that less than 60% of B2B Sales professionals achieved quota in 2020.  Gerhard highlighted the issue rests primarily on the shoulders of the SaaS company leaders who are not investing enough in on-boarding, training, and coaching of sales professionals. Gerhard shared an example highlighting the power of having a no-limit, positive mindset.  A sales professional attended a positive mindset training session, decided to apply the envisioning, no-limit thinking to his golf game, and in his very next round, hit his first hole in one!If you are a B2B sales professional or led and/or depend on B2B Sales professionals to drive your company performance, this is a great listen!
Sally Duby, the Chief Sales Officer at The Bridge Group and a co-founder of the Silicon Valley VP Sales Forum has seen the evolution of inside sales and business development for 25+ years.In this episode of Selling the Cloud, we discuss the evolution of Inside Sales in the SaaS/Cloud industry, and specifically how Inside Sales is being used in the pursuit of enterprise-class customers.Sally first learned the craft of Inside Sales at Oracle, which was the first traditional enterprise software company to prove that inside sales is applicable for enterprise software sales.Leap forward to 2021 and the path to become an Inside Sales professional often starts in the Sales Development Representative (SDR) role.  This role is about learning the outbound lead generation and opportunity qualification process and is the traditional stepping stone to an inside sales role.Traditionally, Inside Sales ran the full lifecycle of lead to close for SMB or mid-market target buyers, and/or total contract values less than $25K...that dynamic is changing.  COVID has accelerated the evolution of the Inside Sales function to more effectively focus on and close enterprise-class deals up to and above $100K ACV.   SaaS companies define "Enterprise" target markets by employee size (such as > 10,000 employees) or revenue (such as > $1B).Chief Revenue Officers are not investing enough time in understanding, valuing, and promoting the Sales Development function as a great starting point for future leaders of the company.  In fact, with marketing and sales becoming more integrated, and responsibilities blurred, the skills an SDR develops in gaining buyer engagement and interest before transitioning to sales bodes well for understanding the tactics required for marketing and sales.Sally highlights why serving in multiple roles across sales and operations is a critical investment that early-career sales professionals can make to pave their road to the Chief Revenue Officer role.  Sales Development Rep, sales operations manager, inside sales - commercial, inside sales - enterprise, and even revenue operations or growth marketing are all great roles to build the next generation path to become CRO!
Doug Landis, Growth Partner at Emergence Capital was formerly the Chief Storyteller at Box. Before being the Chief Storyteller at Box, Doug was an executive in the Sales Productivity group at Salesforce.In this episode of Selling the Cloud, we dive deep into how storytelling has become a critical skill for enterprise-class, B2B sales professionals.One of Doug's early learnings came directly from paying his dues initially as a quota-carrying sales professional at Oracle. Over those early years, Doug discovered his passion for helping others and sharing the secrets that made him successful as an individual sales contributor with his colleagues, thus the move to sales enablement/productivity at Salesforce.The journey to becoming the "Chief Storyteller" at Box started with the hiring of a new SVP Sales. As the new executive interviewed sales reps across the company, he quickly identified that Box did not have one common message that they were communicating to the market. This inconsistently led to the new SVP Sales challenging Doug with the task to replicate and scale his ability to communicate consistently through storytelling to the entire sales organization. One of the key areas Doug first identified was that most customer stories were very "rote", and needed to become more interesting to the target buyer(s).First, Doug engaged Customer Success to capture the Voice of the Customer, and start the journey to train the sales force how to storytelling by focusing on the customer and their experiences and stories. Secondly, the story could not be the same story that the founder and CEO of Box told, because that was his own story and did not easily translate to being told by Account Executives. Storytelling is not just for natural storytellers, it can be learned by listening to your environment. But it does take thoughtful practice and needs to be tailored to a relevant story, that resonates with the individual buyer(s) needs.Improv was highlighted as an interesting format to learn how to put yourself in the persona of the person you are speaking with and make your storytelling more impactful. Storytelling helps one to learn how to transition from one part of the story to the next. This skill is highly relevant to how a B2B Sales professional can learn to enhance the transition from one slide to the next in their sales presentation or demo.The discussion evolved into "Getting to WOW" and why storytelling is so relevant to founders and CEOs pitching to investors. A common theme for B2B Sales professionals and founders pitching to investors is about getting to the "why" you or your company are uniquely positioned to help the recipient of the story.Finally, we discussed the benefit of establishing a "Story Library" by stage, by buyer persona, and even the creation of a "storytelling" coach role in the sales enablement function. Stories should focus on telling stories that relate to individuals by telling the story about how your solution impacted people (buyer personas) not companies.In today's extremely noisy and saturated B2B SaaS and Cloud market, making your solution and value stand above all others is critical. Storytelling may just be the best way to differentiate yourself and your solution. 
In this episode of Selling the Cloud, we are joined by Paul Melchiorre, legendary Silicon Valley Chief Revenue Officer at leading SaaS companies including Ariba and AnaPlan.Over thirty years, Paul has had the change to be a part of industry leading, high growth companies beginning with SAP where Paul was an early executive for their entry into the North American market.Paul then in 1998 joined Ariba, an early market entrant and ultimately the acknowledged leader in indirect procurement automation. Paul experienced a unique journey in early stage, venture backed companies by staying at Ariba for over 15 years, including being the Global Sales, Services and Partner top executive for the majority of that time.Paul shared why, in the Chief Revenue Officer (CRO) role that being responsible for marketing, sales and customer success is a critical element for success.  Several reasons that this is so important is that the customer lifecycle has been changed by the SaaS industry, including the growing importance of existing customer expansion revenue in the evolving "Land and Expand" customer acquisition model.The growing trend of Product Led Growth (PLG)  as a customer acquisition motion will continue to increase the importance of an integrated approach to customer acquisition, retention and expansion. This need for an integrated approach to the customer lifecycle is further highlighted when up to 50% of revenue growth is generated by existing customers.Paul also shares how investing in himself, including earning his MBA in Finance in the middle of his career journey was critical to being a well rounded, CRO that could build credibility with the CFO.Paul further explored how PLG also impacts the need for product management to become a  more integrated part of the revenue generation team.  Another variable discussed is how the stage of the company impacts both the CRO role and the profile of the CRO.  Being able to identify CRO's that have hands-on experience in both early stage, Product Market Fit (PMF) to Minimum Viable Repeatability (MVR) and then from MVR to Minimum Viable Traction (MVT) to true scale is a hard find, but more CRO's like that exist in 2021 than every before.If you have just become a Chief Revenue Officer or have the aspiration to become a CRO in a SaaS or Cloud company, this is a great listen.
Moving from data driven to metrics informed decisions and what does this mean for customer acquisition professionals?This was a primary topic of conversation on the latest Selling the Cloud podcast with Michael Pollack, Intricately CEOData is like water - it's really important if you don't have any but what if you have TOO MUCH?  Water's value increases exponentially when you process or distill it into higher value outcomes (coffee vs water).  This applies to B2B Marketing and Sales by evolving your data strategy from "contacts to context" - creating marketing & sales intelligenceCRM, Martech and Salestech platforms contain and create a lot of content (data) - but not enough context such as: -  What to say and/or what content to share-   When do you share it and how-   How do you say it or how do you message the contentMarketing can add more value to revenue growth by REDUCING the number of leads and moving to a "disqualification" versus "qualification" orientation. Disqualifying low fit leads, contacts, and prospects increases time invested on high quality leads & opportunitiesWe all know the buying journey has changed - but why are we still using techniques from 10 years ago?Mike has some interesting insights and ideas that he shares in this episode.
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