Let’s rewind to about three weeks ago. It’s 6:53am on the Thursday after Rainmaker 2016. I’m sitting in my hotel room thinking about the long flight I have back to San Francisco. It’s going to take hours and the flight is 100% full. That means for the next 6 hours I’m going to be shoved up against a complete stranger while we play freeze tag over who gets the armrest—I’m not excited. Although I fly a lot for work, I try to keep my travel this side of the Mississippi.
But let me be crystal clear to anyone in sales development, inside sales, or any kind of sales leader—Rainmaker was not just any conference. I’d easily travel to Atlanta, GA again and again for this show. Why? Because it had more thought leaders and practitioners of modern sales, and sales development best practices than any other conference I’ve been too.
It’s been weeks since the show, and I’ve decided there are four takeaways that everyone in the space should have the opportunity to learn and implement in their organization.
1. The Phone is Not Dead, Yet
Inboxes are filling up with messages from marketing, SDRs, and other sales professionals. It’s becoming almost impossible to get attention. Regardless of how great your subject lines are, or how many cat .gifs you are using in your emails, (you are using cat .gifs, right?) prospects are responding to emails less and less.
Yet, at the same time, there are more and more sales automation tools out there that are making it increasingly easier to send emails—thus making sales professionals less likely to pick up the phone and dial. In a nutshell, you can’t just depend on email. As a sales development team, you have to be able to make the phone work for you.
SalesLoft has doubled down on the sentiment in the last year. First releasing a dialer with a local area code enabled, and then an analytics tool to help users understand the best time to call their prospects to get the most connects. Super cool.
Gary Vaynerchuk warns, however, that technology will soon be released that will block all unknown incoming phone calls. That means this tech will not just send you to voicemail, it will literally block your call from going through. While scary, his advice is to seek out new mediums to get a hold of prospects, which leads me to my next point.
2. The Rise of Social Selling
Because you are reading this, I’m going to infer that you care about improving your sales skills. Therefore, I’m guessing you are aware how important social selling is. You probably even follow social selling guru Jill Rowley on Twitter.
But you may still be wondering how social selling fits into your prospecting cadence, how you approach social selling, and how to do it in a way in which you won’t look like a total idiot. For goodness sake it’s social, which means if you mess up the whole world’s going to see, right?!
First, I think it’s important to understand why social is so important. Social allows you to have a one to one conversation in a forum where prospects feel respected, and in many cases appreciated, by you as a sales person. For anyone who puts content into social (hello!) it’s scary. You worry that your content won’t be appreciated, or worse, won’t be read. When people share or comment on your content, it feels great. Much like the first time you posted a picture on your Facebook or Instagram and you got your first “like”. It feels good—your body literally releases serotonin.
As a sales person you can take advantage of posting content on social, as long as you do it right. So what does “doing it right” look like? It means not selling. Excuse me, are we saying sales people should not sell? Yes, on social, you should not sell. This is your opportunity to build rapport at scale, and then use that new relationship to start selling.
So what do you do? You complimenting the content that a prospect shares on social. Something specific like, “I really like your point about …”. Try to ask a provocative open-ended question like, “What steps are you taking/what technology are you leveraging to achieve that for your organization?” Give it a try, I betcha it’ll work…
3. Account-Based Everything
Craig Rosenberg, Chief Analyst at Topo, led one of my favorite sessions of the event, titled “Account-Based Everything”. As you may have noticed recently, you can’t throw a rock in Twitter or LinkedIn without it landing on a post about ABM. We are seeing more and more consensus build around Account-based Sales Development (ABSD) as a viable, successful sales strategy. I’ve also weighed in on this topic.
But you can’t just claim to be account-based because you’ve done account selection. In our new account-based world, sales tactics and overall approach have to change as well.
There is that stat that says 67% (or 58% or 78% depending on the source) of the buyer’s decision making process has taken place before he or she speaks to you. AEs need to realize in an Account-Based world this is NOT the case—and that’s a GOOD thing. Hopefully, 0% of the buyer’s decision making is done without engaging with you or your brand.
Ideally, you have a lot of control over how your prospects think and speak about your product. Your content team, and maybe even you as a sales rep, through blogging and social selling, are contributing to content that defines your space and your product. This means if your prospects are reading your content, you have control over how they evaluate your product, which gives you a huge upper hand in your sales cycles. It also means that sales people have to do a lot more educating than they might be used to, and that’s OK. In my opinion that’s a pretty fair tradeoff.
At EverString, we run an Account-Based Everything model. If you have any questions, just ask!
4. Required Reading
Rainmaker was not just an event full of inspirational speakers and leaders sharing best practices, it was also an event chalk-full of a growing number of authors who are writing on the Sales Development space. Here are a few great reads:
Best-selling author and CEO of The Bridgegroup, Trish Bertuzzi, was a keynote speaker and shared excerpts from her new book, The Sales Development Playbook: Build Repeatable Pipeline and Accelerate Growth with Inside Sales. The book is extensive, and covers topics from recruiting, onboarding, training and much, much more. A key read if you’re building a new team.
Jacco vanderKooij’s coffee-table sized Blue Prints for a SaaS Sales Organization: How to design, build and scale a customer centric sales organization, not only offers great advice on how to structure a sales development team, but it also talks about how to build an effective team process around the customer’s needs. In his book, vanderKooij effectively addresses the modern buyer journey, and how we got to this new way of buying and selling.
Last but not least, and my favorite book of the bunch, Chris Pham’s self-published Economical Growth: 10x w/ Enterprise Account-Based Sales Development. Pham’s tactics are fresh, new, and so right-on it’s incredible. Pham is one of the first sales development leaders to run a successful Account-Based Sales Development practice, and he shares the tactics that drove of success at both MuleSoft, and now Birst.
I recommend picking up all three books. With tradeshow season right around the corner they’re a great way to pass the time on those long flights east of the Mississippi…