Well, that’s a wrap on Rainmaker 2016! It was an amazing show and I learned a ton. Everything was fantastic—from the attendees that were there to share success and help people take their sales to the next level, to the the amazing group of thought leaders that Kyle Porter and Rob Foreman of SalesLoft were able to pull together.
It’s hard for me to imagine not attending a show with keynotes featuring people like Craig Rosenberg from Topo, Jacco VanderKooij a sales development and inside sales guru, and my favorite sales trainer of all time, John Barrows. I would’ve gladly traveled to Atlanta just to see the three of them speak. But the reality is there was so much more—that was just the tip of the iceberg.
How it Began
The show kicked off with SalesLoft’s COO, Rob Foreman, introducing four of their most interesting customers. I was lucky enough to be the first customer on stage where I introduced both EverString and the amazing success that we’ve had using SalesLoft throughout the last year.
Foreman’s session was immediately followed by a gospel choir that brought the audience to its feet with renditions of Huey Lewis and the News “It’s Alright” and Michael Jackson’s “Man in the Mirror”. It was a brilliant way to build the audience’s energy and set the tone for the next two days. Kyle Porter, CEO of SalesLoft, literally lit up the room with his light up shoes in the hues of SalesLoft blue and Green. Kyle gave the state of SalesLoft—where they’ve been, where they are now, and where their business is heading.
Next, their VP of Product, Sean Kester, took the stage to announce a slew of new functionality within the SalesLoft’s product offering. I’m personally excited about their new analytics feature, which gives you to get a better understanding of when to send emails and make phone calls in order to drive the most positive responses from your prospects.
Craig Rosenberg and Account-Based Everything
Craig Rosenberg, Chief Analyst at Topo, was the first Keynote presenter. During Craig’s keynote he talked about the new way for sales professionals to engage with prospects. It’s what he dubs “Account-Based Everything”.
The five defining characteristics of Account-Based Everything are:
- Targeted accounts (typically large, strategic accounts)
- Highly Personalized
- Coordinated touches, channels, and experiences
- Always on, until the account is removed from the target list
- Marketing, sales dev, and sales alignment is crucial
Selling is now a team activity—Demand Generation, Sales Development, and Sales teams need to drive engagement across an entire account—not just the two leads that downloaded the latest ebook. The good news for SalesLoft customers is that they’ve just released a new company feature that allows users to quickly add multiple contacts from a single account to persona-based cadences. This enables sales people to personalize messaging based on specific roles within an organization.
Also, sidenote—I would highly recommend attending the Topo Sales Summit taking place in San Francisco April 7th and 8th in San Francisco. We will be there, and we hope to see you too.
Jacco VanderKooij–Rockstar SDR Guru
Next up onstage was Jacco vanderKooij. He has a radical style that can be a little bit polarizing, it’s a little bit rock show, a little bit religious experience, and a lot a bit energy. His tactics and methods, however, absolutely work. If you’re not familiar with his strategies I highly recommend you pick up his book Blueprints for a SaaS Sales Organization.
We were treated as an audience to a movie trailer-like experience before he took the stage. His trailer suggested that we are entering into a new phase of selling where prospects want to move through a sales cycle quicker than ever before. In many cases they are willing to transact online with a credit card for more money than ever before ($1000/month). Even in a considered sale, they want sales cycles that are shorter, they want demos that are tailored to their specific business, and they want to see how your product solves their specific needs. The new customer experience, as he explains it, is about:
- Educating not selling
- Asking not pitching
- Telling the story not giving a PowerPoint
- Giving a DIY demo, not a sales driven demo
- Cutting the demo time to 15-30 minutes, not an hour
- With immediate follow up
My big take away from the session was that we have to make prospecting about our prospects and not about our own companies. No one wants to hear about you they want you to tell them about them. Stop being so selfish!
John Barrows–Iron Man vs Terminator
The last keynote of the day was from my favorite sales team trainer, John Barrows. I have heard Jon speak on multiple occasions and every time I walk away inspired and with a new set of tactics I can deploy quickly.
John wants to strike phrases like “checking in”, “touching base”, and “reaching out” from the sales lexicon. John believes there should be a reason for every outreach and every call should start with “The reason for my call is…”, and every email should begin with “The reason for my email is…”. If you can fill in the rest of those statements with something valuable for your prospects, you will be a far more successful sales person than your average or mediocre sales rep that seems to make up the majority of our profession.
Does John believe in using technology to be more successful? Certainly he does. But John believes in the Iron Man analogy as opposed to the Terminator analogy. The first time I heard this was actually a few weeks ago at SaaStr. It was in a speech from SalesLoft CEO Kyle Porter (how meta!). What he means by Iron Man not Terminator is that technology should make a good salesperson better and it requires a core set of skills that the right technology can enhance. Similar to the way Tony Stark is a brilliant and skilled businessman, billionaire, playboy, and philanthropist. His suit enhances these qualities—the qualities that make him a great superhero.
A Terminator is just a machine; the wrong type of technology turns SDRs and salespeople into machines–no longer requiring great skills, the ability to personalize, and most importantly, he has lost the value of being a human being. To me, this is relevant because new technology is built every day in order to make sales people “better”. However, much of this technology is simply automating a process that is best conducted by human being. Do you want to be replaced by machine? Or do you want to be enhanced by technology that makes you go from good to great?
The Sessions–A Wealth of Knowledge
After watching Craig Rosenberg, Jacco vanderKooij (if you think it’s fun to type, imagine how fun it is to say!), and John Barrows, I thought this show couldn’t get any better, but then it did. In the following hours I was treated to some amazing sessions. Ralph Barsi, Senior Director, Global Demand Center at ServiceNow, and Rob Jeppsen, SVP and General Manager of HireVue, lead a brilliant session on Balancing the Art and Science of Sales Development. My favorite quotes were:
“Build a great brand for yourself and your company so you can hire great candidates.” – Ralph Barsi, ServiceNow
“Measure your reps willingness to change. Are your SDRs doing intangible activities to improve? I’m not talking about calls or emails, I’m talking about real learning.” – Rob Jeppsen, HireVue
The next session I took in was on how to measure culture within a sales team. This session was lead by Ray Carroll, AVP of SMB Sales at Marketo, and Jordan Rackie, SVP, Revenue at QASymphony. While Rackie stressed the importance of teamwork, Carroll (one of my mentors) stressed the value of balancing culture whilst driving your team to be successful.
“You get results by being really good at what you do and always sharpening the saw.” – Ray Carroll, Marketo
The top session of the day was lead by Steven Broudy, Head of Account Development at Mulesoft, and Kristina McMillan, Sales Development Practice Leader at Topo, and moderated by SalesLoft’s Sean Kester. The room was absolutely packed, I had to stand just to hear them speak.
They spoke about a topic on every Sales Development Leader’s mind–Account Based Sales Development (ABSD). During the cheeky titled “How Not To F Up ABSD”, the trio lead a discussion on best practices. Broudy preached the importance of hiring the right people, who may not fit the typical SDR profile:
“Start running ABSD by hiring the right people. It’s not high-velocity, transactional prospecting.” — Steven Broudy, Mulesoft
The final session was moderated by SalesLoft SDR Manager, Chuck Jones, and lead by Salesforce.com Senior Manager, Ali Gooch and EverString’s Senior Director of Sales Development, Matt Amundson (ME!!!!). Between the two of us, we’ve lead some impressive SDR teams at places like Pardot, Marketo, Tibco, Salesforce.com, and EverString. It was a fun, as we were able to draw on experiences scaling teams in both startup environments and at multi-billion dollar enterprise companies.
Day 2–GaryVee Day
Day 2 was chalk-full of more great Keynotes, with the final session being the one everyone was waiting for. Gary Vaynerchuck, CEO of VaynerMedia, Co-Founder of VaynerRSE, Host of The #AskGaryVee Show and Founder of Winelibrary.com. Vaynerchuck is an entrepreneur and tech personality.
For those that don’t know, Winelibrary.com was one of the first 5 websites to sell wine online. His empire began when he took over his father’s liquor store, which sold fine wines, and grew it from a $3M brick and mortar store to a $60M+ online marketplace for wine. From there, he grew VaynerMedia, a social-first media company, to one of the most powerful media companies around, counting Budweiser, Sonic, and GE as valued clients. His investment firm, VaynerRSE, counts AnyPerk, Medium, Drizly, and Namely as investments. Oh, and please don’t ever compare him to Michael Jordan.
He’s a die-hard Knicks fan, and can’t stand the Jumpman. His keynote was high-energy, F-bomb laden, and a sobering take on how B2B companies will engage with vendors in the future. What will we do when people cease to answer their phones or open their emails? How will the sales people of tomorrow engage target accounts once tried and true methods dry up completely?
Vaynerchuck points to emerging technology as the next wave of business communication. Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook–sure we’ve heard of those, heck many of us are already using them. How about SnapChat, Anchor, AfterSchool? Yep, Vaynerchuck believes those, and other new social channels, are the future of selling. So, if you’re the guy already saying you’re too old to engage on SnapChat, companies may already be outfoxing you with fresher, more interesting selling methods. Time to start scouring the App Store for new ideas!