I had the privilege of moderating a panel of SaaS sales experts last night at the 1st SalesMentour STL event. So much great conversation around old school and new school sales and marketing techniques by John True, Kathy Gereau, Tom Hanrahan, and Mark Kosoglow.
Here are my 3 take-aways:
1. Tailor your outbound marketing and sales strategy to YOUR audience: I asked the question, "What are the latest trends in outbound prospecting?" Video, direct mail, cold calling, texting cell phones, chat bots, or AI and the answer was… YES! All of these are great techniques, depending on your audience. Kathy from Equifax mentioned that their Customer Success team is using video conference when doing QBR’s and the impact it’s making to form a personal relationship with their customers. Tom from Square mentioned that the small business owners they’re trying to reach are responding well to direct mail pieces. Mark from Outreach also just started a direct mail pilot to determine its effectiveness.Josh Schwartz mentioned that a hand-written note is the first step in his OB prospecting workflow follow by a personal video message. The most important advice I heard when trying something new is to make sure the test is statistically significant and that you are able to track the results to make an educated decision about the impact any method you’re trying is having on pipeline.
2. Putting the prospect 1st has never gone out of style: No matter what method you’re using to get their attention, if you aren’t putting the prospect's needs and challenges before your product’s feature, then you’ve wasted valuable time doing that prospecting. A good Discovery call is more important than any technology on the market. John True of Cultivation Capital stressed that the old school technique of putting time in to build a relationship and trust with your prospect and customer is just as important today as it was 50 years ago. The ability to ask questions and really listen to the answer is a skill that will never become “old school”. I’m still seeing too many sales reps. get on calls with prospects and spend 30 straight minutes talking about their product and company. So many reps. are still doing “generic” demos of their software. This is a clear indication that you don’t care enough to learn about your prospects needs and then customize your presentation to address ONLY their specific issues. A demo shouldn’t be a training session on how to work the software, it should only be used to validate your company’s ability to solve their issues with software.
3. Data, Data, Data: I was shocked when Mark from Outreach said that last year Outreach hired their 1st data scientist from Microsoft and now has a team of data scientists to help him help his sales team work smarter and not harder. Mark went as far as to say that those without data experts will fall further and further behind their competition and won’t be able to stay competitive. Tom from Square also has a team of analysts to help him determine which sales methods are most effective. Tom meets with this team of analysts weekly and said that YTD he’s made 7 changes to process as a result of their data analysis.
It was a fun night with insight and advice from an impressive group of sales experts. The thing that really stuck with me is how fast "new school" will become "old school". Sales Leaders MUST stay aware of new trends that can impact their reps. ability to be more efficient without losing sight of tried and true methods like natural curiosity and strong questioning.