Announcing the Boston Sales Hacker Conference

It’s with tremendous excitement that I get to announce the upcoming Boston Sales Hacker Conference. This is event will be packed with actionable, practical, and cutting edge hacks to give your sales teams something to feast on. When I look at this lineup I can’t help but be giddy for this event.

The lineup consists of seasoned sales vets, sales focused CEOs, proven entrepreneurs, and sales strategists. All of these speakers are doing things that are revolutionizing their industries. I guarantee you’ll pick out nuggets of useful information from every single session. If you don’t need convincing, Buy Tickets.

Be sure to scroll to the bottom for our, “How to Sell Your Boss on Attending” Checklist.

Ready? Let’s dive in to it.

CeCe Bazar and Blake Harris are Sales and Growth Strategists for OpenView Labs which is part of OpenView Venture Partners. Day in and day out they work with various thriving startups to guide them through their sales and growth strategies. That means they have visibility and experience helping a multitude of companies and have a strong understanding on what  really works, and what was just a fluke success. I can’t wait to see what they take from those deep experiences and package it up for us in their session.

Jeff Hoffman is the founder of BASHO. A sales strategy that has been a staple for some of the biggest tech sales teams globally. Companies like Salesforce, Linkedin, Marketo, Zendesk, Akamai, Hubspot and more plus many well known sales leaders have been trained using his sales strategies. On September 15th, we get a peak at some of his best , original work, for a lot less than he charges these gigantic companies.

Ilya Semin is the CEO of Datanyze and has built a unique and extremely useful tool to help salespeople figure out who is using your competitors software. More importantly, they are well past $1 million in ARR and have been running for less than 2 years with only 1 engineer and 4 sales reps, two of which are fairly new. I bet you’d like to know how they did it. You’ll have to come find out.

Peter Gracey is the founder and COO of AG Salesworks. They help companies with the front end of the sales process and have developed something they call the Outbound Index. Peter will take us through how a few different companies are getting ahead by leveraging a series of innovative tools and systems.  We’ll dive into each one as he highlights what works and what doesn’t. Dear Outbound sales teams, you do not want to miss this.

Mark Roberge is back again as we love his scientific approach to scaling sales. Mark will focus on hiring and scaling sales teams and organizations. This is a topic he knows better than most having scaled Hubspot to over 500 sales reps over the past few years. Many of his earliest sales hires are now Founders/CEOs at rapidly growing startups. His MIT and engineering background gave him an advantage that he uses to create a profile of the perfect hire, so you can get it right every time.

Okay I’m sold! Buy Tickets

Kyle Porter is the CEO of SalesLoft and their revenue proportionate to number of sales reps is becoming awfully lopsided. In the past 7 months they’ve gone from $180K to $2.5 million in annual recurring revenue, with only a small SDR team, based in Atlanta. Kyle has personally guided their sales efforts and has thoroughly evaluated over 400 company’s SDR teams in the process. He’ll share his experience and knowledge that should surely provide any salesperson, Sales Development Rep, or even Account Executive an arsenal of new tactics to implement.

Matthew Bellows is the CEO of Yesware, which sends out hundred of thousands, if not millions of emails per day. They’ve hired a team of data scientists to sort through this data to pick out trends they can use in their sales process. Matt has carefully evaluated this information and has implemented the changes in their sales team at Yesware. We can’t wait to see what he’s uncovered and what golden nuggets we can takeaway from it.

Ed Calnan is the President of Seismic and has a very robust sales background. He’s been in tech sales for over two decades and is now on his third successful sales executive role. Ed is going to get us thinking about our sales channels and how to measure what partnership/sales routes are best for your company. He’s had tremendous success starting and scaling many different sales channels and sales divisions within his organizations, so who better to guide us than Ed?

Tawheed Kader is back again. As the CEO of ToutApp, an outbound email campaign service, he understands a thing or two about messaging and prospecting. TK’s experience with sales reps everywhere has allowed him to understand what really works in the prospecting phase of your sales process. He’ll be diving into the routine of touching your customers via email and  how to build a rapport and relationships at scale.

Okay now I’m sold! Buy Tickets

Emmanuelle Skala has been a VP of Sales at multiple rapid growth tech companies. She’s currently the VP of Sales at Influitive. Her unique strategy on using your customers as your sales channel is quite brilliant. She’ll demonstrate ways to turn your current customers into a high velocity lead pipeline. This is something she’s been doing for years but is fresh, new, and original content for our conference only.

Mike McGuinness is a serial VP of Sales for large tech companies. It’s safe to say he’s seen just about everything and clearly, he’s figured out what works and what doesn’t when scaling a sales org. Mike will dig deep into building fast paced and high efficiency sales teams both from the manager’s and the rep’s perspectives for companies of all growth stages.

Jeff Fagan is a Partner at Atlas Ventures, and a VC that invests heavily in SaaS and Enterprise technology companies. He also participates as a board member in dozens of companies that are focused on B2B sales. His unique experience with these companies gives him a perspective on sales growth unlike any other. I can’t wait to see what kind of wisdom he’ll be able to impart on us.

OMG this is awesome! Buy Tickets

 

Wow! So How Do I Sell This To My Boss?

Tell your boss they’ll never make a better investment in the future of THEIR sales team or YOUR career for a price THIS affordable. Period. Just look at that list of actionable knowledge you’re about to gain. Sales Hacker Conferences are still intimate, so you’ll even get a chance to mix it up with the speakers before and after their sessions. Our audience is full of top notch, up and coming salespeople that are looking to connect, learn, and maybe even recruit or be recruited.

So, cancel that Netflix subscription you never use, tell your boss you’ll come out of pocket if they won’t send you, or do whatever you need to do, but miss this at your own risk.

 

The “How to Sell Your Boss” Checklist

1. What’s your company’s average deal size? Ok, so if you land even one deal from something you learned or a connection made at this event, you’re on top!

2. If you learn one new thing you can implement at your company, what is that worth?

3. Is your company hiring? This is a great place to find talented salespeople who actually care, and want to master their craft as a salesperson.

4. You can finally meet face to face with those big wigs at Company X. They desperately need your solution but you haven’t been able to get in touch, until now!

5. Hey boss, do we like saving and making money at this company? Because what we’re able to implement in our sales process after attending this event will do both.

6. If you’re not investing in your employees growth, then your employees will find someone else who is.

Sweet, they’re in! Buy Tickets

 

Alright, maybe I’m a bit biased, but have you seen what others are saying?

“The Sales Hacker Conference is the best event to attend to learn about practical sales ideas that actually work (not just blah blah blah blah talks). It’s full of ideas you can apply right away in your business.” – Aaron Ross (CEO, Predictable Revenue)

“World class sales execution is often the main ingredient behind company success. The Sales Hacker team brings together the best minds and cutting edge ideas into a fun, energetic, thought provoking event.” – Mark Roberge (CRO, Hubspot)

“I took notes throughout the day and picked up a number of new ideas. This really is a great new event.” – Dave Govan (EVP of Sales, Sailthru)

“The Sales Hacker events connect people, ideas, and moments to drive results. Anything I can bring back to the team and implement tomorrow is key.” – Daniel Barber (Sales Development and Operations, ToutApp)

“This is the only sales conference we send our salespeople to.” – Ryan Buckley (COO, Scripted)

See you there! Buy Tickets

 

Sales Prospecting Through Customer Development Tactics

*Editors Note: Live updates from the Sales Hacker Series – Lead Gen & List Building in Dublin are brought to you by Betts Recruiting. Betts Recruiting helps companies teams staff and attract talent for all revenue generating roles. Follow us @BettsRecruiting. Slides from the session are embedded below the text.

This session is titled Sales Prospecting Through Customer Development Tactics by the CEO at InvestorSheet, Russell Banks.

Two types of sales: Hunters or Farmers.

  • Different skill sets that people gravitate towards. However, in startups you have to do both.
  • Fear vs Fun – either you need to buy this or you’re in trouble vs get on board, this is the place to be!
  • Friends make all the difference in sales – if they like you just a bit more than the other guy, that could be the difference.
  • Cold Calling – can be a nightmare, you KNOW you are interrupting them. It’s a hostile start!

There is a better way….CUSTOMER DEVELOPMENT!

  • A process of identifying whether or not they have a problem that you can solve. (The Entrepreneur’s Guide to Customer Development is the handbook to this) People will try and tell you what you want to hear but don’t RUSH. Think of it as pre-sales. You can’t just jump right into the sale.
  • Think of how your product is being perceived. See where you fall on their pain points. f you think there is a real need, they’ll be happy to hear from you again.
  • As a person, email is just easier on you and the lead. Not quite as painful.
  • Run the customer dev meeting well by asking the proper questions so that they can’t just tell you what you want to hear. You don’t want them to lie to you to make you happy.
  • Create PERSONAS
  • Develop hypothesises and plan the strategy towards the overall view of the lead.
  • Ask the 5 why’s. Understand what personas the leads are and how you can approach that down the road.

Emails

  • Send all cold emails from a personal account – begin the relationship, not the sale.
  • Start with an emotional intro, personalized and researched.
  • Give them a brief description of your activity, don’t sell them or give them too much info.
  • Spark their interest and gauge their pain point.
  • Validate with a case by case example if needed.
  • Try to set up your Skype (especially good for the 24 hour workday available here in Ireland) or phone call for further development.
  • Yesware or ToutApp to track your email blasts.

Customer Development Meetings

  • Don’t tell them what you’re doing until the END.
  • You need to discover what their needs are, evaluate the lead while building the relationship.
  • Let THEM do the talking (90% of it)
  • YOU ARE NOT SELLING! – Note the emotion of the conversation, but do not drop the sales pitch. It may be tempting, but the perception of the relationship can change dramatically if switched on to the sale too soon.
  • Have a questionnaire, offer up the fact that you are taking notes so that you can learn more about them.
  • Don’t ask questions set in the future that are a set up for failure. “Would you” and “could you” questions setup a hypothetical that people will find a way out of.
  • “Why”s are a good question, let them talk and don’t lead them. No Leading Questions!
  • Builds for a positive first impression/experience with each other. You’ve quickly done all the research on them in a conversation or two.

 

Sales Hacker Series San Francisco was Sponsored by Betts RecruitingBank of Ireland, and CaFiCo International.

Back to Basics of Lead Generation

*Editors Note: Live updates from the Sales Hacker Series – Lead Gen & List Building in Dublin are brought to you by Betts Recruiting. Betts Recruiting helps companies teams staff and attract talent for all revenue generating roles. Follow us @BettsRecruiting. Slides from the session are embedded below the text.

This session is titled Back to Basics of Lead Generation by the Senior Sales Manager at SurveyMonkey, Lesley Collins.


The key to building a successful business is building successful leads. At SurveyMonkey we held weekly one on ones, focused purely on lead generation activities, reviewed the process, and critiqued how they could improve.

Inbound

  • Dual approach to lead generation:
  • the company itself will help to find leads through marketing
  • activity planning for short term revenue, as most leads can take months
  • Brand Generation: use your website! Drive a keyword strategy and what is driving customers to your website.
  • BLOG! – Google recognizes blog as “fresh” regularly updated, with strategic keywords, you can drive your website to be found easier.
  • Gather details, nurture the relationship, build the lead until they are ready.
  • Companies with better nurturing campaigns can generate 33% better leads, at 40% less cost.

Outbound

  • Hire the right people and dig deep. Interview about examples, their drive, be sure they aren’t used to being handed the sale, get the hungry ones.
  • Plan everything! Plan your strategy, your day, your month, your career path.
  • Know your audience. Know their role and who you are selling to. Know their pain and craft a message that resonates with them.
  • Planning
  • Focus on the correct role, know who you’re going after
  • Apply strategy to the role appropriately
  • Practice your execution and know your end goal.

Technology

  • Use your tools to know who you are talking to and why you are talking to them
  • A CRM like Salesforce is important for transparency. Get everyone on the same page, and provides the competitive element. As a manager, it easy to track the success of an individual and how they can improve the company based off that.

Methodology

  • Research through all the tools you have. Tailor your message specifically for them, and only through research will it be crafted properly. Don’t just blast emails, understand who you are approaching.
  • BASHO and SANDLER methodologies are extremely effective. Way of reaching out for a first contact, with a science behind it. Truly works.

Summary

  • Hire the right people
  • Help your team succeed
  • Arm them with a successful strategy and methodology Monitor success with a CRM

Q: Better, cold calling or email?

A: Well researched and drafted email methodology seems to be more successful than cold calling.

 

Sales Hacker Series San Francisco was Sponsored by Betts RecruitingBank of Ireland, and CaFiCo International.

Setting Ourselves Up for Success with Leads

*Editors Note: Live updates from the Sales Hacker Series – Lead Gen & List Building in Dublin are brought to you by Betts Recruiting. Betts Recruiting helps companies teams staff and attract talent for all revenue generating roles. Follow us @BettsRecruiting. Slides from the session are embedded below the text.

This session is titled Setting Ourselves Up for Success with Leads by the Director of Sales EMEA at New Relic, Orla Moran.

“Sales is either the highest paid, easiest job in the world or the lowest paid, hardest job in the world.”

What do we do with our leads…

If you are working in sales, you ARE working for yourself. Treat it like your own business, and EXPECT success. Our expectation commits us to the outcome. Navigate past the initial “no” and expect success.

A shift is happening in sales, buyers are savvier than before. No more what can I sell you, but more, how can I ‘serve” you. Human beings feel when they are being techniqued. No more B2B, it is now, H2H.

Knowing How/When to Touch a Lead

  • Call an inbound lead within the first 24 hours of interest. Absolutely crucial.
  • At New Relic, on their 14 day free trial, the minimum is to touch the lead 7 times during the
  • trial. He/she will most likely ignore you, however, the persistence is important because…it pays to be persistent.
  • Statistics show that 48% of sales people NEVER follow up and that 80% of sales are made on
  • the 5th to 12th contact! – U.S. National Sales Executive Association

Go the Extra Mile

  • Relationship building optionals – “RBO’s” will help you sell more to more people and your
  • competitors don’t go this extra mile.
  • (i.e. talk to them, ask what they are up to, a lead says he’s going to Kilimanjaro, great that
  • sounds amazing have fun, go further and look up top ten things to pack for hiking Mt. Kil) Effectively separate yourself from the others.

The Technique Above All Other Techniques 

This technique helped close my first quarter of a million deal. It’s a non-manipulative, non-threatening question. That question is, ON A SCALE OF 1-10….(i.e. how likely are you to make a decision by Friday, how likely are you to say yes to me today?)

The Four Agreements of Life

Incorporate them into your daily life and success will follow.
1. Be impeccable with your word – don’t BS
2. Don’t make assumptions – don’t create a scenario that isn’t happening. 3. Don’t take anything personally – especially not in sales
4. Always do your best!

Q: Why do you think New Relic chose Dublin, from a talent perspective?

A:  We have a great culture, and are helping to build the European marketplace. Talent wise, we have better quality than London and the space helps too, you can pick up the phone and call anyone, it’s such a small community.

 

Sales Hacker Series San Francisco was Sponsored by Betts Recruiting, Bank of Ireland, and CaFiCo International.

The Importance of Sales Enablement & Operations for an SDR Program

*Editors Note: Live updates from the Sales Hacker Series – Sales Development in San Francisco are brought to you by Betts Recruiting. Betts Recruiting helps companies teams staff and attract talent for all revenue generating roles. Follow us @BettsRecruiting. Slides from the session are embedded below the text.

This session is titled The Importance of Sales Enablement & Operations for an SDR Program by the Vice President of Corporate Sales at Host Analytics, Cory Ayers.

During his 15-plus years of selling technology, Cory has had his hand in selling, managing and directing solutions to help businesses drive their top line sales. His approach is honest, enthusiastic and consultative and the success of his customer is paramount. His drive is fueled by success stories.

His company, Host Analytics, is the leader in cloud-based financial applications for planning, consolidation, reporting and analytics.

Sales enablement is a strategic way of providing invaluable knowledge and skills which ensure a personalized one-on-one customer experience.

Arguably – the first 2 hires after you hire your Head of Sales should be a Sales Ops & Sales Enablement Specialist. If you do not have Sales Ops or Sales enablement hire them NOW. Sales Ops are your “Defense” and Sales Enablement your “Offense” #FootballMetaphors

Sales Ops are the folks who put all of your systems together, provide reporting, and work with finance all in the pursuit to help YOU make money.

Sales Enablement prepares your reps to speak at a high level about your product or service. They create materials and train your SDRs to be able to speak intelligently and sell. At Host Analytics we sell to CFOs. Its hard for a 23 year old SDR to say “They Know” what they’re going through with Analytics.

Give up a sales headcount if you must to get these positions hired, and make sure the team respects them.

Q&A

Q:  How do you compensate sales enablement? How do you compensate for sales ops?

A:  Everyone is tied to the number, so we’re all in it together.

Q:  What is the most important thing for a new SDR to learn?

A:  Learn how to run reports and be analytical. Sales has become more of a science than an art.

Q:  Out of the traits you listed what is most important for an SDR?

A:  Be PROACTIVE. We love that as Sales Leaders. Stay hungry, ask for a promotion even if you’re no where near being ready for one. Just have the numbers to back it up.

Q:  What’s #1 to #2 when it comes to sales enablement or ops?

A:  Sales enablement #1, Ops #2. You have to enable people to ramp quickly.

 

Sales Hacker Series San Francisco was Sponsored by Betts Recruiting,  SalesLoft, andZenefits.

If You’re in Sales Development, You must REPRESENT

*Editors Note: Live updates from the Sales Hacker Series – Sales Development in San Francisco are brought to you by Betts Recruiting. Betts Recruiting helps companies teams staff and attract talent for all revenue generating roles. Follow us @BettsRecruiting. Slides from the session are embedded below the text.

This session is titled If You’re in Sales Development, You must REPRESENT by the Director of Sales Development at Achievers, Ralph Barsi.

 

Since the start of his Sales career 20 years ago, Barsi has climbed the ladder one step at a time; building his first Sales Development team in 2000, working as a VP at AA-ISP Silicon Valley in 2011, and named one of the Top 25 Inside Sales Professionals in 2014.

His company, Achievers, delivers a cloud-based Employee Success Platform, a powerful new way for companies to engage, align, and recognize employees, enabling remarkable business success. Every day.

Managing your people pipeline is just as, if not more, important than managing your revenue pipeline. Sales reps are just that – Reps! They represent your company and organization. Someday they’ll all become part of your alumni.

  • Invest time with your SDR’s!
  • Listen to their calls
  • Host power hours
  • Host bimonthly 1:1′s and don’t limit it to work – include personal stuff
  • Host weekly team meetings
  • Always assess the results, purpose, and massive action (RPM)

Sales Leaders are Servants. How?

  • We pull the teams forward
  • We influence and inspire
  • We add value and attract success
  • We continuously improve
  • We seek first to understand
  • We commit and communicate

Key Takeaways

  • Sales Rep must live in the present and embrace the grind.
  • They resolve to improve their game 1% a day
  • Personal network will plateaus, but their professional network grows
  • They must master the role they’re in now; they need these skills
  • They must study their craft (Television won’t teach you…)
  • They must learn as if they need to teach someone else
  • Hustle until they no longer have to introduce themselves
  • Education doesn’t stop – keep learning!

Thank you! And remember, you GOTTA REPRESENT!

Q&A:

Q:  Methodology for testing hypotheses?

A:  Keep best practice repository

Q:  How do you promote a culture of collaboration?

A:  If they’re not collaborative, they’re not going to be on my team long. We need each other.

Q:  How do you recruit your awesome team?

A:  Success is something you attract by being attractive. My team goes to the Giant’s game, I’m posting that over all the social channels, tagging people, expanding reach, becoming more and more attractive.

 

Sales Hacker Series San Francisco was Sponsored by Betts Recruiting,  SalesLoft, and Zenefits.

How Can Sales Drive Customer Success?

Editors Note: Steli Efti is the Co-founder and CEO of Close.io, a sales communication platform to helps salespeople to manage their customers better. This post was first published on the Close.io blog and is being republished with permission. Video of their webinar is at the bottom of this article.

Customer success is one of the most essential ingredients for sustainable growth in SaaS. Having a dedicated customer success manager (CSM) is great – but it’s just as important that sales owns customer success too.

From a sales perspective, there are three main stages where customer success measures can be implemented:

  1. pre-sell: before they’re a customer,
  2. post-sell: while they’re a customer,
  3. post-cancellation: after they’re a customer.

BEFORE THEY’RE A CUSTOMER

What can sales do before a deal is closed to improve customer success? How can sales drive customer success before a prospect converts into a paying customer?

Qualify For Fit

As a sales person, you want to close deals. It’s tempting to skimp over the qualifying part of the sales process. If a prospect shows interest, if you believe you can make the sale, clearly you should make the sale, right?

Not so fast my friend.

As a sales person, it’s your job to sell to those who should buy your product, not to those who want to buy it!

Properly qualify prospects, and then ask yourself: Is this prospect really a good fit?

Example: Qualifying Prospects

A prospect might come to us and say: “We need bulk email.”

The easy thing to respond? “Oh yeah, great, we have this powerful bulk email feature! It’s going to make you a lot of money and save you a lot of time!” And then you push that prospect into becoming a customer.

But do you really understand what the prospect needs?

Instead, follow up with more qualifying questions.

  • What kind of bulk email do you want to send? Marketing, newsletter or sales bulk emails?
  • What kind of tracking, which metrics do you need on those emails?
  • Do you need HTML style emails or do you need text only?
  • etc.

Asking these questions will help you determine whether that prospect is really a good fit or not.

If you sell to a prospect who isn’t really a good fit, just because they want “bulk email” and your product has “bulk email”… they’ll be in for a surprise if the bulk email function doesn’t match their use case.

And by that time they’ll have invested their time and money into your product – when you could easily have saved them both by asking some simple qualifying questions. The customer will cancel, and walk away from your company with a bad experience, and a bad taste in their mouth.

Qualify For Risks

What are potential risks if this prospect becomes a customer? Can they really afford to stay with you? Can this customer survive long enough to truly be a valuable customer? What could potentially affect this customers’ lifecycle?

Example:

At Close.io we had a new sales person who sold a deal to a new startup. Our sales rep and that startup had something in common: they both lacked experience!

Startup: “We have no sales people now, but we’re going to hire 30 interns, and have them cold call potential customers. So we’ll need 30 licenses for Close.io, and then by the end of the month we’ll sort out the interns who didn’t make the cut, so we’ll probably keep 15 to 20 licenses.” They had previously shared with us that they had received about $30,000 or $40,000 in funding.

Inside the mind of our sales rep: ‘Wow, 15 to 20 licenses, that could be $3000 in MRR!’

He eagerly pushed to close the deal. “Look, here’s how we’ll do it. You put in your credit card now, and we’ll book you for 30 seats, but we won’t charge for you 30 days. After that, we’ll start billing your card for the remaining 15 to 20 seats.”

What happened next?

Before the trial even expired, 29 of the 30 licenses cancelled! One month we booked $3000 in MRR, the next month we had to put in $2900 churn. Deals like that can totally screw up your numbers.

This sales person should have qualified the risks! They should never have closed this deal. They could just have said: “Hey, do the trial, and after the trial – when you have your numbers down, and really know how you’re going to use Close.io – then we’re going to take your credit card number and close the deal, based on the actual number of users.”

Our sales person should have realized that this was a high-churn-risk customer:

  • With $30,000 or $40,000 in funding, they’d burn through their cash real quick, especially when they hire 30 interns!
  • Hiring 30 interns to do cold calling – without experienced sales leadership! – and expecting them to bring in deals isn’t going to work in the real world. They just didn’t understand professional sales.

Two huge red flags. This is an extreme example, but it’s very common for sales people to not properly qualify for risks, and it’ll affect customer success later on.

Set The Right Expectations

Most sales reps sell benefits and make promises to prospects. But you want to take it a step further than that: set the right expectations for what being a customer of yours really entails.

Example: Ease of Use

Prospect: “I want this product to do X, Y and Z easily.”

Sales rep: “Oh, great, this is super easy with our product, you are going to do great!”

When in reality, it might not be that easy – especially if your prospect isn’t tech-savvy, or doesn’t have the kind of expertise and experience you possess.

Understand where they are coming from:

  • Have they used a product in your category before?
  • Do they really understand the workflow they need?
  • Did you explain to them what the actual workflow is going to be?

Example: Promising Benefits

Be mindful of how you convey your benefits.
Don’t say: “You’re going to see a 15% to 30% increase in productivity.”
Do say: “Our customers see a 15% to 30% increase in productivity on average.”

If you promise them 15% to 30%, and after using your product they get 10% – they’ll be disappointed. You will have disappointed them. In the worst case they’ll churn – but even if they stay, you’ll have screwed up the relationship. They’ll always take your word with a grain of salt, will always assume you’re overpromising, and they’re less likely to refer you. The impact you’ll have on them will be diminished because of lack of trust, and that can affect customer success later on.

Onboarding

Do you already have an onboarding process in place for your customers?
If not, create an onboarding experience asap – preferably a good training on how to use your product.

Example: Close.io Onboarding

In the early days, we offered personalized 1-on-1 training sessions to all customers. As we grew and scaled, we started offering a weekly training webinar, where we cover different aspects of Close.io, and how to set it up and get going.

This training has been extremely popular, and it has been extremely effective at helping our customers become better at using the product, and getting more value out of it.

Why Do You Need Onboarding?

It’s not enough to sell the benefits of your product. You also want to sell them the actual implementation. Think about a diet product – you can say: “This diet system will help you to lose 30 pounds in 6 weeks!” They buy, and then you tell them: “Only eat carrots for 6 weeks, and go for a 5 mile run every morning.” Well, yeah, they would probably lose 30 pounds if they’d do that, but nobody is going to do it.

When customers start using your product, they are going to run into challenges. They are not going to fully understand how to use things optimally right from the start. It does require training. They need help configuring and setting things up optimally. If they aren’t using your product successfully – they will churn.

That’s why onboarding is so important.

Are You Selling The Onboarding Experience?

If you DO have onboarding, then SELL the onboarding experience to your users! Don’t just passively offer the onboarding. Instead, proactively sell them on participating: push, convince and coerce them to do the onboarding!

At Close.io, every time we close a deal we tell them: “We’re very excited to have you on board! Now that you see the promise in the product, we want to also make sure that we deliver on this promise. The best way we can deliver is by helping you come on board and train you on Close.io, because it can be very complex and has a lot of nuances. So I highly recommend this Thursday, you do our training webinar, here’s the link, please sign up and have the entire team sign up, and whenever you add new users, please have them sign up.”

We’re selling our customers on the onboarding! It’s not enough to take their money now – we want to keep them happy, successful and productive, so that they stay onboard.

Sell your onboarding, so that your customers actually DO the onboarding!

Get Long-Term Commitments

Get prospects to sign up for a long-term contract or annual plan. You want to get a long-term commitment from them so that all the work you invest into them pays off – and they get a better price and more value.

But you have to sell this. Many startups fail at this – they assume customers are going to sign up for annual contracts by themselves if they want to, and make no serious effort to convert them to annual plans. “We’ll just give them an amazing experience with out amazing product and our amazing service, and they’re going to automatically stay!”

That’s not good enough.

Push people to sign annual contracts. Even before you close the deal. And if somebody came on board on a monthly plan, pitch them again in the next month on the annual plan, and say: “Hey, you’ve been with us for a month. How has the experience been?”

And if they’re happy with it, ask them: “Great, do you plan on using our product for the next 6 to 8 months?” - “Yeah!” -“Well, why don’t you save money and do a one year contract with us, this way you’re going to be with us anyway, but you’re going to save ___ dollars”.

This is how you get more people to commit to annual plans, and reduce churn.

Later on when customers experience problems, they don’t just quit. They won’t be the fickle customer who just turns around and leaves when there’s an issue. And this is in their own interest as well, because switching from one vendor to the next is just going to slow them down, they’ll have to change the way they work, and more often then not it’s just an out of the frying pan into the fire situation.

They’ll be more committed to finding a solution, and sticking with your product – it buys you more time to solve their problems and make them happy again, and it allows you to invest more effort into making them successful.

WHILE THEY’RE A CUSTOMER

Just because you’ve sold someone and they’re now a paying customer doesn’t mean your job as sales person is finished. Beautiful sales opportunities wait among your current customers – don’t miss out!

Check in with customers you’ve closed a month or two ago. You want to find out:

  • How are they doing?
  • Is your product serving them well?

Upselling

Ask your customers:

  • Whats the plan for growth?
  • How many users are you going to add over the next few months?
  • What are other opportunities within this organization to sell this product? What about your support department? What about this other department?

Help your customers to put a plan together to bring more people on board.

Referrals

Ask your customers if they can make referrals to other people in other companies who can also come on board.

Few sales people do this, but if you consistently ask your current customers for referrals, it can become a substantial source of high-converting sales leads.

Let’s say a customer refers you, and you successfully sell to that referral. You’ll have accomplished several things – in addition to closing another deal:

  1. You have increased the perceived value of your product in the eyes of the referring customer. Since the person they referred obviously saw enough value in it to make a purchasing decision, others obviously too see the value in this. Don’t underestimate how much social validation matters, even in a professional B2B context.
  2. The referring customer (rightfully) feels they made an impact, they feel empowered because they made a difference – thus, they’re more likely to make more referrals.
  3. Make the new (referred) customer thank the referring customer for making the referral – and they’re going to be even more excited to keep on referring you.

Problems & Technical Issues

You’re going to run into problems, especially if you’re working in a tech company. You’re going to have downtimes, things break, bugs… and your customers are going to get pissed off.

So how do you solve these problems? You either do it from a position of weakness, or from a position of strength.

From a position of weakness:

  • Apologize to your customers.
  • Fix the problem.
  • Try to compensate customers.
  • Apologize and beg for their mercy some more. :-(

From a position of strength:

  • Apologize to your customers.
  • Fix the problem.
  • Try to compensate customers.
  • Turn lemons into lemonade. :-)

Example: Close.io’s Calling Outage
Our VOIP provider suffered from a DDOS attack. The calling function of our sales communication platform was down for an entire day. Now this is a very rare event, and our VOIP provider had never experienced this before. It affected all our customers with calling plans – they couldn’t make any calls from within Close.io.

Some customers complained vehemently. They were upset and angry about a day of wasted productivity and lost opportunities.

We did what any good software company would do: work furiously on resolving the issue, and communicate very transparently what was going on, what users should expect, and finally when the problem was fixed.

We personally gave extra attention to every single customer.

A crisis like this is your chance to shine.

Some of our customers demanded compensation for the productivity loss.


What most companies would say: “Of course, here’s a refund!”

What we said (and what every company who strongly cares about customer success should say): “All right, we’d love to help you guys out and actually strengthen this relationship. You can see how we responded to this situation – and if you’re happy with the way we responded to it, here’s what we’re going to offer: we want to give you guys an additional 5 or 10% discount. But we want to make this a long-term relationship both ways, so that we can work on your success together. So we ask that you guys sign a 1 year contract.”

We had five or six customers who demanded compensation.

How many do you think signed up for a one year contract?

Four!

Always respond from a position of strength! Asking a customer for something in return is fair game. Contrary to what many people assume, it even benefits the customers, because it gives you more leverage to make them successful.

If you do it right, the relationship with these customers will improve – as was the case with the customers who took us up on we’re sorry offer. Just like in personal relationships, overcoming hard times together strengthens business relationships.

AFTER THEY’RE A CUSTOMER

All is not lost once a customer cancels. These make for some of the most challenging, but also most worthwhile sales conversations you can have. Skilled sales professionals have an opportunity to turn these customers around and make them successful with your product. Hustle hard to keep them on board – but don’t go comcast on them.

What do you do when a customer cancels their service with you?

First, you call them and ask them for feedback. You want to know what the issue is.

Second, you try to save the customer by communicating from a position of strength. Find opportunities to resolve the issue if you can. It’s worth to invest effort into this. 

At Close.io, every single customer that ever churns, we call and figure out exactly why they churn.

First thing is to understand: What is the reason why they churn. Understand what made them want to leave.

Example: Going Out Of Business

Customer: “Well, we’re cancelling because we’re going out of business.”

Sales rep: “I’m sorry to hear that. Tell me a little bit more about this situation.”

And try to offer customers some help.

If it means that they just need to cut some costs for some amount of time, and then hopefully try to get their business back on track, then you might be able to help financially. Not by giving them money, but by giving them an extended trial or a discount. Sometimes a bit of generosity can give them the leeway to get back on track. But if they’re going out of business for good, give them advice, give them help, give them the support they need – you know how much sweat, blood and tears it takes to build something up, and how painful it can be to have it fall apart. Little gestures can go a long way.

Example: Missing Feature X

Customer: “We’re leaving because your product doesn’t have feature X.”

Sales rep: “Ok, we didn’t have this feature. Did you know that our product lacks feature X when you first signed up? Did our sales do a bad job of understanding your needs? Did we do a bad job when it came to telling you whether or not we have all the features that fit your needs? Or is it something that you figured out later on, you just had a new need, and our product didn’t address this new need?”

The question here is: is that even part of your product roadmap?

Example: Close.io Missing Special Reporting Feature

Customer: “We’re leaving Close.io because we want reporting.”

Sales rep: “Ok, what type of reporting do you need?”

Customer: “We need reporting that graphs and charts how users are behaving based on X, Y and Z parameters.”

Sales rep: “Interesting. Now have you already found another tool that actually does that?”

Customer: “Yeah, we’re looking at this other tool that functions exactly this way.”

Sales rep: “All right, first let’s step back and pause for a second. Why did you sign up with us to begin with? For what reason did you originally chose Close.io? What attracted you to us at first?”

Direct the conversation towards the benefits and the value of your product for the customer. This is simple sales psychology: it balances the equation a bit, and creates a counter-force to their desire to leave you. First understand why they chose you to begin with. Then understand what they specifically need, and where the mismatch is.

Sales rep: “All right, so you need this kind of reporting. How would that specifically work? What would that look like?”

Customer: “Well, X, Y and Z.”

Sales rep: “If we had exactly what you said, if we had it in this way, would you consider staying?”

Customer: “Yes, we would stay.”

Sales rep: “If we were able to deliver this feature in the next 2 to 3 months, would you consider sticking around for the next 2 to 3 months until you have that?” 

SCENARIO A [feature is on roadmap, customer negative]:
Customer: “No, it’s just not worth it for us to keep on paying you for two or three months until you release feature X.”

Sales rep: “All right, how about this, we’re going to give you a 30% discount for the next 3 months, until we release the feature. And if you’ve used the new feature for a month and it does everything you want and need, we’ll put you back on your current billing and you can be a happy customer again. And if feature X doesn’t do everything you want and need, or you’re just not happy with it for whatever reason, no problem, you can still move out to another software system of a vendor of your choice.”
SCENARIO B [feature is on roadmap, customer positive]:
Customer: “Two or three months? Yes, we would consider staying!”
Get them to stay (use incentives if necessary). Frequently update your customer on the progress you’re making towards releasing feature X.
SCENARIO C [feature is not on roadmap]:
Customer: “Maybe.”
Sales rep: ”We’re not planning on launching this feature, but here’s a workaround you might want to try, if it works for you great, if not then on problem.”
You still want to ask the question though to make sure that the lack of feature is actually is the root cause! Remember, it’s ok to not implement features some customers request.
What’s the strategy behind this?

It’s about aligning the customers’ expectations with the value you provide, and it creates a shared goal for you and your customer within a defined time frame.

These kinds of arrangements turn churning customers into valuable long-term partners, allies and brand ambassadors.

Example: Customer Didn’t Get Enough Support

Sometimes customers churn because they haven’t received the support and customer care they needed, or an issue they were struggling with didn’t get resolved well enough.

This is a great opportunity for you to sell them on you again.

Offer them extra value and attention.

Own up to your problem.

Sales rep: “Hey, we’re really sorry that his happened. We’re committed to making this work. Here’s what we propose. Give us 2 weeks. During this time we’re going to give you an extra level of support, enterprise level of support – we’re going to give you support that we usually charge for. But you’re going to get it or free, we’re going to help you guys become successful, and deliver on the promise that we originally made you. Are you open to that, if we can do that, if we can fix that issue for you? If we can solve that problem for you, would you consider staying?”

Give them that level of support. Be rockstars. Overwhelm them with awesomeness. And then, at the end of those two weeks, make them sign a one year contract.

Sales rep: “Hey, were you happy with the support we gave you?”

Customer: “Yes, we’re happy, your team was awesome. Our problems are solved.”

Sales rep: “Great! Why dont we make this a long term relationship? You saw how we solve problems, you saw how we deal with issues, why don’t we get you guys on board for the long run? We’re going to save you some money, and we’re committing to you to deliver amazing customer success.”

That’s how you not only save customers, but come out stronger at the end of that process.

Summary

You now know how to implement sales-driven customer success in all three customer stages: before they sign up, while they are paying you, and once they want to leave. Keep a healthy balance – don’t discount your product, or over deliver on service, to the point where it becomes unsustainable for you.

 

4 Ways To Build A Metrics-Based Sales Coaching Culture

*Editors Note: Recaps and slide decks from the Sales Hacker Series – Hacking Lead Gen in Atlanta are brought to you by Greg Klingshirn, the Content Marketing Manager at SalesLoft, one of the fastest growing start-ups in Georgia. His goal is to plan and create content to make sales professional’s jobs more productive and enjoyable. 

This session is titled 4 Ways To Build A Metrics-Based Sales Coaching Culture by Jon Birdsong, CEO of Rivalry.

 

Every sales team needs to focus on metrics, but the best one’s learn how to improve them.

What the one thing that’s more important than leads? Your people.

You’ve got to take care of your own reps. In the turmoil of automation and creation, you have to remember that people the center of your team. So how can you make them better?

As you coach your reps, there are four ways you can build a metrics based culture:

1. Define your metrics: What are the 5-7 things that drive your business? Rivalry tracks demos scheduled, demos done, conversations, calls, and emails.

2. Continually monitor: How is your performance constantly being tracked, measured, and optimized?

3. Create a cadence of coaching: What happens in different situations? How well did you perform last week? How will you improve this week? 15five is a great tool to help evaluate yourself and create a conversation between reps and coaches.

4. Refine and Improve: “Every piece of data is an opportunity for improvement” -Trish Bertuzzi

 

Q&A:

Q. Any “AH-HA!” moments?

A. People don’t usually know the specific metrics that drive their businesses.

Q. How do you identify weaknesses when you don’t know the specifics of a call?

A. People have fundamental problems. As a coach, if a person is having a tough time getting from demos to conversations, the coach can sit in to identify a specific.

 

Sales Hacker Series Atlanta was Sponsored by SalesLoftAtlanta Tech Village, and Atlanta Ventures.

Millennials And Other Buzzwords You Love To Hear in Sales Development

*Editors Note: Recaps and slide decks from the Sales Hacker Series – Hacking Lead Gen in Atlanta are brought to you by Greg Klingshirn, the Content Marketing Manager at SalesLoft, one of the fastest growing start-ups in Georgia. His goal is to plan and create content to make sales professional’s jobs more productive and enjoyable. 

This session is titled Millennials And Other Buzzwords You Love To Hear in Sales Development by JJ Imbeaux, Manager of Sales Development, WhatCounts.

Hiring sales development reps is difficult. Where do you find them?

You post your job on LinkedIn and get 100 applicants. Great. But on further review, you realize that people are 65 year old financial analysts ready to retire and not the green, moldable people you were looking for.

So where do you find them?

It revolves around core values. At WhatCounts, there are four: dream big, work hard, learn constantly, and enjoy life. You absolutely have to hire around your core values.

It’s great to look for inexperienced, moldable applicants who are at their first or second job. It starts with an initial questionnaire and writing assignment. Then comes a phone interview and an in person interview that lasts 30 mins with the team and 1 hour with the manager and VP.

The biggest part for hiring young culture is having them talk to your other SDRs and figure out if your current reps would actually like to work with them.

It’s a roller coaster. The reps are often young and inexperienced, so it’s a lot of work. You need to spend your time with them and not get frustrated easily.

Q&A:

Q. What are the pros and cons of hiring moldable vs more experienced/educated?

A. WhatCounts started hiring experienced and it didn’t work. They had bad habits. It is much easier to start from the beginning.

Q. What trends have you seen hiring millennials?

A. No one has quit out of 14 hires in the past two years.

Q. Is coaching process even across the board or does it depend on individuals?

A. Both. There are meetings where reps talk mostly to one another as well as the coach and one-on-one meetings.

 

Sales Hacker Series Atlanta was Sponsored by SalesLoftAtlanta Tech Village, and Atlanta Ventures.

Building Rainmakers Through The Sales Development Process

*Editors Note: Recaps and slide decks from the Sales Hacker Series – Hacking Lead Gen in Atlanta are brought to you by Greg Klingshirn, the Content Marketing Manager at SalesLoft, one of the fastest growing start-ups in Georgia. His goal is to plan and create content to make sales professional’s jobs more productive and enjoyable. 

This session is titled Building Rainmakers Through The Sales Development Process by Sean Kester, Director of Sales Development, SalesLoft.

While Sean studied as a landscape architect major at UGA, he realized his true passion was sales. In his first interview with SalesLoft CEO, Kyle Porter, Sean was denied the position. He rallied and was hired 6 months later to become SalesLoft’s first Sales Development Representative.

SalesLoft strives to be the application of record for the sales development process, and as the first rep, Sean helped mold the process.

The basis of a sales development is specialization. Dividing your sales team into prospectors who set appointments and demos and account executives who close deals make the sales process more efficient.

Sean see’s this as three specific roles. The inbound rep, the outbound rep, and the closer. Within sales development, process is the ultimate focus. It’s about making sure your reps get the most responses from prospects. Sean uses a 7×7 strategy at SalesLoft, hitting 7 touches (via email or phone) over seven days.

There are 6 basic ways to become a sales development champion:

1. Be an expert in your craft

2. Ask the hard, off-the-wall questions

3. Listen

4. Timing is everything

5. Use professional-ish creativity

6. Provide value

One of the most common questions is “now that I have all this data, what should I do with it?”

The data should be easily integrated into your outreach or in Sean’s case, his 7×7. It’s been working so well they recently productized it and named it Cadence.

Q&A:

Q. Ratios of inbound vs. outbound?

A. 1:4 currently at Sean’s company.

Q. Customization vs. template?

A. Name, industry, title, and goal are four of the best things to customize.

Q. Number of leads for outbound reps?

A. 50 per day, and on average 2 demos per day and 50 per month.

Q. How do you pass between SDRs and closers?

A. Make them feel special. Upgrade leads to “prospecting experts” who can explain more in a demo.

Sales Hacker Series Atlanta was Sponsored by SalesLoftAtlanta Tech Village, and Atlanta Ventures.

Copyright © 2013. Sales Hacker LLC.