Editor’s Note: Panel moderator Craig Rosenberg of TOPO digs deep for insights from large enterprise insiders Valerie Williamson at The Economist, Lacey Bell at Adobe, David Priemer at Salesforce, and Becky Brown at Intel.
If you had the opportunity to mine the brains of four industry insiders–each from different massive enterprise companies–for rare insights on how they handle their buying and selling processes, would you take it? At Sales Stack Conference 2015, we did just that. Learn what it takes to move the sales conversation forward on enterprise deals and how to avoid common pitfalls.
What are the two or three things that salespeople could do better?
Becky Brown: For salespeople, as you want to talk to talk to people like me or people in my organization, the number one thing is just value our time and add value to our business. The two areas where I see a disconnect are:
1. Massively oversell your capabilities.
2. Integration: If you can’t explain how you’re going to integrate into existing systems, then it’s impossible for us to really have a conversation.
Valerie Williamson: I think that the line between sales and marketing is sort of blurring and who’s selling to who is also blurring. Trying to understand the problem is important, but also understanding the value that you bring to that problem is a big part of the equation.
Lacey Bell: We sometimes undervalue the importance of focusing too much on the business issue at hand and not really understanding the full business challenge that’s trying to be addressed.
David Priemer: For selling to big companies, part of what you want to do is put together a toolkit with a repeatable set of steps and a repeatable set of resources that are consistent with how that company buys technology. You have to arm your sales team to be able to deliver.
What’s the best way to reach you and what type of messages actually work?
Becky Brown: We have a very disciplined approach to the way we think about our marketing stack. The whole point of building a marketing stack is for the stability. And the stability gives us the agility. If you don’t have a stable platform, you can’t onboard other business and move your business forward because all you’re doing is constantly analyzing and evaluating tools.
How do you create pipeline in today’s world?
Valerie Williamson: What we try to say to our sales team every day is, “Think about what their challenge is and what the solution is that we’re going to be able to bring to them.” When you’re selling to large scale organizations, they already have in their mind what they need to do for the year. So how do you go in and add that value there? With GE, the brand got us in the door, but we were only able to stay and dance with them because we listened to them and then we came back with a solution that met their needs.
How do you train a salesperson to listen?
Lacey Bell: As a sales leader, I will join our sales calls and listen for undertones—things that are being said that maybe not everyone’s hearing.
David Priemer: I think you can test for it and should as part of the upfront hiring process. Often times you’ll be talking to a candidate and ask one question and they’ll go on and on forever. That’s a good sign that they’re not a good listener. The other thing we’ll do is a bit of a coachability exercise. One of the things we’ll do in an interview is try to teach them something.
How do you set salespeople up for success on a discovery call?
David Priemer: I find it easier to say to the rep, “By the end of this call, if you don’t come out with these pieces of information, it’s considered a failure.” From there, you can freestyle it. No one likes to be politely interrogated by a sales rep, and they can tell when you just have questions lined up. So it should be an organic conversation, but you should have the endpoints in mind.
Valerie Williamson: I always say to my team, “What is the goal at the end of this call? Now go backwards from there.” One of the things that we do is we hire for people with very specific traits. We call it the three Es and the C. Brand (Economist), Engaged, Enthusiastic, and Courageous.
Becky Brown: Because this area in marketing technology has gotten so big and complicated, having a deep expertise on what it is that you’re bringing to the table is really important. You can’t say, “I’ll get back to you,” you need to understand it deeply and intimately before you come in.
Tell us about the best presentations you’ve seen
Becky Brown: They’ve found a lot of the facts already.
David Priemer: Nothing’s more frustrating to a company than a vendor that comes in and doesn’t understand their business or use familiar language. So one of the things as a small business that you can do is as you’re growing, think about how you want to segment your sales team. Whether by geography, company size, etc. What that allows you to do is go out with that team and deliver something that is generic to that team but very specific to the industry you’re trying to get to.