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Sales leaders in tech Virtual Round table

James Hounslow

​Last week I had the privilege to host our latest virtual round table with a number of key senior sales leaders in technology. All selling very different tech to, in most cases, different people and sectors. They were all brought together with one common goal, generating revenue. Within these round tables, we have been looking to discuss key challenges that a sales leader is facing given the circumstances we now find ourselves in. The first topic we spoke about is one that has come up repeatedly in discussions I have had with over 80 sales leaders over the six-week period since lock down began:

What are the key metrics and data we should we be measuring to show the success of our business in today’s market environment? 

So, lets dive straight in and take look at what was discussed, but first we need to understand who we are as business and what stage of growth we are at. If you are working in a start-up to a medium sized business backed by either a VC or an Investor, profit may not have been something you looked too much at. That may change now, and you could find your investor or VC pushing towards profitability, or you may be confident that more funding is out there to cover the cost. If this is the case, then proving you can grow by 35% year-on-year is important and the sales metrics and data become even more important for a successful, truthful pipeline. Part of this will be proving you have the right lifetime clients that you can maximise your return from. I will talk more on this later, the right clients in the pipeline.

So, what should we be looking at?

The most important thing agreed across the leaders was that taking it right back to the basics was the most important thing to do.

To start with they agreed they should be looking at who they were targeting, are they the right clients to sell to, will they give a lifetime value.

Customer acquisition cost needs to be looked at and addressed.

It was all so suggested that you may need to pivot some sales guys from field to inside sales to generate the leads while they could not go out into the field and sell. Great idea to maximise everyone during this lock down period.

Looking at your sales process and the experience for your sales team, could you make improvements now to help your sales team just get on and sell? Looking at your process your procedure and your support, can technology help? We do not want to bog our sales team down with needless task slowing them down from delivering the all-important sales.

We talk about a hard scrub on the pipeline, peel back the onion and really understand what you have in there that you may think has just slowed but the reality is, it’s gone.  Pipeline to quota has never been as relevant and important as it could be right now, and as a leader it was clear that they needed to know this information to be able to forecast future business accurately.

When the leaders spoke about targeting the sales individual, there were some great ideas and one in particular I think everyone should consider doing in this virtual remote time we find ourselves in currently and for the short, mid, or long term (no on knows): video messaging. One of the leaders gave his team a week to put together video content and sent this out to potential new clients. The results have been far greater than expected. This is now a solid part of the sales team’s weekly plan and it really works very well, simple but effective. 

When talking about changing and setting targets or KPI’s for the team, the agreement was that activity should be bespoke to the sector you are in and the experience of your team members. What the leaders did say was the targets need to be very visible to the whole team, they needed to be reviewed weekly and everyone should be held accountable. The visibility and accountability are very important at this time when getting everyone together is impossible and yet you still need to people to work as a team. Be noisy in the marketing field, let your customers and potential customers know you are here to help and have solutions that could help them improve. It’s never been a better time to get your sales teams putting out relevant content every day to your marketplace, giving information, tips and guidance to help them succeed. We should be relying on the marketing team; we should be working with them to produce content to give awareness of who you are and what you do.

What was clear from the discussion was it’s very important to know what you are measuring and having a plan of attack which has clear, measurable tasks that can demonstrate to you as a leader how the plan is being implemented and the likely success of the plan and over what time scale.