I remember the first time I heard about the concept of a sales cadence. Our San Francisco team had been talking about how they could improve the velocity at which they could send emails. To solve this problem they’d built, using Marketo, a short cadence which drove to a meaningless, generic, and from time to time, insensitive sales messaging.
As cadence tools have grown in prevalence there’s been a disturbing trend of over-reliance on these tools. SDRs spend hours upon hours preparing, editing, and faffing with cadences, rather than driving real value and focusing on how to create conversations.
Surely we should be enabling SDRs with the basic sales skills they need to do their job before they start using a cadence tool. That way when you provide the tool, they find productivity to be an enormous value add to what they do, rather than something that takes away from and defines what they do.
Volume of Messaging
This, however, brings me to another trend which has developed over the last few years – a focus on maximizing volume, rather than value in sales conversations. How do we send as many emails, make as many calls, and make as many contacts as possible? By maximising volume, Sales people produce poor quality, standardised and unintelligent conversations. The intelligence of the platforms are there, but the intelligence of the human has been diminished.
As we’ve been in such a positive economic market, this volume focus hasn’t caused the same level of challenges that it ordinarily might. The technique of bombarding people with a barrage of poorly targeted messages did in some ways work. Buyers haven’t been as annoyed at poor sales messaging, or at least if they have, it hasn’t had as much of a negative impact. The economic climate was good enough that people were willing to spend money on software and programmes sold by mediocre Salespeople.
This has created a generation of potentially average salespeople.
Covid-19 and the Quality of the industry
This puts us in a difficult situation now that we find ourselves in a recession and a tough market. We are in a time where selling has to be empathetic because of the challenges surrounding the global environment. There is no room for sub-par messaging and targeting. COVID, 19 has really thrown a spanner in the works, and created what John Barrows calls the death of the average salesperson.
No longer is it enough to send out your marketing led messaging using the same approach to everyone you speak to. If you don’t understand who your buyers are, you won’t know what their situation will be.
We find that fewer calls are being answered, emails are being responded to less, and sellers are finding themselves in a tough market where the things that worked in the past are not good enough.
The playing field has been leveled, sellers have been given the opportunity to win on merit. For too long sellers have been glorified order-takers. They’ve had success based on ‘the tech selling itself,’ or the strength of the brand. “Hi it’s John from Salesforce, can you give me a call back?’ Was a genuine prospecting voicemail I received last year.
Back to Sales Basics
We propose that SDRs and salespeople need to go back to basics. They need to do the things that they should have been doing to stand out, to rise to the top, always. This starts with asking the right questions.
Who is your Ideal Customer Profile?
Can you identify exactly who your target customer is? What type of company are they? What industry are they in? What do they use as their technology, what do they do for their customers, how do they operate internally? What is it about your ideal customer profile that unites them? This may be very different to what you had identified and understood six months ago. What is it that puts them in a position where they need your Software or Services?
What do they care about?
Who is the person you need to speak to. What is their problem and can you solve it?
What exactly is somebody struggling with, what is the CFO worrying about? That’s a terrible question to ask a CFO, but it’s a significant thing to know and understand. It can put you in a position to get their attention when you prospect them.
Focusing on the volume of valuable activity.
Are you still calling office numbers? WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU PLAYING AT! Sorry, carried away there… Why are you not using a CRM to identify all the mobile numbers you already have? Any time spent on a number that won’t be answered is a waste of time.
If you can’t answer the question, ‘why you and why you now?’ – move on to a different prospect. How much time are you spending on prospects that aren’t your ideal customer profile? It’s no good to say we’ve increased our activity, if that activity has not been focused around that ideal customer profile and what they really care about.
Now I appreciate that, for some businesses, for example, the travel or events sector, this will still be a challenge. This is not on you to figure out as an SDR or salesperson. Your responsibility is making sure that you maximize your own time, either in your current role or elsewhere. One of the great things about being in sales is that you’re in control. You can dictate your career path. Regardless of your territory, regardless of the product you’re selling, you can do what you need to do to be successful.
Being an average salesperson is not good enough. Having an average sales team is not good enough. You need to make sure you are an excellent salesperson, that you have an excellent sales team, making sure that you provide the frameworks and arm yourself with the skills and abilities to stand out to be better and to raise your game.
Covid-19 is not merely the death of the average salesperson, it is the re-birth of great salespeople.