Natasha Burns, Sales Director, Go1
Our business specialises in online learning and training, but travel was an important part of the mix as some customers still relied on face-to-face sales meetings. When COVID hit, we quickly adopted a game plan to ensure our great relationship with them was maintained.
Keeping our sales teams collaborating and aligned across the business internally, especially during lockdown periods in different jurisdictions, wasn’t as challenging as it was for other organisations. We have always adopted the latest communication and collaboration tools. This meant there was zero learning curve for video and online chat platforms when working from home became the norm.
There’s no doubt that having sales reps physically selling beside each other is valuable – having fluid and organic conversations are always beneficial. During the pandemic, we replicated these experiences in an online environment. There were times when we probably over-communicated, but that’s better than missing out on something important.
With most other organisations working remotely as well, we’ve seen an increase in demand for online learning and training. Technology, especially automation, has helped us stay on top of this rising demand.
Not only that, it’s also helped us demonstrate more value to our customers to exceed their expectations. This year we’ve prioritised automating the admin side of sales, and removing routine tasks like data entry so reps can focus on gaining customer insights and learn new skills to provide a better customer experience.
Trust and relationships matter more than ever
We’ve benefited from rising trends like remote work. We still have our foot on the accelerator, but we’re conscious that our customers and prospects might not be in the same situation.
Unfortunately, many organisations are tightening budgets, and sometimes this means reducing software licences and subscriptions. Having greater understanding of how, when and why decisions like this are being made has become even more critical for us this past year.
Spending more time gathering as much information as possible about the business challenges our customers face has had huge benefits for us. If we can’t write a job description for a new customer or prospect, then we need to dig deeper.
There’s no shortage of competition, and buyers are looking for someone who can provide insights, discuss trends and tailor the conversation to their needs, rather than sticking to generics.
Read their quarterly reports, learn about their business strategies, get your hands on financial statements if possible, and pay attention to any upcoming events – either specific to their business or in the wider world – that might be triggers for activity on their end. Even something as simple as a daily Google Alert for news on their company can be useful. It takes more work upfront, but having this information helps us see how training or learning initiatives fit into their plans so we’re having a productive conversation from day one.
Balance process and autonomy – and automate as much as possible
We’re always trying to improve our processes and give leaders and reps greater oversight, but everyone working remotely this year has really hammered home the importance of visibility. After all, great outputs depend on accurate inputs.
Automation has really helped us make sure that we’re getting good quality data and consistent data entry. In particular, we’ve encouraged top-of-funnel automation as much as possible. We were also able to set up a process within our Salesforce platform that doesn’t allow reps to progress a lead if certain information is left blank.
We have also implemented data and automation tools to boost our leads-nurture process and remove some manual admin so sales reps can focus on building relationships. For example, the systems we have implemented will send automatic emails after meetings using several templates depending on a pulse check of how the meeting went.
Because everyone isn’t working from one place, implementing these streamlined processes means everyone’s on the same page.
Sometimes, it helps to go with the flow
Our sales rhythm and processes have and will continue to change to adapt to client requirements. We’re starting to bring product demos into the conversation earlier than in the past as more buyers are empowered and coming in with some knowledge of the products beforehand– they’ve either engaged with a free trial or through content on our website.
However, there’s some art and science involved in knowing when and how to do this. Is the right time to show a product during the first call? If they already know something about our product, how does that dictate discovery? There’s some skill in reading the situation and just being comfortable with a more dynamic first call.
Qualifying leads faster has also become more important. This year sales reps have a lot more responsibility and accountability to manage their pipeline. Budgets are tight and there’s more oversight of how much time we’re spending at various stages of the sales cycle, so we want to make sure that we’re directing our time and effort where it’s going to make the most difference.
Find out how other sales leaders are driving business resilience and growth by downloading the fourth edition of the State of Sales report.
Hear more about how Go1 adapted sales techniques for the new way of working in our webinar Unpacking the State of Sales: How can sales reps retool for the now and the future? Hear from the best in the business, including sales expert Tony Hughes, Salesforce Regional Sales Director Mark Ringrose and Go1’s Nathan Schubert and Natasha Burns.