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The Secret to Canva’s Sales Productivity? 5 Ways To Play the Long Game

Jen Howard, Vice-President, Canva for Teams, Salesforce's Pip Marlow, EVP and CEO, ANZ and ASEAN, and Tiffani Bova, Global Growth and Innovation Evangelist, chat about sales productivity tips for our new economic climate. Here’s Tiffani’s wrap up.

Just as we’ve all got more accustomed to virtual and hybrid ways of working and selling, new global pressures are rearing their heads: inflation, rising interest rates, and a general sense of economic uncertainty.

So, how can sales leaders adapt to this changing environment, especially if they’re being asked to do more with less?

In a recent conversation with Jen Howard, Global Head of Sales and Vice-President Canva for Teams and Salesforce’s EVP & CEO, ANZ and ASEAN, Pip Marlow, we discussed strategies for boosting sales productivity in this tricky new economic landscape.

As Pip put it: the techniques you used to ride the first wave of pandemic challenges are not what you’ll need for the next wave. You’ll need new approaches to manage the coming swell.

Jen says her team is foregrounding three guiding principles — people, product, process — to steer through this next phase and take Canva for Teams to market.

What else should sales leaders be doing now to elevate sales productivity in the new economy? These key themes emerged in our conversation.

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1. Think long-term sales and consider gradual scaling

Jen says her team at Canva is taking a long-term view of success — and offering flexible purchasing options that reflect this. 

“Now is not the time for short term wins. Now is really the time to invest in the long term and give our customers as much flexibility as possible when they need it.”

“We’re much more focused right now on gradual scaling rather than pitching large agreements up front.”

She believes this helps give customers assurance in the purchase.

“It gives customers the opportunity to use the product and buy the appropriate number of seats. Rather than signing a contract that they may not be confident in, they can scale as they grow.” 

Jen said a forthcoming graduated payment model, which charges customers on usage rather than a predetermined number of licences, is also designed to help customers “be very certain of their ROI”.

“It removes any fears they may have of making the wrong decision or locking themselves into a contract that might be over a deployment size that they need,” she said.

2. Boost sales productivity with the right type of training

Even though many of us have been working remotely for almost two years and plenty of organisations have successfully embraced the “Digital HQ” model, there’s still a skills gap when it comes to virtual selling.  

The recent Salesforce Transformation Survey found that, while half of sales professionals expect to primarily sell virtually moving forward, the majority say it’s harder than selling from an office.

Despite these challenges, the research also found that only 29% of reps are receiving training on virtual selling. This indicates the need for more and better training to build the skills and confidence of your reps. 

But, with the explosive growth of online selling tools since the start of the pandemic, quality over quantity is key for genuine sales team transformation. Most sales leaders are now saying that too many virtual selling tools have negatively impacted their teams. So, training sales reps well on fewer, more effective tools could help drive impact. 

Tools like Salesforce’s free to access online training platform, Trailhead, enable workers to upskill in new capabilities at their own pace while learning in-demand skills for the future.

3. Add genuine value through always-on ROI selling

Jen explained why it’s more vital than ever to consider how to add real value when interacting with customers. 

“It’s important right now to really focus on the value that we bring rather than simply just describing it. So, helping customers understand the ROI that they’re getting from the tools, helping them understand the data analytics that we can provide.”

Her team makes a point of using the Canva platform as much as possible — internally and with customers. 

“One example is our Talking Presentations; another is that we develop ‘a Design Capsule’, where we show a customer all the different use cases that their brand could have if they were thinking about expanding through Canva. All of this is built in Canva and is tailored to the customer.”

This level of customisation takes some leg work but ensures the interaction is engaging and genuinely valuable for the customer.

“The personalisation that comes from using the product and really thinking about the customer is giving us a tremendous amount of opportunity for pre-call coaching, pre-call preparation, which is really how we’re going to win and make it the most effective meeting that we can.”

4. Automate what you can with holistic tech

Whether you use it to remove redundant tasks, streamline customer note logging, or remove friction in the overall sales process, technology can give reps more time with customers. 

Jen agreed that “automation is key” for sales team transformation. For Canva, that means identifying areas that could be streamlined with the right technology.

“For example, one of the primary features we currently use is the Salesforce Inbox. Our education team and many of our other teams use emails as their primary form of communication with our customers right now, so that’s been a huge productivity driver.”

“Having the Salesforce browser extension built right in helps get a full view of the customer information right within their inbox, so it takes out a lot of the guesswork and the time spent tracking down related information and really allows our teams to spend their time helping our customers.” 

Pip shared that a digital tool which helps her boost sales productivity is Salesforce’s Einstein Analytics, an AI-driven data analytics platform. 

“When my sales leaders are doing a forecast, I have a quick look at what Einstein says my sales leaders are going to do. It’s like an extra pair of hands at the table for me as we’re in a forecasting discussion. It’s always interesting to see who’s closest to the pin: Einstein or my sales leaders.”

5. Form lasting relationships, built on transparency and trust

Trust is a critical component of any long-term relationship and Jen said her team is building it thanks to open dialogues with customers. 

“As we’re in our early days with a lot of our customers, we really demonstrate that we’re listening, they have an impact on what we’re doing, and that we are invested in their success — that’s really how we establish the early days of trust.” 

For a company like Canva, involving customers in product development has also been extremely beneficial, Jen added. 

“Earlier this year, we got some of our key customers together to understand what types of features they would need, and we developed a Canva Administration Dashboard that shows them the engagement levels across the designs and the templates and the usage.”

“It’s something that many of our customers were wanting and we were able to build that feature. We were able to go back to them and say, we’re hearing you, we’ve listened. Your feedback is now impacting our product.” 

Listening to this feedback gives Canva a customer-centric path forward. The course for their sales team is clear, while being powered by a holistic technology stack that automates away friction when it rises. Canva is an example of how to position your sales team for the long-game and are already seeing incredible results. 

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Tiffani Bova

Tiffani Bova is the global customer growth and innovation evangelist at Salesforce, where as an industry thought leader, she watches overall market trends to uncover best practices on how to improve sales performance and enhance the overall customer experience. Tiffani has extensive knowledge of go-to-market, sales and channel strategies. Prior to Salesforce, she spent 10 years at Gartner as a vice president, distinguished analyst and research fellow, covering sales transformation and indirect channel innovation. Over the past decade, she has worked with hundreds of technology companies to develop highly effective growth strategies and innovative go-to-market models. She won the Gartner Thought Leadership Award for her comprehensive body of work on the Future of Sales and has delivered more than 200 keynote presentations around the globe to over 250,000 people on sales transformation and business model innovation. Before her time at Gartner, Tiffani spent 15 years in various sales and leadership positions, managing both start-up and Fortune 500 sales organizations, and she still considers herself a ‘recovering seller.’ Tiffani has been published in Forbes, Harvard Business Review and The Huffington Post. She was named one of the 50 Most Powerful and Influential Women in California in 2014 by the National Diversity Council, Top 50 Marketing Thought Leaders by Brand Quarterly Magazine, as well as Inc. Magazine’s 37 Sales Experts You Need to Follow on Twitter. She is a graduate of Arizona State University and The Executive Program at Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania. Connect with Tiffani on Twitter @Tiffani_Bova.

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