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5 Sales Growth Hacks We Learned at Dreamforce

The future is AI, accessible and full-picture data, employee engagement, and customer-first sales. Here's how we, as sales leaders, can get there.

marc benioff digital sales success
Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff

If you didn’t catch Dreamforce 2021, you missed some serious #salesinsights.

The past year and a half brought us a lot of challenges. Yet, businesses across the world responded with astounding innovation and positivity (we see your 40% growth, Zoom). Dreamforce 2021 put all those achievements in the spotlight, showing us a clear path to revenue growth in the months and years ahead.

That included tips on training talent for a digital-first world, driving predictable revenue, and communicating effectively with sales teams.

What else does the future of selling hold? We chatted with top sales leaders on their biggest takeaways from Dreamforce and what’s top of mind as we near 2022.

1. Keep your best talent from getting poached with consistent coaching

As Gartner recently reported, 2021 saw 4 million frustrated professionals quit their jobs — and the year’s not even over. It’s not an economic issue. In the wake of early pandemic strains, employees recognize businesses have not been investing enough in them and are demanding more — in part, more training that sets them up for success.

One impactful way to meet this need for sales teams is with coaching. More specifically, companies need to leverage top-tier digital coaching tools that allow managers to analyze sales calls regularly and efficiently from anywhere, then provide clear steps for improvement.

Sales coach Niraj Kapur adds more actionable guidance: “Call coaching should be consistent — every week, not now and again,” he said. “Don’t listen to the entire call. Listen to 5 minutes at the beginning and keep working on those 5 minutes until they get it right. Then, move on to the next 5 minutes, and so on. Always provide two or three actionable takeaways the sales rep can implement.”

Beyond the call script, coaching requires teaching your reps how to build rapport. “Be sure you coach reps on how to communicate with empathy, making the buyer the center of sales conversations,” said Scott Leese, a sales consultant and coach. This allows reps to build authentic, long-term customer relationships that lead to more sales wins. Sales wins equal more engaged reps.

Check out these related Dreamforce sessions to learn more:

2. Open up new revenue streams by offering easy-access subscriptions

Thanks largely to the pandemic, the path to growth for many businesses remains unclear. In fact, our latest State of Sales report revealed that almost three-quarters of sales leaders don’t feel capable of adapting to changing conditions. One clear way to create more stability: diversify channel sales to bring in more customers and generate predictable revenue.

Central to predictable revenue is recurring revenue (read: subscriptions). Richard Harris, CEO of sales consulting firm The Harris Consulting Group, says subscriptions are a low-cost entry point for customers and a source of recurring income for businesses. Plus, with digital adoption soaring, companies can meet buyers where they’re at, offering product or service subscriptions online.

Harris offers two tips for businesses setting up new subscriptions: “First, make sure it’s possible for customers to map their own path to growth via progressive subscription tiers. Second, use a tool like Revenue Cloud to manage all of the subscriptions in one place — so you don’t have to live in a million spreadsheets (a.k.a. ‘Excel hell’).”

Check out these related Dreamforce sessions to learn more:

3. Make strategic decisions based on data, not guesswork

While the data sharing of revenue operations revs up for some companies, others are still operating with incomplete or dirty data, often split across different teams. Without centralized data, they miss out on critical customer insights and sales opportunities.

Alex Lindus of Lindus Construction knows this pain because his company operated this way for years. The solution, he says, is relatively simple: deploy a single CRM that not only stores all sales and customer data, but provides real-time, artificial intelligence driven (AI) insights on customer behavior.

Sales Cloud analytics shows us incredible customer insights,” he said. “We see if someone bought something before, what they’re typically looking at buying next time, and when they would typically be looking at repurchasing another product. This gives us real facts in real-time so we can make decisions quickly.”

Check out these related Dreamforce sessions to learn more:

revenue cloud screenshot with astro
With AI-powered insights from Sales Cloud Revenue Intelligence, you can identify new sales opportunities quickly — before your competitors do.

4. Guide your customers through new, digital-first buying experiences

Increasingly, buyers are opting to complete their purchases digitally — without a sales rep. That doesn’t mean sales is becoming obsolete, says Brent Adamson, vice president of thinktank Gartner. His studies of B2B buyers show that many buyers get lost in the digital sales process and lose confidence in their buying decision. That means the role of the sales rep has to change.

“Take your customers ‘by the hand’ and guide them through the digital buying experience,” he said at Dreamforce. Show them next steps and be clear about how you’ve mapped your path to purchase.

As you guide prospects and build trust, make sure you call out unique product offerings early on in the buying process. “What are the two, three, or four points of differentiation that you can focus the customer’s attention on?” asked Adamson. “What are the things they may overlook on their own or not fully appreciate?”

This customer engagement should be at the center of your metrics so you can gauge success, adds Lindsey Boggs, global director of sales at Lucidworks. Managers should be asking questions like: “How many interactions are sales reps having with their customers? How far are they expanding their footprint and selling beyond the basics? How many referrals are generated for net new business because of relationships built?”

Check out these related Dreamforce sessions to learn more:

5. Maintain clear communication, especially among teams acclimating to digital environments

There’s no question: virtual selling is here to stay. That means a lot of the inefficiencies of in-person sales are gone, but it also means disparate teams need to collaborate and communicate effectively in digital environments — from the first days of onboarding through one-on-ones and pipeline reviews.

This is wholly achievable, but only if you ground all communication in three principles: transparency, feedback, and flexibility. Mandy Febus, vice president of customer engagement at ValPak, offered a bit more color at Dreamforce:

  1. Be transparent about your projects — the goals, the initiatives, and success metrics. 
  2. Create a feedback loop with key stakeholders so you know how the project is going. 
  3. Be willing to adapt as the project unfolds — plan for contingencies and leave room in the timeline for process changes.

Lori Richardson, CEO of Score More Sales, noted carefully tracking feedback and communication is critical, too. “Use tools like Slack that track messages and record meeting notes,” she said. “Wherever possible, use videoconferencing tools that allow you to record calls.”

Also, adds Ashley Zagst, an account executive at scheduling software company Chili Piper, “Educate your team on how they should communicate and when they should communicate.” So much can be misconstrued, so provide communication best practices and examples, including acceptable times for sending messages and ideal phrasing for requests and updates. You can also include templates to make communication more efficient.

Check out these related Dreamforce sessions to learn more:

What’s next?

Looking for more sales wisdom shared at Dreamforce? Salesforce Innovation Evangelist Tiffani Bova gives you the rundown of the biggest sales trends for growth in 2022 below:

Tiffani Bova on 2022 sales trends

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