Yesterday, I sat down with Challenger's Kevin Hart (VP of Sales & Marketing) and our very own Brian Trautschold to - once and for all - discuss and debunk the prevailing predictions from around the sales web for 2020. From AI to the rise of sales enablement to definition of ‘quality content’ to achieve your sales goals in the year ahead, we’ve got you covered!
Check out the recording here:
Need something to read in the bath? Check out the full transcript below!
Jamie: Hey everybody. Welcome to today's presentation Road Testing the Top 10 Sales Predictions of 2020. I'm Jamie, I work at Ambition, I'll be your moderator today. Really, really excited though to partner with Challenger today and specifically I've got Kevin Hart, he's the VP of sales and marketing at challenger. Hey Kevin.
Kevin: Hey guys.
Jamie: And if you're unfamiliar with Challenger I don't know where you've been, but Challenger is dedicated to driving exceptional growth by changing behaviors in sales, marketing and service teams. Their commercial transformation programs include message creation, skill development and implementation support. Each program is supported by ongoing research and backed by their best selling books, The Challenger Sale, which we've all read and love here, The Challenger Customer and The Effortless Experience. So super honored to have you here.
And then representing the Ambition side is Brian Trautschold who is a co founder here at Ambition. And we are a gamification and coaching software program platform for modern high performing sales organizations. We help you improve employee performance, manage effectiveness and improve team culture. We're trusted by brands like Verizon, DocuSign, HPE, ADP, Xactly and the Atlanta Braves. So really, really excited there.
Brian: How you all doing?
Jamie: Paula says, "Hello Brian." So Paula's here checking in, a customer of ours-
Brian: Paula, how are you?
Jamie: So we're going to jump right in, we've got a lot of really good ones. So what are we talking about today?
When I say road testing, the top 10 sales predictions of 2020 as I stated, I'm on our marketing team and every marketer, there's a few common blog posts if you will, or pieces that you put out a year. In December you do a recap of all the best things that you put out, you might say, "Let's prep for 2020." January rolls around, you've got to keep those clicks up and so you predict, you get your crystal ball out and you put top 10 things together. Usually they make your company sound great and you say really bold stuff that sometimes is backed by data and sometimes it's just purely made up and everyone does this.
Jamie: We did it and I'm joking about it being made up, but there are a lot of common themes. So I tried to pull the top 10 ones that I saw specifically in the sales conversation and wanted you guys to tell me whether or not you think they're good, bad, ugly. Are we actually headed in these directions? Are robots replacing all of us? So we are going to just jump right in. So our first one, this is one that I feel like every year you see just the channels change. So the thing that we've always done for all time is going to die and new thing that we may be doing or not doing is the only thing that you do. So in this case, the prediction is that video and text in the sales conversation will replace email and phone calls. No one's going to use their phone to actually talk to people.
And I used to work in email marketing. It's literally been dying since 2008 so will this be the year? Gong, our friends at Gong though, when we say video, what we mean in the context of this conversation is that video marketing... Not video marketing, sorry, video in the sales conversation is really using a webcam like we're doing right now. So they say that successful deals have higher win rates when a web cam is used. So that is where they're coming from there, 40% more one deals.
And then Thomas Parbs ,a text thought leader at SMS Magic, is saying that when we say text in the sales conversation it's all about how you use it. So, we're not saying that text is going to be used as the only way that you communicate with people, but it's saying, hey, it has a pretty high likelihood that you're going to get a response.
He goes on to state - 90% of text messages are actually looked at (for me it's 100%) and when you're texting inbound leads a really effective use of that is to do things like remind them about meetings or ask them how a meeting went that they missed or things like that.
So the reason I bring up text as well is that we had our sales kickoff last week for 2020 and our chief revenue officer essentially said, "How do you identify your champion in the buying process? Well you have their cell phone number. If you're not texting with your buyer, are they really your champion? Are they really the person that is going to help you push that deal forward?" So my question for both of you is, do you agree with that, Brian this might be a trick question, a scary question for you. But in these long complex sales cycles that a lot of our buyers are having, yeah. Where do video and text play in and do we really think that email and phone calls are going away?
Kevin: Who's that? Is that Brian or me?
Jamie: Both. Either, whoever. Jump in.
Kevin: So I would tell you, we definitely see more of it. I think definitely as you move a sub $1 billion company where maybe you've got a slightly younger CRO profile or head of sales profile, certainly more often. Not quite as much in large enterprise, video for sure. I think I might be the last one when I worked from home using a phone, an actual phone. It's not a hard wire, but it's an actual phone. It's close to bat. The one thing I would tell you though, and this is very recent exposure in Q4, I will say there's the risk with texting and mobile phones for a little bit of what we would call the talker profile. When you've got a prospect that is pushing their mobile phone on you, that is constantly reacting on their mobile phone it's not often a good sign that you've found a mobilizer. You've found somebody who really likes to engage with people selling them stuff, and we saw examples of that where we were getting 30 texts a day back and forth with a mobilizer. They didn't buy anything, right? They couldn't get it pushed through internally. So the scarcity of use, I think is important when you're looking at it and measuring it versus the ubiquitous, we use it all the time. I'm reaching out to you at 6:00 AM 7:00 AM not always the best time, but we definitely see more of it.
Brian: Yeah, I would agree. I think this is a perfect example. We've gone from this world where when I came into inside sales, it was purely phone, it was on the desk, it was other than email, my only motive medium of communication. And so now every call, whether someone else on the other side has their webcam on or not, or they're dialed in, I'm showing my face. I want them to see I'm a human, I'm trying to connect with them. I'm looking at the screen, and personally I want to... If it's getting into texts, we had a deal end of year and the buyer and myself were texting back and forth on Christmas Eve, do I think that's how every deal should go? Definitely not. But when you're in that last hour, 11th hour situation, I think it was important and I think that Martin [inaudible 00:08:16], our VP of sales is right.
Brian: If you don't have a champion or if you don't have a key influencer in the org who's at a text level with you, especially Kevin, like you said, in a more modern organization, you may not be actually in the driver's seat you think. So for me it's about connecting. It's about having this eye to eye, or at least you can see my eyes situation that we're trying to replicate. Maybe the older way where we'd be actually in the office, which is drastically less common now.
Jamie: Yeah. So verdict would be enhancement, not a murderer of email and phone calls. Okay. So Kevin, you can keep your landline there going strong. You got it. I'm with you. I'm with you now.
Jamie: Oh my God it's a cord? What is it? I've never seen such a thing.
Kevin: Yeah. Just don't be frightened. The cord just stays with us now for me, it's with me all the time. I can't get away from it.
Jamie: So that brings us to my next prediction, which is all hail, it's the dawn, the age of the millennial buyer. And this one is my favorite. I have some great slides on this that I'm really proud of. So in 2019 45% of tech buyers are millennials. And again I want to point out, 23 to 48 that's a pretty big bucket. Some of these people have been buying technology for decades, so just... Or buying anything and working real business jobs. So millennial buyer rising, I don't know. But some interesting stats about what it means when we talk about what that persona is. Vendors who were very influential with millennials during the buying process were two times as likely to be open about product limitations and connect buyers with current customers. So it isn't that the millennial buyer is new as much as the conversation could be shifting.
This I think is super compelling. 60 to 90% of millennials have already decided on their purchase before they even engage with their company's sales team. I saw different flavors of this stat, but I liked the way this one was framed the best. And then millennials are super suspicious when the brands just want their attention. So they're savvy, they're tech savvy, they have been online doing research and you as a human being trying to sell them something are irrelevant now in 2020. So my question to you guys is, everyone has this hot take on millennials, so how does a seller actually insert control over a sales conversation that's already been 60 to 90% won or lost by the time they're getting on the phone? And Kevin I point that at you because I feel like this has got to be something that Challenger talks about a lot.
Kevin: Yeah. I think it's interesting how data all comes together. The stat you had earlier that 60 to 90% buyers have already made a decision. We looked at the different [inaudible 00:11:13]. If you take a group of buyers trying to make a purchase, which [inaudible] in most B2B spaces, it's going to be a group anywhere from eight to 15 people trying to come together on a decision, not one. On average they are 57% of their way through the purchase process before they reach out to vendors. So you take this whole group of millennials as a proxy and say, what are they really good at? They're really good at going and figuring out what they believe their needs are. Then they're good at figuring out because everybody's website's gotten better at who can fill that need. And then they're pretty good at looking at customer reviews to figure out who's the most expensive and who do people like. And then they're good at meeting with vendors. And saying, "I like your stuff. Can you do it at their price?"
Kevin: And I think for sellers it's hard to say it's up to the seller to fix that problem. It's up to the company to fix that problem. Or the company has got to do a better job of really thinking through what is the content they're placing out that millennials are going to go find? Or really any buyer and does it uniquely lead back to them, right? Is it disruptive of their purchase process? Because if you can't find your way back in that, what we would call the big blue arrow or the 57%, you are going to be stuck either losing business or offering it at low margin, right? You're going to do it at your competitors' price. Even if you've got the best product that's a lose lose and sellers can't win that fight on their own, right? You need a sales and marketing engine that is tuned to go out and disrupt with the right kind of content that when you do get in with buyers, you've actually planted seeds. You've sparked interest around an idea that you're uniquely equipped to solve. So yes, I think we see more and more folks getting equipped with information. There is a way to combat it. I wish it was as easy as just telling sellers to do it, but you can certainly get after it just requires a [inaudible 00:12:49].
Jamie: Good answer. Okay, I've got work to do. So prediction three, tech stacks will continue to grow and with within that comes more competition for B2B sellers. So what do I mean by that? Inside sales [inaudible] has a stat saying that the average annual spend on sales technology was $4500 per rep per year and can span five different categories of sales tools. So as sales tech grows, as the industry grows, people are buying technology. I know we have tons of tools both on the sales and marketing side that we use to try and make sure that we're tailoring that conversation as best as we can. And so while we're spending more on these tools, or spending a lot on these tools. On the flip side of that, for us, and this is going to be directed at Brian, how does that proliferation of tech both in the purchasing process. So I'm buying more technology, but as a result there is more technology to buy. There are more companies popping up every day that do a flavor of what we all do. So how in all industries can we create and cut through the noise of that competition in the sales cycle? And who are we really competing with, especially when we're buying or selling B2B tech?
Brian: Yeah, absolutely. I think there's a real... It's not a trend it is the new reality that the amount of vendors out there, if you want to call us that, selling technology and selling these softwares and service products to any business in any industry is only increasing. And I don't think that we're going to go away from companies using technology to fuel or improve whatever selling motion they have. So I think we have to be... Challenge ourselves and challenge ourselves as sellers to say, "How do I really empathize with my customer, understand the business problem that we and our solution specifically solve? And how do we touch all of the other tools in their stack?" Because it's not a static sales process where they only have one tool and they're only buying something for sales coaching like Ambition, we're working with five or six or seven other products in their environment.
And so to come in and think that it's always just you versus your competitor I think is actually no longer the case, it's you versus the budget versus some one else who has a higher priority problem they want solved, versus are you going to overlap with another set of technologies or schools? And that's across the board. So I think it's about early in the sales process, salespeople going in and asking and discovering what tools are in place, what problems do they solve, what are the biggest initiatives and challenges that the buyer is trying to navigate? And then figuring out how you can be a value added product or vendor or solution in their environment. Because it's not just going to be, let me sell you this widget. My widget is better than the other person's widget. There's a whole ecosystem of things that are in there all touching each other.
Jamie: Yeah. Love that answer. And specifically too, I find that we partner with a lot of other companies in our space more than I ever have seen at other places that I've been, because we have to, we're all in it together. You have to make friends with each other.
Brian: I think it's critical. For sure. And all these departments that are using tools are all... They're all in their own competition for resources and time and a priority within their own organization. So you want to make sure you're making the people buy your tool or software or product look good.
Jamie: Yeah. All right. So speaking of people, this is one of my favorite ones. Frontline sellers will be replaced with AI, chat bots, virtual assistants, et cetera. All of our SDRs on the line today. I'm sorry, but the robot invasion is here. Gartner has a stat, by 2020 30% of all B2B companies will employ artificial intelligence to augment at least one of their primary sales processes.
However, Joe's got your back, Joe at Chorus, VP of sales, says, "a robot can't build rapport". So on the flip side, while people who are willing to invest in augmentation or in enhancements or chat bots or these kinds of things, Joe's saying, "Hey, I still got to have people got to have people," so bring it back. We don't have to spend a ton of time on this one. But I feel like this has been a threat for many years. Everyone's like, "Eventually we're going to automate everything. Automation will take all these jobs away." And I do think it will change the conversation, but what do you guys think about this? Specifically the quote of a robot can't build rapport. How does that factor into, and this is really for both of you guys, how does that factor into whether or not you make a choice to expand or grow your frontline sales team. And how does it change the function of what they do? Because I feel like this sort of technology affects them the most.
Kevin: Yeah. I would say stats like this remind me that I should be flying my car to work.
Kevin: And I live in Maryland and it still takes a very long time to get to Virginia because of the wheels and everything. Look, I think you've seen a rise of artificial intelligence and there is a use for it in sales, I don't believe it's customer facing. Especially not in a complex B2B sale, yes you could put a chat bot on your website, yes you could potentially access some interest that way. But I think where you see the rise of AI right now, and I think it speaks to the quote from Gartner is actually behind the scenes, right? I think you're seeing much more AI and algorithms and logic put into what exists in your CRM, data mining for ICP your ideal customer profile. Trying to understand what's happened to the business so that you can plan better for the future. 100% supported there. I just don't see a world in the very near future where you'll be able to get what you need unless everybody wants to operate at a very, very low margin and is willing to sell for at least common price because that's what buyers will force the issue on if all you're doing is interacting with a robot. Because they'll tell you exactly what you want [inaudible] ready to sell it to them.
Brian: I agree with this. I think this is an opportunity for great people, whether it's in business development or inside sales or hybrid field sales down the road. I can't help but think about an interaction I had this morning with Delta and I called Delta's premium line. It's a bunch of me talking to a computer and I'm getting through and it's fine, it's solving 60% of the problem, but eventually you get to that point where its complexity where talking to a human who actually helps me navigate the me changing my flight from X to Y and all of the options is no longer acceptable just with this checklist and a series of steps. And so at that point Delta's probably done a great job of eliminating a lot of busy work for their people, but then they move me into a qualified conversation with a person who can solve the problem and then six minutes it's magically fixed, I know the answer, I feel great about it.
And so I think that we're going to have lots more, whether it's like Kevin said, chat bots on the site trying to make sure you get into the right queue or the right conversation or when you do talk to a human, you're having a great experience because they have a lot of information. But I really agree with Joe, in that eight minutes with someone from Delta, I got a great feeling, I felt excellent about the brand and I'm like, "Oh this great woman solved my problem wherever in the world she was." It was awesome.
Kevin: And I'll just jump that one last point. We do have a part of our business that addresses just the service experience, this is extremely true on the service side where you think about the goal is not customer delight, it is reducing effort. And if you ever want to test that call [inaudible 00:00:21:00], they pick the phone up on two rings, real person, have your phone number, call you by name, and I will guarantee you it creates a ton of brand loyalty because it is so easy to do business with. So I would watch out for the retro of this trend with the chat bots getting ripped off sites and people saying, "Listen, we need a way for people to call a phone number to talk to a human being because that's the differentiator in the space." It's like everybody runs one way, sooner or later somebody goes-
Kevin: Right? That's how the fanny pack got back in. I'm like, "That was definitely dead in the late eighties and here it is again." So what's old is new.
Jamie: I mean, hey rotary phones 2021. We're all going here.
Brian: Depending on if it's an opportunity. Right?
Jamie: Yeah. Okay. So the next prediction I think fits really well with this where everyone becomes a thought leader and people buy people. So to your point, you just made what you just said beautifully, the pendulum swings. On one hand we have people saying robots will replace us. On the other hand we're saying everyone in your company needs to have a unique, thoughtful, smart persona that's out there because people are no longer listening to brands. We saw them, the millennials are just distrustful brands in general. They want to really connect with the individuals on your team and on a sales team, I think the biggest question that I have, and I'll direct this at Kevin as well. How do you actually get busy salespeople at your business to stop and build some sort of online persona? Is that even fair? If we're talking about building this sort of content strategy around thought leaders and Chorus who we mentioned does that really well, they have multiple people on their team that have these... A lot of reach, like Beck Holland who leads their BDR team. But how fair is it to put out things like this that say, everyone needs to be doing this because I feel like it seems very difficult to implement and scale.
Kevin: Look, I think it's great in principle, right? If you can get all of your sellers to have truly unique things to say that speak to something your business does better by framing a customer challenge, what we would call commercial insight, go for it. What we see way more of than, anybody on the call if you go look at your competitors through websites, you'll find thought leadership is 100% table-stakes, right? The thought of let's be smart and we'll win business. It doesn't work that way, right? Being smart puts you in a category, but it doesn't necessarily mean you're going to win things. Matter of fact, we see when you trust sellers to deliver this message solely, very often they say very smart things that teach customers into the arms of competitors. Because what they've taught them is to prioritize some feature or functionality or price above all else that we're good at, but somebody better at, right?
So if you push it out too far to sellers to, "Hey, you guys will figure it out." You need some type of control that says, what is the message we're putting out? Right? Does it disrupt the customer's current status quo and does that ultimately lead back to us? If it doesn't, do we really want to spend this type of time and money deploying that kind of content? Right? And if it's highly variable in some ways I'd say you want to rein this in a little bit. I don't believe social selling as a all social selling is the same works that way. Right? I think having a very unique perspective that sparks interest, introduces particular ideas and confront status quo, really helpful. But I would not urge most companies to just pound the thought leadership bubble, you're going to lose.
Jamie: Yeah. So that brings us to the next one, which is that companies will invest more in content quality and quantity in 2020. So this is great your talk, it really touches on what you just said. But the question would be, who defines what quality content means? To your end, thought leadership as a table-stake, being smart about what you're selling or the industry that you're in, regardless of what you do is the name of the game that you have to be producing that kind of content. But I do often find too that sometimes what the seller needs to get it done and what a marketing team thinks you need are not always aligned and it's hard to stay and lock step on that. So who defines what that quality content is? And Kevin, I'll point that at you, but Brian would love to know your thoughts as well.
Kevin: Listen, ultimately I think we would point directly at the organization has to define, I don't believe there's an esoteric quality, right? So if it looks good, if it's got the right number of words, if it's on the right side. If the font is great, you could already, this is high quality, well-produced content. However, what does it say? Right? Does it offer a unique perspective on a challenge customers do or don't understand? Does it sound just like everybody else? That's the element I think folks have to be way more conscious of. I would not trace the quantity, right? You can generate leads through quantity, but then you've got to start asking yourself, are they the right kind of leads? Are they our ideal customer profile when they come in, do they force us to a false trade off of let's go spend more money on sellers because we've got all these leads even though the leads we just generated are actually our non ideal customer profile because we put so much content out there to drive somebody to put their hand up, but it doesn't align back to something we do uniquely better than anyone else.
So I would say I wouldn't define it as is it good? I would say does it accomplish the mission of disrupting status quo? If it doesn't, let's not put it out there. If you can figure out how to do that at a segment level, chase the quantity barrel, but don't chase quantity absent knowing what good is supposed to look like and don't get fooled by quality is what looks good. It's actually what accomplishes something at the front of the phone.
Jamie: Perfect. And all this content we have sitting around, we want to make sure that our salespeople are enabled with it and armed with it. And so the other prediction is, and we're seeing this, there are tons of sales enablement people on this webinar. The empowered sales enablement leader as a key decision maker, as a role that even just in the last two or three years has more say so in the buying process when you're purchasing software and also just generally at any business of any type. Whether you're B2B or B2C. so Brian specifically, we obviously talk about coaching. Our platform helps people do that. So sales enablement has had a huge impact on the coaching conversation, which is bolstered by our combined efforts. So Challenger, Ambition, we help people have better conversations across the board and implement those. How do you think people talking about our products and services has shifted as this sales enablement person has entered the mix? How has it changed from how we need to talk to let's say a sales revenue leader versus an enablement leader when it comes to coaching?
Brian: What's amazing about this rise of sales enablement, which we've been able to see over the last few years across all industries, across a variety of segments from enterprise and mid market to small upstarts like ourselves. You see people who have visibility as well as the actionable tools to change sales process and to change sales training, sales content, how you ramp people very quickly. And so I think it's fantastic that you have a much more empowered leader or leadership group within an organization saying, "How's our sales process working? Are we doing the actions? Do we have the right objectives? Are we tracking the right type of conversation or types of opportunities that we're creating?" And then continually adjusting on that feedback cycle because they get to touch, oh, here's the content collateral, here are the value propositions we're going to give to the customer.
Brian: They're touching, here's the hiring profile, here's the type of people we want, here's the training course. So they have a full purview and they actually get to make those adjustments. And in the organizations that seem to be doing this right are empowering those people. They're very, I would say, highly responsible or accountable to sales leadership as well as marketing, as well as to the CEO. And they get to have a huge impact on revenue. And I think it's ultimately the best case for sellers. It is these people are looking out for the full life cycle of a seller, and in an ideal world that's going to help the customer, it's going to have a better buying experience for them and they're going to have a higher quality. You're going to end up with higher quality [inaudible] and sales cycles better.
Jamie: That's awesome. Well, so sales enablements having a great time. 2020 this is your year.
Brian: It should be.
Jamie: Apparently it's also the year of the revenue ops leader. So this prediction I saw multiple times as well. And the whole reason that this is coming up is that for too long, we try to combine all of our go to market efforts, sales, marketing, CS. But really we're not doing a good job of that. And so you're seeing more revenue ops leadership, whether that's a CRO or just someone who's called a whole rev ops team that is really responsible for making sure that all three of these functions of the customer life cycle are in lock step and aligned. And so this one I want to get into Q and A but with our combined client roster, are we actually seeing more of this? Are we seeing more rev ops as a role coming up in the conversation coming up in the buying cycle? Are they the person that we need to be focusing on in that cycle or did a bunch of just rev ops people write these predictions because they want to be in charge of everyone? What's happening here?
Kevin: I think you're definitely seeing more of it. I think there's good and bad with it. I think the risk you run when you break down rev ops like love the idea of aligning sales and marketing. The ops word can get a little bit concerning when what you look at is how do I optimize the efficiency of different operations across our sales and marketing engine? Absent at purview at times one level up, which is what are we trying to do, right? Are we trying to win more customer conversations? How do we go about doing that? And then let me build a process that enables that. Let me identify talent that can deliver on that. Let me build training that helps us do that. Let me get content that arms sellers to have disruptive conversations. If you're not aligned around that and we've seen it, there's a great book, old book now, but called The Goal where you go and look at it and you say, "You can get no better and make every one of your processes or everyone of your operations much better," because they're aligned to the wrong goal, right?
Kevin: They are not achieving an end state that you want. I would just be cautious of this because I see it a lot where somebody comes in and says, "I'm going to fix process." And the question I would always ask is, "To do what?" They go, "Well we need a better process," and, "I know. To do what? What are you trying to do with that process?" And the answer is often, "I don't really know. I just know it should be better. We want more visibility." I would be very, very careful about have you really defined better, do you know what end state looks like? And then work backwards from there, if we get there rev ops is great. Aligning sales and marketing to act together, optimizing for efficiency is great. Just make sure it aligns to good.
Jamie: Love it.
Brian: I think that's great. I think one thing Jamie, really quickly, I think that we are seeing more of these CRO roles where rev ops roles of teams. And I think we're seeing a huge shift in the market and I'm sure folks listening are seeing this of their customers or their companies as well. We're going from a waterfall approach where people think of marketing is in front of sales, is in front of a renewals or account management or some type of service. And that's becoming a circle. And that cycle is continually feeding itself. And I don't think there's any start and I don't think there's any end. If you don't have great service and great account management and people feel great about your product and experience, you're not going to have the word of mouth. You're not going to get referrals, you're not going to get references to the next customer. Similarly in your sales cycle, if you aren't having a great buying experience, if you aren't walking the customer through how they're going to get value out of your solution. That's going to feed into the market. And so I think we're turning into this continual, cyclical model versus a three or four or five [inaudible] may be.
Jamie: Love it. Well, prediction nine, this one's from some company called Ambition's SEO rich prediction post. It looks phony. We'll see. No, all joking aside, Ambition started in 2013 as essentially a replacement for a whiteboard where you walk over and you do a March madness style bracket and we try to get all these sales people pumped about the Friday. Friday afternoon we got to spin up a competition and have some fun here. And it has grown and evolved over time to meet the needs of going beyond the one-on-one, one-on-one coaching conversations are great, but how do you actually move the needle every day incrementally? How do you score reps, how do you make their work visible? All that kind of stuff. So our product does that. But specifically in 2020 we are seeing people and we're seeing it on the marketing side, people are searching for gamification still. It's still important. It's still clearly playing a role in pushing people to adopt behaviors over time, which is great for us.
But my question and Kevin, we were chatting about this before we hopped on this call. I was curious, just genuinely, are you seeing that out there? Are you seeing people logically coming and saying, "We need to implement a new methodology," or, "We need to improve process and we actually know our goal," or maybe, "We don't know our goal and we also need to put some bells and whistles in there so that reps are pumped about doing it." So are people doing this now? Do you think that gamification is important and to what end?
Kevin: Yeah, I think gamification is... I mean it is certainly a hot button out there that folks have heard it. Folks know that well that would be better than not. So absolutely. And if you can put it against the right thing you're trying to gamify even better. The one caveat is when you see folks think gamification or anything, any feature or any benefit can be the savior versus make sure you've defined what it is you're trying to optimize and then go gamify it. And if you can do that, you can see really, really strong success. So, yeah, I think, look, if you can do it and you can do it well and you've picked the right process that you're gamifying, why wouldn't you do it? Right? It gets sellers more engaged, it gets teams more engaged, there's nothing but upside in it. The only misguide you see is when folks think, "Okay, I gamified it. Why isn't it working?" Well, what if it was the wrong to begin? Right?
Jamie: Right. Right. You've got to send more texts. We're just trying to get more texts out there guys.
Kevin: Send more texts.
Jamie: More text meetings set. No, I think that's a great point. And do you have any other thoughts on that before I move into our final prediction? Because I know we're getting a little long on time.
Brian: That was great.
Jamie: Awesome. All right, so my favorite prediction is prediction 10 - 62% of all thought leaders are 100% making up all of the crap that they say. And you guys have the best questions. So I'm going to stop sharing and we're going to do Q and A, so if you have questions that are new that I didn't get to lay it on me, I think it'll be super fun and great. And we're just going to jump right in. So Jenny wants to know, I'd love to hear about successes in cold calling cadences and what motivates a team to make multiple touch points. So I think this is the perfect question following up the gamification one. How do we get people to do it and what is actually successful when it comes to just... It's not inbound. Who am I calling? What do I do?
Brian: Well, I think one thing that Kevin just alluded to is, what I believe people get motivated about is their alignment and how their effort is impacting the overall goals or their specific team objective. And so I think one area where people make mistakes with gamifying or engaging around the wrong thing. If people come in, there's some leaderboard or contest or a prize for doing X, Y, Z. But inherently they know that's not moving the ball forward or that's not going to impact the frontline seller or the revenue. So I think it's really important for managers, team leads, director of sales, whomever is doing this to say, "What do I really need to... What KPI, what metric, what number am I trying to affect?" And then tell that story and make it extremely transparent that here's why we're doing this.
This is the effect that we want it to have and we believe it will have and here's how you go execute on it. So if it's making more calls or talking to more prospects or having more real conversations versus just dials, those are things that I think a sales development person or an inside salesperson can very easily say, "Oh yeah, of course. That's something that we should be doing and that's going to help us move the ball forward on revenue." Especially when they're supported with the right assets and training behind it. Don't just throw them out on the island and expect them to go figure it out.
Jamie: Next question and this comes up a lot in our conversations, people are like, okay, I know my goal. I know that what my KPIs are, what's the actual balance of time that needs to be spent? Because time spent coaching or going beyond the one-on-one that takes a rep off the phone, that takes them out of their email or theoretically it does. So Chris wants to know, what do you think about sales reps training every day for about 10 to 20 minutes around specific product content, market evaluation, methodology, et cetera? And Kevin I'll throw this to you, what does that sweet spot look like for a lot of clients?
Kevin: Look, I think it's going to be largely determined by the culture in a company. I think one of the biggest mistakes though most organizations make is they look out and they think, "Oh no, I can't do that because it'll eat up the seller's time and they won't do all of these wonderful things I expect them to do all the day." I would encourage people, take a real hard look, if you think your sellers are on the phone seven and a half hours a day, so they don't have the 30 minutes you're wrong, right? They have the time. I think there's this equation that sellers are 100% of the time at 100% of their capacity and anything you do costs something else. It's just not the case. Right? What and how do you prioritize that investment? Right? We know manager coaching, we know development of sellers, we know investment into sellers is one of the biggest returns you'll get on a performance level.
It is separated because it's not straight line. It's not, "I did this call and I got this deal," but it is the difference of a high performing manager and a core performing manager anywhere from seven to 17% top line performance. Show me where else you're going to get that. Right? You're not. So if you don't invest there, I would argue there's nothing you can take off their plate that's not more important then, right? What you're talking about, the idea of investing in the individual, investing in coaching. When I would last caveat, you can't make it performance management 30 minutes a day, right? It can't be like, "Here's all the things you're doing wrong. Stop it." That will get [inaudible] interesting quickly. If It's through behavioral coaching, absolutely. Do as much of it as you can.
Jamie: Kevin, I'm going to interrupt you because you got Paula's endorsement and that's a big deal. Paula's one of our customers and she said, "I love that Kevin," and someone else. Paula, I'm going to ask your question next, which is what is the... And this is a really tactical one, what is the minimum or maximum outbound calls currently that a SAS seller needs to make? Is there a sweet spot? So I think that that's probably a more complicated question. It's probably super specific to a specific business. But is there, when it comes to calls what does that... Just like we were talking about time spent in the coaching conversation, how much time should a seller be doing the tactical things that you need them to do? What the flip side, what's that-
Kevin: I would give you this, and I'll throw it to Brian. Paula can find that answer, right? But the answer is if you go too far left or too far, right, you'll get bad data. How many deals can a seller sell? Well that's too far right, how many calls did they make? Too far left, right? Do you know how many conversations I have to have in order to get a meeting? Right? If you know that then maybe you could say, well, how many people don't I need to catch live to get a meeting? Do I know what every seller converts those meetings into pipeline account? Well, if I know that, then I get closer to saying, well, maybe Amy only needs X and Bill needs Y. The data is there, but I think everybody's got to get better at organizing in a way that says, "I don't want to just hammer calls because people will give me exactly what I asked for," but if that doesn't yield good meetings, it's a waste of time.
Kevin: Right now I've got, like I mentioned before, all sellers at capacity because they're doing 20 meetings a week, they're doing just what we said. The meetings are all bad because I hammered calls and I had to leave doubt. There's a balance in there, but I think you've got to really figure out what's our conversion rate of conversation? And I love what Brian said, if you catch the metric in the middle, which is how many real people do I need to speak to with that? Well maybe you've got a seller, or an SDR [inaudible] come out at 7:00 AM and catch seven people before they start the day. Great. Maybe that's enough. Or maybe they convert 50% of those to meetings. Well, I'm not going to yell at him about go make 300 phone calls. He made the right seven, fantastic. Because the right metric is how many people do I need to talk to to drive FSIs or visits? Super.
Brian: Yeah, I couldn't agree more Kevin. I think it's a mixture. It's not going to be specific to every business. What I get really nervous about or uncomfortable is when you walk in and people don't know those conversion rates back up the funnel. And so you go start with someone and they have an expectation of quota or how many deals sold or revenue. And as you start to break that down by conversion rate from every step in their specific [orix] process, you come to a number that just doesn't have any downstream effect to how it's converting through the funnel. And so hopefully I think that is one of the areas where whether it's with folks like [inaudible] or a ton of different tools and methodologies out there, people are opening their eyes to those numbers have to add up in some degree. And then like you said, there's going to be folks who find their own path and find their own creative way and you should never penalize them for cracking the process and making it more effective and more efficient.
Kevin: Yeah. And do not fall for the big line. Right? Do not fall for more equals more, more does not equal more. More is a good way to break an engine, right? Running it hot, hot, hotter, hottest, sooner or later the engine breaks. So the misguided belief that, "Hey, if I just do 3000 more meetings this year, well that'll double the 3000 and I'll yield at..." It's not how it works, right? Those 3000 are by definition likely worse meetings with less qualified prospects with less qualified SPRs turning higher turnover into your BDM. There's a huge downstream, there's a right number in there. Every company's got to figure out what it is. But it is not just always look chase the meeting engine until it breaks because it will break and when it breaks it's really bad for companies. Hard to get restarted.
Jamie: You've said about eight things that I want to print on a t-shirt or a poster, so I'm glad we're recording this. All right, so last one, let's wrap it up with Suzy. It's a global market. How do we connect effectively with buyers in distant countries? So we had a lot of questions earlier. Just about the methodology or not methodology but the actual just are we texting people? Are we calling them? What does it look like? How do we scale globally with these goals or tactics and all that jazz? What does it look like? Is it more distributed teams? Is it different ways of working leads?
Kevin: I could tell you-
Brian: That's a good question.
Kevin: I will tell you it's more complex than a lot of people would like it to be for sure, right? We've got an international business in Asia Pacific, we've got one out of the UK, we've got one in Germany. And there is tremendous nuance across all of them. And I think you do have to be understanding about optimize to be efficient in North America. There are a [inaudible] of hurdles from territory planning. Right? I was just having this conversation yesterday. It's like, hey, why do you got to be so unique and do industry segments in Europe? Just assign out the geo. Why don't I have anyone that speaks French, who's going to get France? Oh that's a problem. I think there is a real implication to every touch point. I would encourage folks though, put as much consistency as you can because sometimes because of that nuance, folks want to swing far right. Everything's got to be different and then you get no scale. So there's a balance between it. I think most of the tech stack applications now make it way more feasible. Right? Being able to use Zoom or video technology or things like that make everything easier. But there are real hurdles to cross and some big cultural ones, right? Germany buys different than Australia.
Kevin: Everybody's different in Singapore. And you've got to be cognizant of those, so as much consistency as you can.
Brian: Yeah, we see that in the supporting our own customers who have international operations and sales boards in different markets. And the fact is that they coach and they incentivize and they inspire and challenge their people in totally different ways. And we have to support that. We learned through the process that just like you said, folks in Australia may operate one way and they may want to coach their reps on a certain type of cadence and with a certain type of a tone, if you will. And we have to be really nuanced when we talk to their counterparts in... Talking to a group in Bermuda the other day. Totally different or totally different part of the team. And we have to try to grok that and understand that there's going to be a completely different coaching and a sales methodology there with some consistency of how they sell at the org level.
Jamie: All right guys, well we're out of time. This was such a great conversation. Thank you so much, Kevin, for joining us on the video call. Brian, pleasure as always doing business with you, and Paula I hope you enjoyed it. She did enjoy it. Thank you guys so much. We'll send you the recording and yeah, until we see you again. All right. Bye guys.
Brian: Thanks Kevin.
Kevin Hart: Yeah. Thanks Brian.
Brian: Thanks everyone!