B2B Revenue Acceleration
B2B Revenue Acceleration

Episode · 1 year ago

104: Scaling Sales Processes with Data & Technology w/ Todd Abbott

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Everybody is looking at data. Whether from a privacy standpoint, or a productivity standpoint, data is king. But how do you harness that data to inform good decision making?

In this episode, we interview Todd Abbott, CEO at InsightSquared, about utilizing data & technology to create scalable sales processes.

We talked about the key elements to consider when trying to build a scalable sales process, what data points you need to collect, and the biggest mistakes companies make when trying to scale their sales processes.

To hear this interview and many more like it, subscribe to The B2B Revenue Acceleration Podcast on Apple Podcasts, on Spotify, or on our website.

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You were listening to bb revenue acceleration, a podcast dedicated helping software executive stay on the cutting edge of sales and marketing in their industry. Let's give into the show. Hi, welcome to be to be revenue acceleration. My name is already mutier and I'm here today. We Stud about CEO of inside squad. Are you doing to data? Doing well with the dispensing pime with you? That's that's an absolute pleasure. Of thanks for coming. So to pic today is quite interesting and actually quite tamely, because we are looking at data, we are looking at making sense of it, and I think a lot of organizational doing that. Maybe from a privacy perspective, maybe from a productivity perspective, but the top at who will tackle today is utilizing data and technology to create scalable sales processes. So that that's you know, if we managed to make it walk today, people will make millions from listening to that podcast. So that let's go on. But before we get into the conversation, would you mind taking a few moments just to introduce yourself in in a bit more detail, as well as the company you represent, inside squad? Yeah, so I've done a sales and marketing exactly my whole life, then a cro for the last point five years or so I'm mostly in technology sales. Spent the number of years kind of learning the traded IBM and then spent the number of great years but Cisco, where I also spent three years over in Europe three years in Singapore, so I've been kind of a global leader for a good period of time. I joined the inside square eighteen months ago. I had been a three time customer and they had done an acquisition just prior to my joining. After the last company I was with the assault of private equity and and got exposed to some new technology that just kind of really opened my eyes to to being able to bring more data into the revenue analytics business and thought that I really want to be part of the company and help help bring the next phase of the sales and revenue profession to being much more of a science versus what we've historically been. I mean it's really been much more of an our. Yeah, and for now entering a new phase where analytics in the revenue process is now possible like never before. Absolutely absolutely well, is they even do it? My felt question is a wrong something that's really great. Everybody wants one. Everybody speak about that thing, a repeatable skate board. Say this process from Yo patie. What I do, key Amens, companies should consider, you know, though, to boot the skateboards and process. Yeah, I think it's a contextual question, depending upon what type of sales or type of a business you're in. MEAN, we're starting to see, or we have see beam over the last five, six seven yrrors, the ability to leverage technology for the repeatable process in what I refer to or with the marker first two as a linear sales process. Think of the shorter sale cycles and you've had sales sequencing technology that has enabled your bed ours or strs to run a process, make a call, send an email, weight three days, do this, x, Y and Z. So that linear process very common and under thirty day kind of sale cycles and that technology is really helped scale the top of funnel types of activities and inside sales for those kind of transactions. Yeah, challenge has been is in the nonlinear sales cross when you get to be a bit longer in sale, larger deals and they are historically we've all been very much focused on the hiring good people, people then how to sell right, the art of sale, and what we're now seeing is that the lack of data there is making it difficult to be a repeatable process. It's one of the fundament of reasons behind the life of a cro the tenor of the Cerro and a Peking DC that company. It's ...

...now sixteen, eighteen months and it's primarily because they've been unable to forecast that business might be going along really well then hit a tough quarter but not understand why. And it's because they haven't been able to establish what is that. That's that repeatable sales process that requires tital on been marketing products, fild enablement and APPS. We have never really grounded those cross functional discussions and actually what happens in the self process, where your friction is and how you need to come together as a team to be able to overcome non scripting points and enable your self process to actecute. We haven't really been able to do that because the data has been lacking. In and on with your self past. Yeah, yeah, we tend to see we tend to see companies who are trying, but it feel like pushing a square peg in around hope. So and what I mean by that is that we've got people who come and say this is the blueprint of my reputable skateable sales process and the first question we ask themselves okay, well, tell us about the conversion rate. Oh, we don't know. It's an agency at build that for us. So they're coming with like a process of saying, okay, we're going to get the meeting, meeting today. Mode they moved to prove a value. Prove a value to contract, contract to close, you know, to make it very simple, right, and I agree with you. I think in the transactional commodity type of business enough, you know you split to someone you want to consult, that conversation to a meeting, that meeting to a proposal, at proposal to contract, contract to close, and of you go see you later. That's that's customer success, taken care of you from now. But when it comes a bit complex, I think we see a lot of organization who are coming with a blueprint but they've not tested it or the blueprint may have been written by someone who's that the sens person. It could be like a product marketing person and stuff like that. So how do you get started? Because I get I guess to to have a repeatable scalable you need to have a few cells on the your Bait. And when you are a newish start up, or, let's say even if you've got like sixty customers, that's say you know which is a fifty customers to take around number. Is that enough data? Well, does the data gathering stock to be relevant for the for the repeatable scalboard process. Basically, is my pastion. You know, it's a good question. I mean, in order to leverage analytics, machine running analytics, you need to have, they would say, IMP size given point. Typically you need to have ideally a hundred fifteen, the two hundred wins under your belt. Yeah, if you have that many wins, then you have a correspondingly larger number of lossons. But when you get to that kind of point, than machine running technology can be very acceptive at being much more predictive and in a little more of your passing. Because what what's what's important to recognize is that in the revenue process, we talked about getting the data, but what data do we really need to be able to understand sales process? Because everybody starts with their sales process thinking about the sales teage what happens at each stage? Yeah, what are the criteria to move from stage to stage? You've been doing this for years and it's still very valid, don't get me wrong, but I think it's going to become less valid in the sense of looking at sessing the quality of a deal on a follow we'll explain in a minute. That's not to say that sales processes aren't going away. They are there. They're going to steamer for a long time because they help with your on boarding and field enablement to help develop the skills at each phase. But actually now, with the with machine learning and the data, and the data is customer engaged. There's nothing better to assess the health of a deal then called the customer is engaging with your team. If your value prop...

...is resonating, your customer is going to respond to your team's email. They're going to schedule the next meeting, they're going to look at your attachments, they're going to engage with you because your value prop is resonating. It's worth their investment to learn more. And if you think about a sales process, it's really about a series of meetings and converting to the next week. Your building consensus. You're educating your aligning your value prop to the business outcomes. They have to ultimately get to a point where the decisionmaker is now president and a decision can be made. That could be eight meetings, could be ten meetings, could be twenty things. Depends upon the length of your sales side. But in reality what we haven't been able to get is that level of data. How is the customer engaging with your team? Because if you can get that data now, you get assessed very quickly. When does a customer stop engage? When have you potentially lost that customer? Or your question if you understand the sales process relative to the series of meetings and what are the critical meetings? When other people are brought in, the decision or the influence point becomes bigger, or if the decisionmaker is the cro typically, when does the Cerro get engaged? And and if you understand that level of your sales process and you can look at deals through your in your funnel, as they're progressing from from conversion to conversion, completely differently than what we've done in the past. Right, how do we today assess the health of a deal? We interrogate the reat we inspect the deal. How did the last meeting go? That is it is. Is this deal that qualified? Do they have the budget? I know the things that we've done for years and are relying on being able to get the facts from the red. In some cases the REP doesn't know that. The fact that that next meeting was in schedule of actually indicates that you might have, you might be losing that customer. They might be going bold. And so if you understand what data is and then get the data in to be able to quantitatively, machine learning assisted, be able to assess their reveal, that's game changing. A machine learning quantity the way what it's UN deal by deal, as well as your own broth. So so I now, having been doing this for a while, like I don't think about fill stayed where. I look at of fun, I look at how many meetings are we is the next meeting schedule? Watch the engagement level with the customer and to me that's like a different way to look at and assess and engage and it's pretty beachaming. Yeah, you you pretty much speaking of US something. As for me, I we don almost cut it pipeline hygiene, because you can see a lot of deals a lot of conversation and we will come across. There's two types of see get, if I think the put opposite. You've got the very enthusiastic sells get. Oh my God, has spoke to talk today. We are the cracking conversation, which means we basically I did my presentation to todd and todd was moving. Is that he was smiling at me and I pick up them. Well, right, because and then you've got the opposite, which is the cause. Oh my God, yet, no, no, nothing, nothing is moving, nothing in moving. I'm going to put it out there and I need to wait for the prospect to he made me to say that he wants it to for me to be convinced that they will want it. So I guess the pipeline engine has always been the tissue of okay, is that a real deal, and really the role of the of the sales manager or the CRO to really dismantle and ask question, to get to to basically almost create their own story. Right? It supposed doing the forensic as as a as a CR rod to make sure that things are adding up or not, but I guess what you are saying is forget about that. The painful Monday morning for howers meetings with the cells team, where some people get addressed, done down, some people will get the applauds. You know, forget about. What you need to do is to look at the stages of the meetings. Take it in a different manner. Have you had these three discovery meetings? Is it now leading to a business case discussion? What the people coming at the business...

...case decision? And basically, so so I love that. Now I'd like to unders a bit more about the data that needs to be gathered and I think I will be also useful for audience, so that the meetings makes sense and kind of taking the process. So when say what this is, this is what the prospect wants, you know the way you're going to get this prospect is young age there and we put the prospect in the center and we actually sell to them based on what we've established. The need of buying to be okay, I get all that, but when it comes to the data, I contrully understand the concept. I see the value, but if I wanted to, and maybe that's your secret. So, so you don't want to speak too much about that, but what data points you need to collect? Well, so it much a good question and have you to talk about it. UN So, there's now technology in that is able to to get all that data, because up to this point I'm the data that is put in Crem, which is the database from which you're assessing, and a deal is all dependent upon what the REP key punches into the system right, and crm was never designed to be a territory management tool for the Rep. it's not really a rep tool. It's a company too. It's a database and it's a good work clong, but typically reps do not like spending time and in crm it takes too much time. They'd rather be outselling, and so we don't have the date. So the first thing that is now starting to fundamentally change that dynamic is there's technology that can automatically capture all of the digital engagement, not just with the REP, because you want everybody that's touching the customer B sc. You'll relay you as a manager, and so our machine learning since in between the CRM system and your email calendaring system and we'll keep track of all of the digital engagement to and from your customers. Calendars need beings, attachments and based upon that contact being in crm will put that automatically into the system with no administrative burn on the Rep. a couple things. What we've learned is that when we deploy this technology for customers, first of all we're typically finding that the most coverage you have on the context in the account record is about thirty percent. But reps are horrible at adding content which is nothing in it, for they'll put the key the key decisionmakers, but there's actually many more people when get engaged in a decision as certainly many more as you get into the longer sales. And so first of all you've got to make sure you get all these all the activities, and so the system, or all of the concepts, the system will identify when a new contact gets engaged, new email extreme or somebody's added to a meeting. will add that to the system to be able to now collect all of the engagement from that person as well. But I'll also prompt the rep to say, Hey, who is this person you just started doing gains? Here's the email, give me the name, giving the title, give me their persona, because now you can start to hold it the rep accountable to a full breath of context for marketing to be able to be much more effective to market by person ONA within an account, within an Adam struck right. And then, once I have all the contexts, were typically adding about ten times the amount of data that existed in an opportunity with this new activity cap. So now I have all of the engagement level. What's going on before the meeting? What is the level of engagement? Is it a healthy engagement? And then, given that we're doing so many things virtual now, the analytics of the meeting is now also very possible write the recording, transcription and analytics of the talk tracks more than just the talk time. Who talked, but what were the key words and then what's the ihage been? Actively, I just had a customer that I was engaged in yesterday. Here we are at the end of the quarter. Actually this conversation to the quest last week and I have follow up to this today, but basically I was helping him leverage the machine learning...

...of is it a healthy deal on a deal that was supposed to be committed this month and I was able to show him that there has been like one engagement in the last three weeks steal. He had been the leading the wrap the REP was saying, Yep, it's on track, it's going to come in and I and this system now has the abilities showing you, like no, your reps actually weeks out three times. The customers come back once in three weeks. That is not the sign of a deal that's going to close in a week. And so if you if you can see that graphically, you can very quickly identifying the health of a deal without going through the interrogation. The question with the rep now is completely different. Like you said, this is a good deal. You haven't heard from the customer in three weeks. The system is kind of being the interrogation for you and it's now identifying. Call it that, you know my bs fere. It's hit the meter that says I'm suggesting that this deal is not helpful, and now it's directing me, as a manager, to going needs in a different discussion and so getting all the data in and being able to establish the profile of a winning deal and then bench marking every deal against that profile. That's the game change of technology. But the key is you want to give those insights to the REP as well as to the manager, because when the rep starts to see how a deal compares. They now can be more accountable to what in act how they're actually presenting the deal. If I can't defend this feel being in the forecast because I haven't heard from the customer for three weeks, four weeks, then I better move it because can't hide yeah, or I can't hold right. Some people hide, some people are hoping this deal is going to commit, and hopes never a strategy right, and so to a minute, certain these eyeek yeah, and it's so. The reason that the life of a Cerro is sixteen, eighteen months is because there's too much hoping that business is going to come in without being able to look at that through health of a funnel statistically. And that's that's the be changing aspect of this. You you can find the deals very quickly that are on fold or or our hiding, whether it's deals that are not very healthy or deals that are really healthy, that are in the upside, because we also have those keys. We're erupted, shinhly engaged, but I want to hide them when I'm just going to keep that one of the upside. Well, systems now will expose all of that. So your one on one discussions are not now interrogations, they move to being coaching sessions, which is what the Rep wants and what we want as managers. Not Absolutely, it absolutely, I think it's yea. There is nothing more than also having someone in your team and you touch on it is is kind of creating a blue print for US ourselves. Right, if you've got someone in your temails that performing and you contactually figure out why it's instead of going through series of questioning and investigating and which is painful for you as a manager, painful for the red because they think that they're being you know, drives down in a way, you could just say well, look, this is what we should do, this is what you've not done, this is what the level of interaction into oven and I think it's it's it's a very interesting it does a one of the thing that we've done with we've got a relatively small sells team and we've established what would like to maybe not as scalable and repeatable as we would want, but, you know, a good process in terms of cells, and what we found fundamentally useful is to actually, when you recruit someone, to actually tell them this is what happened, this is our selves process right there is nowhere to write, because this are the conversion rate out of the two hundred, let's deals that took place. So if you don't have a twenty percent conduction rate here from there, today are it's one of three shows. Okay, you've not done that,...

...or the prospect got that, or we didn't speak to the right person, or what the etc. Etc. Etc. So we've got a little narrative as to the how to sort it and we put that into a cells. PLAYBOL. That's and to drastically in term of addressing but I guess for us is relatively straightforward. When you are much larger company, particularly the company as well, getting investments, sixty million, hundred millions of investment from DC and you really need to go quickly and really acquit a lot of customers and you've got sixty serves people across five different continents going after it is it's it's a bit more difficult when you've got five guys to manage. You know, it's every things. I'm much simpler and you get when you get spire and you can really give them the time. So I guess my last question, do you really to is what would you say is the biggest mistake. That all mistakes that companies are making when they try to scale that sells process. I think the biggest mistake I see instead of customed teams are not spending enough time on early stage, on our conversion. I see I get exposed to a lot of different analytics in my current job because I'm I'm consulting with customer around there what I refer to as their advance sales mat these meeting conversions. And if you think about the early stage one, or you think about we went, your win rate is hias. As a team in midtle weak state, we as managers to can to spend most of our time on mint to late stage because those are the deals that are going to make the months, going to make poor and we rely on enable mental marketing to kind of helped with or we assume that reps know how to qualify and discover. In reality, if you can improve your conversion rates in the in the qualification and discovery section and ten percent get more deals into the mentally stage of the funnel where your team actually executes the best highest conversion rates, it has significant throughput impact and I find too many customers are not spending enough time on what really happens in the qualification and discovery, because you're always selling qualification discover it's not just about asking that the five or six questions they have budget and we talk with the right guy, which the digity. Whatever your qualification process, you have to be selling. Again, think back to meeting conversions as I'm trying to get my information to qualify and assessed. That's a good opportunity. I also want to make sure that I'm selling to get the customer to want to learn more. Yeah, right. I find customers just don't spend enough time on developing those skills that can have significant impact. Do the throughput later, speak when when your team typically has its highest win rates. And you know, I completely agree with that statement. I think it's sometimes you almost feel like it's a dug bocking. He's on day and it's sometimes being a prisoner like in the jail of of that's on paper, repeatable, scalable process that we don't know if it's repeatable and scalable, but someone writes it down. So this is what we should do. And we've got customers who are you know, we've got different customers, obviously, and some technology are not distructive than other and most of our customer worth distructive technology on the stone. The need for education, because it's an eventualist play and you've got to go and get get the kapex right. Yeah, but some of the other work, maybe a bit more commodity or whether category is growing and maturing. You know, it's they want to black and white stuff. You know we we deN'tiver an opportunity to them, and that okay. Yeah, well, what's good meeting, but no opportunity and you can have okay. So what do you do with it? Because, you know, I spoke to talk today. It was like, look, I've got some of our stuff to do. This is very interesting, but if I'm speaking to an organization with Fivezero people,...

...should not just try to go a little bit more it? Study, only get will make the decision. How many stuff are being both nowadays with just one person engage in the sells process? Not a lot, right, not a lot at all. And I think, I think I'd completely agree with you. There is a stage of saying I think there is a stage of creating the demand rather than qualifying the demands, and there is. If we were to work that way, I think we educate prospect better, I think we will be in a bit more of a challenge ourselves type of position. I think we will get prospect to think or rethink we and we would probably and that's what we do for ourselves. You know, we are setting pipelines. You know, none of our clients before starts signing a contract with operatics. None of them have nothing from a Piper generation perspective. In fact, most of them have something all right. So most of the time when we speak to them, the sun and not interested. I've got something in place. So we actually tell them that in the process of trying to get that meeting with them. So we know that you've got something in place. We know that you would have budget now, but we believe that we could bring something, that I can help you to add to the scale that you are creating at to the acceleration. Okay, and people take the conversation because you know, we've got a way of doing in that is interesting, and then through that conversation you then realize all the issues, when you let them speak, that they are facing with the current set up. Yeah, you that you probus like a doctor depended the end, and we want to just qualify them. God would speak to no one, we would have no meetings like because everybody's got something and nobody's got budget particularly resture. And did you know? It's a good point. I think you need to recognize where is your solution and that on the product market, its scale, the women are you in the lead identification stage of a business or in the lead generation, that demand generation? And I feel with a little bit of that in my business in the sense that our platform is very broad and and people aren't out there looking for a revenue intelligence platform who cansolidate analytics, and so I'm in the business of identifying what is the demand or the lead identification elements of my business, and it's typically forecast. People are looking for forecasting solutions, and so I have to lead identify people that are looking for help and forecasting and then, once I get them in, I have to then now generate demand for a different buying criteria, for a different set of analytics schools that they might not have been or work typically looking for. So in some businesses your solution is as reached that product mark a bit. It's a known demand in the market and you're in the lead identification state. which is a totally different business than in the demand generation to educate a mark right. So knowing where you are on that scale fundamentally drives a different marketing strategy in getting customers in the door. And then how what's the playbook? Who address the immediate need and expand or to educate to totally different ends of the Specter right? Yeah, that makes perfect sense to well, thanks for that. Thanks for sharing your insight with us today. If anyone wants to connect with you to discuss how they can make that service process more skate whatever more repeat it world or on theos. Know about insight. SQUIL was the best way to get toe of you. You can email need directly at t abbots Tabbott at insights werecom or hitting up on Linkedin. Happy you'll needs with anybody that wants to fork you dispur that's one off where. Thank you again for your time today. Tod...

...was absolutely fantastic. Togy on the shore. I enjoyed the time. operatics has redefined the meaning of revenue generation for technology companies worldwide. While the traditional concepts of building and managing inside sales teams inhouse has existed for many years, companies are struggling with a lack of focus, agility and scale required in today's fast and complex world of enterprise technology sales. See How operatics can help your company accelerate pipeline at operatics dotnet. You've been listening to be tob revenue acceleration. To ensure that you never miss an episode, subscribe to the show in your favorite podcast player. Thank you so much for listening. Until next time,.

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