The Customer Experience Podcast
The Customer Experience Podcast

Episode · 2 years ago

13. Sales Strategy Mistakes, and How to Fix Them w/ Jeremey Donovan


Your sales strategy is as much science as art. The secret is to understand how to improve the way customers buy, renew, and get retained.

Jeremey Donovan, senior vice president of sales strategy at SalesLoft, the leading sales engagement platform, is an expert in sales strategy.

His top level priority, especially in B2B, is about ROI. A prospect needs to trust that you are the right partner to help them achieve whatever their most pressing business initiative is.

We discussed:

  • The Definition of Sales Success
  • Finding a Needle in a Haystack
  • True Personalization Pays Off
  • What to Do
  • What Not to Do

I'm not talking about dynamic tag basedpersonalization, where you just drop generic stuff in there. I'm talkingabout true personalization, where you spend you know it: doesnt have to be aa huge amount of time, five or ten minutes going through their theirsocial media going and looking what their company initiatives are. You're. Listening to the customerexperience podcast a podcast dedicated to helping today's growing businessesrestore a personal human touch throughout the customer line cycle, getready to hear how sales marketing and customer success experts surprise anddelight and never loose sign of their customers. Humanity here is your hostbeef and Beaute Hey. Thank you. So much for clickingplay on this episode of the Customer Experience Podcast. My name is Ethinand I am so pleased to be joined by Jeremy Donavan he's currently thesenior vice president of sales strategy at Sales Lof, the leading salesengagement platform, Helso runs theire New York City office, Jeremy. Welcometo the customer experience podcast thanks you than that's such a pleasureto be here yeah and was really excited to have you on your. Have such aninteresting wide, ranging background in marketing sales, a variety of productrules, Youre Allt, also the author of five books, including predictableprospecting, and how to deliver a Ted Talk. I don't know if we'll have thetime to get into all of that, even though I really want to, in addition toyour ad junt professor work at Nyu, Woul love to talk about that, but wemay not get there because we're talking customer experience today so en beforewe get into that and before I ask you to define it, tell us a little bit moreabout yourself and about sales lof for folks who may not be familiar yeah justat a high level, as you described, I guess I'm a Jack of many trades andprobably master of none. For the last few years, I've focused really on salestrategy and what drew me there was the I have an analytical background andwhat drew me to sale strategy is sales, as as many disciplines before it hasbecome as much art, sorry Arsay as much science as art. So that's really. Thedraw for me is how can I apply? analetical techniques to understandinghow to improve the way that customers buy and then the way that customersrenew and get retained. So that's what drew me there and then for sales. LOFTOthiy get a great great overview. I was a customer O sales law for three orfour years before I joined love the product and what it could do to helpour to help people basically orchestrate their workflow via phoneemail and social and so on. So that's what drew me here, that's excellent. Weare also customers of sales, loft and ATS chatting with one of our marketingteam members out thrergh. So, oh I love it. He uses our chrome extension, theBombom crom extension to record videos drop the html into some of his emails,as the you know is the cadens recommends, and and then that videoplay is a link, click that then stays in sales lost. So we love it as well.We find it really useful and so really appreciate you being on again. I alwayslike to nail down your definition of customer experience before we goforward. I've received many really great and interesting answers andinteresting again for the variety of them. So from your perspective, when Isay customer experience, what does that mean to you, Jeremy Yeah? I an I waspeel the onion. I guess so. My top level thing and customer experienceisreally about about especially in BTB, is really about Roi. I mean I could gettouchy feely about it, but I think at the end of the day the customerExperiencis, whether or not you actually receive the return AFinvestment that you're looking for whether that's two X, FIVX TNX,whatever it happens to be, if I peal the onion on that, where I think maybemy answer might be a little more nuanced is, I think,about a presales customer experience. I think about a postsale customerexperience and at the end of the day, the measure for me is in the presalespart of it. I really want to make sure that a prospect trusts that I am the rightpartner to help them achieve whatever...

...their most pressing business.INITIATIVEIS and I'd love to talk more about that because it gets intodifferentiation and then the measure obviously have success. There iswhether or not they buy, and then on the postsale side it is heavily tied torenewal, but it's about achieving the results that they were expecting and mymeasure whether or not you delivered a great customer experience s whetherthey were new. That to me is the ultimate test of success, and you knowthe I guess, there's there's renewal and then there's like evangelizedrenewal right. Those NPS equals ten people. Those are the ones you reallywant. Yeah, it's great this achieving theresult. I think, where a lot of people kind of miss a little bit of the mostimportant piece there that you offered is achieving the desire result. Youknow you can do a lot of crazy fun over the top stuff and produce really goodcomments, but to your point, at the end of the day, if I'm not getting a returnon the investment I made in your product or service, I'm not getting theexperience that I paid for. So it's easy to fall into the like the lovetrap and the in the all the crazy stuff that people can do, but it's all ofthat combined that produces the experience. I want to go into yourspecialty here, which is again that Presale side in particular talk alittle bit about sales prospecting that balance of the data driven side of it.Along with you know, you said trust is one of the single most important thingsthere and there's an opportunity to differentiate. Give me a little bit ono your approach to sales prospecting, yeah I'll, probably split thos thosethings into two questions. Andi'll start with the piece which is which isall about trust. There was a was kind of popular bookout right now calledsales differentiation T it's one of the better books. I've read in a while, andI read I'm a book a week person so that one probably one of the I think LeeSalts SSA Lz, is the author that one thats a really great job of saying thefollowing right, which is think about four levels of value. The first levelis, is your product and features, and you know just in our space: We havecompetitors in your space, we have competitors and the competitors oftenlook pretty similar. So it's it's darned hard to compete on on featuresND and on the features of the platform. The second thing is is actually in some ways. Customersuccess, like everyone says they have the best customer success and if you'rea prospect, I'm on both sides. Right like I buy- and I sell- and it's hardfor me when I'm buying to really know who has the ultimate best customersuccess unless you've experienced it, then the third is Roi Right, everyone'sGoten Ourli calculator or the rli Co Coters, pretty much all look the same.They say the same thing they could be manipulated, or even, if you put inyour own, you know put in your own data. It comes up with crazy, Great Roi,otherwise you probably wouldn't be talking to them. So those first threelevels are relatively undifferentiating and what the author talks about is thefourth level, which is he doesn't exactly put in this words. But theseare the words that t a I put in based on my experience when I was a Gartener,we used talk about it. This way we used to say that the way you trulydifferentiate is is for the prospect to again trust that you are the rightpartner to help them achieve their most pressing business initiative. And forme, if I relate that to the storytelling world, that's all about us.A show, don't tell right you hear about that and storytelling. It's a show,don't tell thing so like how do you show somebody that you really are theright partner, a good example of maybe the way that we would do that is today.Actually, I was on the call with he with the prospect and while I was onthe call, I went to their website and I hit their requested demo button, andthen I began to track how long it took me to get a response from them and thenonce I get the response so that I can benchmark that versus all the Times.I've done that and then once I get the response, I can actually give themconstructive feedback on tuning their messaging in ways. thatwould be moreeffective, given the datascience that we've done so it's long with at answerbut like if I deliver that report to...

...them on their inbound response, bothbenchmark and best practice, I am showing them right, I'm not justtelling them that I'm going to help them achieve value, I'm showing them inthe presale process that I can absolutely crush what they're doing andif they, if they ill summarize it by saying if they trust that I'm going tohelp them during the presale process, they can only imagine how much moreI'll do from that for them from an experience point of view once theybecome customers. So that's kind of my take on that. That's great! How like, when in therelationship, do you go to that step right as call your on today, just kindof reverse engineer at for a minute like what led up to that kind ofdiagnosis in and prescription and demonstration of real value? I mean Itry to do it as early as I possibly can, because right you're in a year, we areall with. Maybe the exception of I don't know linked in or something likethat or Google like we're all in in head to head competitive battle, andthe earlier you can start to establish authenticity, the earlier you can startto deliver value. I think the better I mean you could argue that if you try togive too much value too early that you'remight be wasting your time thatyou're giving free consulting. You know it's not like I'm going to go crazy todo this, the, but I think you should do it as early as possible and and to theextent that you can find in the holy grail right is that you can add valuein ways that are relatively light weight, but high value, I think, backto you, know, hub spot got a great ye had great traction with, like they hadethis hub spot marketing greater website greater. It probably still exists outthere when I was a CMO. I thought that was insanely valuable because I couldjust put our website in and it would tell me what to do, and that was a zeroright. I mean they put it. Was it had some fix cost Tsa they had to developthat, but once it was out there, they got tremendous lead generation out ofit and it gave a lot of value to people. So I'm always looking for things likethat and to me hitting a requested demo button. Then benchmarking is relatively.You know, lowish effort, it's not completely automated, but it sextremely high value. On the other side, that's excellent and I love hub spot asyour example. there. I got mat like a decade before I was ever in a positionto subscribe to their service. I was receiving value from them great name,brand, great experience all the way along and I've also used that websitegreater talk about how the team does salesprospecting. Four sales loft talk about talk about the sales loft sales team.Obviously you have a great software platform and again were customers. Whatdoes that process look like, and how do you use your owne tool in that process?Yeah yeah sure, so, as you would imagine, giving what we do, we'repretty structured and how we do things. So I guess it starts with targetingaccounts that we have an ideal customer profile that e that we go after rightand that's geography, size region, the usual sorry, geography, sufkies andindustry, that the usual Kond oftriumbrat of things, but then alsothings like their text, ack and and other factors. So we start out withthat ideal customer profile, and then we are account based. So we assign allof those accounts out to individual sales people to engage it's not a, nota kind of a random thing. Ther we're very intentional about that. Then,within those accounts right we want to find the people within those accountsthat we want to go after and we use you know a lot of different data platformsto identify the right people. Lately, all the day, the platform seemed to allbe converging right because discover or has been buying everything up, but myfavorite for years and years has has been Zomenfo, which they two just gotacquired by discover work so all roads all roselead there. We also obviouslyhuge users and fans of linkedon sales navigator. So those are our basicallytwo major people finding platforms, and...

...then we drop those into our cadences.So we try to follow best practice there. You know we you're drinking our own champaign. Iguess that's the way, you're supposed to say it now so drinking our ownChampagn, the cadences that we have follow. What a certain you know, whatsome experts have recommended like Topo who's, a in sales engagement, specialist,researchf, an advisory firm, but then our own data science teamwe'reapproaching a billion interactions that our customers have had and we comethrough those those interactions and figure out what are the best things todo so we are tuning. We tune our subject lines based on what works wetune, our greetings based ONAT works. We tune the body of the email based onwhat works. We even tune tune. The sign off so I'll. Give you a couple ofexamples of that on the subject line. We know that one word subject: Linesare actually the best and you shouldn't ecceed for on the greeting. We know that sayingsaying, hey and then the person's first name is better than hello or Hig orjust using the person's first name. So I might say, Hey ethen in the body of the email. We know wewant to keep the body of the email as short as possible, but certainly nomore than about a hundred words, and we know not to use bullets in thebody of the email things like that and then in the in the side off, weactually looked at all kinds of different signoffs things like hi, Hey,sorry, th, n sign off, so cheers regards. Thank you thanks and so on. Iuse regards for about twenty years and blowand. Behall all regards is thesecond worst thing you can do. He Bet. The best thing you can do is actuallyuse the word best. So now all of our email start with hey ethen, a shortbody and then best best Jeremy. So that's so so we're using those sort ofthings that tune the individual language, and then we also tune whatstep to do when right, when the email, when to call when to do a social touch,so we're tuning all those things constantly. That's excellent talk about now how you balance theheartaned soft side. I mean you're, obviously deeply aware of it, if ousedwords like authenticity and trust, which I think we can call kind of thesoft side, because it's difficult to quantify those things, although youobviously see it in the results. What's easier to see, is the hard side ofemail reply, return phone called demoset Demo held closed one whateverall that may be. How do you balance in this like? Where do you see orexperience, or can you measure then? No, like trust, comfort, confidence, partof the particularly an in Presale? How do you balance those two in terms of you reverse engineer, the trust out ofwhat seems to be working yeah. I guess not in some ways, not really I meanAsoi'll, also split into two pieces right, there's the top of the funnelstuff, where you really don't have a lot of opportunity other than themessaging that you use to establish, to establish trust and then there's middenlate, funnel where you're actually managing an opportunity, and you have alot more opportunity. You have lot more chance to do that. So, in the earlypart, the authenticity comes from through personalization wr. That'ssomething we're especially big on. You know, H re we are antimask, blastingwere anti, we support automation, but but I guess we, I would say we supportthoughtful automation to do that when it's appropriate. But if, if I kind ofblend numbers and the hard side in the soft side, we know that personalizingup to twenty percent of a tentplate that you start out with for an emailleads to a nearly tox higher response rate. So that just proves that thatpersonalization right is the is the authenticity and it's I'm not talkingabout about dynamic tag based personalization, where you just dropgeneric stuff in there. I'm talking about true personalization, where youspend you know it does hate to be a a huge amount of time, five or tenminutes going through their their... media going and looking whattheir company initiatives are. Looking at a TNK or a tenq like really doingsomething that have that most machines really can't possibly can't possiblypull off. It's like what you did before. We talked looking at my linkedonprofile and the books that I've written and so on. Like you know, you can learna lot about me with my with my digital footprint, so we'll try to we'll try todo that. I think once you're engaged inopportunity like yyes, there is sales process that you need to follow, butwhat is it? People say that you know people they buy on emotion and theyjustify on you know on Roi and data, and I think that is very true. I dothink you buy from people that you, you know you know and like and trust, evenwhen you know, even in the business to business context, if I'm buyingsomething, especially if it's something big. I know that my job might depend onthe success of that purchase, so I got to really trust t you're going to bethere for me. Yes, there they're just deeply deeply in hertwine. That was agreat passage with a tongue of great takeaways. By the way, I'm going nohave to double back on that, just to pick up what you've learned from abillion a billion different interactions and touchpoints. So again,you've led teams in marketing sales, product strategy, new productdevelopment, product management, market research, acquisitions. I think you'rein a unique position relative to myself and some of my other guests to kind ofsee holistically the end and nature of the customer experience and where allthose connections and handoffs Ar do you have any tips for folks onstructuring or managing or measuring or deffly handing off from one person toanother inside the organization. Is the relationship evolves, Yo have any kindof high level just from your from your perview over several functions thatdeeply affect the customer experience o. You have anything to offer there as asa high level ideas or strategies or even a specific story. Yeah I mean likethat question too. The buch a bunch of thoughts were coming to me during theyou know, during the course of the of the engagement that you have withsomeone for the whole lifecycle, I guess customer lifecycle from evenbefore they buy. I think the most critical one that I would assume youknow your listeners, a d and other guests have probably talked about inthe past. Is that handoff from sales to customer success or from hunt? You knowthe hunters to the farmers to account management. Whatever you call thefunction, think that's so often broken, and thefrustration on the customer part is to make sure that that all the stuff that they sharedwith you during the presale process is communicated afterwards. I used to workfor a company called CBN sihes and I thought they were really great at thathandoff process and one of the things that they did was that they hadbasically a adacier that the account executive would have to fill out with aprescribe set of questions of things that they had learned during the salesprocess and they handed that off to the customer success books- and you know inthat handoff they would do a meeting in advance to make sure that the customersuccess person was fully ramped and wasn't asking the same questions thathad been asked. BEFOR, I think, having some sort of structure around that asincredibly is incredibly powerful, whether that's just in a we know, wetried different things when I was there, we tried it in sales. For us, we triedit in documents and I think, in the end, like the document was, was perfectlysufficient better that it's in sales force for the long term, but but youknow less clunky or in some ways less clonky in a document. So I think that'sa that's a critic. That's probably the themost critical handoff. Two more cameto mind. The second one that can to mind is ECAS. I live through times where wemoved accounts. You know like let's say you went from a a non geographic or nonin less industries, even better a non...

...industry, rebased customer success teamand you wanted to segment them by industry right because you thought thatwas a better thing to do. One thing I've learned over the courseof my career is like don't, if you're going to do that, doit gradually right, don't just move all your customers, because that's going tobreak so many relationships and you're solving an internal problem, but not sonecessarily solving an external problem. So what I've tended to do with thosekinds of transitions is to say, okay, you know I've got customersuccess person. You know Wilma Fred and Bambam, I'm going to use the fundstones.I guess- and I've got those three people and maybe Wilma's going to beket companies Fred's going to be pharmaceutical companies and bambabsgoing to be financial services. Companies as new accounts come on, I'mgoing to assign the new accounts based on those industries to those people,but I'm not going to do a big move of all the existing accounts to align thatovernight that I've seen go badly too many times so t at that's. Another kindof handoff thing is that you just don't assume that you can hand off so easilyand if you do need to do it handoff after the renewal happens right, youdon't want to hand off mid contract, do it after the renewal, the customersstill pissed. I mean. I know I've been handed off post renewal and I don'tlike it, but I understand it. You know what I mean and the and that new personhas a year to deliver value. To me, that's two, and then I promised three,the third one which I think is still broken almost everywhere is therelationship between product and the customer right. The the productingreally needs access to customers, either directly or indirectly, throughthe sales team to get feedback on what's going on, and I think far toooften there's a big disconnect between between those. You know between thosefolks, I think the Best I've seen that missales sells. I don't want toovertalk sales loff, so I'm trying to use other examples from the other partof my career, one of the Best I've seen. That was definitely a gardener that wewere extremely intentional about getting directly to the customer tounderstand what was working. What wasn't working so we could makeimprovements, but what was still missing, though, and what's oftenmissing- is that link between between the customer successor, sales, team andproduct, and I don't know if you have an answere- that I'd loved Id love someenside on on how to do that better. But that's a universal problem, I thinkyeah. I completely agree. You know we try just by we try to break down wellsfere about a hundred and twenty people here at Bombam, and certainly we're notexpert at that either. But really it just starts with breaking down silosthrough exposure and communication. We don't really have any formal processes,but product is we evolved product and put some product managers into placespecifically for everything that is to be and another manager over everything?That already is you know one who's forward, looking and building and theother one who is maintaining and improving and revising once we got thatnuance and got a couple great women in those positions that really kind ofopened it up for more and better feedback. But it's still, as you said,extremely difficult. It's broken in most places. Yes, Hey! I would love todo an entire episode on presentation, skills, you've, written books on it.I'm sure it plays a major role in the sales function as well as probably theCS function, just some basic skills that are transferable throughoutsomeone's Day or week, but in honor of letting people go at the end of theirworkout or at the end of their run or their lunchtime walk. You know we tryto keep this to about twenty to thirty minutes. I always like to give peoplebecause relationships are our number one core value here and I always liketo give you an opportunity to think or mention a person or multiple people.Who've had a really positive impact on your life or on your career and and togive a shodow you've already given a couple with hub spot and CVINSIGHTS,but keep a shout out to another company that you think is doing. Customerexperience very well. Yeah I mentioned...

Gartner just before as well I meanGardner is both ismoniical about process driven customer experience andthey know when to engage a customer in order to maximize the probability ofthe customer will wenew. So I think from a from a data driven point of view,that's a good one and I was trying to remember. I had like the a great be tosee customer experience lately where somebody followed up with me for aservice that they didn't even you know really have to, and I wish I couldremember the top offtop of my head, but I think that's the I think that's thething is like when you give that really human touch to people that they're notexpecting that, I think, is the ar the breakthrough experiences. So, althoughI can't remember the one and I'm embarrassed like Hacause, I wasthinking wow. That was that was pretty insane and thit was going to. I don'tknow I don't I'm very limited in the social media that that I use, but I wasgoing to somehow try to figure out it put it up on social media, but I thinkthat's it. I it's delivering unexpected value, occasionally Weland that human touchpiece is is thething we talked about it a little bit here and even a little bit moreprerecording about finding those spots when o- and you did it while heretalking about what are the things that add a lot of value or in this case ofreally significant impact that aren't super heavy weight. It's going to bedifficult. Tha cost justify those on an immediate sense like if someone made apersonal touch Jou, let's just say you spent in the scenario you just offeredfifty or a hundred dollars. You know it might'. It might be difficult to cost,justify it, but through word of mouth repeat, purchasing etcet systematic approach to that would bealmost certainly ry positive, oh yeah. I just remembered it by the way yeah.So it was. I was just scalling there, so IUD be yeah. It was great, so I justremembered it some I needed one of my sons was park somewhere and and the car got hit while he was inside.You know inside the building, and so I needed some autobody repair. So I wasactually the auto body place and it's it's. You know just like any single.You know, owner operator, autobody place that you go into and they like. Ifelt that they had my best interest in mind right. A lot of people worry aboutthat kind of experience. I felt like the the owner operator. The guy's nameis John scully. I thought that he had my best interest in mind like he wasfinding ways to save money on the repair, because this one I was going todo out of pocket to you, know to avoid affecting my insurance and he foundways to do things that were super unusual and he was advising me on notto make certain repairs, because because the car wasn't wasn't worththose repairs, who does that right that? So that to me was unexpected value right? It was. Hewas saving me money and he could have taken me to the cleaners, because I waswilling to do whatever he's. He said I mean that's kind of I operate on a on atrust, then barify principle, most of the time, and maybe I shouldn't, but Ithink most people I think you can read most people accurately and I think mostpeople have a good heart. You know like that. Guy knows that his businessdepends on referrals. Even if I don't go back to him so yeah, I think that'sthe sort of thing it was like unexpected customer care. I love thatstory. It's exactly right. He'll, take more money down the line by not takingunnecessary money. Today, thiss been a great conversation. I've enjoyed it somuch and again, I would love to have you back to talk presentation, skillsbecause they're so valuable. If someone wants to follow up with you and or withsales loft, what are a couple ways they might do that they, the best way to getme, is definitely linked in. I have one form of social media I use and that'sit so just look for Jeremy, Donna and I'm linked in. I have threees in myfirst name a little unusual, but it's Je r emey. So connect with me thereI'll accepept your connection and would... to love to get to know. YouAwesome thinks and I assume sales loft. Is it sales offcom Yeah Super Azy? Okay,Awesome! Thank you! So much for your time and your insights today it wasexcellent. I really really value your time and I hope all the listeners do aswell thanks what a great pleasury them. Thank you. You are listening to thecustomer experience podcast, no matter your role in delivering value andserving customers. Youre intrusting, some of your most important andvaluable messages to faceless digital communication. You can do betterrehumonize. The experience by getting face to face through simple personalvideos, learn more and get started. Free at Bom, Bomcom you've beenlistening to the customer experience podcast to ensure that you never missan episode subscribe to the show in your favorite podcast player or visitvombomcom. Thank you so much for listening until next time.

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