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 talking about true personalizationwhere you spend, you know, does not to be a huge amount oftime, five or ten minutes, going through their their social media, goinglooking with their company initiatives are you're listening to the customer experience podcast, apodcast dedicated to helping today's growing businesses restore a personal human touch throughout the customerlife cycle. Get ready to hear how sales, marketing and customers success expertssurprise and delight and never lose sign of their customers humanity. Here's your host, Ethan Butte Hey. Thank you so much for clicking play on this episodeof the Customer Experience Podcast. My name is Ethan and I am so pleasedto be joined by Jeremy Donovan. He's currently the senior vice president of salesstrategy at sales lost, the leading sales engagement platform. He also runs theirNew York City office. Jeremy, welcome to the customer experience podcast. Thanksyou for that's such a pleasure to be here. Yeah, and it wasreally excited to have you on your have such an interesting, wide ranging backgroundin marketing, sales, a variety of product roles. You're all the alsothe author of five books, including predictable prospecting and how to deliver a TedTalk. I don't know if we'll have the time to get into all ofthat, even though I really want to. In addition to your adjunct, fasterwork at Nyu, would love to talk about that, but we maynot get there because we're talking customer experience today. So and before we getinto that and before I ask you to define it, tell us a littlebit more about yourself and about sales loft for folks who may not be familiar. Yeah, just at a high level as you described, I guess I'ma Jack of many trades and probably master of none. For the last fewyears I've focused really on sale strategy and what drew me there was the Ihave an analytical background and what drew me to sale strategy is sales, asas many disciplines before, it has become as much art, sorry, orsay as much science as art. So that's really the draw for me ishow can I apply analytical techniques to understanding, how to improve the way that customersby and then the way that customers were new and get retained. Sothat's what drew me there. And then for sales loft, to the youhad a great a great overview. I was a customer of salesloft for threeor four years before I joined. Love the product and what it could doto help our to help people basically orchestrate their workflow via phone, email andsocial and so on. So that's what drew me here. That's excellent.We are also customers of sales loft and that's chatting with one of our marketingteam members out there. So I love it. He uses our chrome extension, the bomb bomb chrome extension, to record videos, drop the html intosome of his emails, as the you know, as the cadence recommends,and and then that video play as a link click. That then stays insales lot. So we love it as well. We find it really usefuland so really appreciate you being on again. I always like to nail down yourdefinition of customer experience before we go forward. I've received many really greatand interesting answers, and interesting again for the variety of them. So fromyour perspective, when I say customer experience, where was that mean to you?Jeremy Yeah, I mean I was peeled the onion, I guess.So my top level thing in customer experience is really about about especially in Btob is really about Roi. I mean I could get touchy feely about it, but I think at the end of the day the customer experience is whetheror not you actually receive the return investment that you're looking for, whether that'sx x, ten X, whatever it happens to be. If I peelthe onion on that, where I think maybe my answer might be a littlemore nuanced is I think about a pre sales customer experience, I think abouta post sale customer experience and at the end of the day the measure forme is in the pre sales part of it. I really want to makesure that a prospect trusts that I am the right partner to help them achievewhatever their most pressing business initiative is,...

...and I'd love to talk more aboutthat because that gets into differentiation. And then the measure, obviously, ofsuccess there is whether or not they buy. And then on the post sale sideis heavily tied to renewal, but it's about achieving the results that theywere expecting and my measure whether or not you delivered a great customer experience iswhether they were new. That, to me is the ultimate test of success. And you know the I guess there's there's renewal and then there's like evangelizedrenewal. Right, those NPS equals ten people. Those are the ones youreally want. Yeah, it's great this achieving the result. I think we'rea lot of people kind of miss a little bit of the most important piecethere that you offered is achieving the desired result. You know, you cando a lot of crazy, fun, over the top stuff and produce reallygood comments, but to your point, at the end of the day,if I'm not getting a return on the investment I made in your product orservice, I'm not getting the experience that I paid for. So it's easyto fall into the like the love trap and the in the all the crazystuff that people ca can do, but it's all of that combined that producesthe experience. I want to go into your specialty here, which is againthat pre sales side in particular. Talk a little bit about sales prospecting,that balance of the data driven side of it along with you know, yousaid trust is one of the single most important things there and there's an opportunityto differentiate. Give me a little bit on your approach to sales prospecting.Yeah, I'll probably split those, those things into two questions and I'll startwith the piece, which is which is all about trust. There was akind of popular book out right now called sales differentiation. It's one of thebetter books I've read in a while, and I read, I'm a booka weak person, so that one probably one of the I think Lee salt'sessay, L Z is the author that one, does a really great jobof saying the following right, which is think about four levels of value.The first level is is your products and features. And you know, justin our space we have competitors, in your space we have competitors and thecompetitors often look pretty similar. So it's it's darned hard to compete on onfeatures and on the features of the platform. The second thing is is actually,in some ways, customer success, like everyone says they have the bestcustomer success and and if you're a prospect, I'm on both sides right, likeI buy and I sell, and it's hard for me when I'm buyingto really know who has the ultimate best customer success unless you've experienced it.Then the third is Roi. Right, everyone's gotten Roi calculator. The Roicalculers pretty much all look the same, they say the same thing, theycan be manipulated or even if you put in your own you know, putin your own data, it comes up with crazy great Roi. Otherwise youprobably wouldn't be talking to them. So those first three levels are relatively undifferentiatingand what the author talks about is the fourth level, which is he doesn'texactly put in this words, but these are the words that I put inbased on my experience when I was a gartner. We should talk about itthis way. We used to say that the way you truly differentiate is isfor the prospect to again trust that you are the right partner to help themachieve their most pressing business initiative. And for me, if I relate thatto the storytelling world, that's all about it's a show, don't tell right, you hear about that storytelling. It's a show, don't tell things.So like, how do you show somebody that you really are the right partner? A good example of maybe the way that we would do. That istoday actually, I was on a call with the with the prospect and whileI was on the call, I went to their website and I hit theirrequested demo button and then I began to track how long it took me toget a response from them and then, once I get the response, sothat I can benchmark that versus all the Times I've done that, and then, once I get the response, I can actually give them constructive feedback ontuning their messaging in ways that we more effective, given the data science thatwe've done. So it's along with an...

...answer, but like if I deliverthat report to them on their inbound response, both benchmark and best practice, Iam showing them right, I'm not just telling them that I'm going tohelp them achieve value, I'm showing them in the pre cell process, thatI can absolutely crush what they're doing. And if they if they, I'llsummarize it by saying if they trust that I'm going to help them during thepre cell process, they can only imagine how much more I'll do from thefor them, from an experience point of view, once they become customers.So that's kind of my take on that. That's great. How, like whenin the relationship do you go to that step? Right? So thecall you were on today, just kind of reverse engineer at for a minute, like what led up to that, kind of diagnosed this in and prescriptionand demonstration of real value. I mean, I try to do it as earlyas I possibly can, because right you're in a your. We areall on, with maybe the exception of, I don't know, linkedin or somethinglike that, or Google, like we're all in and had to hadcompetitive battle, and the earlier you can start to establish authenticity, the earlieryou can start to deliver value, I think, the better. I mean, you could argue that if you try to give too much value to earlythat your might be wasting your time, that you're giving free consulting. Youknow, it's not like I'm going to go crazy to do this the butI think you should do it as early as possible and and to the extentthat you can find. The Holy Grail, right, is that you can addvalue in ways that are relatively lightweight but high value. I think backto you know, hub spot got a great we had great traction with likethey had this hub spot marketing greater or website greater. It probably still existsout there. When I was a CMO I thought that was insanely valuable becauseI could just put our website in and it would tell me what to doand that was a zero right. I mean they put it was, ithad some fixed cost that they had to develop that, but once it wasout there they got tremendous lead generation out of it and it gave a lotof value to people. So I'm always looking for things like that and tome hitting a requested demo button and benchmarking is relatively, you know, lowisheffort. It's not completely audit emitted, but it's extremely high value on theother side. That's excellent. And I loved hub spot as your example there. I got matt like a decade before I was ever in a position toto subscribe to their service. I was receiving value from them. Great NameBrand, great experience all the way along and I've also used that website greater. Talk about how the team does sales prospecting for sales loft. Talk abouttalk about the sales loft sales team. Obviously you have a great software platformand again we're customers. What does that process look like and how do youuse your home tool in that process? Yeah, sure, so, asyou would imagine, given what we do, we're pretty structured and and how wedo things. So I guess it starts with targeting accounts, that wehave an ideal customer profile that we that we go after, right, andthat's geography, size, region, the usual, sorry, geography, sizeand industry. That the usual con triumvirate of things, but then also thingslike their text ACC and and other factors. So we start out with that idealcustomer 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 there. We're very intentional about that. Then, within those accounts, right, we want to find the people within thoseaccounts that we want to go after and we use, you know, alot of different data platforms to identify the right people. Lately, all theday, the platform seem to all be converging, right, because discover orghas been buying everything up. But my favorite for years and years has hasbeen Zoom Info, which they too just got acquired by discover work. Soall roads all rose lead there. We also obviously huge users and fans oflinkedin sales navigator. So those are our basically two major people finding platforms,and then we drop those into our cadences.

So we try to follow best practice. There, you know, were you're drinking our own champagne. Iguess that's the way you're supposed to say it now. So drinking our ownchampagne. The cadences that we have follow what a certain you know, whatsome experts have recommended, like Topo, who's a in sales engagement specialist researchof advisory Firm. But then our own data science team. We're approaching abillion interactions that our customers have had and we comb through those, those interactionsand figure out what are the best things to do. So we are tuning. We tune our subject lines based on what works. We tune our greetingsbased on what works, we tune the body of the email based on whatworks. We even tune the sign off. So I'll give you a couple ofexamples of that. On the subject line, we know that one wordsubject lines are actually the best and you shouldn't exceed for on the greeting,we know that saying saying hey and then the person's first name is better thanhello or high or just using the person's for his name. So I mightsay Hey Ethan in the body of the email. We know you want tokeep the body of the email as short as possible, but certainly no morethan about a hundred words, and we know not to use bullets in thebody of the email, things like that. And then in the sign off,we actually looked at all kinds of different sign offs, things like HighHey. Sorry, I think of sign off. So cheers, regards,thank you, thanks, and so on. I use regards for about twenty yearsand, Lo and behold regards as the second worst thing you can do. The best. The best thing you can do is actually use the wordbest. So now all of our emails start with hey, Ethan, ashort body and then best, best, Jeremy. So that's so. Sowe're using those sorts of things to tune the individual language. And then wealso tune what step to do, when right, when to email, whento call, when to do a social touch. So we're tuning all thosethings constantly. That's excellent. Talk about now how you balance the hard andsoft side. I mean you're obviously deeply aware of it. You've used wordslike authenticity and trust, which I think we can call kind of the softside, because it's difficult to quantify those things, although you obviously see itin the results. What's easier to see is the hard side of email reply, return, phone called, Demo set, Demo held closed one, whatever allthat may be. How do you balance in this, like where doyou see or experience or can you measure? Are then no, like trust,comfort, confidence, part of the particularly and in Presale? How doyou balance those two in terms of you reverse engineer the trust out of whatseems to be working? Yeah, I guess not. In some ways,not really. I mean I'll also split into two pieces. Right there's thetop of the funnel stuff where you really don't have a lot of opportunity otherthan the messaging that you use to establish to establish trust, and then there'smidden late funnel, where you're actually managing an opportunity and you have a lotmore opportunity. You have a lot more chance to do that. So inthe early part the authenticity comes from through personalization. We're without something we're especiallybig on. You know where we are anti mass blasting, where anti wesupport automation, but, but I guess we would say we support thoughtful automationto do that when it's appropriate. But if I, if i's kind ofblend numbers and the hard side. In the soft side, we know thatpersonalizing up to twenty percent of a template that you start out with for anemail leads to a nearly too x higher response rate. So that just provesthat that personalization right is the is the authenticity and it's I'm not talking aboutabout dynamic tag based personalization where you just drop generic stuff in there. I'mtalking about true personalization where you spent, you know, does not to bea huge amount of time, five or ten minutes, going through their they'reso social media, going looking with their... initiatives. Are Looking at ak or en Q, like really doing something that a that most machines reallycan't possibly can't possibly pull off. It's like what you did before. Wetalked looking at my linkedin profile and the books that I've written and so on. Like you know, you can learn a lot about me with my withmy digital footprint. So we'll try to we'll try to do that. Ithink once you're engaged in the opportunity, like yes, there is sales processthat you need to follow. But what does it people say that you knowpeople, they buy on emotion and they justify on, you know, onOro I and data, and I think that is very true. I dothink you buy from people that you you know, you know and like andtrust, even when you know, even in the business to business context,if I'm buying something, especially if it's something big, I know that myjob might depend on the success of that purchase. So I got to reallytrust that you're going to be there for me. Yes, they're. They'rejust deeply, deeply intertwined. That's a great passage with a ton of greattakeaways. By the way, I'm going to have to double back on thatjust to pick up what you've learned from a billion, a billion different interactionsand touch points. So again, you've led teams in marketing, sales,product strategy, new product development, product management, market research acquisitions. Ithink you're in a unique position, relative to myself and some of my otherguests to kind of see holistically the end and nature of the customer experience andwhere all those connections and handoffs are. Do you have any tips for folkson structuring or managing or measuring or deftly handing off from one person to anotherinside the organization is the relationship evolves. Do you have any kind of highlevel just from your from your per view over several functions that deeply affect thecustomer experience? Do you have anything to offer there is as a high levelideas or strategies or even a specific story? Yeah, I mean, I likethat question to the bout. A bunch of thoughts were coming to meduring the you know, during the course of the of the engagement that youhave with someone for the whole life cycle, I guess, Customer Life Cycle fromeven before they buy. I think the most critical one that I wouldassume you know, your listeners and other guests have probably talked about in thepast is that handoff from sales to customer success or from hunt you know,the hunters, to the farmers, to account management, whatever you call thefunction, and I think that's so often broken and the frustration on the customerpart is to make sure that that all the stuff that they shared with youduring the presale processes communicated afterwards. I used to work for a company calledCB insights and I thought they were really great at that handoff process, andone of the things that they did was that they had basically a dossier thatthe account executive would have to fill out with a prescribed set of questions ofthings that they had learned during the sales process, and they handed that offto the customer success folks. And, you know, in that handoff theywould do a meeting in advance to make sure that the customer success person wasfully ramped and wasn't asking the same questions that had been asked before. Ithink having some sort of structure around that as incredibly is incredibly powerful, whetherthat's just in a we know, we tried different things when I was there. We tried it in sales force, we tried it in documents and Ithink in the end, like the document was was perfectly sufficient. Better thatit's in sales force for the long term, but but, you know, lessclunky or yeah, in some ways less clunky in a document. SoI think that's a that's a critic. That's probably the most critical handoff.Two more came to mind. The second one that came to mind is isI lived through times where we moved accounts, you know, like, let's sayyou went from a non geographic or non end it less industries, evenbetter, and non industry based Customer Success...

Team, and you wanted to segmentthem by industry, right, because you thought that was a better thing todo. One thing I've learned over the course of my career is like don'tif you're going to do that, do it gradually, right. Don't justmove all your customers because that's going to break so many relationships and you're solvingan internal problem but not so necessarily solving an external problem. So what I'vetended to do with those kinds of transitions is to say, okay, youknow, I've got customer success person. You know Wilma, Fred and BamBam. I'm going to use the Flintstones, I guess, and I've got thosethree people and maybe Wilma's going to be tech companies, Fred's going tobe pharmaceutical companies and Bambat's going to be financial services companies. As new accountscome on, I'm going to assign the new accounts based on those industries tothose people, but I'm not going to do a big move of all theexisting accounts to align that overnight. That I've seen go badly too many times. So that that's another kind of handoff. Thing, is that you just don'tassume that you can hand off so easily. And if you do needto do it, handoff after the renewal happens, right. You don't wantto hand off made contract. Do it after the renewal. The customer stillpissed. I mean, I know I've been handed off post renewal and Idon't like it, but I understand it. You know what I mean. Andthere and and that new person has a year to deliver value to me. That's too and then I promise three. The third one, which I thinkis still broken almost everywhere is the relationship between product and the customer.Righte the the product team really needs access to customers, either directly or indirectlythrough the sales team, to get feedback on what's going on, and Ithink far too often there's a big disconnect between between those, you know,between those folks. I think the Best I've seen that MIS sales, sales. I don't want to overtalk sales loft, so I'm trying to use other examplesfrom the other part of my career. One of the Best I've seen.That was definitely a gardener that we were extremely intentional about getting directly tothe customer to understand what was working what wasn't working so we could make improvements. But what was still missing, though, and what's often missing, is thatlink between between the customer, successor sales team and product and I don'tknow if you have an answer that I'd loved. I'd love some insight onon how to do that better. But that's a universal problem. I thinkI completely agree. You know, we tried just by we try to breakdown while so we're about a hundred and twenty people here at bombomb and certainlywe're not expert at that either, but really it just starts with breaking downsilos through exposure and communication. We don't really have any formal processes, butproduct is we evolved product and put some product managers into place specifically for everythingthat is to be and another manager over everything that already is. You know, one who's forward looking and building in the other one who is maintaining andimproving and revising. Once we got that nuance and got a couple great womenin those positions, that really kind of opened it up for more and betterfeedback. But it's still as you said, extremely difficult. It's broken in mostplaces. Yeah, Hey, I would love to do an entire episodeon presentation skills. You've written books on it. I'm sure it plays amajor role in the sales function as well as probably the CS function. Justsome basic skills that are transferable throughout someone's Day or week. But in honorof letting people go at the end of their workout or at the end oftheir run or their lunchtime walk, you know, we try to keep thisto about twenty to thirty minutes. I always like to give people because relationshipsare our number one core value here and I always like to give you anopportunity to think or mention a person or multiple people who've had a really positiveimpact on your life or on your career and and to give a shout out. You've already given a couple with hub spot and CV insights, but givea shout out to another company that you think is doing customer experience very well. Yeah, I mentioned Gardner just before... well. I'm in gardeners isboth is maniacal about process driven customer experience and they know when to engage acustomer in order to maximize the probability of the customer will renew. So Ithink from a from a data driven point of view, that's a good one. And I was trying to remember. I had like the great be tosee customer experience lately where somebody followed up with me for a service that theydidn't even you know, really have to and I wish I could remember thetough off top of my head, but I think that's the I think that'sthe thing. Is like when you give that really human touch to people thatthey're not expecting. That, I think, is the are the breakthrough experiences.So I although I can't remember the one and I'm embarrassed, like Cax, I was thinking, wow, that was that was pretty insane and Iwas going to I don't know, I don't I'm very limited in the socialmedia that I that I use, but I was going to somehow try tofigure out to put it up on social media. But I think that's it. It's it's delivering unexpected value occasionally well, and that human touch piece is isthe thing. We talked about it a little bit here and even alittle bit more pre recording, about finding those spots when you did and youdid it while here and talking about what are the things that add a lotof value or, in this case, of really significant impact, that aren'tsuper heavy weight. It's going to be difficult to cost justify those in animmediate sense. Like if someone made a personal touched you. Let's just sayyou spent in the scenario you just offered fifty or a hundred dollars. Youknow, it might it might be difficult to cost justify it, but throughword of mouth, repeat purchasing, etc. A systematic approach to that would bealmost certainly roy positive. Oh yeah, I just remembered it, by theway. Okay, yeah, so it was I was just stalling there, so it would be. Yeah, it's great. So I just rememberedas some I needed one of my son's was park somewhere and and the cargot hit while he was inside, you know, inside the building, andso I needed some autobody repair. So it was actually the autobody place andit's it's, you know, just like any single, you know, owner, operator autobody place. You go into and they like I felt that theyhad my best interest in mind. Right. A lot of people worry about thatkind of experience. I felt like the the owner operator. The guy'sname is John scully. I thought that he had my best interest in mind, like he was finding ways to save money on the repair, because thisone I was going to do out of pocket to, you know, toavoid affecting my insurance, and he found ways to do things that we're superunusual. And he was advising me on not to make certain repairs because becausethe car wasn't wasn't worth those repairs. Who Does that, right? That? So that to me was unexpected value, right, it was it. Hewas saving me money and he could have taken me to the cleaners becauseI was willing to do whatever he's he said. I mean that's kind ofa I operate on a on a trust. Then verify principle most of the time, and maybe I shouldn't, but I think most people, I thinkyou can read most people accurately and I think most people have a good heart, you know, like that guy knows that his business depends on referrals,even if I don't go back to him. So yeah, I think that's thesort of thing. It was like unexpected customer care. I love thatstory. It's exactly right. He'll take more money down the line by nottaking unnecessary money. Today. This has been a great conversation. I've enjoyedit so much and again I would love to have you back to talk presentationskill bills, because they're so valuable. If someone wants to follow up withyou and or with sales loft, what are a couple ways they might dothat? Yeah, the best way to get me is definitely linkedin. Ihave one form of social media I use and that's it. So just lookfor Jeremy Donovan on Linkedin. I have three ease in my first name.A little unusual, but it's Jeremy, so connect with me there. I'llaccept your connection and would love to love... get to know you. Awesome. Thanks, and I assume sales loft. Is it SALESOFTCOM? Yeah, supereasy. Okay, awesome. Thank you so much for your time andyour insights today. It was excellent. I really really value your time andI hope all the listeners do as well. Thanks, what a great pleasure thanthank you. You're listening to the customer experience podcast. No matter yourrole in delivering value and serving customers, you're entrusting some of your most importantand valuable messages to faceless digital communication you can do better. rehumanize the experienceby getting face to face through simple personal videos. Learn more and get startedfree at bomb bombcom. You've been listening to the customer experience podcast. Toensure that you never miss an episode, subscribe to the show in your favoritepodcast player or visit bombombcom. Thank you so much for listening. Until nexttime,.

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