In this episode, David Krieger, founder, and CEO of Sales Roads, a company that helps create predictable prospecting programs through outsourced sales solutions shares proven B2B sales strategies and tactics to drive your revenue.
Some topics we discussed include:
- What is the meaning of B2B sales
- Why is B2B sales hard and how to handle it with an outsourced solution
- What is a B2B sales strategy
- Why run a survey of SaaS selling in the COVID economy
- Key findings around B2B sales strategies and tactics from the survey
- The most commonly used channel for outreach
- How B2B sales strategies and tactics have been impacted
- How to succeed in B2B sales
- The best B2B sales technique
- What needs to change in the way we approach B2B customers
- What needs to change in the way sales teams work internally
- and much more
David Krieger 0:00
You are listening to the Predictable B2b Success podcast. So I am David Krieger. I'm really happy to be here. And just a little bit about myself, I started sales roads 13 years ago, it feels like yesterday, but I did while getting my MBA from the Wharton School of Business. And the initial concept was actually submitted to a business plan competition. And that sets us on the trajectory and finds us here today. We've iterated a little bit over the 13 years really, but at its core, what we do is we really help businesses create a predictable prospecting program, which at the end of the day, you know, it's it's about predictable sales process that leads to predictable business success. And that's really what we pride ourselves in helping our clients do through our outbound appointment setting and lead generation programs.
Vinay Koshy 0:51
Hi, and welcome to the Predictable B2B Success podcast I am Vinay Koshy. On this podcast, we interview people behind b2b brands who aren't necessarily famous but do work in the trenches and share their strategies and secrets as they progress along their journey of expanding their influence and making their businesses grow predictably. Now, let's dive into the podcast.
David, thanks so much for taking time out to join us on the podcast.
David Krieger 1:17
No, it's great to be here. Thanks so much for having me.
Vinay Koshy 1:19
If I understand this correctly, David Sales Roads provides outsourced solution sales solution basically for b2b companies?
David Krieger 1:31
Yeah, so we're an outsourced b2b appointment setting lead generation and really SDR outsourcing company. And so when clients are struggling with finding new companies or prospects for their salespeople to engage with, do demos with, you'll have meetings with, they look to us to really develop an outbound top of the funnel, lead generation, and appointment setting program for their sales team.
Vinay Koshy 1:53
Okay, so did this originate from that competition that you mentioned in the intro?
David Krieger 2:00
It did. So you know, it is very close, it's close to the concept, or the original concept was to create 100% remote-based sales outsourcing company 13 years ago. And you know, there are a few little derivations from there. But basically, you know, we've stayed true to our roots for the past 13 years.
Vinay Koshy 2:23
Excellent. And was there a defining moment when you knew as you progress on this journey, that this really had substance to it?
David Krieger 2:34
Yeah, so while being you know, in business school, we got a lot of positive feedback about the model about having a remote-based call center, you know, sales outsourcing company, and so doing very well in the business plan competition, we didn't when we came in third place, but we're actually the only company that is still in existence since that time, but that gave us enough of a little bit of, you know, fuel into the fire. And then, with the second year of business school, we got to be part of what's called the Wharton venture initiation program. So we got mentors, we talked to people, we really met with a number of people in the industry and got, again, some really positive reinforcement. So that was enough to really say, Okay, I think there's something here, we can really make something out of this. And so I didn't take any corporate jobs and launch the company out of my MBA. And then really, we got our first client pretty shortly after launch. And we're able to generate really good results right, right out of the gate. And so we felt that remote model of sales and being able to recruit people, the best salespeople wherever they live, there was something to it, even though, you know, there were some naysayers 13 years ago about the remote model, and can you manage them and things like that. But, you know, we really found it was such a powerful way to find amazing people, which at the end of the day is the most important part of building a high performing sales team.
Vinay Koshy 3:57
Certainly, David, you more recently did a survey or a report on your findings around this, around the SaaS companies in the COVID economy. We will dive into that in a bit. But I think for some of our listeners, it might be helpful if we went over a few concepts and perhaps it would be a good starting point would be to define, say b2b sales and b2b strategy.
David Krieger 4:31
Yeah, so b2b sales, really b2b as the business to business. So with our clients, we really work with companies that are selling to other businesses. So that's really our niche in helping our clients find individuals within different business organizations who might be interested in meeting with them about their product, or service. And so it's really that b2b sales process and really the top of the funnel which means the lead generation really that initial contact, finding Organizations that could be interested in starting to progress through a sales funnel for our clients. And so we work a lot, with SaaS-based companies, you know, companies that really deliver technology products, as a service, so software as a service. And so we thought during this, you know, during 2020, and with everything that has happened around COVID, it would be interesting to take a look and do some surveys amongst SaaS executives, specifically in the sales space to really understand how or if this has impacted both the way that they sell how they sell their pipelines, and really understand a little bit more detail how this has affected a lot of the companies that we've worked with, and be able to publish those results for everybody to learn from.
Vinay Koshy 5:47
I'm curious, this has been a little bit of a tangent, but what would you say is your personal area of strength?
David Krieger 5:54
So my personal area of strength is really building in motivating teams. And so at the end of the day, and part of the reason I really did fall in love with the remote model, is that the part of sales that I love is the fact that it's about bringing teams together and really, you know, creating strategies around sales and implementing, through teams, training the team's finding high performing people and then motivating them. And so really, what I love is that that people aspect of working with individuals on our team and helping them to achieve what they didn't think were possible in their careers and in what they're doing on a day to day basis.
Vinay Koshy 6:32
Excellent. And in that area of strength. What is something that you'd say is something that businesses should know, but don't?
David Krieger 6:43
Yeah, so I think one of the things that a lot of businesses or really executives within businesses don't realize is that in order to manage teams, and individuals effectively motivate them and help them to learn, our role as managers isn't about telling people what to do, it's about coaching them so that they can discover what they need to do and helping them to learn how to solve their own problems and understand and uncover what their problems are. And so it's really an art form. And, you know, when you really try to take somebody and say, and point out all the things that they're doing wrong and telling them how to do it better. A lot of times, either they're they are resistant to the change, they don't understand the change, they don't internalize the change. And you don't end up making a difference. Whereas if you look at it more as a coaching relationship, where you help people on a journey of self-discovery, and ways that they can learn to be better by being introspective and thinking about some of the issues that they've run into, and tried to solve it themselves with your guidance, if you can create a much more high performing team that's learning more learning, even without you Without all the individual things you need to do. And I think that mindset is something that is sometimes overlooked or misunderstood or people it takes more time to do it that way, sometimes when you are sitting down on one on ones and coaching calls, and it's a more difficult way of managing, but I found it's by far the most effective way to motivate teams and help them to really grow as individuals.
Vinay Koshy 8:14
And in this area of sales, would I be wrong in saying there is this perception that sales is hard? And if so, how are you addressing it through an outsourced solution?
David Krieger 8:33
Yeah, so I mean, sales is hard, and you know, anything that that is worth doing? It has its challenges. And one of the biggest challenges I think for sales teams and our clients is what I've been calling you on top of the funnel, so trying to find prospects who weren't interested in your product or service before you engage with them. And you are proactively reaching out to those individuals, those companies that you think would be your best clients, and telling them and trying to explain in an outbound format, why they should start engaging and some of the reasons why they might be able to benefit from your service. And so that is a real challenge for companies and it's hard to do, it takes a lot of cold calling a lot of cold prospecting. And a lot of times sales professionals don't try them on. They prefer the later stages of the sales funnel. And so we really try to help alleviate those challenges with top of the funnel by doing that heavy prospecting and outreach for our clients in employing people who really do love it. It's an art form. A lot of people who really like to hunt and research and figure out who might be a good prospect you know, really enjoy that that type of work. And so we help our clients by taking at least that part of the challenge of finding new prospects to engage with off of their plate so they can focus on moving those prospects through their own funnel.
Vinay Koshy 9:56
So with the b2b sales strategy, in my mind, there's about four strategies that come to mind - solution selling, strategic selling, account-based selling, and social selling. Would you say those are the four primary strategies that companies use? And has this COVID scenario changed the way companies are approaching this sales strategy?
David Krieger 10:26
Yeah, so those are all good strategies. And so I think that sales has changed in a way. Its - sales has not changed, and it has changed. And I think at the end of the day, good sales will always remain based in exploration and reaching out to people even when it's cold and trying to learn about what their pains are, and their issues are and then presenting some solutions and reasons why we might be able to help them with those issues. And so the type of sales process from a theoretical standpoint, I think, is still the same in 2020, than it was in 2019. The way that you execute on that sales strategy has, has not it so to explain this, it's almost a little nuance but has had an awakening. And so there has been a trend towards inside sales and virtual selling over the past 1015 years. And we've been seeing it grow growing, where you don't have to go out and meet with a prospect, you don't have to go take them on the golf course, go wine and dine them, you, you conduct your meetings, virtually right. And so we've been seeing that even before 2020. But obviously, with what has occurred over the past few months, where we can't go out, we get you know, it's much harder to go and meet prospects, prospects, even more, don't want to speak to as we've seen a real inflection point in the way that people have to really embrace selling in the way that people actually want to be sold to. And so that I think we've seen, it's not even a shift, but it's like an inflection point because it was happening before. But it just put fuel on the flames where every salesperson, even as we go back, you know, after all this has died down and people are still going to go out and meet with prospects. And there's going to be outside sales, I just wrote an article on Medium on the death of outside sales, which I don't believe is there's a death of outside sales. But I think there's a transformation of outside sales, but everyone has to know how to sell virtually, everyone has to know how to conduct a Zoom meeting, be able to engage with prospects without having to you know, without taking them out to dinner, taking them out to the golf course and know how to build a relationship instead of over several hours, over several minutes or through LinkedIn. And so it's those tools, those virtual selling tools, that we just have seen a huge inflection point it was happening before but this just it's launched it and so to be successful in sales in the future, you have to know how to embrace these tools before you didn't have to now it is 100% must it would help you before now you have to know how to sell virtually otherwise, it's going to be very hard to execute on any of the types of sales model challenger sale, you know, any of those models into the future?
Vinay Koshy 13:12
Would you say that to be a successful salesperson given the current circumstances, you really should be pretty good at developing your personal brand?
David Krieger 13:28
yes, and no, I, I think it can be helpful. But here's the thing, it can also be a distraction. I'll be honest, I think there are some salespeople who enjoy LinkedIn and enjoy creating a personal brand. And they like posting and doing all those things. But I would say fundamentals first, you know if you're not hitting your numbers on a day to day basis, just through your prospecting through your regular channels, I would be careful of spending too much time on LinkedIn and posting and building your personal brand. It's one thing to go and outreach and into in mails and look people up and research them. So I would for most salespeople, I think sometimes it can actually be a distraction. Now. If you really can hit your numbers, even without it. And you really know a reeling can budget a certain amount of time because it takes a lot of time to really get the type of following and really build that personal brand. If you're just doing it by yourself, if you have a content team and all those types of things. That's one thing, but if you're really doing it yourself, you have to really know that it's gonna take a good amount of time every week, and it's going to take several months, if not a year or two to really build that personal brand. And when you do it, I mean, it is exponential what some of these people can do when they build it. But I think for the vast majority of people, they have to be cautious. And this is a little contrary to what some people are saying out there but I just would say you have to be cautious because it can be a time suck too and it's more fun sometimes and picking up the phone or do your prospecting but if you're not doing that and doing all the basics well and hitting you're not Be careful about investing that time and in developing that personal brand. Because until you hit a certain point, a certain threshold and followers and, and leaders and things like that, it's going to be difficult to really see the ROI on it.
Vinay Koshy 15:16
How would you recommend companies approach b2b customers? Is this more of just finding people with the need and honing in on that? Or do you take more of a relationship-building type approach or something else entirely?
David Krieger 15:33
Yeah. So what how we work with our clients is first to really understand who their ideal customer profile is. So who you're with outbound prospecting, versus, you know, inbound can be somewhat targeted through messaging and whatnot. But with outbound prospecting, the magic is that you can choose who to go out and reach out to. And so the most important thing as far as the first step is to really understand who your best customers are, or for startups who you think your best customers are going to be. And so we really work with our clients to help define that understand who they are, and develop a very targeted list based upon those parameters for them using a lot of different sources. And we have an amazing data team that aggregates information from everywhere based upon what we define as the ideal customer profile. And then we develop a cadence, you know, an outreach program that includes calling email in LinkedIn, but it's more direct messaging on LinkedIn, or commenting on some of those prospects, those key prospects, posts and things like that. And we engage that way, through a methodical outbound approach. And it's not for what we do, it's not as much about building the relationship, because it's tough to build, you know, you can have a little bit of a tangential relationship through some of the conversations on LinkedIn, but it's not a deep relationship, we'll build some rapport on the call. And then we get them interested, we learn about some of their pains, and then we explain how we might be able to help them and then we transition them to our clients, account executive or salesperson who will then take that, that lead from there and build the relationship and build the solution around that.
Vinay Koshy 17:14
Okay. Right. So more of get to know you and a qualification process before you transfer them over to an account executive.
David Krieger 17:23
Vinay Koshy 17:25
And so I take that, from your experience to date, there hasn't been a significant amount of change in that particular process, given COVID.
David Krieger 17:38
So for us, it hasn't been in the research that we did, it was interesting because we did find some findings from SaaS base executives that actually were a little different than some of the things that we've been finding on some of the things that we've been doing on a day to day basis. The one thing that we really did at the beginning, and this really helped our successes, we doubled down on cell phone numbers. Just because everybody was remote, we really needed to increase how many cell phone numbers we could procure for the prospects that were reaching out to increase the likelihood that we would get them on the phone. And what we found is that, especially with that shift in strategy, we were able to engage our connection rates went up, and our conversation number of conversations every day went up. And so it was actually, you know, a shift both because I think the data that we got was really good. But also during this period of time, people weren't in office settings that they were more inclined to pick up the phone and have conversations. And we've seen that metric actually increase over the past few months.
Vinay Koshy 18:41
From your survey, I believe the channels that are most commonly used, given the current reality is email and social. Would that be right?
David Krieger 18:50
Yeah, so that's what we.... Right. So that's what we found with with with massages exactly right, that were the folks we interviewed about 755, SaaS sales executives. And they found that they in both social and email, their results greatly improved during this period of time, much, much higher than their results on phone or on webinars, which was kind of interesting as well, because you would think maybe webinars, people might have more time to do webinars, whatnot. So So social and email is what the vast majority of our respondents said had greatly improved during this period of time, which is a little bit different than what we've seen on a day to day basis. And so our theory is that not everybody was able to prepare all the cell phone numbers and able to do is still reaching out to the offices and maybe even didn't have direct dial lines. So they were just going to voicemail and we're making some slight adjustments that would have changed those numbers for them.
Vinay Koshy 19:50
In this methodology of using multiple channels to get the attention and get into a conversation with your prospects could you give us an example and maybe tell us if it's more of a prescriptive formula that you're following, as opposed to more of an organic approach, depending upon what, what a prospect is potentially talking about?
David Krieger 20:18
Sure, so our sales process or how we engage on the phone, sales process in engaging your prospects, yeah, so what we will do is we'll create an outreach cadence for our, each of our clients. And that will vary slightly based upon the client, but I'll give you sort of the general cadence and how we usually will do outreach. So we will develop the list for our SDRs based upon the parameters that we've talked to our client about and the strategy that we generated. And so then we load those into our CRM and the first contact, or the first touch will be looking that prospect up on LinkedIn. So getting a few little value nuggets, understanding who that prospect is getting a sense of what might be their issues revolving around, you know, the service or product that we're representing. And then they'll make a call on that, that first call and hopefully get in touch with them. If they don't get in touch with them, then what we do is we have a series of touchpoints there that will usually range from three to five days out on each touch and will include both a call, as well as an email or a LinkedIn outreach. And each time that we're emailing or sending them something on LinkedIn, we'll be sort of dropping a little bit of a value nugget based upon what we think that prospect could be interested in some of the potential pain points we might see from somebody similar in that similar position. And so each touch will be a very short message on an email or LinkedIn, but with one little value note that could hopefully get them interested in either responding or giving us a callback. And so we'll usually do a cadence of about seven to 10 touches, depending on the size of the list, you know, within each one will be a call, email, LinkedIn type of touch, until we will let them rest for you know, a month or two. But it's a very rigorous approach of multiple touches over about 45 days. And we you know, usually we'll get, you know, somebody hopefully, to either respond or to get them on the phone over the course of decades.
Vinay Koshy 22:31
So if I understand this correctly, you're developing the cadence. And in some, some ways we could think of it as almost like a funnel, that you're driving people towards a specific action that you'd like them to take. But it's fairly organic, and that you're developing the cadence based on where a prospect is or what they're sharing with the world. Would that be right?
David Krieger 22:56
For the most part? Yeah, yep.
Vinay Koshy 22:58
Excellent. So to succeed in this strategy, you obviously need that cadence, fairly well fleshed out, and certainly, have identified your target list. Is there anything else that you would say people need in terms of their skill set in order to succeed, in the b2b sales scenario?
David Krieger 23:22
Yeah, so for top of the funnel work, you know, it really is important for people to be okay with both having a lot of rejection and also not necessarily a lot of conversations throughout the day. So yeah, it requires a certain type of, of persistent patience to be able to, you know, navigate through these types of cadences be able to stay patient and motivated through through the cadences and then really be able to come alive when you get somebody on the phone and really be able to engage with them in an important way. And so it's that type of person that we're really looking for, and a lot of people don't want to do this type of work and we have a team that loves it. And you know, it's so it's, it's finding somebody who's got that that polite patient in persistent attitude, who's ready for those the next time the next outreach is going to be the one and is going to allow them to engage with the prospect.
Vinay Koshy 24:24
Are your sales teams almost embedded with your clients sales department or team?
David Krieger 24:29
100%. So that is our model. And one of our differentiators is that we really when we work with our clients, we embed ourselves so we are their SDR team, we are their, you know, outbound inside sales team. And we really work on a day to day basis with their as with their marketing team with their VP of sales. And so and we're iterating all the time. Because one of the amazing things also about outbound is that we are talking to clients and prospects more than almost anybody in the organization. So especially for startups or companies that are going into new territories are offering new products or services, were they the years for them, we're letting them know what's resonating or what's not resonating. And so we find that in order to do this type of work well, it's really important to be embedded within your clients organization, so that you're working as a seamless team and for our, for our clients, you know, it's just great to be able to have a partner who can manage what is a very difficult process, it can be complicated to find the right people to manage those people to motivate those individuals and develop a strategy that can really produce results that they don't have to build internally. And so that is really where these types of programs shine is when you really come together as a partnership and make sure that all aspects of the organization are talking to one another.
Vinay Koshy 25:52
I know that SaaS companies are probably more disposed or inclined to working remotely, but even in that scenario, what needs to change internally in order to make up for the lack of in-person contact?
David Krieger 26:12
So, I think, though, and you're talking about in the prospecting process, or
Vinay Koshy 26:19
is a sales team that's working towards specific goals?
David Krieger 26:26
Yeah, me. So I think with working remotely, I think it is really important if you're not going to be going out and meeting with your prospects, and you don't have that long, usually naturally longer time period to be able to meet with them, because you're actually sitting in their office or you're going out to lunch, or whatever it might be, is, it's really important to be organized, and to have a process even for that meeting. So for instance, you know, we really recommend for our clients, when we're booking what is usually, you know, either usually a discovery call for them is that there is an agenda for it for that discovery call so and we'll tee it up to so that the prospect knows in that 30-minute meeting, what is going to happen? And what are the things that are going to be covered? And it's important, even at the beginning of the meeting to check-in and make sure you know, here's what I envisioned, you know, this meeting to take place, Does that sound good to you, and you really got to manage your time wisely, to be able to spend a little time upfront, hopefully, a good amount of time just asking the prospect questions, getting to know them, understanding their pains and their issues, while reserving some time at the end, to be able to talk about your product and service and how it fits into that. And so, in many ways, meeting management in a virtual and remote setting is one of key importance. And if you hear any of the high-performing sales organizations, and you do a discovery call with them or a demo, that you will always say, you know, I've got 30 minutes on the calendar is that still good for you? Right, and then they go into their agenda. And so it's really about meeting management so that you can pack in a lot of information in a short period of time. And here's part of the thing that we were talking about previously, as far as this inflection point was happening previously, what we found even before 2020, is that buyers preferred to buy and engage with salespeople remotely, they are busy, they don't have time for somebody to come to their office and then have to like push them out the door after minutes or an hour, they know it's going to take longer, they'd rather have a very tight organized meeting that is a good use of 30 minutes or an hour of their time if that's what the demo takes what. But that type of skill set was important previously, and buyers, it's one of the reasons why we've seen more virtual selling is you kind of have to sell the way your buyers want to be sold to. And more buyers want to be sold in a virtual setting. They don't want people coming to their office. And I think that is one of the keys. There are so many different things. But one of the keys to success in remote selling is being highly organized in the meetings,
Vinay Koshy 28:58
Given the way you work internally. How do you communicate as a team with each other though? Is it just enough to do the Zoom meetings and Slack chats? Or is there something else that you feel is required to ensure that your sales team is inspired on an ongoing basis?
David Krieger 29:24
Yeah, so what you just mentioned you know Zoom and Slack are two great tools, but it's how you use the tools that I think really make the difference. And so absolutely, we use Slack and we have Zoom meetings, but we have a very regimented process for our meetings and for how we interact on a daily, weekly, monthly quarterly basis. So for our SDR teams, they every day there's a seven-minute huddle with their team lead their coach who they get on and there's a very specific agenda for Everybody talks about what they've achieved for the day, you know, number of calls, number of meetings, they then go into what they're going to achieve for the rest of the day. What are they forecasting for number of appointments, number of meetings, we go into any stocks, you know, so are they hitting an objection is there some list issue, whatever it is, in the team, we will either try to help very quickly saw it there or take it offline. So that facilitates really good communication. So people aren't just spinning their wheels on certain things. And then we try to at the very end, and I know it sounds cheesy, but it can be fun, let's have a little team cheer, and just have a little rah rah. So there's a little bolt of both energy accountability and communication every single day. And I think I'd argue that in high performing sales teams, even if people will go back to the office, it's important to have those huddles. But in a remote environment, it is absolutely essential. So we do that. Every single day. We also have a team meeting every single week, which is longer, it's about an hour, where we go into some of the similar things, but we go deeper into some of the metrics, you know, some of the conversions, ratios, dials per Connect, things like that, as well as we tried to play a call from every single person on the team. So that we can, everyone can give each other feedback, and we can talk and learn and grow. And so that and that's a very regimented process. And then we'll have the team lead will have brainstorming with each rep, every single week, just one on one can be 15 minutes, 30 minutes, depending on what you know, the issues they're having, where they'll go for call reviews and things like that. And so we really do feel that having meeting rhythms and regimented meetings can really help in a remote environment, facilitate communication, facilitate performance, and so absolutely Slack and Zoom, and all those things are used for that. But I would really urge people to really have a strategy and a process by which they are meeting with their team on a regular basis. So it's not haphazard. And that communication is facilitated.
Vinay Koshy 31:56
And from the survey that you did, what were other key findings that you believe are noteworthy?
David Krieger 32:05
Yeah. So you'll on that remote work topic? You know, there are a few things that I thought were interesting. And I think we're seeing this in the headlines to some degree, as far as Twitter, I think is going on is allowing people to be 100% remote, but of this 755 people that Sales Roads did survey, we found that 93% of executives are more likely to consider remote work in the future. And so again, I mean, that's just that's a huge, huge number. And so I think we probably know, I think we all felt that probably remote work is going to be increasing after this. But we did find a significant statistic around the fact that people are more likely to consider this. And I think it's it's going to be a game-changer. I mean, even as last year, when I started the company, 13 years ago, people there was some remote work already. It wasn't like I was the first one to come up with remote work. But so many people were like, just naysayer, they didn't think it could work. You didn't think you could manage me, we didn't think it, you know, to some of the questions, you just have to motivate people remotely. And you know, we've seen over the past 13 years, that's just not true. And you really in many ways can motivate people in the same way. in sales. It's such a numbers game, it's so easy to really understand whether people are hitting quota or not hitting quota. So to manage people by the numbers, and really know whether they're doing well versus standing over their cube and making sure that they're doing their prospecting is much more effective from a morale standpoint. And so there's really no reason from from from a management standpoint, whether people need to work from home or not. And really, I think what we're going to see in the futures, it boils down to preference. Some people like working from an office and they want to go back and they miss that form of social interaction because it is a different social interaction, right, of course, talking through Zoom and through Slack, then no meeting someone over the watercooler. But there are some people who really just enjoy it, they don't want to have to commute they want to be able to do their work and maybe during the lunch hour spend some time with their kids or their spouse. And so I think what we're really going to see moving forward is that people have realized any of the naysayers that this is totally possible. It's not an issue and we're gonna see a work from anywhere scenario. It's not work from corporate it's not work from home. It's you know, you companies if they want to recruit the best talent, they've got to give people the option to do either one. And so I think that's what we're going to see for the big corporations moving for enough for other organizations like myself, you can make that strategic decision that we are just going to be remote only. And then we just cater to those people who want to be remote only, which I think is growing every single day. But I think for those big companies out there, if they really Want to recruit the best talent? If they don't give that remote option? I think they're going to be at a competitive disadvantage.
Vinay Koshy 35:07
Would you say, just thinking about remote work, especially given the current circumstances that childcare is almost an interrelated issue?
David Krieger 35:17
Vinay Koshy 35:19
And it's distractions.
David Krieger 35:22
Yeah, that's a really good point. And we did see in the, in the survey that, you know, one of the barriers also right, because so it's a large spot to success during this time was, you know, what was childcare? And I think, obviously, during this period of time, it's been more difficult because it's worth, you know, kids are also studying from home, and that will change, hopefully, next year, you know, probably not till next year, unfortunately, for a lot of areas of the country. And so that will be a bit alleviated. But yeah, I mean, childcare is going to be the, you know, one of the challenges for remote work, but I would say if, if you had to go to work, you would have had to figure out childcare anyway. Right. And so I think it's just a different way of looking at and again, giving you more flexibility in figuring out and making the choices that you need to make in order to figure out your childcare scenario, to be able to work from home, versus work from the office, because typically, you really do need to make sure I mean, these are special times you need to make sure that even if you're working from home, you're working from home, and you can take breaks and see your kids and things like that, but you can't really you know, obviously during this period, it's a little different. But normally, you've got to try to be focused to be fully productive.
Vinay Koshy 36:42
So I believe another finding from the study was that sales velocity has decreased. Would that be correct?
David Krieger 36:51
Yeah. Yeah. So that was interesting as well. So you know, what we wanted to understand is how the crisis really affected people's pipelines. And so we tried to understand two different dimensions to really understand the overall dimension, you know, was deal size being impacted? Was the number of opportunities being impacted, and how is your pipeline overall, being impacted? And, you know, again, one of the things that we saw or not given one interesting thing about talking to the SaaS community, is I, it seems like SaaS was one of the least affected industries during this downturn. And there are a few reasons for that, I think, is one, if you think about the fact that most companies need to work remotely now, who are they going to turn to for the tools to be able to work remotely, so there actually, I think, was an increase in budget to purchase remote tools, there's probably a lot of companies who would never purchase Zoom before, right? All of a sudden need to purchase Zoom. So that's just an extreme example. But I think, for a lot of companies, for a lot of sass companies, they were well-positioned for this moment. SaaS also was hot going in, and it's a growing area. And so if there's anything that's going to stay hot, you know, it's it might be SaaS, so I think that looking at this prism, it's interesting, I think that SaaS was, you know, not impacted as heavily as so many other industries. But that being said, it was impacted in, as you said, the number of opportunities. And so the number of leads, overall, we found, went down. But actually, for most SaaS executives looked, you know, looking over the whole group of 755, more deals, the deal size went up for those leads. So each of those leads were more valuable, but they actually had less leads during this period of time, which basically equalized. So overall, the same number of people said that their pipeline decreased, as it said, increased. And so it was almost a wash for SaaS-based upon our research.
Vinay Koshy 38:59
Okay. So I take it that, from what you're noticing, there wasn't a lot of massive discounting in and that companies were pretty much standing by their prices, given the change in circumstances.
David Krieger 39:13
So we didn't survey on that point, specifically, but that would be a logical conclusion. So their deal size was going up. So either they were getting more users, you know, more seats. But but but from what we're seeing from the data, that would be a logical conclusion that they weren't needing to discount during this period of time.
Vinay Koshy 39:33
From your observations, do you believe that companies are giving their prospects more choice? Or is it pretty much the same set of offers?
David Krieger 39:42
when you sit ...like they've pivoted their suite of offerings?
Vinay Koshy 39:47
or as an offering more choices, given the circumstances as opposed to sticking with what they had pre-COVID.
David Krieger 39:55
So I think what I'm at least just from conversations, we've had and again, it wasn't a specific thing we surveyed on. But I think that the companies have been a little bit more lenient with deal terms, but not necessarily as lenient on discounting, especially in the SaaS space, where demand has stayed fairly strong from what we've seen.
Vinay Koshy 40:17
Okay. And would it be fair to say that sales companies probably embracing sales enablement, in order to help their prospects make better buying decisions?
David Krieger 40:30
Yeah, absolutely. And I think I think we were seeing this trend before. But I think again, I think that this really just was an inflection point where companies are investing in a lot of these tools, again, because, you know, they're having to make sure that their sales process is something that can be both executed and managed in a remote manner. And so those tools that you're describing those sales enablement, tools really do help facilitate that in a virtual setting.
Vinay Koshy 40:59
And what about an alignment between sales and marketing? Are you seeing more of that? Or is it still seem to be as two distinct teams?
David Krieger 41:09
It is, and it's a shame because it really is so important to have that alignment. You know, it's one of those scenarios where one plus one equals three when you are when sales and marketing are working closely together. And marketing is supporting, you know, by giving content with some of the messaging and sales is, is working with that content, you know, leveraging it, and then also giving feedback to marketing as to some of the things that they're hearing what's working, what's not working, it really can improve the whole sales process. And so we still do see a lot of companies where it's, it's siloed and they aren't working as seamlessly as they should, under one roof.
Vinay Koshy 41:51
Perfect. Is there anything else that we should be thinking about in terms of sales strategies and tactics in order to ensure success during the times we find ourselves in?
David Krieger 42:05
Yeah, and so I think this is, again, one of those things that I feel like people in sales should always be thinking about. But during this period of time, I think it really crystallized the importance of thinking about what your prospect is going through, you know, especially, you know, you're right, when all this type of stuff was happening in March, as people are closing down, and people are so scared, you really had to think about what is that person feeling like on the other side of the phone on the other side of the Zoom versus just launching into making it all about your product or service. And I think there's a lot written about that. And a lot of people were really emphasizing how important it is to be empathetic through your sales approach, and really understand what that prospect might be going through. And I think that that hopefully rings true for a lot of people because it really doesn't matter if we're in a time of COVID or, or in a pandemic and things like that, we should be always thinking that way, you should always be thinking about your prospect and where they are and what they're thinking about. And the less you make it about you and your product or service, the more you make it about them and their needs, and they're their issues, the more successful you're going to be as a salesperson, the better you're going to feel about what you're doing on a day to day basis. And so I think that that's been really important during this time. And hopefully, it's a lesson that people will take with them, even as we emerged from 2020.
Vinay Koshy 43:34
Certainly, if you were listening to this episode, what would you say would be your number one takeaway?
David Krieger 43:45
Yeah, so I think I'll actually end with sort of a little bit of a different, you know, flair, I think, you know, it's interesting that you know, this is 2020. And I think a lot of companies may be in a cheesy way, were thinking about their theme for 2020 was gonna be 2020 vision, right, that we're gonna, we're gonna see into the future. And we're gonna be able to chart our course here. And I think this is just a reminder that you know, in business and in life, nothing's 2020 hindsight, might be 2020. But I don't even think we could say that about this, right. And you never know what is going to be around the next band and what you're going to have to, you know, do and so I think one of the things I've been just amazed with, with with the SaaS companies I've been seeing, and really companies in general, is how they've been able to pivot during this time, work through, you know, we be positive and optimistic. And we saw in our survey on the four to one ratio of SaaS sales executives who have had a positive or very positive outlook for the rest of 2020 versus a negative or very negative outlook. And I think having that type of Outlook, being able to take things as they come and iterate your strategy, being able to work from an office one day and move remotely Next day and having that type of flexibility as executives as companies, really is is inspiring and I think is a great indication for for for us for the future even as we still navigate these challenging times.
Vinay Koshy 45:17
Excellent. David salesroads.com is your website. Okay, now Is there anywhere else that you would recommend listeners head to in order to find out more or connect with you?
David Krieger 45:29
Yeah, so I'm on LinkedIn. I'm fairly active on LinkedIn. So I'm just David Krieger kr, ei g er, you can just search me on LinkedIn, I should pop up. But yeah, if you engage or connect there have any questions. I always love to engage with people through LinkedIn as well.
Vinay Koshy 45:45
Thanks so much, David.
David Krieger 45:46
No, thanks for having me on. It was a great hour.
Vinay Koshy 45:49
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