Expanding on the success of the first TOPO Sales Development Council, we were excited to bring together an even larger gathering of 35 top sales development practitioners. It was a morning of sharing best practices, examining trends in the industry, and collaborating on strategies to take sales development organizations to the next level. We learned last time that putting the best and brightest in a room together yields incredible results, and this time was no different.
Here are the highlights:
- 35 SDR managers, directors, and VPs were in attendance.
- Companies like Zendesk, CallidusCloud, Intacct, Jive Software and Okta were represented.
- Our three speakers were Kristina McMillan of Five9, Russ Hearl of DoubleDutch, and our very own Craig Rosenberg of TOPO.
- Our exclusive sponsor Salesloft partnered with us to make the event a success (thanks Kyle!).
- The Rosewood Sand Hill had us back for everybody’s favorite croissant breakfast sandwiches.
It’s as old as sales, the pitch, but I am shocked at how frequently salespeople stumble through it. Every rambling cold call, every flustered kid at an event booth, every email that reads more like a novel…it all stems from the same inability to simply articulate what you sell and why it matters.
So, let’s begin with a redefinition. Today’s best salespeople aren’t so much “pitching” as they are delivering a “value proposition.” The difference, while subtle, is important. A pitch is typically self-serving and remains the same each time you deliver it. It also tends to devolve into a features-and-benefits sell: “Let me tell you about this really cool product. It does this and that and all these great things!”
A value proposition, by contrast, is buyer-centric, and thus adapts to each situation. “Our product has been helping companies like yours with value 1, 2, and 3, by doing X.”
34 demand gen professionals joined TOPO last Friday for our first Demand Generation Council event. The event was only our second ever, but like our Sales Development Council event last month, the half day session turned out to be an excellent forum for some of the world’s fastest growing companies to share demand gen best practices. Much of this success can be attributed to the design principles that we’ve adopted for these events. First, we are laser-focused on the patterns and best practices that high growth companies exhibit. Second, we only allow marketing and sales practitioners to speak and attend TOPO events. Third, we tell all of our speakers and attendees that specificity wins – thought leadership/pontification does not play well at these events.
One of the most striking things our analysts see is the lack of standardization that exists in most sales organizations. There’s a staggering number of “one offs” – gerrymandered sales territories, custom comp plans, salespeople who “just do it their way”, content created by individual reps…
The lack of sales standards should come as no surprise though. Sales leaders and salespeople alike are strongly incented to make decisions in the context of achieving quota in the current or next period (whether that period is a quarter or a month). This results in short-term, one-off decisions, like allowing one sales rep to own a vertical, even though the 99 other reps on the team have geographical territories. Sales management and CEOs rationalize these decisions with the mantra “we need to hit the number”.
TOPO recently held its first ever event – a meeting of the TOPO Sales Development Council. The event was a terrific success, bringing together 26 of the world’s leading sales development practitioners for a half day of in-depth learning and collaboration. Our objective for this event was simple – put a small number of smart people in a room to talk about their specific experiences building and managing sales development teams.
In many markets, the sales organization has a huge impact on the what the buyer experiences. Despite this, the vast majority of sales teams spend no time thinking about how to design and deliver a great buying experience. It’s unfortunate because companies that deliver a great experience to the buyer grow 2X as fast as their peers. Turning sales into a function that thinks about designing and delivering an experience isn’t that hard. In a recent presentation, we examined ten ways that sales could deliver a great buying experience.
Here are five of the best posts we read last week:
Do you have a Whale, Dolphin, Minnow (WDM) go-to-market strategy? Hany Nada’s framework is inspired by Vegas, but has applicability in a range of markets. What the Music Business Can Learn From the Gaming and Gambling Industries
Craig Rosenberg (the Funnelholic) went beast-mode on the who, what, why, when, how of sales development this week. It’s essential reading. The Sales Development Team: A Proven Framework for Success
Sales development is one of the most important processes an organization can build to deliver a seamless, efficient revenue machine. Sales development is a phone-based team that identifies, connects with, and qualifies leads. When a lead is qualified, they then pass the qualified lead to a sales person who takes over for the rest of the sales process. From Marketo’s Definitive Guide to Sales Lead Qualification and Sales Development: “Put simply, SDRs (Sales Development Reps) pass the baton between marketing and sales.”
In this post, we want to explore best practices for designing, building, and optimizing a sales development team.
Better late than never! Here are five of the best posts we read last week:
If you work in marketing (or sales) and think about demographics at all, Tyler Cowen’s new book Average is Over is a must-read. Average Is Over: Powering America Beyond the Age of the Great Stagnation
Usually when my kids tell me I have to see something online, it’s pretty good. This prankvertisement for the remake of the movie Carrie was no different. Horror-Movie Stunt With Freaky Telekinetic Girl Is Frighteningly Good
Nowhere is the buying experience changing more than in the software industry. As little as five years ago, large sales organizations and low quality products dominated the market for business software. In fact, many of the world’s largest software companies were notorious for their aggressive, in-person sales tactics and hard-to-use products.
Given the importance of the buying experience (our research suggests that companies that provide great buying experiences grow 2X as fast as their peers) and how fast the software buying experience is changing, it’s critical that marketing and sales professionals understand how buyers are purchasing software today.