Going to Sales TO for the first time, I didn’t know what to expect. Would I be surrounded by sales professionals making pitches? Alternatively, would it be like a sales training event? I was pleasantly surprised to find it was a collaborative community. Thanks to Pipedrive – the CRM I use! – for helping to sponsor the event.
Lesson 1: How To Keep A Crowd of Sales Professionals Happy
Sales professionals are known for being loud, competitive, and determined. So there is an art to managing and channeling that energy productively. There were two practices at Sales TO that helped.
2.1 Staff An Open Bar
Sales TO has the highest beverage consumption out of all of the TechTO events. Staffed by Sip, the bar kept everyone in good spirits.
2.2. Lay Out The Ground Rules And Provide A Safety Valve
Telling a salesperson not to pitch? That’s a tough sell. Kenny Goldman, host of the event, deserves much credit for the event’s quality. He laid out good ground rules – no pitching and no poaching.
However, that restriction was balanced with the Open Mic segment. This segment gave everyone in the room 10 seconds on the microphone to provide an update, say they were hiring or make another announcement.
Lesson 2: 4 Steps To Keep The Content Machine Running From Gong’s Content Marketing Strategy:
Before the event, I was already familiar with Gong.io thanks to their excellent content marketing on LinkedIn.
Naturally, diving into the company’s content strategy was exciting. I appreciated how Chris Orlob, Director of Sales at Gong.io, mentioned that it was a work in progress – there was not a multi-year plan at the beginning. How did they do it? Orlob laid out a tongue in cheek series of steps for us to follow.
1) Start by understanding your market deeply.
When Orlob was at a previous start-up, he interviewed over 200 sales leaders. These conversations gave him a deep understanding of the market. It’s a critical practice to go deep with your market, especially if you are selling to a market where you have less personal understanding.
2) Read Every Day
It doesn’t have to be a full book. You could read magazine articles, blog posts by customers, or comments on social media. For a B2B tech product, comments on posts by influencers in your space are an excellent way to stay on the pulse of the market.
3 Write Every Day
I cannot agree with this habit strongly enough! I’ve recently restarted my “writing daily for the business” habit, and it has helped tremendously.
4 Write Every Damn Day
It’s so important that we’re mentioning it more than once.
What about overcoming those inevitable “blank page” syndrome challenges?
To this, Orlob had two helpful tactics.
First, physically get out of the office and walk in nature for a time (a glass of wine is optional but recommended). You will probably get some ideas during that walk.
The second tactic is to look for “micro problems” your market has and then create content to address those points. I love this tactic because it is an excellent counterpoint to the drive to develop “ultimate guide” exhaustive content. Those content assets are valuable and worth creating. However, they are not the only game in town.
While some of the discussion during the panel focused on changes, I was struck by how much remains the same. For example, the issue of focus came up several times. Specifically, what is your view of competitors on sales methods, conversion rates, and similar topics? The overall consensus was simple: we are focused on our goals. An occasional look at the competition is helpful, but that point of view will only take you so far.
Lesson 3: Sales Leaders Always Need To Be Recruiting and Networking
Ryan Barretto, SVP Global Sales at Sprout Social, made an excellent point about how he approaches recruiting. His organization’s sales force has dramatically expanded in the past year. As a result, he has developed a habit to personally spend time each week on reaching out to new people, going to lunches and more.
This is an excellent reminder for sales professionals at all levels. Your CRM might incentive you to focus on email and calling since those activities are easy to track. However, there is something special and irreplaceable about meeting people in person.
Lesson 4: Invite Your Customers To Speak To The Sales Team
Staying connected with your customers and the value they get from your product. When you are scaling rapidly, it is easy for sales professionals to focus on the next customer after each close. There’s just one problem with that approach. You might start to feel disconnected with the value the customer gets from the product.
To stay connected with customers, Erin Bush, Senior Director of Revenue Operations at LeanData, mentioned that her company invites customers to their internal company meetings. That’s a great way to both inspire the sales team and equip them with more real-life stories to use in sales.
Wrapping It Up
This was my first SalesTO experience, and it was an excellent experience. There are not that many places where people interested in technology sales can gather in the Toronto area. Whether you want to hear about sales job opportunities, compare notes or learn from sales leaders, this event series is well worth your time. The event is at the right size where you can meet quite a few people in a short time yet not be lost in a sea of new faces.