Sales can be a tough job at the best of times—but as any rep will tell you, it’s even harder in a crisis. In 2020, companies of all shapes and sizes reported decreases in B2B sales revenues as the COVID-19 pandemic shrank budgets, shifted customer priorities, and disrupted business as usual.
The world’s not done changing. From continued—and in some cases permanent—remote work to ongoing strategic shifts as companies fight to recover, the ripple effects of COVID-19 will be felt for years to come. In the meantime, ever-changing market forces will continue to require sales teams to refine and adapt.
Designing sales models for optimal results
But while traditional sales models drove 55% less B2B revenue in 2020, according to McKinsey, some winning organizations and sales reps still managed to drive outsized success. In a new webinar, Ken Amar, Sales Development Manager at Outreach, and Kent Venook, Head of Business Development at RingCentral, examined best practices observed by these leading sales teams and identified what businesses need to do to reshape their sales funnels to drive optimal results.
“During COVID, a lot of our sales development reps struggled,” says Amar. “But something we found really interesting was that some of our best sales development reps, or SDRs, did better than ever. So we sat down with them and we figured out what they were doing differently.”
Building scalable processes
Driving impactful sales operations isn’t about capturing lightning in a bottle. It’s about building processes that make selling repeatable and scalable. This means taking a data-backed analytical look at what’s working—and what isn’t.
“At every company it’s going to be different,” said Venook. “How are the leads coming in, how are they being qualified, and how are they being passed? If you have bottlenecks in those areas, you want to identify them quickly because that’s going to be your quickest path to pipeline, which of course is our number one priority. And then of course identifying the KPIs that support each of those different stages.”
Developing the right approach
Identifying these winning processes takes a multipronged approach, including collecting both anecdotal information from reps as well as technology-backed data, such as sales and call velocity reporting that can tap into hidden patterns and correlations.
“The first thing usually you want to identify are the tangible vs. intangible things to measure for your reps,” said Venook. “Pipeline and meetings are the ultimate goal. You can back up from there to understand how many calls, how many emails, how many connections, how many conversations, how many conversions of those conversations equals a meeting, and then how many meetings equals pipeline.”
Building out sales processes
Once companies start to pinpoint these indicators, they can then build out processes and best practices that can be incorporated into training and sales playbooks.
“Think of sales development as a funnel itself, kind of like the sales funnel. At the very top, you’ve got sequences. Sequences execute call tasks, which lead to conversations and then ultimately meetings and pipeline,” said Amar.
New sales trends pay off
While experienced sales teams may think they have this kind of optimization nailed, the “new normal” of COVID has actually upended quite a few long-held trends. For example, both Amar and Venook said reps are seeing much greater success with phone calls and with pitching higher up the corporate ladder.
“On LinkedIn, everyone’s saying, ‘Hey, cold calling’s dead,’” said Amar. “It’s not. It’s a little bit harder to reach prospects, but the majority of our prospects who we sell to in tech are working from home. If you get a direct dial, the phone has always been the fastest way to get a meeting.”
Engaging with executives
Says Venook: “The other thing that we’ve seen, which is kind of cool, is a higher level of response from C-level or our higher-up executives. Most of the time, business development reps (BDRs) won’t even hit up the C-level because historically you just get kicked down. It’s a pretty low percentage of contact or connect rate.
“(But) we’ve seen C-levels and general managers (GMs) being now brought into the buying cycle or caring very much about the initiative that we’re trying to help solve at both of our organizations. Identifying that top level, and why they would care, is definitely something that you can do as a BDR organization to speed up that conversation. Right now, they are answering, which is not usually something that happens.”
Exceeding sales targets in the “new normal”
Want to learn more about how successful sales organizations are reshaping traditional sales funnels and exceeding sales targets, even in today’s difficult climate? Catch the full conversation to get all of Amar and Venook’s experience-backed insights. Watch our new on-demand webinar now.
Originally published Dec 22, 2020, updated Feb 09, 2021