How Sales Teams Need To Evolve To The Changing Economy

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Roy Solomon
How Sales Teams Need To Evolve To The Changing Economy
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What We Learned At SaaStock 2022

What is SaaStock?

SaaStock is a 3-day event for founders, executives, and investors of B2B SaaS companies looking to build valuable connections and learn about today’s trends—directly from their peers. This year it was held at the RDS in Dublin, with over 5,000 in attendance and sponsored by Profitwell, ZoomInfo, SalesLoft, Chargbee, Freshworks, and many more.

Key Highlights

This year, SaaStock had over 150 amazing guest speakers. CEO/Founders Amit Bendov of Gong, and Zeb Evans of ClickUp, Sales Leaders, Eileen O’Mara of GitLab and Des Trainor of Intercom, and our own Daria Danilina, just to name a few.

Our team was lucky enough to sit with and interview many of these leaders about today’s down economy, and what sales team’s need to do to not just survive but thrive in a market where there’s so much uncertainty.

We learned a common theme from everyone that we spoke with, and that theme was Efficiency. Companies are trying to do more with less. Fewer companies are looking for outside help to grow their business and more and more are trying to succeed with only the tools and staff they deem necessary to keep margins higher and runways longer.

What are the changes top companies are making in the looming recession to give their teams a higher chance to succeed? As you read on, we’ll break down our top 10 highlights from our one on one discussions with some of the best leaders in SaaS about what top companies are doing, and need to do in order for their sales teams to be successful. Here’s what we chose as our top 10:

  1. You need a strong team that’s aligned, connected, and believes
  2. Being more efficient is critical
  3. Understand your story and elevate it’s criticality
  4. Now’s the time to be creative and think differently
  5. First Conversations are more important than ever
  6. Your buyers are much more cost conscious
  7. Everyone is just waiting…
  8. Optimize every opportunity
  9. Be proactive. Don’t be too late to react.
  10. Who is going to get better, who’s going to be bitter?

You need a strong team that’s aligned, connected, and believes

It seems like every week another company announces significant cuts to their staff. 10, 20, even 50% of employees are being laid off at companies of all sizes. Startups aren’t the only ones feeling the pain. A large portion of these layoffs are unfortunately in sales. Leaders are taking a strong look at which teams are performing at the highest levels and which one’s are continuing further down into a deep dark ditch. 

Kevin Dorsey brought up a great point that all of your teams need to be focused on the mutual goal of revenue. Sales and Marketing working together and being on the same page is a necessity. And if your teams are struggling to hit those revenue numbers and pipeline is down, morale will be down as well. This is a leading cause for these layoffs in sales. There’s just not enough deals to go around. If very few, or nobody at all is hitting their targets, then it creates a toxic work culture for all. The ones that are sticking around see the light at the end of the tunnel. They believe in their company and the problems they solve and will whatever they can to pick up the slack.

Being more efficient is critical

Efficiency has always been a goal of every team. The difference now is that teams are trying to keep up with the same level of productivity with a lot less. Less employees, less tools, less budget, less funding. Companies are making huge cuts to the areas of their tech stacks that aren’t considered “need-to-haves.” Sales teams that are succeeding the most are the best at positioning themselves as essential.

Understand your story and elevate it’s criticality

If you don’t have your story and your pitch down pat, it’s going to be even harder to win. You need to position yourself and your company as critical to their teams’ and their company’s success. Dimitar Stanimiroff pointed out that you need to answer 3 core questions for your buyers; Why Change, Why Us, and Why Now.

Now’s the time to be creative and think differently

In an inbox full of templated emails and sales reps talking about how great their products are, showing some creativity is easier than you might think. Change up your boring subject lines and messaging and insert a little bit of your personality. Send fun but informative videos, memes, images, and LinkedIn voice messages. Start your cold calls with an ice-breaker or craft a joke about your prospect’s pain. Send a thoughtful gift with a note. Show up outside their office building serenading them if you’re feeling really bold. Once you get a prospect on a video call, make sure it’s the best one you’ve ever given. Stand out with an amazing presentation or super-personalized demo. Your options are endless. Have fun with it.

First Conversations Are More Important Than Ever

Buyers are being more cautious with every interaction they have with sellers. Chances are they’ve done a lot more research on your company than you have of theirs. Your messaging needs to be on point, you need to have a solid agenda, ask thoughtful questions that will get them to think differently about their current environment, and you need to show that you can be trusted by your buyers. Most buyers are getting scared off in the discovery or demo phase. Be over-prepared!

Your buyers are more cost conscious

Nobody in sales wants to lower their price in order to make a sale. But teams are getting desperate to bring in some revenue, even if it hurts. Your buyers' budgets are tighter than ever and they’re taking every step to make sure they’re making the right decisions with the money they have. Know your value and be prepared to show the ROI they could receive with you and make sure you can back it up with data.

Everyone is just waiting…

It seems like just about every company is waiting for something to happen. Whether it’s good or bad, it’s harder to make a deal come to fruition because people are afraid of what’s to come. Dr. Suess was right about one thing, “Oh The Places You’ll Go” if you stop reacting to what’s going on around you and start making things happen. Some of the best companies in the world were created in a down market. It’s time to make the most out of every opportunity. Especially the ones you’re working with right now.

Optimize Every Opportunities

If you’re still looking for more opportunities but letting some fall through the cracks, it’s time to take a step back and treat every opportunity that’s currently in your pipeline as if it were the most important. Deal cycles are longer and prospecting is harder. Your time will be best spent giving your current deals everything you have. 

Be Proactive. Don’t be too late to react.

There are many ways to be proactive during the sales cycle and it starts with your research. Meet your prospects where they are in the buyer's journey. If you’re one or two steps behind, they could lose interest. Make sure you follow up quickly after a meeting with the information they need to make a case to the rest of their buying team. Check in regularly and set clear next steps before the end of every call. You could also find a way to make a strong case to your buyers about the importance of being proactive and why going with you will save them in the end. Just make sure you have the info to back it up.

Are You going to get better or are you going to be bitter?

If you’re sitting around making excuses for your failures and blaming everybody else, you’re not doing yourself any favors. Maybe you’re right about it all, but now’s the time to learn new solutions to your problems. Put more time into practicing, listen to your calls,  find a mentor, read some books, take an online course. The sales reps that are succeeding the most in times like these are finding ways to get better. There’s light at the end of the tunnel. 

Who did we interview?

  1. Ashley Kramer - CMO & Chief Strategy Officer, Gitlab
  2. Gideon Pridor - CMO, Workvivo
  3. Tripp Brockway - Global VP of Sales, Paddle
  4. Tim Soulo - CMO, Ahrefs
  5. Alina Vanderberg - Co-Founder, Co-CEO, Chili Piper
  6. Andy Whyte - CEO/Founder, MEDDIC
  7. Kevin Dorsey - Practice Lead, Winning By Design
  8. Dimitar Stanimiroff - GM EMEA, Crossbeam

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