The most important thing that we learned at Sales Hacker Conference SF? 2015 is full of sales opportunities across your entire sales pipeline. At Sales Hacker last week, we listened and spoke with successful entrepreneurs that are finding ways to improve all parts of their sales pipeline by:
providing salespeople with tools to become their own personal marketers
testing inbound marketing strategies that can be implemented by non-techies
implementing customer success tactics that increase referrals, upsells, and cross-sells
Below are excerpts from our six favorite talks at Sales Hacker Conference. Whether you’re in an established business or growing a startup, these posts have tips to help you prospect, sell, and retain more customers. Click on article titles to link to the full blog posts:
1 – 5 Ways the Top Salespeople are Hacking Sales, by Craig Rosenberg, CEO of Topo
The top salespeople today stand out with highly personalized and differentiated messaging. Today’s buyer expects you to have some understanding of their business when you reach out to them with a “cold” email or call.
A few tactics to try:
Research what your prospect has done, wrote about, or said publicly. Reference what you’ve learned about your prospect and relate it back to yourself and business.
If you’re connecting with social media managers, marketing, PR, or other industries, try standing out with GIFs in your messages.
In between digital and voice touches, send memorable offline content focusing on fun or education.
2 – 10 Key Rules to Scale Sales, by Kris Duggan, CEO of BetterWorks
Kris Duggan is an experienced entrepreneur growing a startup called BetterWorks. If you’re growing your own business, his 10 Key Rules to Scale Sales is a valuable reflection on the key elements necessary to scale sales.
A couple of key insights from his talk:
Use the Grandma test (aka the 2 beer test) when you’re crafting your sales pitch. In other words, how would you explain what you do to your Grandma? If you cannot explain what you do without using jargon, you need to refine your sales pitch. It’s better to speak plainly when you’re explaining a new business.
Your first 10 customers may come from 10 different sources, be it LinkedIn, email, conferences, referral, social, etc. Don’t rely on a hired gun for these first sales. As the founder of a start-up, plan on being the one to get your first 10 customers.
3 – The NextGen Sales Process – Incorporating the Buyer, by Sally Duby, GM at The Bridge Group
The next generation of sales (e.g. sales today!) is a frequent topic on sales blogs and webinars. To summarize – your buyer’s journey begins well before you have a chance to connect with them. This means that many buyers have already formed an opinion about you and your business.
Top salespeople help make the sales process buyer-centric through the creation of buyer’s personas and understanding a buyer’s journey. Additionally, successful salespeople personalize the sales process by sharing material and examples that are relevant for the industry they’re selling to.
4 – From Trials to Triumphs, the Role of Customer Success in SaaS, by Des Traynor, VP of Customer Success at Intercom
If you operate a SaaS (Software as a Service, like PipelineDeals) business, chances are that you operate in a world that lets your customers try before they buy. This shift in power helps buyers make more informed decisions, and makes the need for effective onboarding all the more critical for success in sales. Your sales team and business need committed, guided, and experienced onboarding to ensure success.
Key Takeaways – learn the signs and signals that a trial is failing. Regular and successful users tend to use your product regularly, while failed users may only use a limited number of features (or not use the product much at all). Figure out how to bucket all your trial users into different categories depending on their potential failure point, and focus your customer success team on providing targeted assistance.
5 – 7 Deadly Sins That Startups Make & How to Avoid Them, by Gabu Luna-Ostaseski
Gabu addresses the myth that some people in Silicon Valley have figured out the secret sauce for creating great companies. In truth, growing a business is extremely challenging. It’s easy to fail even after you’ve received customer validation.
Key Takeaways – don’t boil the ocean and don’t rely on emotion over data. Replace emotion and opinion with fact, and always ask the question: “What do the numbers say?”
6 – The 10 Key Revenue Mistakes I Made Getting to $100 Million ARR, by Jason Lemkin of SaaStr, Echosign, and Storm Ventures
Even the most successful business people make mistakes, and Jason admits to making his fair share of bad decisions. Jason grew Echosign to $100 million ARR before selling to Adobe. Before that successful exit, Jason learned the hard way how to grow his company and scale his sales team.
Key Takeaways – Don’t spend too much time with your prospects at the expense of existing customers. The lifetime value of existing customers is ignored by businesses at their peril. Existing customers are your sales team best source for increased revenue through up-sells, cross-sells, and renewal.
David Baars is a math teacher turned marketing nerd. He runs marathons, exploring the outdoors, and learning how to build things.