The Sales Top 3 from #TLCWR

Photo from Dinah Davis, @Code_LikeAGirl

As a now three-time attendee of Communitech’s Tech Leadership Conference, I was especially excited for this year for one overarching reason: this was my first one out of school, working full-time in the Waterloo Region tech sector. What were once part-timer and intern experiences suddenly became so much more real. I have almost nine months of fast-paced, ever-changing SaaS sales experience to reflect upon and improve. I made it!

There were certain moments during the keynotes and breakout sessions that really stuck with me as a young tech sales professional in a startup that was ~130 people when I started and hitting 200 any day now. These are some of the things I want to share with you.

My talent only matters if I prove it.

This is something that came out of both Ali Asaria’s (inventor of Brick Breaker and a ton of other cool sh*t) and Patty McCord’s (former Chief Talent Officer at Netflix) talks. I’ve been a big fan of Patty McCord since I came across her Harvard Business Review article during my BBA program. Just like many tech workers and executives, I once thought to myself, that is the culture I want to work in (and I’m lucky enough to say I’m pretty much there).

The thing with those cultures — which we all either dream of or pride ourselves in — is that not enough of us deserve it. People are more and more afraid of AI coming in and “stealing jobs.” The truth, as Ali Asaria put it, is that some jobs just can’t do without the human interaction. He said, “the future of work is investing in people.” Sales, in my humble opinion, is one of those jobs. Especially SaaS sales, which I’ll explain in the next section.

The truth is today’s workplace needs top talent — people who can automate the things we don’t need humans to do, so they can focus instead on going beyond their “jobs” for the sole purpose of reshaping what it means to do this “job” today. We need to add value to our jobs so our successors have to be even better.

We also need to ensure we are irreplaceable until we want to be replaced. We need to ask ourselves: is what I love to do, that I am extraordinarily good at doing, something we at Company X need someone to be great at? The truth is, if Company X doesn’t need you and you don’t give them a reason to want you, sooner or later, AI could replace you!

“I don’t know yet” is a perfectly acceptable answer.

GuruGanesha had some very relatable insights on situations we face every day in a sales job. The most significant thing (though others came close) he mentioned was the importance of honesty. It is okay to admit you do not know something. Sounding confident in your promise to deliver a better answer once you consult with the right resources is much more valuable to your prospect than struggling to give some answer. Not knowing something does not make you a bad salesperson — admitting to it makes you a better one!

This really comes down to a lot of the conversations where the prospect’s expectations of you are that you are the salesperson trying to sell them on a bunch of crap that they don’t need (and that is the reason why there is no pricing page on your website). We all know that that is just not the case: shopping SaaS is not grocery shopping where you can just pick up the can of the shelf, read the price tag, buy it, and throw it at your company to “leverage.”

The truth is: from the surface level, the SaaS tool you see from your own research is just a bell or whistle — it’s a nice-to-have. As salespeople, our job is to help determine why this would even be of value to our prospect and then show why. This is where we need to break stereotypes and not get pitchy — hey, alongside the bell, why not get this whistle and this keychain too? THAT is the stereotype our prospects have until we can show them otherwise.

GuruGanesha’s talk helped me realize that I put a lot of the blame for this conversation on the prospect’s misunderstanding of the product. Instead, I should help us come to a mutual agreement that, before I can give them what they want, I need to understand what’s going on in their universe. And if they don’t want to commit to that and “just want price”, on to the next one!

Data is big — but humans are bigger

Big data has been a hot topic for years now — and still, most people don’t even know what it means. Brian Tossan, Director of General Motors’ Canadian Technical Centre, made it so easy today: data enables us and our technologies to become even more personalized. Data is what has shifted the car buying behaviour from a focus on horsepower and 0–60 to the age of connectedness — how connected is this car? How much can it help me beyond getting me from point A to point B?

This got me thinking so deeply into our sales processes at Vidyard and how we use our own personalization tool within our processes to sell that very tool. I thought about how there’s always room to get even more efficient. We’re running a tighter and tighter ship every day, and Brian’s talk really got me wondering how we can even better incorporate all this data into our workflows. I might have historical data just sitting there in the CRM but I know for a fact that nobody is using that data to its fullest.

Brian said, “even in the age of big data, nothing comes close to replicating the human connection.” So how do we as salespeople avoid getting caught up in that data or in the numbers? Is a volume approach better than a structured, data-driven, highly-personalized approach? At what stage do sales teams need to shift gears and go the opposite way? And how, amongst it all, can we ensure each salesperson, no matter where we are in the funnel, is constantly achieving greatness and improving beyond that?

Originally published at