Navigating the changing world of sales
In today’s fast-paced sales landscape, building meaningful connections with prospects and customers has become increasingly challenging. The constant influx of generic outreach has led to remarkably low engagement rates, while sales teams, in the scramble to meet quotas, have lost sight of the magic of sales - connecting with people.
This reality hit home for The Knowledge Academy, the world's largest provider of instructor-led training, when sales started to decline. The “old ways” of hiring more reps, doing more activities, and leveraging more tools just weren’t working anymore.
Suddenly, hitting their targets seemed impossible as a result of the shifting environment around them. And the sales tools they were using weren’t helping, giving the team little to no insight into where they should focus their efforts. The team was stuck in the all too common cycle of focusing on quantity - of leads, outreach, and reps - over quality of connection, and it just wasn’t working.
Talveer Sandhu, The Knowledge Academy’s Global Sales Director, vividly recalls the turning point, “We had sales targets we knew we weren’t going to hit. I was under a lot of pressure. We couldn't track calls. We couldn't track emails.”
In short, the sales team was always doing more, but that didn’t lead to selling more.
On top of that, leadership lacked the visibility and predictability they needed in order to scale insightfully. With their old sales software, they couldn’t create the custom reports, dashboards, and forecasts that would show them where to focus for growth.
If they were going to continue to grow, they needed to change. Quickly.
Integrated insights that spark transformation
Recognizing the need for a new playbook to fuel their growth, Talveer set out to find a way to gain insight into what was working - and what wasn’t - to inform how the organization would move forward. He recalls, “With all the work we were doing on the leads we had, we knew we needed to look at the quality of work rather than go out and start doing more of what we knew wasn’t working.”
When he began looking for a solution, Talveer compared several options: Salesforce was too technical, and Pipedrive lacked the security features he needed. He wanted something user-friendly, that the sales team could configure without the help of developers.
To propel this transformation, he needed a true customer platform. Enter HubSpot - with Marketing, Service, and Sales Hub, Talveer was able to overhaul The Knowledge Academy’s go-to-market strategy, and modernize their approach to sales.
What did that transformation look like in practice?
With Sales Hub, The Knowledge Academy was able to retrain their reps to build stronger connections with customers, improve their lead qualification, tracking, and attribution, make more accurate and actionable predictions, and ultimately prioritize helping humans over pushing products.
HubSpot’s sales tools made uncovering these actionable insights easy. With conversation intelligence, Talveer’s team was able to understand how his team was performing on calls and get a complete overview of customer interactions.
Realizing how much room there was for improvement was eye-opening.
“It was humbling,” Talveer says. “We had achieved such great results in the past, but there was a lot of room for improvement. Our salespeople weren’t building rapport with leads. We sounded very transactional. It was not how I wanted them to sell.”
Luckily, these new insights shone a light on the exact areas where retraining was needed, opening up a whole new world of customer connection for The Knowledge Academy.
Talveer used these insights to completely revamp the sales team’s recruiting and training processes, focusing on the quality of each team member’s interactions. And with coaching playlists, they’re able to onboard new reps faster, continuously coach soft skills and sales tactics, and keep the team at the top of their game.
“We changed the way we recruit based on the data we collected. We retrained people on how to close, and how to identify larger opportunities. They didn’t understand that. But now that we have the data and insights we need, and we have the information behind the contact, it’s easy.”
Demystifying lead qualification
As The Knowledge Academy continued on their journey to sustainable growth, another key area that needed improvement was their lead qualification process. Talveer recognized that their sales team needed better insights into lead sources and behaviors to prioritize their efforts and build stronger connections with prospects.
With Sales Hub, the sales team now had visibility into lead sources and behaviors, allowing them to identify patterns and make informed decisions on where to focus their efforts. By understanding who prospects were and what actions they took before becoming a lead, the team could personalize their approach and even identify upsell opportunities.
"Knowing which pages somebody clicked on and what their behavior was before the lead got created helps them upsell," explains Talveer. "They're able to have that conversation well and navigate the customer's interests without sounding intrusive or creepy."
With custom objects, the sales team could also capture additional information on the fly to further qualify leads. This flexibility empowered the team to adapt their qualification process and gather valuable insights suggested by the sales team themselves. The team embraced the opportunity to learn how to sell their products better, fostering a culture of continuous improvement across the organization.
As a result, The Knowledge Academy saw significant improvements in their lead qualification process. The sales team was better equipped to prioritize leads, focus their efforts, and build meaningful connections with prospects. The insights provided by HubSpot's Sales Hub enabled them to truly understand their customers' needs and effectively guide them through the sales cycle.
The result? Close rates skyrocketed, revolutionizing the sales game.
Talveer emphasizes this impact, “If I were to recommend HubSpot to a friend or a colleague, I would say simply - this tool will increase your sales and average order value very quickly. It’s essential. It’s not nice-to-have. It’s essential.”
Forecasting for the future
And they’re not just gaining insight on what’s happening today. With Sales Hub, The Knowledge Academy is able to develop accurate, reliable forecasts that help them predict their future sales with the help of artificial intelligence.
According to Talveer, “AI deal forecasting builds accountability and sets us up for success. We can predict what the company is going to make and what each team will make. And we can adjust accordingly. It’s been a game-changer for our sales team.”
By staying ahead of the pipeline, the team can pivot as the winds change, relieving the stress of wondering whether or not they’ll hit their quotas. “It helps alleviate any anxiety, because I know that all of the information is there in front of us,” he says. “If something goes wrong, I can see immediately what’s happening.”
When the Knowledge Academy started making these insight-driven changes to their sales process, they saw improvements almost immediately. “We didn’t sell more units until we started getting more leads, but the average order value increased very quickly,” Talveer says.
And close rates were soon to follow, with Sales Hub’s lead management allowing the team to focus their resources on the most lucrative leads, aligning their sales and marketing teams towards a common goal.
At the end of the day, all of these strategic improvements have enabled The Knowledge Academy to not only survive in a challenging sales environment, but to thrive. Sales have increased by 192% since they started using HubSpot, and they’re closing 125% more deals.
Talveer sums it up, "We've revolutionized our approach to sales, unlocking unprecedented performance and strategic growth. With Sales Hub, we finally have the insights we need to accelerate our revenue growth and navigate any future challenges."