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Episode 1: How to Enable Your Sales Team with Data and Intelligence

1080x1080Sales teams are getting access to more advanced analytics than ever before with improving technology. And what perfect timing for that tech to improve, because detailed and focused analytics are crucial for leading a remote sales team. Reliable analytics can help managers focus their weekly check-ins with reps, higher-level leaders focus on high impact opportunities, and give the C-suite visibility into the health of the sales org.

Annelies Husmann, Head of Enterprise Sales over at Gong, sat down to tell us how she's managing her remote team and how she adapted to the changes in 2020.

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Read: How Gong’s Head of Enterprise Sales Uses Sales Analytics to Drive Decisions & Speed Deals

Episode Transcription

We’re back! I’m back. You’re back. Or it’s your first time. In which case, welcome. Hi. I’m Matt Brown, your host. And you really know how to pick an episode. Because this season we’re doing something a little different.

We just so happened to hear from hundreds of sales leaders that this past year, 2020, time of pandemics, turmoil, and well, and an early favorite for the first impression rose candidate for worst year in collective recent memory, has been a battle.

This year was tough.

And any seasoned sales leader can tell you, the best way to enable your team is through data and insights. They help you not only hit but exceed revenue targets. Sales leaders know resilience. Every challenge is an opportunity. Quota, to most people, would be scary stuff. Hi. Matt Brown again, here to remind you I’m not a salesperson. So that line I just mentioned, about quotas being scary stuff, yea, personal experience, that would be terrifying. And that’s coming from a former middle school teacher.

But to sales teams, it's a goal to hit, a challenge to meet.

If there's any department prepared to do what's necessary to grow revenue this year and any year, really, it's sales.

So this season, I’m talking to folks from LinkedIn, AirCall, Crayon, and more to hear how they’re using data and insights to drive success for their teams. And to kick it all off, I can’t think of a better person than Annelies Husmann.

[HUSMANN: Hi. I’m Annelies Husmann and I head up the enterprise account executive team at Gong.]

Annelies joined Gong in April of 2020. April. Of 2020. Perfect timing for chaos. This also happens to be the title of my latest Nic Cage fan fiction. But that’s another podcast… right?

Annelies sat down to talk with me about how you can enable your sales team with data and intelligence. So let’s get into it.

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BROWN: I think a great spot for us to start is with KPI’s. This last year, among basically all the things, taught us that to be reliant means being able to adapt. How did your KPI’s change throughout 2020?

[HUSMANN: This year has been a very interesting year to sell through. I think that throughout the year, we've seen a couple of different changes in our sales process and that naturally affects. The different KPIs and data that we're tracking. All of our historical data was really no longer relevant because everything had changed. What we're focused on in Q2 is pretty different than what we're focused on in Q4.

So for example, in Q2, we were really focused on taking a step back from building relationships because things had slowed down. And our sales process and our top of funnel, the whole nine yards over the last six months. However, that is completely different. I think what the markets realize is that the platform we sell Gong, isn't a nice to have, but it's a need to have.]

BROWN: Right, and so what are you tracking for your team?

[HUSMANN: So the metrics and data, I'm now managing my teams toward isn't around. Are you being productive, productive, but rather, are you managing your time? The most efficient as possible because they are that busy. And so instead of monitoring, like activity metrics around how many emails did you send? How many net new appointments are you booked?

We're more focused on. Are the commits real? And if not, let's get them in or out of the pipeline as quickly as possible. Are we driving to close as fast as possible? Are we focused on making sure that we have the largest land as possible so we can get in and get out of deals because that's the nature of our business today?]

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BROWN: So I want to talk about planning. That’s a relative term now after making it through 2020. But what does planning look like for you in 2021?

[HUSMANN: I think when you're doing planning for 2021 and beyond, I think it's really important to have an honest conversation. Around what has our new data set given us? I also would just really encourage sales leaders to be responsive and be agile. When we move into 2021, if we see things are changing again, let's not be wedded to what was working in Q3 and Q4 of this year.

And so that's something I've really been thinking about a lot lately is how can we make sure that our sales process is agile. And we're responding to the market and we're responding to our economic conditions as well. And that's the part of the inputs that we have been incorporating into our 2021 planning.]

BROWN: And so what would you say is the biggest change you made to your sales process this past year based on the data you were seeing?

[HUSMANN: I think one of the first things we realized is that. Deals that used to be signed by a VP of sales now has a goal, the CFO or the CRO. So immediately that buyer was elevated a couple of levels folks, right? We're also a little bit tighter with their wallets, which makes sense. We're in a pandemic. So making sure that we had a clear definitive ROI and clearly tied to a value prop that really affected the entire business was now complete table stakes.

Those are about two different ways that we saw our process changed. We also saw our sales processes really speed up and some cycles where people realize that they needed complete visibility and to the voice of their customer, and they needed complete visibility into what all of these now remote teams are doing when speaking to their customers?

So what could have been a nine-month sales cycle? Sometimes we saw shortened to three.]

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BROWN: I think one thing a lot of sales teams always want is to use analytics better. We’ve seen Moneyball. We get it, Brad Pitt. So, how can sales leaders use analytics to enable their teams?

[HUSMANN: I think that reps and frontline managers can use this type of analytics and insights in a very productive way and not being disruptive in a daily process because it affords them deep insights and complete visibility into what's truly going on in the pipeline.

So for example, if I'm coming into a one-on-one with one of my team members, I no longer have to spend the first 20 minutes of a 30-minute one-on-one asking them what's going on. Who is involved, what is our next step? Because I can already answer that question. And I definitively know. So instead of spending 20 minutes catching up, I'm spending 30 minutes strategizing with my team saying, "how are you moving the ball forward? How has our value prop resonating with their executive staff? And most importantly, how are we going to close more business together? Because that's what sales leaders or sales leaders are really good at, right. We're really good at strategizing and moving deals forward for our team.

And I think having this full picture of insights into what's going on in your pipeline, frees you up to do more of that. And that's why we'll close more business.]

BROWN: And how are you leveraging data to better inform your team’s process?

[HUSMANN: So, so I joined Gong in April of this year, right in the heart of a pandemic. Additionally, over 50% of my team was on-ramp. So it's a very experienced team, but we're still really building out our segment and building the plane as it flies.

And so we didn't have a lot of historical data to definitively lean back on. And again, Could we even trust the historical data that we had. And so what we really focused on was coming together as a team over-communicating on what's working and making sure that whenever we had something that was working in the market, we all rallied around it and push forward.

So against the idea of the market is shifting and we need to shift with it and be responsive to it, to make sure that we can still close a bunch of business and be successful. One of the things we actually started doing was. When reviewing, uh, when we were reviewing, uh, customer videos or customer interactions as part of our game tape, if we saw something that someone else did that we really liked, we would just hashtag enterprise process on it.

And that was our rally cry of saying, this is what we're doing now, moving forward, this is worked on the flip side. Sometimes we would swing and miss, and we would hashtag hindsight 2020, meaning hindsight probably shouldn't have done that, but we learned from it.]

BROWN: So sales is sometimes a matter of instincts. How do you balance those instincts with data?

[HUSMANN: I think everything should be based on science. It should be based on data. However, I do think that the human aspect should not ever be taken out of the equation because, at the end of the day, relationships are important. Um, art, the art of the sales is important, and I think that the instinct will eventually need to be listened to.

One of the things I always tell my team is that, you know, when we're coaching people or using data when we're using the status quo to work our way through a deal, they are allowed to always go and make their own decisions. I think using your instinct and listening to your instinct is part of that ownership of owning your sales cycle. But of course, if with the ownership piece, you also have accountability.

So if it does go sideways, you also have to be accountable for that as well.

The ultimate goal for any, I think really strategic sales, operations, or revenue operations team is to provide real fantastic sales analytics from our Salesforce or other systems of record. I think that being said, there is some responsibility on everyone from the rep to the frontline manager.

All the way to the revenue operations teams to make sure that we believe in the power of data and that we're all doing our part, uh, to make sure that data set is as clean as possible.]

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