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On Wednesday May 20, Concentrate's Managing Director Owen Scott, and Director Greg Williamson, hosted a webinar looking at how Kiwi tech businesses could build a more systematic approach to selling as they respond to Covid-19.

The webinar focused firstly on improving sales efficiency, and the challenges that presents. Kiwi firms are typically strong at converting leads into customers, but the volume of those transactions is relatively low when compared to US tech firms. What it comes down to is that instead of hunting for a sales unicorn, it's better to grow your own team sales 'operatives'.

How has this been impacted by the pandemic? According to our Market Measures report, Kiwi tech firms spend 27% of marketing budget on tradeshows. If they're not going ahead and travel is limited, how are businesses going to generate leads? Meeting this challenge is about adapting to new ways of marketing and selling, as well as investing in a more efficient, scalable sales system.

Greg and Owen take us through the steps this involves, from hiring a Business Development Representative to the importance of a sales playbook. They look at setting up a lead generation system, and lay out a set of action points aimed at improving selling in the Covid-19 era and beyond.

To get the full picture you can listen to the recording of the webinar above, or read through the transcript below. The concepts covered in the webinar are also explored in more detail in our recently released eBook, ‘Hunt for the sales unicorn’.

Keen to find out more about scaling sales for your tech business_


Greg Williamson

Morning, everyone. Welcome to Concentrate webinar. Thank you for coming on. Much appreciated that you're investing your time to come and listen to Owen and I.

So this we've got planned for about 30 minutes. And then we can answer some questions as well. Easiest way to do the questions would be for you just to put them in the chat, and then we will answer them from there. So just fire them in there as we go through the session today. So, just to let you know who's speaking today, we've got Owen Scott, Managing Director of Concentrate and myself, Greg Williamson, the Director. I'm gonna do a little intro to the session and then Owen is going to run through a presentation.

So first I just wanted to give you a bit of an intro to Concentrate, bit of shameless self-promotion there. Concentrate as a marketing agency, for anyone who's not familiar with us, we specialize in the high tech sector. So we work with some great brands around New Zealand, typically selling their technology, B2B. And a lot of them export focused. So a lot of what we're talking about today is based on the work we do with those customers and what we're seeing out there in terms of marketing and selling technology, but also based on the Market Measures study that we've done annually for about the last eight or nine years. So there's a couple of things we've seen there.

Sorry, I've just had a question, and yes, we will make the slides available. So you'll get an email of those after this. So don't worry about trying to capture them all.

Yeah, so it's a couple of things. We've observed a recurring issue through our work with technology companies. And through the research we've done with Market Measures, which is a study of about 300 tech companies we do each year. Kiwi tech companies have really strong lead-to-customer conversions. You know, based on the surveys we've done it's up to a third of their sales qualified leads get turned into closed deals, which is an amazing statistic really. We've done some benchmarking with US studies of tech companies, and their benchmarks are typically 2-10%. The big difference in these benchmark studies, the US sales teams are up to a third more productive. If you measure it, by the way they measure it, as quality conversations per day. And when we asked Kiwi companies and then benchmarking against the US ones, they're doing a lot more in a day. The other data point that's relevant is in our study 40% of firms cite the productivity and performance of the sales function as a real challenge. So, I mean, I think that the conclusion we come to based on this is we have some really good high quality salespeople, sales unicorns as we call them, you know so either founders or people that the founders have engaged, who have highly sales skills. But by the nature of these people, there's not that many of them around and it’s very hard for them to scale that activity easily. So that's one part of it.

So the bottom part of the quadrant of this model is what we see a lot is we have the talented, the founder or the talent sales, hire manager who's coping really out there on their own driving, prospecting, lead generation, and just taking prospects through the sales process. And what we're going to talk about today is more of a process, system-oriented approach where there is some good lead support coming in for qualified leads, and then a really good structure around that. So it just means that you can employ people that you don't always have to have the sales unicorn to drive your sales process, you can have a bit of a mixed approach. Because the other really relevant factor here and what a lot of you are coping with now is the pandemic has changed the game really for tech sales. You know, again, from our research around Kiwi tech companies on average spend about 27% of their marketing budget on trade shows in any year. So it's a big chunk, that's big and those trade shows have just simply disappeared. There's some virtual ones that have replaced them, but the lion's share of lead gen activity by sales teams going to the US or Europe or Asia, to meet with prospects is much more difficult. And then the other element of this is those sales unicorns, those high-quality salespeople, travel’s going to be restricted, buyers are much more focused on a digital buying process. So you really need to be engaging on that digital sort of channel. So they're the sort of the issues we see. You know, one has a recurring issue around that model of sales. The other one is that that model, that largely inefficient model, has been put under even more pressure because of Covid-19. So I'll hand over to Owen and he's going to talk about a couple of these fundamental challenges, which is responding to this current situation, the Covid situation, with new ways of marketing and selling. A key part of which is building a sales system. There's more scalable and efficient way of, of generating and nurturing leads. So I'll hand over to Owen to take it from here.

Owen Scott

Right. What we're going to cover today is eight functions that you need to put in place to build a sales system that's more scalable and more efficient and capable of, you know, selling products from New Zealand into markets overseas. So, we're gonna stick through these and explain each one as we go. But I'll just give you a quick introduction to each one. The first one is about hiring a low cost BDR and I’ll explain what I mean by that. But it's actually sort of taking a different approach to the role of a salesperson. We're going to talk about the lead generation programme so it's making sure that your marketing team is actually there to generate leads for sales. We need to put in place a sales focused theory, something that's going to support the salesperson and make them more efficient in their job. We need to understand how to prioritize leads that do come into our business based on best fit and the need. We need to revise our deal stages so they are closer to the way the buyers purchase products. We need to document our sales plays, we need to establish KPI so we can manage and measure our marketing sales efforts. And then we need to put everything into a playbook so we have a common understanding of how the sales system works. And we can pull a playbook out and review it as we go through it. So we're gonna step through the each of these components.

So the first one is we sort of step back a bit. Most tech companies, we start with a founder selling and then they sort of run out of capacity as the company starts to scale and we hire that sales unicorn, who's that highly qualified, highly skilled person, and is really good at doing deals. And we really asked them to do everything in the sales cycle, we asked them to prospect, find, and nurture leads, we ask them to engage with those people and then take those prospects through the sales process. And what really sort of happens here is that quite often when we hire these unicorns, we don't put the appropriate structure around them. And quite often they fail because of it, and we end up sinking them. And we go back to the founder selling again and we go around slowly until we get it right. What we're proposing is a different method. And really, it's about helping those sales unicorns by hiring a BDR. And so what the role of the BDR, business development role, is to focus entirely on prospecting. So their job is to find and connect with prospects in your target market. And during that connection, we're going to seek to determine whether those prospects are a best fit, and we're going to sort of sell or get them to agree to a Discovery call with my senior salesperson. So the BDR role, it can be a lower cost role, it can really help the sales process become more efficient. By just completely taking this prospecting but in terms of taking the responsibility off your more senior salespeople, and we really see companies scale a lot quicker when they establish this prospecting piece. There's the first one, hire a BDR.

The second point is around generating leads. Now this chart here, what this does is it compares basically where companies get their leads from in the New Zealand context and then compares it to the USA. So what the question here was basically what’s your primary source of leads and you see in the USA 80% of companies said their primary source of leads is marketing. So actually, the marketing department supplies them with leads and then New Zealand that was about 40% so what happens in New Zealand is we get our leads from referrals and our brand, cold calling. It’s basically the sales unicorns networks is where we get leads. Whereas in the USA they made marketing responsible for generating leads, and that's what you should be doing. You really need marketing department like this where the sole purpose is to generate leads and to make the sales process more efficient. So let's dive in here. We're not going to get into the details of it, but it's just showing, I suppose a typical lead generation system, where we were generating leads online. At the core is the website. And we're fundamentally trying to bring people to your website, and then we're trying to engage with them, support them through their buying process and convert them to leads that then can be qualified and passed to your sales teams. This is the main responsibility of the marketing team. And we need to use all the channels that are available to us. We need to use social media channels, email channels, paid channels, organic search channels, whatever to try and connect with people who are looking for solutions to their problems and bring them back to the website. So that’s lead generation. We need to put that in place and have that up and running.

The third thing is a sales CRM. So we can make our sales teams more efficient by having a really good CRM. Now the interesting thing is in our Market Measures study, it just it's fascinating how this keeps coming up, quite often when we ask them, ‘What CRM do companies use?’, quite often one of the biggest groups is ‘We don't have a CRM’, or ‘We've built our own CRM’, which is sort of just fascinating, and this world now we've got all these products available to us, mature products. Now, really the four things that your CRM should do, the CRM, obviously, it's a place to put all your context and your company records. That's a bit of a no brainer. But the next thing you want your CRM to do is to be able to obviously manage your pipeline. So you want to be able to define your sales pipeline, create sales opportunities and manage the flow of those opportunities through the pipeline. The third thing your CRM needs to do is to be able to manage what to record and help you with all the interactions that a salesperson has with a prospect. We need to be able to record and view emails, phone calls, meetings, notes, and have that all in one place. And then the fourth thing that a CRM needs to do is it needs to be able to hold and record marketing activity. So we need to know that that prospect opened a marketing email, that they attended a trade show or that have been on our website and now viewed the pricing page. So we need to bring all that together, we can have that in one place and make that available to your sales teams. That really helps the sales efficiency.

So the next area we're going to talk about is what call lead priority queues. So really, if we can get that sort of BDR going prospecting, starting to happen, we've got marketing generating leads, and that's starting to happen. And it's all coming into a really good CRM system. We need to start to understand how we prioritize. Basically it's sort of like if I've got a bunch of leads, which one should we talk to first. So, what we do here is we typically categorize these in two types of leads or demand. One is what we call inbound which is people come into us and then we have outbound which is us reaching out to good fit companies. When we look at them we typically try and prioritize them around sort of some concept, this might be different in your company, but you need to define these queues and actually agree where they are so we use things like hot, active, engaged. So hot leads are people obviously filling out a form on your website, you know, the contact us form. They’re saying, hey, I want to order, I want to talk to you about the problem I have. So they're the hottest, most important leads it should talk to. The next lot we have is what you call high intent website actions. So there's people that in your CRM, that maybe they've just been to your pricing page this morning. You know, if you've talked to them a couple of months ago, and now they're back on your website, and they’re looking at the pricing page, you should be bringing them up. So they're a real active lead, and we should reach out to them. And then the sort of the lower level was people that are just generally coming to your website, downloading content, maybe going to an event and you might have a different way of following up with them. And then a sort of once you've been to all your inbound leads, there might be some time for the BDR to reach out in an outbound way and to maybe to reach out to some other good fit companies. So whatever fits your organisation you need to define this model and actually agree across your sales team.

The next sort of part is really devising your deal stages. So all organisations tend to have some sort of defined sales process or deal stages. But typically they’re built from the inside out there really are about the actions that you do. We talk to the customer, we write a proposal, etc. So, what we're suggesting here is you really need to look at those deal stages and maybe redefine them based on more on what the stages are that support the buyer through their process. Like what are the stages that they go through? And one of the things we always try and do here is separate off prospecting. So really keep that out of the sales funnel. So that prospecting is sort of an activity on its own. And prospecting delivers really good qualified best-fit companies, and then they can come into the sales funnel into really nice, agreed deal stages that we can then support that the buyer through the process.

The next area is documenting your sales plays. So, you know, like most companies have all sorts of processes and documented notes, etc, about how they do things in their company. But I haven't really met a company yet that has documented their marketing and sales plays, basically, what should we do? Or what do we all agree to do in this situation? So the example here is completing a Connect call, so a Connect call is like, hey, I found a prospect, I think they're a really good fit. I'm going to reach out and try and establish a little relationship with them, either by phone or by email. So what we're agreeing here in a sales play, we're trying to write down some bullet points or some notes to say, okay, we're going to do a Connect call. What preparation should we do? Maybe we should look at their LinkedIn account and check them out. Maybe we should always look at the company's website, maybe we should look at the company's office and see who the shareholders are. What do we do before we pick up the phone and make a Connect call? And then what do we do in the call? And also, what's the output of the call? What are we trying to achieve with the call? So obviously a Connect call, typically the goal is to make a connection, engage with the prospect, it's about qualifying them, and then try to sell a bigger maybe Discovery call with a senior salesperson. And then when we do a Discovery call, which is that bigger engagement, what do we do to prepare for that? You know, maybe we have our case studies available online and a website in our browser. We've got our services page up. We've got their website up in a Zoom call potentially. And then what are we trying to get out of that call? Maybe we need to try and understand their budget. You know, who has authority, what their need is, the timeline, etc. So whatever it is in your organisation around, whatever way you want to engage with prospects and organisations through the sales process, we need to maybe just jot down the bullet points of how we've all agreed to go about it, so we get consistency when we try and scale things.

The next area is putting in place KPI metrics. So we are really sort of focused here on what are called pipeline metrics. So it's not about activity. It's about organisations moving through your pipeline. So the first two here are real marketing oriented ones. So how many people have we got to our website, and what percentage of those website visitors have converted to leads, to now the main two KPI for marketing. You see here that you know like in marketing, there's always these other KPI around the website. About bounce rates and exits and things, they’re just diagnostic metrics for people that build websites, if we want to know how are we contributing to sales, we gotta look at sales pipeline. So it’s visits, leads, and then we can start to say, right, well, I've got a bunch of leads, how many were qualified and passed to sales. This is what we call the MQL, or Marketing Qualified Lead, then we might have the next one, which is okay, we'll pass them to sales. How many have sales qualified, they've completed a Discovery call, and they actually got through that step with a pass mark? How many of those are happening? And then we might get into the other stages of the sales process like proposals, etc. And then we have revenue to close this month, and revenue to close this quarter. So we just find this is a great way starting metrics if you don't have metrics around marketing sales, to really understand the flow of prospects through your pipeline.

And then finally, the last component you need is you need to document all these elements into what we call a sales playbook. Now this once again, it could just be bullet points in a Word document. But the main thing here is we're actually writing things down, we're reaching sort of a common understanding that we can share across your sales team. So the first thing we need to do is the sorts of things you'd have in that playbook as the sales plays we talked about, we define what prospecting means, like what actually does that mean? Who do we reach out to? What is a good fit company? Who do we want to work with? Where would I find them? We need to write down how we prioritize demand. Where do our leads come from? Which ones do I deal with first? And how would I follow up with them? I'll see how do we create proposals in our organisation, what's contained in them? The engagement process - every organisation has their sort of own unique way of engaging with a customer around, you know, introducing themselves, understanding the customer's need, building a solution and then going through an onboarding process. What does that look like for your organisation? Let's get that written down. And then obviously pricing, and then maybe a whole lot of information around how we've set up our CRM and what are the deal stages? What do they mean? Where do I find lists of prospects in the CRM? So that's really the eight things that you need to put in place to build a sales machine that can scale you know, to fit your business.

I'll hand it over to Greg now who's going to summarize it up with some action points for you all.

Greg Williamson

Thanks Owen and thanks for hanging in there with us during your lunch break and we apologise for subjecting you to yet another zoom call. I'm sure if you’re like us, you've been spending hours per day on video conference calls in recent weeks. So we really appreciate you spending this time. And just as I go through these, we've got some really good questions which we can answer after this. But I just wanted to quickly summarize the sort of, ‘So what's’ out of this.

So in summary what we're trying to say is to people is to think about your sales model. And if you’re really dependent on founder-led sales, or one particular person or group of people, how could you help them make their life easier, make the process more efficient for them. Because that's key to scaling. And it's also a key to surviving in this sort of post COVID world where traditional ways of selling will be constrained. I think the second thing is to really contemplate using more junior type sales people for especially that early part of the sales process. It is about trying to move to more of a volume model where you're building a good database, you're generating a bunch of leads. And then you need somebody that can just work their way through those and get them to a point that the sales unicorn can actually close the deal. Because that means you're able to sell at a much higher volume. To support those though you really do need a systemized approach. As I'm sure many of you out there have tried to employ more of one of these sort of middle to junior salespeople when it's been a disaster because they didn't have the sort of capability to just sort of found around on their own and find a way he'd they need to be working within a systemized approach and never really defined role to support the more senior sales people. And then the other part of that is having the lead generation bit plugged on the front we call our holding marketing's feet to the fire in terms of trying to set those goals for leads and focus your marketing on that. You know, marketing agencies and marketing people you know, love all kinds of stuff to do with marketing, but ultimately anything you should invest in or do should ever result of producing those leads.

Technology is important. Like in any business endeavour where you're trying to increase efficiency, technology plays a role. It helps you do things more efficiently and it helps give you more visibility to what's going on. So some sort of CRM technology and you know, other sales, efficiency tools are a really key part of this whole approach.

Six is agreeing and documenting everything. Part of a systemized approach is actually really agreeing how you're going to approach things. You know, having consensus and company around those sales stages and what you're going to report against. Having consensus around best-fit customers, this can often be an issue in any company, but particularly tech companies where they can be a tension between what sales wants to try to bring in and what delivery technology teams want to better deliver or can deliver. So having some good alignment around that is important and then writing it down and then reviewing it regularly.

And finally really about following the numbers. The great thing about if you do sort of have some technology around this is that you can really check those numbers. We would recommend on a weekly sort of cadence of reviewing those key numbers, even if it's just a few of them around what leads have come in, what marketing qualified, sales qualified leads have you got, where they are in the sales stages. Those kind of things just really help you keep momentum and also diagnose where in the funnel you might be having issues. That's great. So, in terms of a next step, we will be sending you a follow up email with the slides. And with a link to this book featuring our friend, the pug dog, which basically breaks down all these steps in a bit more detail and helps you get going with things.

So, that's our presentation. We have a few minutes to go. So we have a few questions here. We'll just have a bit of a look at those. I mean, the first one, which I thought was a good one, was in terms of just the CRM and your website, how does that sort of work together? And how important is it for it to be integrated? You know, part of this model is trying to systemize that and it is really important that your website is set up so that inquiry is dropping straight into CRM and you can start qualifying them and processing them as a lead. So having that link, whatever technology stack you're using having that link is really important.

Owen Scott

So there’s one question here, can you talk about the marketing engine and the latest thinking on generating leads? And I think the really sort of the thing to think about in generating leads, what I really love about where marketing has gone lately is it used to be all about sort of ads and pushing people and sort of forcing people to engage with you, whereas generating leads now, it's much more about basically people are searching on the internet looking for answers to their problems. And if you can share some information with them, if you can help them, if you can add value to them, if you can give them a calculator that they can use to work out the answer to something and if they could better generate leads. So it's actually a really good one. It really fits Kiwi companies, it's about being useful and sort of a consultant and giving away a bit of your IP. So we're doing it in a digital way. And so we're just trying to, obviously, we're going to make it really easy for people to find that information. But fundamentally, it's about if you provide really good information and help people, they'll start to engage with your business online.

Greg Williamson

We have another question there in terms of lead generation, again, and the importance of a website at the centre of the system, question is really how important is the website and what are the key qualities of that. Your first point would be, we do see the website as being the sort of the hub of the, of the wheel of your lead generation. So the buying process is, as everybody would know, heavily digital these days. People are out there trying to find answers to questions from really early in the buying process. So your website plays a key role. You know, a great website is one that you do see as an engine, not as a brochure that you've created, some beautiful looking edifice.

What you're really trying to do is create content as Owen was saying that answers people's questions and gives away some knowledge and then puts them on a natural journey, you know, to your solution. So your website has to do that. And then what it really needs to do is function as a member of the lead generation team. So we’re asking for contact. So having lots of forms, pop ups, chatbots, all that kind of thing to actually turn traffic into real people you can deal with. Often when we engage with people, that's a key thing that we look at. And what you really need to do in a B2B sense, when you look at your website is think, well, the rule of thumb is 95% of my visitors don't want to talk to a salesperson now. They don't want to complete a Contact Us form. But they might be really interested in what you've got to offer in a sense and they're researching and they'll come back to it. So how can you grab those people? How can you give them a calculator that they could use? or How can you get them on a webinar? There’s education. Or how can you give them a case study? What are the other things you can do to engage the other 95%? That'd be the key.

Owen Scott

Ok, question here. Have you deployed websites on HubSpot’s new CMS? And is it worth moving to? Good question. So we've started using HubSpot CMS. We actually have moved all our website development to the HubSpot platform for our customers. There's really two benefits that I see. The first one is personalisation. So the HubSpot CMS is connected to the your CRM. So all your CRM data is available to the website. And so what that means is when you come to the website we could go Hi, Bob, because we know your name, we could present different information to you. Maybe we know where you are in your buying journey. So some of the pages could have some more dynamic content, maybe we could present different pricing to you. So it's really that personalisation, because it's connected to the CRM. And the other thing is that HubSpot is all about inbound marketing, publishing really good content, getting found in Google search engines, etc. And the HubSpot CMS is really built to help you basically make your content form on the internet. So it's really good at helping you with keywords, SEO planning, you know, and really, you know, building that lead engine that you need.

Greg Williamson

I think that's pretty much all we’ve got time for. There is a bunch of other good questions, which we're really happy to engage with people directly. We will be sending a follow up email with the link to the eBook and the details around this presentation. So you can review it at a later point. So just wanted to finish on a couple of things wants to thank everybody for giving up your time. We really appreciate it. We know it's a busy day for everybody out there. And the other point I'll leave you on is this system that we've talked about is exactly what we've done at Concentrate. We've moved to this, put all these things in place in the last year or so and had really good results from it. So that's why we’re sort of passionate about this as potential for more Kiwi companies. There's a bunch of Kiwi companies out there doing this way already. But there's a lot of room for more and for letting people, you know, realize the potential of a great technology by putting the right sales and marketing systems behind them. So, thank you very much. I’ll let Owen sign off, but yeah, again, thank you for your time and attention.

Owen Scott

Yep, thanks for your time and happy any questions, flex an email, we'll obviously be reaching out to everyone that was on here today. Have a good day.

Keen to find out more about scaling sales for your tech business_

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