Welcome to Sales Disruptors, an Xactly podcast and your destination for key expert insights, trends and strategies for success in the dynamic and ever-evolving modern sales environment.
Why Continuous Reinvention Is Paramount in Sales Performance Management with Chris Cabrera
Chris Cabrera is something of a survivor. The Xactly CEO founded the company and stayed to the IPO. He has continued to lead when so many executives take a ceremonial position on the board and has stayed at the helm even when private equity took the company back private.
Even those challenges have paled in comparison to what he and other leaders are fighting with the coronavirus pandemic. Yet, it’s just another moment during which Cabrera’s philosophy of continual reinvention has paid off.
“Now, it’s a whole different world. All these people are working remotely. You can’t see the whites of their eyes,” Cabrera said. “You don’t really know what they’re doing. So, we feel it’s even more important now to create incentives that help you explain to the folks what your expectations are but also help them to do more.”
Xactly helped do that with an integration with their partner Slack, giving workers a way to see their incentives on the same screen they’re using to communicate with leaders or catch up with co-workers.
Despite many companies seeking those solutions in the pandemic, Cabrera said too few have realized they need to keep reinventing themselves and utilize resources like data and analysis tools rather than sit static.
“We have a tremendous road ahead of us, and I think it’s largely because the vast majority of companies have still not woken up to being able to use data in the way that we’re talking about,” he said. “So, I still think we have a lot of educating to do, and you have a lot of very senior, very smart people in these very big companies that are thinking like it’s 1990 and they are really, really missing the boat. The future is to help them have those lightbulbs go on.”
How San Jose Sharks President Jonathan Becher Is Innovating the Fan Experience Despite the COVID-19 Pandemic
Jonathan Becher, President of the San Jose Sharks, likes to say he isn’t the president of the San Jose Sharks.
It’s not a tactic to avoid getting recognized at Starbucks. For Becher, it’s just the truth. His true title is President of Sharks Sports and Entertainment, with his purview extending past the National Hockey League team to the minor league franchise, facilities, a non-profit and other wings of the business.
Still, men skating and using sticks in an attempt to get a rubber disk past a man with a glove drives most of their business. So, when the actual hockey stops, as it has during the coronavirus pandemic, what do you do to keep fans connected? If you’re Becher, you adapt.
“I don’t think we’re in the business of putting on a hockey game,” he said. “What we’re actually in the business of is making memories.”
Of course, that can be watching Evander Kane light the lamp in the third period, but Becher and his team are thinking of different ways for fans to make memories. It’s meant diving in to areas the team previously eschewed, like simulated games using a video game platform.
The team has given some fans the opportunity to create an avatar and “suit up” next to their favorite Sharks players during the games the team puts out on its Twitch channel.
“They’ve been surprisingly, to me anyway, because I’m not a gamer, popular,” Becher said. “Partly, I think it’s because we did some cool stuff.”
One fan, after his digital alter ego scored the winning goal, posted on social that it was the best experience of his life. Another memory made thanks to the Sharks – without the team even taking to the physical ice. Those moments are just one of the innovations Becher believes will be “sticky” and carry over once the team is able to play games again.
“Here’s a new line of business that didn’t occur to us before, that was born out of necessity because of this disruption, and which we will continue even long after live games are back, because not everyone can be in our building in one night,” he said.
How Sales Can Weather an Economic Downturn and Stay Agile Amid Uncertainty with Edward Lang
The coronavirus global pandemic has fundamentally reshaped business, but one sector is feeling the tug in particular - sales.
Today, the Sales Disruptors podcast takes a look at how sales departments can change and adapt in light of a shifting economy. Guest Edward Lang, Senior Manager of Sales Performance at Accenture, reveals his insights into how to move forward with confident footing in uncertain territory.
Like businesses big and small, sales operations are struggling through similar challenges: the uncertainty of the future, retaining clients, retaining talent, and managing costs. But after weathering the 2008 economic downturn, Lang has some insight that can carry over to the current crisis.
“The more we can help our clients weather this storm, the better we will be in the position for long term relationships,” he said.
Helping clients can also mean helping yourself by taking the opportunity to streamline tools, implementation, and processes. Drive intent, drive meaning, and steer clear of gimmicks. Seize the opportunity to recruit top talent from competitors, recommended Lang. Shift payment streams and reward employees for tool sharpening. All of these tips trim the fat. Upon return, businesses should be “lean and hungry,” not starved and weak.
Lang’s final words, however, are perhaps the best encouragement for uncertain times — “It’s going to be okay.”
Markets will open up, albeit tentatively. Upon reopening there will certainly be a “new normal,” but sales will adapt and stay agile in an ever-changing market.
Solutions and Strategies for a Successful Sales Team with Erik Charles
For Erik Charles, VP, Solutions Evangelist at Xactly, one could say performance management is part of his DNA. Charles has over two decades of experience working with companies to help shape and design their strategies for optimal business performance. He spoke with host Daniel Litwin on ways company’s sales teams can position themselves for optimal performance through successful strategies and solutions.
A trend Charles sees popping up in more than just SaaS sales is subscription-based services with he relates to the idea of the buyer subscribing to the relationship with a company. Charles said sales must think differently about how they approach the customer.
“It is not just about closing a customer deal; it is about building a contractual long-term customer relationship.” Business development needs to build customer retention into their close methodology from the beginning of the process.
What are the pitfalls that sales teams can avoid from a top-down perspective? The first important thing for organizations to remember, Charles said, is to think of salespeople as more than just sales, and not to form characterizations of who and what that salesperson is. “Who are you hiring into sales? How are you supporting them? How are you treating them? How are you viewing them is a big issue.”
Charles believes another factor leading to ineffective sales teams is the revolving door approach of replacing sales managers and or marketing heads too quickly. Too often a rinse-repeat cycle of trying to fix a problem through personnel change, rather than building a robust connective relationship between sales and marketing. “Before we blame the individual, we should look at what other factors might be causing an issue.” Are the sales reps adequately trained on how to approach a particular type of lead? Are the marketing materials getting in front of the right kind of customer? Is the product pricing strategy matched up properly when going against specific competitors? A lot of different factors can make a difference in sales performance that goes beyond the salesperson.