2022 saw what some have called “SaaS’s first recession”. More than 91,000 tech workers have been laid off in 2022, and forward revenue multiples (the main method of valuation for publicly traded SaaS companies) fell on average by 67%.
Many sales professionals have been affected by the rocky economic climate of the past year. 61% of salespeople think selling is harder than it was five years ago. 31% of companies reduced their budget for SaaS tools, increasing the competition between sales professionals trying to hit their quotas. Layoffs threaten job security and fallen revenue numbers can cut into commission checks.
However there is a silver lining: It’s not you. Selling has gotten harder. The writing is on the wall that everyone should be thinking about how to adjust their sales strategy to match the new economic and tech climate.
That’s why we scoured the internet (so that you don’t have to) and compiled the top four signs proving that old sales tactics aren’t working. Bring these to your end-of-year review, sales kick-off, or use them to confirm what you already felt in your gut: it’s time to revamp your sales strategy.
Sign #1: Outreach tactics aren’t working
Getting a lead to respond to your first, second, or even third attempt at outreach can be one of the more difficult hurdles sales professionals face. In 2022 this rang true for cold email outreach, with sales professionals that response rates are down from 2021.
There are benefits to cold emailing being your outreach tactic of choice. The process is scalable’ emails can be templated out and personalization can range. Plus, sending an email can take less time than a conversation on the phone and emails self-archive.
The downside? Everyone else also sees the benefits of emailing. According to Statista, there were 333 billion emails sent daily in 2022, with the projection for 2025 clocking in at 376 billion. This constant barrage of emails can lead to your cold email being ignored or even lost in an overflowing inbox.
Tips for revamping your outreach
Cold calling, like cold emailing, is a tried and true sales tactic. Plus, the statistics show that it can yield more results than cold emailing. 57% of C-level buyers say they prefer to be contacted via cold-call over cold-email and 82% of buyers who have answered a cold call say they’ve accepted a sales meeting.
However, 79% of unidentified calls go unanswered. Plus cold calling is tedious and, when asked, a majority of sales professionals listed cold-calling as their least favorite part of their day. So while we recommend cold calling for sales professionals looking to drive results by outworking their peers, it’s good to supplement this tactic with some less time-intensive ones.
A less well known but effective outreach tactic is by securing a warm intro from someone in your partner ecosystem. Warm intros have a 40% response rate for booking sales meetings (compared to the 8% response rate for cold emails).
To secure warm intros for your leads, start by reaching out to your partner manager. Give them a list of the leads you are targeting and ask if there’s a partner in your ecosystem that already works with any of them. We recommend setting up a regularly occurring meeting with your partner manager to never miss out on a warm introduction opportunity. Then collaborate on:
- A blurb for the partner about the lead. Give some context about what you’re trying to do with the lead.
- A draft of the intro. This takes the lift off of your partner and makes helping you much easier.
Sign #2: High quality leads are in high demand
There’s a reason that companies identify and target their ideal customer profiles (ICPs). Prospects that are the right product fit for your company typically have a higher return on investment. For sales professionals, high quality leads require less time and are more likely to close (and bring in more commission checks).
So where have all the good leads gone? They are still out there. According to Hubspot’s 2023 Global Sales and Trends report, 41% of respondents say that they get high quality leads. High quality leads can perform at 5X the rate as low quality leads, meaning that the performance gap between the 41% of high quality lead receiving respondents is significant.
The challenge for sales professionals in 2023: make sure you’re part of the 41%.
Tips for getting qualified leads
Lead aggregation traditionally falls to the marketing team. However, as a sales professional you can identify and prioritize the high quality leads in your pipeline.
One place to prioritize is with partner-sourced (or ecosystem qualified) leads. Partner-sourced leads are almost 100X more likely to close than a cold lead and do so in less time (more on that later).
This is because when you get a partner-sourced lead, you should already know that the lead has some interest in what you’re selling. Good partners will only send leads if there’s a basis for why that lead might be interested in your product (for example, the lead mentioned a pain point that your product can address). We recommend clarifying your partner’s lead sharing process with your partner manager.
Partner managers are typically measured on how much revenue is brought in via partner-sourced leads, so it is in their best interest to help you target as many partner-sourced leads as possible.
- Setting up a meeting with your partner manager to learn more about the partners they’re working with and to identify any EQLs that might be coming from those partners.
- Establishing a consistent method of communication (a weekly meeting or a dedicated Slack channel can suffice) to make sure you’re kept up to date, as partner data can change quickly.
- Expressing your interest in working with EQLs. If your partner manager sees you as a partnerships champion, they will most likely prioritize sending you leads.
Sign #3: Sales cycles aren’t efficient
When it comes to sales, timing is crucial. Are you spending a majority of your time chasing down dead end leads? You’ll most likely feel increasingly burned out, leading both your mental health and job performance to suffer. Everything from when you time your outreach to the length of your sales cycle, to how much time you’re spending on a single deal versus the results you’re seeing can affect your commission, burnout rate, and even job security.
Some questions to ask yourself to evaluate whether or not you’re making the best use of your time in your sales cycle:
- Do you know when the timing is right for your prospect to buy?
- How much time are you spending learning about your prospect versus pitching them?
- How quickly are you establishing trust with your prospect?
- Are you wasting time talking to the wrong people in an organization or are you getting right to conversations with key decision makers?
Tips for shortening your sales cycle
Knowing as much as possible about your prospects before you reach out to them can help shave down your sales cycle. The more familiar you are with their role and goals, the faster you can pass over the discovery phase of your sales cycle and jump straight to actually selling. Plus, the more you know about your prospect, the more you can curate your pitch to them.
One way to do this is by tapping into your professional network. Does your lead have a marketing background? Set coffee chats (via Zoom or in person) with your marketing connections and tap into their expertise. Ask them about:
- Their goals and KPIs
- Industry trends
- Their thoughts on your value proposition
Even better than learning about the persona of your lead is learning about your actual lead. We’ve found that working with a partner who’s already working with your lead can cut your sales process down by 66%.
This is because partners can give you non-public facing intel on your lead that can help you time when you make your pitch. Has your lead’s company recently greenlit a larger budget for SaaS tools? Or have they recently purchased tools that aren’t compatible with your product? Knowing if you’re trying to sell into either of these scenarios will give you the insight you need to shoot your shot at the right time.
We recommend talking to your partner manager about finding a partner who already works with your lead. Then, ask that partner for information such as:
- Adjustments in your lead’s budget
- Updates in your lead’s tech stack
- Changes in personnel (layoffs or hires) that impact decision making processes at your lead’s company.
Sign #4: Customer data is underutilized in sales workflows
Customer data is a crucial part of most sales processes and incomplete or a lack of data can be a major roadblock for sales professionals. Data can be used to:
- Identify important customer segments
- Flag prospects who fit your ICP
- Bring in high value customers
- Create personalized customer onboarding and shopping experiences that can promote upselling opportunities down the road
In 2021, $22 billion was spent on third-party data between the data itself and audience data activation solutions. Third party data is collected by companies via cookies and then sold to other companies. But a series of privacy regulations are limiting the selling and purchasing of third party data. As a result, it will be even more difficult for companies to put third party customer data into the workflows and hands of their sales professionals.
Luckily, first and second party data sources exist. Companies can collect first-party data via cookies on their own websites. If those companies choose to share, not sell that data with a trusted company, that shared data becomes second-party data.
Tips for bringing more data into your workflows
With the continued emphasis of data analytics for high growth companies, it’s important to double down on second-party data sources and find creative ways to utilize that information in sales processes.
Here’s where partner data, a kind of second-party data, can help. Partner data is either shared with or received between partners and is the primary way to expand your second-party data.
Partner data is extra valuable because:
- You already know that your partner’s audience is relevant to your business.
- You trust your partners, alleviating the risk that comes with sharing data.
- There are tools dedicated to making this process secure. PEPs such as Crossbeam help you push your partner data into your data warehouse.
Plus, now there’s a tool dedicated exclusively to helping Sales professionals access and use partner data. Crossbeam Sales Edge lets sales professionals easily search their partner data for new leads, chat with their counterparts at partner companies, and track partner influence in their deals. This way, sales professionals can easily and intuitively tap into one of their most powerful tools: a vast pool of second-party data.
For more tips on how to revamp your sales strategy:
- Learn from your peers with The 12 Best Pieces of Sales Advice on LinkedIn in Q4
- Check out what’s been working, such as Partners Contribute to 58% of the Revenue of Top Performers (And 5 Other Sales Stats)
- Recharge with IRL Conferences To Attend In 2023
- Read about the 4 Parts Of The Sales Cycle Where Partnerships Can Help
- Hear all about the new way to do things: Ecosystem led sales
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