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Whale Hunting: Negotiating, Handling, and Closing

Shep Maher, SVP of sales at Guidespark; Andrea Austin, VP of enterprise sales at InsideView, and Marc Jacobs, VP of sales at Greenhouse, discuss the difference between SMB and enterprise, buying processes, account-based marketing and more.

DataFox provides summaries of every single panel at SaaStr 2016, all published within a day of the panel itself. If you miss the tactical theater or strategy stage, are networking on the ground, or didn’t get a chance to attend this great conference, we’ve got you covered.

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Special thanks to Jason Lemkin of SaaStr for putting on this conference and giving us the chance to publish these summaries.

In a nutshell:

  • Coaching and peer mentoring are invaluable.
  • Account-based marketing and sales development is going to be (if it isn’t already) the key for enterprise sales.
  • Enterprise sales reps can’t be lone wolves. Closing big deals is a team effort.

The enterprise-SMB boundary

Austin defines midmarket as 400-2,499 employees. Jacobs tiers based on headcount: 0-100, 100-1000, and over 1000.

Q: What’s the buying process for enterprise sales

Jacobs: He recommends knowing the timeline inside and out - who do you have to talk to? How many times has the buyer gone through this process? What happens after the CFO approves? Which stakeholders are getting involved? Is the board? If the last, the deal is less likely to close.

Austin: Enterprise buyers don't even know what their own buying process is. You need to help them through it.

Q: How do you create urgency for enterprises?

Jacobs: Discounts only work so well, and aren’t likely to be as effective at the enterprise level. Instead, understand the customer’s timeline and business case, and argue that by not buying soon, they’ll be missing out on a certain dollar amount of revenue.

Austin: Become a painkiller, not a vitamin - be something they need, not want. Get the buyer to understand your story, and they’ll not only be a customer, they’ll be an advocate.

Q: How are you doing ABM?

Austin: Tailor your pitch to your customers - make sure they know your value proposition.

Maher: You want to be in that water cooler conversation. That happens with ABM and creating a drumbeat of outreach.

Q: What’s your enterprise SDR profile?

Jacobs: Same as most - intelligent, curious and so on. But they must also be able to corral the necessary resources that you have in the organization and put the right people in the right account at the right time.

Austin: She looks for characteristics:

  • Intellectual curiosity - does the rep care about the why, not just the what?
  • Resilience - is he or she be prepared to go after an account many times, many ways
  • Athlete mindset - can he or she be the quarterback, call the plays, and have a plan, while still being a team player? You can lose alone in enterprise, but you can’t win alone.

Q: What’s your process for onboarding?

Austin: Set up “onboarding partners” - not managers, but peers who can have a buddy system.

Jacobs: Set expectations for cadence, and train on all aspects of the company - not just how to sell, but the product, pricing and so on. Also, build a strong coaching culture.

Q: For long sales cycles, when do you know if a enterprise rep is failing?

Austin: The rep should be comfortable asking the customer, “what’s it going to take to make this deal happen?”

Jacobs: Reps should be able to align their sales process to the buyer’s process and needs, and have verifiable exit criteria. He measures by velocity, not close rate.

Q: Any metrics or tools to help sell into other stakeholders?

Jacobs: InsightSquared, reverse timeline.

Austin: Engage the company in landing the big accounts – be careful that you don’t assume CEOs (or other C-suite executives) know their role. Coach them, don’t just hand them a presentation and assume they know the role, persona, and messages they should deliver. InsideView is using Salesforce CRM, Marketo’s Interesting Moments, Box, and Chatter, is are considering a content management system.

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