Recently, VSA co-sponsored the 2019 AA-ISP Leadership Summit. Though it was our 4th year of attending, this was our first time as a sponsor.
Our VP of Business Development Maureen Tucker and I traveled to Chicago to spend the week of April 15th through 18th at the summit. We set up our booth — which looked terrific — and met hundreds of sales leaders from across the country, both at the booth and during lunches and sessions throughout the conference.
The annual gathering is billed as “the Inside Sales Leadership Event of the Year.” Here’s how AA-ISP describes the summit on their website:
“As the world of sales advances, the skills of our leaders must follow suit. Data analysis, technology, sales skills, prospecting tools, personalization, artificial intelligence and (most importantly) leadership, are just a few of the activities and goals that leaders are focusing on each day.”
Stepping into a sponsorship role was VSA’s way of acknowledging our growing leadership in Inside Sales and our commitment to this wonderful association that gathers the best and brightest from our industry.
Over time, we’ve witnessed the evolution of our Inside Sales. Four years ago, it seemed that about 80% of the presentations at the Summit and other large Inside Sales events focused on “soft skills” such as coaching and training, along with occasional breakthroughs in how to measure Business Development Rep activity and success.
But the last few years have brought an incredible burst of new tools and technologies. These innovations help business development reps with every aspect of the lead generation process: building lists, knowing who to call and when, sending the right number of emails between calls, moderating the tone of their voices, pausing for the right length of time, and even choosing which exact words to say.
We are simply amazed by the tools that abound!
One of the most remarkable new technologies we learned about at this year’s summit is Gong—a conversation intelligence tool that gathers large quantities of actual sales conversations to determine what types of messaging and dialogue produce the best results.
Amit Bendov, Gong’s CEO and Founder, was one of the presenters at the summit. His compelling message was that when you’re able to gather enough of the right data, how to effectively close more sales is no longer a matter of opinion. It’s fact.
By collecting and analyzing that data, Amit and his team have arrived at some amazing and often counter-intuitive conclusions:
Analysis: When talking to C-level decision makers, a Business Development Rep’s close rate will initially increase when they ask up to about five questions. After that, it actually decreases.
Conclusion: Asking too many questions can backfire. Limit yourself to only the few key questions that are most important to ask.
Analysis: Only 17% of reps thoroughly discuss the “next steps” after an initial call. The rest only lightly touch on next steps — if they do so at all.
Conclusion: This is an obvious and easy way to improve sales effectiveness:
talk about next steps after every conversation!
Analysis: Reps who don’t use language addressing “ROI” are 15% more effective in closing than those who use such language lavishly.
Conclusion: Stop talking about ROI. A better way to show success is by using stories of clients who are similar to your prospect, allowing the prospect to relate to your product on a personal level.
Analysis: Top performing BDRs answer 54% of the objections with a question, while average performers answer 31% of objections with a question. Questions allow the prospect to talk more and the BDR to listen, but also allows the BDR to clarify the true intent of the objection.
Conclusion: Answer most objections with questions. Doing so allows the BDR to clarify the true nature of the prospect’s objection — and allows the prospect to do more of the talking.
Though some of these conclusions might challenge our pre-formed opinions about what does and doesn’t work in Inside Sales, they ultimately validate what leaders in our industry already know: that in the end, it comes down to people and how we engage with our prospects on the phone.
At VSA we are committed to a culture where our BDRs are valued and know they are critical to our success. I came away from the summit truly inspired by how much these incredible technology tools can help BDRs be more successful and recognize more value from their hard work.
As you may know, our I am co-president of the Philadelphia Chapter of the AA-ISP. I encourage anyone who may want to learn more to seek out their local AA-ISP Chapter and join: AA-ISP.org.