Deal momentum masters with Mark Roberge and Anna Baird

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This is a podcast episode titled, Deal momentum masters with Mark Roberge and Anna Baird. The summary for this episode is: <p>Deals getting lost in the no-decision triangle? Today’s selling landscape means unexpected hurdles, new decision makers, and steeper objections (looking at you, budget). Swipe the playbook from deal momentum masters Mark Roberge, Anna Baird, and Devin Reed to navigate your deals towards signature. These three sales experts weigh in to help you jumpstart your pipeline and supercharge momentum in your deals. It’s the stuff advanced sales teams are doing right now to overcome the CFO death-trap, the budget freeze-zone, and the “2020 killed my value prop” dilemma. </p>
Why is deal momentum so important?
00:57 MIN
How COVID has accelerated deal closes
01:03 MIN
How budget freezes have impacted deal size
01:07 MIN
How has deal velocity changed?
01:09 MIN
How the bar for measurable ROI has risen
00:49 MIN
Arm your champion with the information they need to get the deal approved
01:04 MIN
Multi-threading as a way to keep deal momentum going
01:22 MIN
Use multi-threading to get back to what the decision-maker cares about
00:49 MIN

Devin: Anna thanks for joining us. You're the CRO of Outreach, which is a company I've been following forever. I've been a user at multiple companies. But do you want to do maybe like a quick intro before we get started?

Anna Baird: Sure. Hello everybody, Anna Baird for those, I have not met. Welcome to today. I am in Silicon Valley for those who are residents of California, been here for 25 years and I was a partner at KPMG, came into Outreach as COO with inaudible McAfee as a senior vice president. So done the big enterprise sale, have been in sales for a long time, if you don't know, partners at KPMG have a$ 6 million quota a year. So we have a big quota to hit. So those are all enterprise deals all the time. I was the global lead partner on Google pre IPO for seven years into it, and a bunch of others. And Outreach for the last two and a half. And I have been COO, CFO and now CRO of Outreach. So I'm working my way through the Cs.

Devin: Yeah, absolutely. No, it's phenomenal experience, which on top of just being a friend of Gong, wanted to reach out and get you on, on this webinar to share all that expertise. So I appreciate it. Mark, I see you in the panel. Can you hear us?

Mark Roberge: Yeah, I can. Can you hear me Devin?

Devin: I can hear you loud and clear. How are you today?

Mark Roberge: Thank you. Pretty good. Start a video inaudible the video is not coming and I don't know what's going on. I tried to restart it didn't seem to work, but that's unfortunate. We'll figure it out. I'm good though.

Devin: Good. And no sweat. People will have to be forced to look at me or the slides, I advise the slides personally, but inaudible. Mark, do you want to do a quick intro for the folks who might not know either who you are or at least what you're up to today?

Mark Roberge: Yeah, sure. So Mark Roberge, set the first 20 years of my career as an entrepreneur, the last startup I was part of the founding team of was HubSpot. My role was head of sales and chief revenue officer and took them through the IPO, wrote a book about the process toward the end of that, called The Sales Acceleration Formula. And then I was recruited into Harvard Business School to teach the first sales curriculum in the MBA program which I did full- time the last four or five years in addition to helping a bunch of startups. And then two years ago, I was approached by a young investor at Bessemer to co- found Stage 2 Capital, which is the first VC fund running backed by sales leaders. We're on fund two right now, we're about halfway through raising that right now. But we're backed by roughly 150 C- level go- to- market executives from most of the public software businesses. So like Dropbox, Salesforce, Microsoft, Oracle, Zoom. We've got representation from lots of different folks and we've made 12 investments so far. So that's what I'm up to like inaudible.

Devin: Love it, love it. And so as you guys can tell, we have some heavy hitters here from the C- suite folks who really led, I'm going to bring you some of the Gong data and some of the sales practitioner aspect of today. So we have some really cool things to talk through. And you're in the right place because we got to have over 2200 people sign up for the registration for this webinar. And we got about 560 people on live. So you're in the right spot. All right, we already talked about the big news, so let's just get into it. So for our agenda today, as you know we're talking about deal momentum. And so we'll start off with why you're a Simon Sinek fan, you always start with why. Then we'll get into new buying committees and buying processes, how to win over the new economic buyer, the importance of multi threading and some of the tactical things around how you can arm your champions. And then when each of us have a tip that we'll end with in terms of how to execute using visibility and speed. All right. Anna and Mark, are you ready?

Mark Roberge: It's good.

Anna Baird: We're ready.

Devin: All right. Well, let's just start with this because I think this is one and it's, why are we talking about deal momentum? And then how has, I guess deal velocity changed? But Anna, why is deal momentum so important?

Anna Baird: Oh, well we know time kills all deals. So I think that is now a sales rule number three or something. But maybe number one. And as you look at the velocity of the day we were getting held up. It's definitely slowing down, the economic pressures out there have gotten a lot more stakeholders involved than has ever been before. So it is really critical that you're understanding. And we'll talk about that today. How do you make sure you get the right stakeholders involved at the right time so that you are trying to impact velocity as much as you can, because it is definitely slowed down when every CFO needs to approve every deal. And it's funny in our company all the way from our virgin segment, which is SMV through strategic, that my team is saying the same thing. CFO involved, CFO involved, CFO involved. So we'll talk more about that later.

Devin: Yeah, absolutely. I think everyone is feeling that, more budget holders being involved. Mark, what is your perspective on this and maybe how has it, if you agree with Anna or maybe if you've seen some other aspects in terms of how deal velocity has changed in the last couple months?

Mark Roberge: Yeah, totally agree with you know an alteration of the buyer committee to include finance more aggressively because of the budget tightening. But I also would add to it as well. So just so folks don't like context here is having worked with our portfolio of a dozen companies, probably evaluated maybe a hundred investment opportunities very closely since COVID. And then also having raising money since COVID, I've been talking with like C- level executives from public software companies and understand what's going on there as well. There's probably about 150 or 200 that I've talked to. So it's that aggregation that I'm drawing on these observations. I'll say that there's a consistency in the funnel shape at each stage and how I've seen it change post- COVID when I asked these folks. I've seen people talk about a pretty substantial increase in the very top of the funnel in terms of like inquiries from the website or sort of any inbound inquiries and that's intuitively makes sense because of I think just people are working virtually, they're consuming a lot of digital content these days. I think a lot of people are seeing content video performing better than pre- COVID. And that's an opportunity, I think for a lot of folks. I've seen the MQL conversion to be similar to the past. It's a similar quality of companies, but the conversion from MQL to like a sales opportunity, however you define it, where you're actually talking to the lead and you've found there's a true buying opportunity there that's way down. And that has made intuitive sense because this is probably a lot that just people just do a general research on the top, but also there's just a lot of budget freezes happening. And so that's a challenge. What's been the biggest surprise for me, is the conversion from qualified sales opportunity to close has accelerated from what I've seen across dozens and dozens of examples. And as I double click into it this is especially true for even larger deals where there's a complex buyer committee. And what people are saying is, if you had three people on the buying committee, one was in Hong Kong, one was in London and one was in San Francisco, you basically had to get the three of them in a room to get this deal over the finish line. And that took six months to schedule because of complicated travel schedules. And now that happens in like a week or two, because it's done over Zoom. And I still haven't really crystallized what the best practice... I still, I don't even think like the enterprise software leaders know what the best practice is to navigate that new virtual decision- making unit discussion. But that's been interesting to me and seems to be an opportunity for folks to accelerate that.

Devin: Yeah, that's really interesting that you said it's easier to get folks on the phone, but not necessarily getting qualified opportunities to close as quickly. Just some things are accelerating as somethings... It sounds like some things are getting easier as somethings are...

Mark Roberge: Yeah, so crosstalk more inquiries, but then it's not as easy to convert those inquiries into a qualified sales opportunity because of budget freezes. And I think there's some techniques we can talk about there too, to make that happen. But it's interesting that once you have any qualified opportunity, the close rate is equal or even higher inaudible a certain faster from what I've seen at HubSpot.

Anna Baird: Well, I think one of the things I'd be interested in Mark, I don't know if you've seen this, but the deal sizes have not obviously all gone up, but I see people closing faster, smaller, because they can't get the budget. So I think we're back to sort of that key challenging inaudible Topo just did a studies of 50% of buyers have a reduced budget. And a 70% of sales tangents has been a major impact of pipeline, right? And it is those two things or because of budget freezes, right? You get, to Mark's point a lot of people, top of funnel because of all the digital events like this, right? Lots of people virtually able to attend things and get educated, but they don't have necessarily the buying power or the ability to do because of the freezes or constraints on the budgets that are within their companies. So a lot of interests, but those conversions aren't as high. And I think as you look at the conversions, we actually have seen the same across some of our customers, velocity of conversion at that bottom of the funnel is faster. Deal lands were smaller. They're starting to increase again though. So I think that's a good sign, at least from some of what we've seen. So we'll see how this plays through.

Devin: Yeah, no, that's a great point. That's something that I've seen too people say, we'll maybe talk about a little bit more, but when the pandemic hit, some people, their value prop became a little less applicable, right? Recruiting for example. And so a lot of companies have leaned on, hey, if we can't solve the problem, now let's nurture with educational content. So later down the line, budgets loosen up a little bit or things go back to some sense of normal and they can start selling again, that they still have an engaged audience that they can interact with.

Mark Roberge: Yeah. I'd agree with that. I agree your point, Devin, and you Anna as, it's almost like there's so many examples. I've been always asked how do you have to change sales? How do you have to change sales? It's almost like all the stuff that the best practice thought leaders and people who execute strong sales orgs have been saying, it's all the same stuff. It's just that before you could have average results without doing it, and now you just need to do all this stuff-

Anna Baird: Exactly.

Mark Roberge: -Like average results. I think the two specific examples, to Anna's point are one, people have time right now. I think people have a little more time on their hands than they have in the past. And if you're going to go into a buyer saying, " Hey, let me show you a demo of my product." Which has never been the best practice, but it's amazing how many professional salespeople do that still. That's where you're going to hear all this stuff of like, " Oh, there's budget freezes, no budget, no one wants to see the product." But when you walk in and say, " Listen, you're not doing anything, I'm not doing anything. Why don't we just spend an hour and talk about..." God forbid, like your CEO comes in your office in October and says, " Listen, I think things are stable enough that we can put the foot on the accelerator a little bit." What is she going to ask you to do? And what do you have to put in place now? But what do you have to put in place to prepare for that, right. And you have to sell them and then just doing really good long- term discovery. And that I've seen yield what turned out to be a budget freeze. We have nothing to do, turned into a true opportunity for the organization.

Devin: Yeah. inaudible.

Anna Baird: Love that inaudible Mark, that's exactly right. Go talk about business challenges, not downloading just your product inaudible.

Devin: It's funny that things we all know are true have become even more true. I feel like even more applicable. You can't cut corners these days. You have to do it the right way. I want to jump here because one, there's two questions that I'm seeing in the chat section. inaudible has made me think everything's a chat bot now, it will be recorded folks. If you have a call at the half an hour mark. Yeah, your dog's barking, kids need you. Don't worry. Everything's being recorded. You'll get it tomorrow. But the next question led us right to this, which is the question was are companies shifting to more committee- based decisions? Now, Mark, this was something that when we were doing our planning session, you really touched on was more stakeholders are involved. I know we kind of touched on that, but I guess the real question is why are more stakeholders being involved and two what can sellers and sales orgs do to maybe shift their buying process and get more stakeholders involved and understand those roles.

Mark Roberge: Yeah, good point. So yeah, I mean, I think this has been happening for awhile. I think if I think about like the Bridge Group, for example, been doing some pretty good research, that shows there's just more people involved in the buying process. I don't know why. I understand today why. Because everything's being highly criticized from a budgetary standpoint and I think we've struggled as a sales profession to navigate these decision- making units. I think part of it is the old adage of "call high". It's like that was statistically a best practice, I think, 20 years ago. And it's still great. I mean, don't get me wrong. If you can start with the CEO, you're much better than starting with the intern. But like I do find that many sales folks don't lean into a true account based selling model, where there is a value to each level like you have here Devin and how to leverage that. inaudible saw a lot of sales leaders or salespeople, for example, get an inbound inquiry from a low level manager, for example, that doesn't have decision- making power and basically say this lead sucks. And I think that's totally wrong. I think it's totally wrong to align your SQL definition around the role of the converted inquiry. And I think it's a lot more to do with just the quality of the company, right. I'd much rather have a frontline manager with no decision making capability from a perfect fit company than the CEO of not so good fit company. I don't think we think about that often. So that's first off, it's, when you're thinking about the definition of what is a true callable lead focus that on the firmographic of the company and less on the role of the person. And then the second piece is how to properly leverage the folks at the bottom of this pyramid, which you call end users. That's great. I might call them coaches, right. So what we want to do there is understand their needs, just like we would have the CEO. With the understanding that it doesn't matter much in terms of the purchase because they do a lot of purchase power. But if you can help them with their need either by just telling them some educational piece right now, or explain how your product helps them with that, then you're going to be able to leverage them as a coach to get access to the decision maker. And there's lots of different techniques we can talk about. Maybe we'll turn it over to Anna and talk about some of those. But just like an appreciation of a proper definition of a good lead is more around the company than the person and appreciation that these coaches, these end users can be extraordinary valuable in that sales process, even though they don't have a lot of decision authority.

Devin: Absolutely. Absolutely. And I know we have some, I think in a few slides we can get into kind of the how, the how for getting more stakeholders involved. And so the other thing, I think it was Anna, you had said this one, which is budget holders are getting heavily involved. Now you're a CRO at Outreach, which is I'm going off again, I want to see you guys around a thousand employees. Are you also finding yourself being involved in more like purchasing dishes as an evaluator? And then also, how are you seeing this unfold for your sales team?

Anna Baird: Well, I think a couple things, one is I was also the CFO, so I totally understand this.

Devin: Yeah, so you've been around, you've been a part of all of it.

Anna Baird: It is. And I think as you really take a look at what's happening, obviously, and we talked about this a minute ago with budgets getting frozen, so at least held steady if not decreased and depending again, Devin earlier on what industry you're in and how impact that's been. But really everybody has to make sure every dollar counts and that's because of ROI, right? If you're going to go ask for money and you got to well, talk about army and your champions, which is something we talked about prior to this as well, but it is making sure that you're giving them what is the budget holder going to care about? And they are caring about cost reduction or revenue improvement. Those are really kind of the two things that they're focused on right now. So how do you position yourself and your champion to go have that internally? I was talking to the CIO of a fortune 50 company the other day, and even how they're involved. And he said I got to go talk to the CFO. I gotta go talk to the CFO about everything we're going to purchase because we have to make every dollar count.

Devin: Right.

Anna Baird: And that's how you have to think about it. The dollars are precious, so how do you get your allocation of those dollars? Those budget holders are going to allocate dollars to the best business cases that they see. And I think that's where we'll talk about in a little bit, how do you get your business case in front of them early rather than late?

Devin: Let's get into it. I think that is the next slide. If memory serves me correctly, I could have had you read this actually, this is pretty much what you had just said. When COVID first happened back, or I shouldn't say first half, but when it kind of, when WHO announced it as a global pandemic back in March, I did the same thing that the CIO did, I went and talked to our CFO. And I was like, " Hey, I'd love to hear from you. How are you thinking about purchases?" And here's what he said, and forgive me for reading the slide. But I really, I truncated it because I think it was really helpful, but my question was this was, " Salespeople, Tim are going to want to know how to get a deal done." So I said, " How do people get a deal done?" And he said, " The best way is to prove how you're going to help increase remote productivity, enhance visibility into the business and, or increase agility." You have to come prepared to show exactly what Anna said, how a specific investment will indeed save the company hard dollars. The bar for measurable and rapid return on investment is higher than it was before. And I think kinda like what we were saying earlier, you kind of have to go back to the basics. I think some salespeople, when we were in a growth market, a lot of people could get away without necessarily doing this or, or being very concise with this message. And then just like you said, Anna, you have to have this down path in order to even have a shot at buying now versus, hey, why don't we revisit this in Q1 next year? You know what I mean? And see how things shake out.

Anna Baird: Well, and budget ownership, I think to your point, you just said it Devin, just remember your budget owner who you sold to before used to have budget and they could approve at their own level. That's what changed. They can't approve at their own level anymore because all purchases are scrutinized for exactly what you're noting on this screen. So no going in that that's what's going to happen. And then how do you make sure you're addressing that quickly? And we'll talk about that I think in a second.

Devin: We all seen the, or are probably familiar with the $10, 000 bar, which is if it's under 10 K I can sign and if it's above 10 K, we got to get approval. You guys might be familiar with that. Now everything, there is no 10 K bar. It's if we're signing anything, even renewals for things, CFOs are getting involved. And so let's talk about how to do this. And so Anna, and I'm going to have you lead with a prep your champion. Because that was something that you mentioned. And I know it's kind of, I think in a couple of slides, we can maybe double down on it. But in terms of, if you're a sales person, if you're leading a sales team and you want to enable them to go get deal approval, the first thing is you got to prep your champion and to have that conversation. Do you have any tips around that?

Anna Baird: Yeah, for sure. And I think it's two things and I think Mark got this a moment ago too. Two perspectives to think about here. One, is somebody who's buying right now. So somebody who does have the ability to buy. The reason they're going to have the ability to buy, and you need to figure this out when you're walking into deals, because they're going to come in one of three categories. Budget is frozen and they're waiting for it to unfreeze, so they can't buy now. They are obviously at an economic decline from what's happening in their business. So they're going to have no buying power for a while or they can buy, but it's going to be scrutinized. So they have some budget because the company is doing well enough that they're getting allocations. And then there's some that are those few companies that are going crazy right now who have some budget that are a little bit more flexible, but there's very few of those. And a lot of them are going to fall in this category of, yes, I can still buy, but with a business case. And so one of the things that I have seen, or, and again, this kills a deal when you're... And remember your budget owner, whoever your champion that you're talking to used to be able to buy, four months ago they could buy it.

Devin: Right.

Anna Baird: And sometimes some of them will think they can. And the problem is they think they can, they run you through an evaluation process, and then they go to put that on the CFO's desk because where they have to get ultimate approval, or to their leader who then has to go to the CFO. And they have put together a business case as to why, because they could buy without having that all flushed out, then they're going to get axed and you're never even going to get the audience because the person is like, " No, this doesn't even make sense. I know you didn't put a business case together." Then you've also left a bad taste in the mouth of that CFO or executives, and you're trying to come back in time two is not what you want to do. So what you're you as a team need to do is say, what is the ROI for that business? To the point you made a moment ago Devin, are we making them more efficient, so we're cutting costs somehow, are we getting them obviously accelerated revenue? What is it that, that CFO, those hard dollars that they're going to care about and arm your champion with those talking points and give it to them early so they get in front of their leader as well as the CFO and say it depending on who you're talking to, to say, " Hey, I want to tee you up. We're having this discussion. We're going through this evaluation. Here's why we're looking at it." So that you're already getting that in the queue of that final approver and everybody in between to say, " Hey, this is why we're looking at this. We think this is a big opportunity for our business." And what Mark said a minute ago, having some of those discussions in the pyramid around those individual contributors also helps you get aligned around what is the company talking about at all hands. Ask them that question, they're all in those all hands. What are they saying their key priorities are? What are they trying to achieve? And getting some of that data from others at the company to help arm you with putting together that business case, you can put their language into it, " Hey, we know you're trying to achieve these two things. Here's how we help. And then here's terms that we make." You are then talking their language to their own leaders about where you're influencing their key objectives. And I think that that is super critical today and easier to do than ever because everybody's having all hands like every 30 days.

Devin: I've never had more all hands in my life. I mean, we have one every two weeks now, even so. Definitely true. But I love that takeaway. It's such an easy ask, what do you guys talk about in all hands? What is your CEO mentioning week over week, month over month? And that is the center for, that's your North Star of a business case today, because it's coming from the CEO and now, like you said, everyone in the company has almost more access to these initiative updates. It's something, a small thing that can make a big impact there. And then along those lines, some of those questions too, are like, and this is what our team does, our sales team preps their champion, if the sales rep can't be in that CFO meeting is preparing the champion to expect no, right? So it's was like, " Okay, if you get hit with no, what are you going to say? How are you going to come back to that?" Because you really only get one shot to sell the CFO, right? Like you said, leaves a bad taste in the mouth when you come unprepared. And so what our sales team is doing is going through kind of a mock, talk track or a role- play and saying, okay, just like you said Anna, what are the key initiatives that you're hitting on? What is kind of the leverage that we're pulling for growth or cost savings and really preparing them for that conversation. So when they go meet with the CFO, you have the highest chance of getting that yes.

Mark Roberge: I would echo, can you hear me okay, Devin?

Devin: Loud and clear.

Mark Roberge: I would echo, everything there, I think is best practice. I'll kind of add two things related to it, which is one, the extreme need to have pivoted messaging in this new environment. I think everyone, a lot of the companies that have built up their go to market in the last five years, did it around a growth oriented message because many companies we're trying to fuel growth and to the point here, that Anna's highlighted that there they're much more to cost savings. So if you're using the same sales playbook as January, you're way under optimized. So it just kind of starts with the way you're kind of leading in there and enabling your salespeople. I love the whole coach your decision maker. I think there's a little bit of acting in there. I hate to be like, because again, I think the profession is just too... But sometimes you just got to, if we really have a buyer here that will benefit greatly from our service, we got to do everything we can to get this deal. And first off, when you're running a good account based selling strategy, you're probably reaching out to a dozen plus contacts at all levels. And you're probably more likely to get contact lower down because they have more time. And so if you do get a connect there, sometimes it's advantageous to basically explain to them that you've been communicating with a variety of people there, and will continue to do so. And maybe say, you've been communicating with their CFO. Maybe you say you've been communicating with their CEO. And I think what that does, it's a slight vagueness on words, but if I got in touch with a lower level coach, and I find out that here's the following things that are happening in the business strategically, and I've been sending emails to the CEO or the CMO or whatever, I want to update them and say, " Listen, I spoke, I had a great chat with Devin for 45 minutes. And he told me about how you're trying to do more with less with your staff right now. And the biggest concern is on the marketing front because you're trying to find ways to maintain, but some of these channels are degrading." And I mean, it's almost like this person works at my business and just sent me advice. " And, oh, by the way, I've got a follow up call with Devin on later this week, here's the Zoom or GoTo Meeting link if you want to join." I mean, that can backfire, but that can also be extremely powerful. And so that's why it creates, it requires really precise finesse on how to make progress in the lower end and gathered information, but re keep access at the higher end, even though access is just one way emails that are probably being read, to be honest with you. So that's one, and then number two, to your all point of most of the time, we're this is great. Thank you, Devin. I'm so glad that we connected and I'm so glad that you agree that we're going to be a huge time saver to you as an end- user. Now I think usually the next step is we get time with your CFO. Usually they're like, no thanks because I can't bring you into my CFO. She's super busy right now and they give you the Heisman, right? And to your point, well, okay, fine. Why don't you tell me how you're going to pitch it to her?

Devin: Right.

Mark Roberge: And 99% of the time they're pitching a story that helps them, not the CFO.

Devin: Exactly.

Mark Roberge: And again, a little bit of acting, " Devin, do you really want this time savings? Because what you just did is going to fall flat."

Devin: inaudible.

Mark Roberge: Yeah, exactly. It's like, " Do you really want this? Come on, man. I do this all day." Your CFO is going to laugh at that. She doesn't care if you go to work, home from work early. Here's what the CFO is going to think. And like, I'm going to try to use that to raise her attention. " Listen, you really need me to be in that meeting." And the very least it's like, " Let's build a deck together. You can just walk them through and let me coach you to walk through," which is what you were saying. So I think those are so important at time where getting to power is that much more difficult.

Devin: Yeah, definitely. Definitely. Quick question on that. There's great questions coming in, guys. Some of them are on topic for what we're talking about right now and I'll try to hit on him if not, we'll do it at the end. But you had mentioned, oh, well, two things. One is, there's a play we'll cover in a second here of how to do that finesse well, at least tactically with email, but there was a quick question from Andrew who said, what do you think the percentages of success versus backfire for that play just mentioned?

Mark Roberge: Depends on the salesperson and how good they are at executing it. If you're going to execute this like a very passive, it's going to fail a lot. I've seen some reps do it every time successfully. Anna, have you tried it Anna? Has your team tried it?

Anna Baird: Oh yeah. No, definitely. I think it is, how strong is your champion and how comfortable you get? The thing that I think were it backfires is where the champions being super over- protective and doesn't want you to talk to anybody else at the company. And that's when it backfires because they get upset because you went around them. So what you've got to do is either start establishing at the top early. So you already have the connection with a champion that really gets inaudible. We've talked to the CFO or guests we know the, your CRO or head of HR or whatever the relationship is to say, yeah, I promised them, I keep them quickly updated. So you're already incorporating that in early. If you're doing it later, I think it's just making sure that that champion is, hey, we have a connection they're going to reach out just for some alignments. We're doing that across some teams. So just to make sure you don't take out your knees out from under you in the middle of this. The last thing you want to do is piss off the champion in the middle of your sales cycle, but making sure that you are getting their support, but knowing that you have these relationships externally, that you're keeping informed, the earlier you have those easier that is.

Devin: Definitely strength of champion is right. Tone, I think is big. And your confidence level and how you frame it as a seller is really big. There's some that... Let's get to it because I think there's my inaudible said, we've talked about arming your champion. It's all we were doing. I could've put this in earlier, but I think what we're talking about is how to get wide. That's where we were kind of naturally going right now. And so let's talk about the importance of multi threading. Now, if you're maybe not familiar with the phrase, multi threading, it's just the concept of building relationships with multiple stakeholders. It's the opposite of single threading, having one point of contact. And we have some, actually some Gong data we can show. So we ran a report, this wasn't in the last four months, I'll preface, it was a few months prior to COVID. But what we did is we wanted to analyze the importance of multi threading and just try to get some signals, right? Some confirmation in terms of how important this really is. And so if you're new to Gong Labs, it's our research team, a bunch of data scientists and researchers, and really smart folks on our team, out in Israel. I'm on the team, but I think I'm the only one that's not a PhD or has a PhD or two. So I could hang out with them. But what we do is we publish about monthly reports and we analyze our customer and our user data. So the different interactions that salespeople have from emails, calls, web conferencing meetings. And we look for different buyer and seller behaviors and trends to understand what works, what doesn't, and then ultimately guide salespeople to have better conversations and close more deals. And so what I wanted to do is test this and see, hey, can we run some analysis and see how important multi threading really is? And so here's what we found. We analyzed around and things like 30, 000 sales opportunities for this report. And we found two things. One confirmed that more points of contact is better for the deal. And then two saw that there was an interesting spike. It actually happens quite early in the deals. I'm curious, in a second, Anna and Mark to hear from you guys, but just to describe this a little bit more is what you're looking at is the first call, second call, third call through a sales process. And then you have your won deals and your lost deals. Now, no shock on the first column there, you start with one point of contact. We all get our cold email or cold outbound in or warm if you're lucky. And get that first person on. Now, there has to be some sense of a fit, right, or else you're not going to continue on. But what's interesting is closed won opportunities spike, and you see up to three people involved on that meeting versus closed lost opportunities. If you can see it all the way through the opaque lines, it actually barely cracks two people. So it barely gets to two points of contact. And so it's really interesting to see hey, this isn't just something that you should definitely do, especially now as you guys are saying, make sure you get more stakeholders involved because there are more people looking at this deal. But also it shows that to be a successful seller today, you need to be proactive and you need to mobilize that first point of contact to get additional people in as soon as possible. So I'm curious, Oh, go ahead, Mark.

Mark Roberge: It's really cool stuff. I mean it's rare. I think it's very intuitive, right? Like if people are bringing more people in later, it probably means it's a priority and needs executive decision in the second call. Obviously, you're going to get a lot more traction when you get more people. And I think the fact that you're statistically seeing this is very cool. Because I'm always looking for... Like we think about like forecasting and we think about sales playbook design, I'm always looking for proven direction on what I should be shooting for. And this just says to me if I were running a reasonably sized sales org, I'd take a peak at what this data looks like for my org in particular. And if I saw that the same variance existed in the second call, then I would let this dictate my forecast situation, if I'm getting multiple folks. And then I'd take a hard look at what are the reps doing in those deals that gets three plus in, on the second meeting versus maintain at one and bake that into my enablement. So I think it's very cool in terms of the implication that it could have on our own sort of the operations that we're running. I also think we have to be careful on how we navigate this multiple people meeting. Because I do find that folks jump right into a premature show up and throw up and product pitch because really hard or which doesn't happen as often, but it's almost, it doesn't go well either is try to continue discovering qualification in that room where now that's so hard. I mean, it's so hard to begin with to get a buyer to open up on what's going on. Nevermind, the fact that they're sitting in front of three peers and all the politics that are happening and all that stuff, it's just very challenging. So to tactics, to definitely keep shooting for this, get more people in the room like who else knew that was a classic, who else needs to be involved like blah, blah, blah. But make sure that you've done adequate discovery upfront. If you haven't, and this happens most of the time, most of the time I reflect on a first meeting, I successfully book the next meeting that has six people in it and I still have discovery to do. So I just reached out to my champion to put the meeting again and be like, " Listen, Devin and I got... I'm so excited for next Tuesday. Thank you so much for getting your CFO, CMO. I've been doing a lot of preparation. I had like 15 minutes of final questions just to make sure that I'm fully prepared. Would you mind jumping on a one- on-one call for us on Monday to go through those." Champions always of course, they're going to jump on that call, right? They have just much on the line as you do. So that's an important stepping stone there. The other thing that I often see is even after adequate discovery is done, the first slide, how many times do we see the first slides in this meeting is like, " So let me tell you about our company. We were founded in 2015, we have this many employees and we have here's our customer list."

Devin: inaudible.

Mark Roberge: And this is what we do. And let me show you a screenshot of our product. It's like, " God, damn, so boring." I want to walk out at that point. The first slide has to be, so Sarah, the whole team, thank you so much for joining. I've been spending some time with Devin the last week, and here's what I found out, is you have this issue with this thing, and you're trying to do this with this percent increase. And here's what you're trying to do. Do I have all that correct. And I'm directing that to the most powerful person in the room and I'm hoping they disagree. I'm hoping like, " No, it's not quite right." All right, great, what is it then?

Devin: inaudible correct you, and then you find out inaudible anyway.

Mark Roberge: Exactly. Now I find out what's in their head. Because what was on the page was what the understand of our champion or coach was. And now I need to understand what the economic buyer, whoever is, what's in their head. I hope they disagree and I'm okay doing discovery with the most powerful person in the room because they're less apt to stay close to their chest. It's not perfect. I'd rather have a one- on- one, but I'm probably not going to get that chance.

Devin: Yeah. It's interesting what you said about deal predictability and using it for forecasting because... And I agree everyone listening to this, different audience are selling to different sales process. So I'm sure this will vary a little bit company to company, but I was talking to Lou Wolf over Zoom info. Because he was on our podcast talking just about this and he said that he won't forecast anything that isn't multi- threaded. He said he has statistics. He's like, " I have a dashboard. And if I see an opportunity that doesn't have multiple people involved in it in my forecast, I take it out." inaudible.

Mark Roberge: Yeah. Whatever. I mean, it's a great example of something that is just overlooked in forecasting is most forecasts are done by rep saying, I commit this deal. You know what I mean?

Devin: Deal's good.

Mark Roberge: Or I gave a demo. So they're at stage three. And the big trick that Lou pointed out and you're showing a great example here is forecast accuracy goes through the roof if you're able to base the forecast on buyer behavior, not selling behavior. So a seller cannot force for people to come to the meeting. And that says a lot. So if a buyer has four people will show up that's a much better predictability of when that deal's going to come in than if a rep gave someone a demo.

Anna Baird: Yeah. We run our commit call it Outreach out of Outreach, coincidentally, but there's a screen that shows you, are you multi threaded, what's the interaction, there's a histogram that shows the interaction. When was the last time they were touched. In one screen, you can then say, because you're absolutely right, both of you said multi threading is a much higher predictability of closing, especially today. So if you are in a commit and you have something that is a multi threaded, there's only two people that's where the managers need to go in. That's where the coaching comes in. That's where the deal inspection comes in. You can't have this deal on commit or invest case when you've only talked to one or two people who were missing. We talk a lot about mutual based action, closed plans, right? How are you agreeing with your champion upfront? Who has to be engaged? And it isn't about always having everybody in the same room because that's not multi threading. It is, did we get a relationship with them that is giving you an opportunity to talk to them and that they are buying into the buying process you're joined with their company, right? They are saying, " Yes, you have aligned security was security, aligning our solution consultants with their team." Which depending on your buying process and workflow, and is aligning those, we call it multi- threaded multi people, multiple people on our side, multi threaded on their side. And inaudible David Rubinstein, who's my VP of East credit for that. But we call it MTMP. That is the hashtag MTMP. Are you multi threaded with multiple people on our side connecting to them, not just you talking to five people on their side. It's not the same.

Devin: Absolutely. There's people asking tactics and tips for getting multi threaded. We have one for you coming up right after this slide. We also have a multi- threading playbook at gong. io/ resources, I believe, if I remember my URLs correctly. Or reach out to me after this inaudible to send it over to you guys. I know we're got about 12 minutes left, so I want to keep it going here. But those fantastic insight Anna and Mark, and I believe, yeah, I wanted to share this play and I'm going to run through it and then Anna, I'd love... And Mark, we haven't talked about this yet. I added this late, but I'd love to get your guys' opinion in terms of you think it's a good one or call me out if you hate it. But as I was creating the playbook, I just mentioned and some we used, as we were moving up market at Gong was a lot of times sellers accidentally get single threaded or they don't really do it on purpose, which is you break in, you give Anna a great prospecting email. She's your CRO, she's your decision maker. And she says, " Hey, you know what, why don't you go work with marketing enablements, he handles all these types of things." And so then they go and they work with Mark and they forget to go back to Anna or the decision maker, right. And so they go here and then they go here and then they just follow that. And so what we were trying to do is keep people in the loop. And so here's what I created is this email template. Now it's bold because there's a bunch of things you have to change, if you're listening to this one, take screen cap or something. But what the key differentiator for this follow- up email is we learned, I have to go work with Mark. We thought we needed to stay at the C level then sales, we realized as we moved up, market ops and enablement were very important to have a seat at the table. And so I wanted to keep that line with the decision maker open, but it kind of like what you said, Mark with these updates, right? So here's what I created and this worked really well was the subject line is Gong Update or your company update. No action required. That's really important. So what you do is you're just confirming, " Hey, I did. Hey, Anna I did what you did. Decision- Maker, I did what you say to do. I went worked with that person. And I want to send you a quick update." Now, to your point, Mark, I'm not talking about Mary's value prop here. I'm talking about what Mary liked and how it impacts the C- level I'm talking to, right? So we immediately impact BDR performance and accelerate onboarding, boost revenue, et cetera. And then here's our next step, we're meeting Friday, we're going to expand the audience for multi threading. We're getting more people. I'll be sure to keep you in the loop as we progress things again. Now you notice there's no CTA here because I said, no action required. What's really interesting is I still got a lot of responses. A lot of people who probably previously know if I asked them for time again, would have ignored me. But we'd say, 'Thanks for the update. I appreciate it." And so what we would do is you'd use this email template as you're working with other folks on the team, and then you would change it to Gong Update next steps. And then you have your CTA, which is, " Hey, here's what we've done at a high level. And now Anna it's time for you to jump in. Because it's your turn." And so this is something that we've used the multi threading, stay multi threaded. But I'm curious, Anna and Mark, what do you think of this play and how do you respond if I send it to you.

Anna Baird: Mark, you want to start?

Mark Roberge: Sure. I love it. I love, I hadn't thought about the no action required. But I love it. It's kind of like we were talking about before, but you've already earned the right because they passed you down. So I agree with you, if you're not doing this, this is such a loss opportunity and you're probably right. That a lot of people don't circle back up and there's no way that Mary can get pissed that you went over them because whoever this was past you down. So I think it's brilliant. I think the only tweaks I might test is number one, the bolded content in the middle paragraph, even though it comes right out of Mary's mouth, potentially as well as is your assumption based a lots of work with Mary's boss, people like her, is still relatively generic. And I might put in where I can very specific statistics about this company. So ensure what we understood is, Mary told me that you've got 27 BDRs and currently the average appointments per a month has been 12, as it increased by 20%. But falls short from the 15 target, that's been the goal and the quota, you know what I mean? That just sounds like, wow. This person they're almost like a consultant to me. I think that's leaps and bounds above the, this is a little more generic in the middle. So I think that's important. And I think in the third paragraph, I love, you changed my mind on a call to action. I agree with you, no action required. But I might say, feel free to respond if I have anything inaccurate or if I'm missing something. It's just an optional call to action. So I still don't think you violate your subject. But I, again, I kind of want her to respond here because the chances that Mary has nailed the overarching need of the business is low. And I want to create the opportunity for the true decision maker to chime in.

Anna Baird: I think that's super important, Mark. I was going to say the same. How do you take us back to what that decision- maker cares about? And I think it would be, here's some data on what we heard from... We understood that the company really wants to influence these metrics. Here's how we think we can do that. Let me know if there's something else that you feel like you'd want to see us focus on or anything else that is important to you. So again, you're getting that validation of the business challenge and what they care about, right? inaudible, " Hey, that's interesting, but what about this? Or what about this other team? Can you give me some..." You're going to get, and then you get an introduction to another team. You get an introduction to somebody else potentially as well. So I think using it to say, " Are there others, other teams you'd like us to talk to, to help validate some of the same information or get you more details." It gives you yet another avenue to also multi thread further across the organization and potentially across sells. You're giving them some stats about results and then moving. We use this all the time. So it is absolutely a huge piece of our playbook. We'll often have our leaders sending these messages as well, versus just the person who is running for backing the deal. So that again, you get multi- threaded again, multi threaded to multi- people. So I sent this to the CRO in our case, right? Quite a bit, we'll use me as the connection point to go, " Hey, just want to update you on what's happened with the team. Teams are meeting, looks great. Here's the things that we're seeing. I know you have other things you care about. Let's reach out and chat. Here's my..." So we're giving them an opportunity to connect if you want. And then I think also I love that, how are we connecting back to the business challenges they said that they were trying to solve? Making sure we're making this relevant to their specific business. I agree.

Devin: I love it. Thank you for the feedback. That's phenomenal. I mean, that's like a full playbook. I mean, we're recording this, but if not, I hope you're taking notes folks. Because that's exactly how it's done. I know we're at time and we are almost at time I should say. And we did get a little bit of a late start. So I'm going to jump ahead a little bit. And I believe we had some Q and A, so hopefully I hit the right one. Let's get to here. Perfect. So I had to miss a couple of tips, but don't worry. There's some tips in here. We'll send out if you have any questions, go ahead and put them into the question chat, chat bot here. We've got a couple of minutes, I want to make sure we hit on a few. And while you guys go ahead and put them in there, we've got a pull for it as well. So see if this works, it's always fun. Getting a circle here. Hopefully it's working, we'll see in the spinning wheel, there we go. Quick ask. If you enjoyed today and you want to check out, gone for your sales team, go and put it in there. If you're already a client, no sweat. We'll still hang out. We can grab coffee. You want to say, " Yeah, let's chat. Learn a little bit more about multi threading, having better conversations with budget holders." That's something Gong can help with shameless plug. And then make sure you follow Gong on LinkedIn, if you'd like the data- backed play that we shared, like I said, we publish once a month. Make sure you go ahead and follow Gong on LinkedIn. And then also I believe you have a quick plug from Outreach and Mark, you've got something as well. So Anna, all to you.

Anna Baird: Thanks, well, we are doing, it's a of what we've talked about. We're really trying to make sure with the events that we're doing, we're trying to give a lot of learning out of it. And so we're doing the adaptable sales org, obviously in September. It's three Thursday is focused on directors and VPs, as it says on the screen. So there are three half day sessions where we're going to have director VPs, hearing from leaders in the industry and then doing a masterclass with thought leaders from industry teaching you something coming out of that. So you're really saying, " How do I change my work? How do I create more adaptable and innovative environment to accelerate pipeline and close revenue?" So that is kind of the focus of these classes. There's three different classes on those days. And for Gong, those on this call, get a 25% discount if you use the offer code Gong. And we've made the price point so low anyway, that's not going to be the big issue, but you do get 25% off that should be a great set of classes, you have some phenomenal leaders coming into play.

Devin: That's awesome. I've even heard of this a couple of days ago, I caught wind of it and it sounds awesome. And who does one 25%? 25% of free, sounds good to me. I'll take it. All right. So make sure you sign up for that. And then Mark inaudible.

Mark Roberge: Yeah, just two quick ones. I think I've mentioned a little bit at the beginning, but you can see the types of people that are involved. There's, now I think we're approaching 150 sales execs. So awareness for the sales execs, awareness for the entrepreneurs, raising money and awareness for emerging leaders. if you're interested in learning about Stage 2, let me know. The CRO of Gong is in there, Ryan Longfield is one of our LPs. And then from an investment standpoint, we obviously specialize in B2B software knowing that people behind us and roughly around half a million to a million and a half in revenue with a really great customer retention. So if you're a great entrepreneur, we'd love to chat. And then the final thing before the emerging leaders and you can keep it here Devin we actually have a 50 going on 300, a person syndicate of emerging leaders that are trying to become investors. And so we put them through a 12 week school and expose them to our deal flow. So actually we have three people from Gong Steve Sanchez, Justin Geller, and Ash Howard are all part of our emerging leaders syndicate. No one from Outreach yet, but I'm hoping after this webinar, maybe we'll get a couple to be part of. It's a really fun group of folks who are trying to broaden out their own knowledge of the software world. And then of course, we've got our blog running, here's just a couple of examples of the content that you can find there if you're looking to learn.

Devin: That's awesome. That's great stuff, great stuff, masterclass and budding entrepreneurs, got a spot for you. I know we're almost at time and I'm sure I'd be surprised Anna and Mark, if you didn't have somewhere to be in about two minutes, so maybe we can hit one quick question before we jet. And there are a lot of good ones, but I'll tell you what, there's one, I know we can hit in 60 seconds, which is what is your favorite sales book? So Mark and Anna, if you could refer one book and it could be a sales book, or it could be a book that helps sellers because those are different things. What would you guys suggest?

Anna Baird: Wow, there's the one that's top of mind for me right now. I love The Above The Line Below The Line from Skip Miller. So that I think is always great because again, it talks to us about what we hit on this call so much. And I also like What Great Salespeople Do by Bosworth, which is the storytelling. When we're engaging in this environment, you have to make sure that you are engaging your audience and just like we do in the movies, you have to evoke emotion on a screen and have people care. And how do you do that? So I think that there is just a lot there in the current environment from both of those leaders and the publications they have out there.

Mark Roberge: Oh yeah. I'll go with two that are all both very old school. One's just the Go- Giver I think it's just such a short story and it's amazing. It's fun to read and I think it demonstrates how amazing salespeople sell. And then the oldest school one I know is, How To Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie. But it's embarrassing, but I can tell you that when I did first come into HBS and I started writing cases that I thought were so provocative based on things that we're talking about, I'd always go to my mentor, who is like an 80 year old professor that would always bring me over his bookshelf and bring up a case that was written in 1940. That was basically the same thing that I was about to write. And it just showed to me that we're just reinventing the wheel. I think Dale Carnegie is one of the first people to just show the best practices of the anti show up and throw up and the necessities of understanding and listening to buyers, even though he was writing at a time where the modern product was a cash register. And it's just so cool to read about those stories and how they still resonate today.

Devin: That was a great, it was something Malcolm Gladwell had said a munching is masterclass. He's a great writer. And he's like, one of the misconception is that we need new data to give us insights. But in fact, a lot of the great data from, like you said earlier in 1900 and 20 century, there's still some fantastic findings there, right? We can still rely on a lot of that stuff and then add our own element to it.

Anna Baird: The Art of War Annotated by Sun Tzu, which is inaudible.

Mark Roberge: There you go crosstalk.

Devin: You can't get any better. And he did it short too, that's the key is you can write a short book and get it all said so well. Well, that's all the time we have folks, thank you for all the questions. I know we didn't get to all of them. But we do appreciate you guys hanging out with us. Thank you, Mark and Anna for your guys' time and expertise today. I know I learned a lot and I hope that the viewers did as well.


Deals getting lost in the no-decision triangle? Today’s selling landscape means unexpected hurdles, new decision makers, and steeper objections (looking at you, budget). Swipe the sales playbook from deal momentum masters Mark Roberge, Anna Baird, and Devin Reed to navigate your deals towards signature. These three sales experts weigh in to help you jumpstart your pipeline and supercharge momentum in your deals. It’s the stuff advanced sales teams are doing right now to overcome the CFO death-trap, the budget freeze-zone, and the “2020 killed my value prop” dilemma.

Today's Guests

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Mark Roberge

|MD @ Stage 2 Capital, Prof @HarvardHBS; Former CRO @HubSpot; Author of Best Seller "The Sales Acceleration Formula"
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Anna Baird

|CRO, Outreach