From Analytics to Action: Turning Enablement Into Impact with Plays – Soirée, San Francisco
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BJ Bushur: Good morning, everyone. My name’s BJ Bushur, and I’m so happy to be here today and getting real on sales plays that we’re rolling out to the field and how do we turn that into action? I founded my company foundation 17 years ago to help strengthen sales foundations, and one of the key areas obviously is enablement. And we help companies roll out sales playbooks. So, excited to have this panel here today and share what’s going on in their organizations of varying sizes and to get real with us today. So, I’m going to start with everyone just going down and give a brief introduction of your name, role, and company that you’re with, please.
Deb Scherba: Thank you. My name is Deb Scherba and I work at SalesHood and I am a coach, a SalesHood coach. I coach our customers on enablement programs.
Nieka Mamczak: Great. My name is Nieka Mamczak and I’m the sales enablement and productivity manager at Udemy.
Alex Kremer: My name is Alex Kremer. I’m a sales manager at Outreach.
Emily Elliott: My name is Emily Elliott. I’m on the sales enablement team at Cloudflare.
Lindsay Millar: I’m Lindsay Millar. I manage the enablement team at OneLogin.
BB: Alright. So, you’ll notice that we did have a sales manager on the panel to keep it real here. I’m going to start with you, Alex. What’s your definition of a sales play and how does that impact productivity for your team? So those two questions first.
AK: So, a sales play, we actually call it something unique at Outreach. We call it arrows in your quiver, different tactics or strategies that you can run that are going to be repeatable, that you can scale across the team and that you’re consistently learning and evolving across the way. It is not always easy to enforce the different types of sales plays. And a lot of times you have to kind of sell your reps on doing the play, or you have to make sure that you’re consistently kind of poking and prodding them to say, “Hey, at this stage of the sales process, we generally get executive alignment” or send them some sort of article or send them cookies that are Outreach branded or something along those lines. But like I said, it’s an arrow in your quiver that helps to move the deal along on the sales process that is repeatable and scalable.
BB: Okay. Does anyone have anything else to add to what sales plays mean in your companies?
EE: Yeah. I can take that. At CloudFlare, we’re really focused on a specific message at a very specific point in time to a very specific buyer. And we want it to be very individualized and focused in that area. We want these sales plays to be something that we can actually measure on, as well. And so we tie things like target accounts, exact messaging, customer stories that we can go after so that we can tie it back to the initial activity. So for us, it’s very focused on is there a compelling event that we can focus on and who are the specific people that we’re going to be reaching out to with this play at this specific time? That’s very focused for us.
BB: Okay. So, Deb, can you tell us some of the different categories of sales plays that you guys run and have for your team?
DS: Yeah, I think that there are really unlimited categories if you do your plays right. Anywhere from right at the very beginning of the sales cycle, communication, messaging, how do I do my job? How do I coach? As a manager, those could also be plays. I think that sometimes when I work with my customers, I feel like we are sometimes narrow-minded and we think that plays just have to be about the sales call. But when you think about my definition of a sales play, it’s just a set of really good best practices that you want to replicate throughout the organization. So why, if you do it the right way, why not have them at every sales motion or do my job, or not just a sales play? And that could be for everybody in your organization, as well.
BB: Okay. Well, how about you, Nieka? What categories of sales plays do you have in your quiver, if we’re going to use Alex’s analogy?
NM: Right now at Udemy, we’re just initiating sales plays. It’s a very new concept. We have a very young sales team in general. So, for starters, we want to make sure that it’s a reason to act and it’s a reportable reason to act. So, we’re starting off small. And at Udemy, we sell to two primary business cases for tech skills and for soft skills. What we’re really focusing right now on are the buyers of each of those use cases and really laser focusing on the primary use case for each and buyer personas around it, and then selling to talking points around the persona as well as the use case.
BB: Alright. So, I heard personas, use cases. Any other categories that, Lindsay or Alex, that you guys have for your sales plays?
LM: We tie ours around customer pain. So, that’s the focus of our four sales plays that we ran this year.
BB: Customer pain. What about you, Alex?
AK: It’s really the sales process. So, essentially every single stage of the opportunity, whether it’s the discovery phase, the proposal, the scoping, whatever it might be, what are the different plays that you’re going to run at that particular time? If you’re dealing with say, a VP of sales versus a sales manager or someone who’s in marketing operations, what do they care about? What has been proven to work? You might kind of tailor that arrow in your quiver for that specific one.
BB: Okay. And Deborah, how about you?
DS: Yeah, I think another one that I see emerging is coaching because we know that coaching is broken and there’s not a lot of time for managers to coach because of all of the other balls that they’re juggling. So, we’re starting to see a lot of, “Hey, how do we do this the right way?” So that when a new manager comes on board, they’re not starting from scratch. Here’s what works.
BB: Yeah. Love that. Lindsey, how do you guys communicate the sales plays out to the field?
LM: So, once there is alignment with sales leadership, it’s very important to get that down first. And it’s been vetted by a few of the salespeople and the programs ready to be communicated. We start really high with our CRO and our COO, made an announcement on a bimonthly sales call, and they talked about the philosophy behind why we were going to be prospecting and why we needed to be outbounding and how we were going to get there through the sales place. Then two weeks later on the next sales call, the demand gen team got up and talked about all the campaigns that they were going to be running and how they were going to coordinate with the training that we’re going to be doing with the sales team. And from there we kept drilling back down to the separate teams. So, we did individual product training for AEs, SDRs, and then for STRs. We even did a sales certification program. So, starting high and then going deeper by segment.
BB: Emily, how do you guys roll out sales plays to the field?
EE: We really want to drive engagement and excitement around the plays. We literally tie it to revenue as fast as we can. So, we have a weekly newsletter that comes out about how many meetings were set by which play. And so this is a really outbound focus play that I’m talking about here, but we have meetings set, pipeline generated, and revenue from each play specifically, and then link to the exact messaging use cases. We try and link a little customer story in that newsletter as well, and it comes out on a weekly cadence and it gets people really excited. At first there was really slow traction, but now people go to that newsletter as a way to find out what can I be using as outbound messaging? What plays can I be using externally to actually make money? So that’s worked well for us.
BB: Alex, do you have something to add to that?
AK: Yeah, I mean, it’s funny. So, as a sales manager, I mean obviously I’m holding pipeline one-on-ones with my reps every single week, and it’s a 30 minute call. And on every single one of those calls, it’s very easy as a sales manager and I also know as a sales rep to get caught up in the story or the politics. And before you know it, it’s gone 10 minutes by, and you’ve talked about one single opportunity and you also have 10 more to still talk about in the 30 minute one on one. What we ensure to do is really be focused on what is the next step in that opportunity. Say, “Hey, my next step is to book a demo.” I kind of talked about this yesterday, but it’s to book a demo. Okay, well what is the goal coming out of that demo? And if the rep is saying, “my goal is to absolutely crush that demo”, or “my goal is to show them the value of my product”. You say, “cool, I’m super down for that, but how do you know that?” Right? How can you value that? That is the case. What is going to be the next step coming from that? Is it to book a scoping call, is it to get to a higher level decision maker?
So, when you are talking around these next steps, making sure that you’re actually documenting that. And then in that next one-on-one that you have that following meek week, make sure to say, “Hey, your goal last week was to get to this higher level decision maker. Did you get there?” Okay. If not, is that the right person? Is that the right play? If both things are the same and you still did not get that done, is this even a valid opportunity? So, focusing on the next steps as opposed to getting caught up in the story is a big change that I’ve kind of evolved as a sales manager as I’ve gone.
BB: Great. So what are some of the metrics? You’re talking about some of those behaviors. Is it sales activity metrics? Is it pipeline metrics? What are some of the metrics that you guys use to assess the productivity of the sales plays? I’ll start with you, Emily.
EE: I kind of referenced it in the newsletter piece, but we start really at the activity level. So, we actually use tools like Outreach, what Alex is selling here, silent plug for him. We use it from the activity level. So, we look at the activities for specific campaigns. We’re really rigorous on Salesforce hygiene, so we require the tagging within Salesforce. So, we’ve required it for our business development reps to try and get buy-in initially so that we could enforce kind of that rigor and that hygiene. And then we pushed it forward to our account executives. We’re able to require the tagging of each activity. But within something like Outreach or an email tracking solution, we can see what the open rates are for the specific kind of campaign messages for specific plays, for target audiences.
So honestly, like you were thinking BJ, it starts with the activity level. And then we basically track it all the way through to meeting set, opportunity created, pipeline generated, revenue close. And then it’s a really quick snapshot from Salesforce at that point of what are we doing with each campaign on a weekly basis. When people see numbers associated with, “Oh, I’m running this”, it’s a finance focus kind of communication. You know there’s a compelling event that’s happening within the industry. We’re going to go after CSOs in that market. This is the use case that we’re going for, and this is the exact play. People get really amped up about it because they know that they can make money, right? A lot of our BDRs are a little bit lost because at CloudFlare, we can sell to anyone that has an internet entity that they want to protect and accelerate. It’s really hard to know where to target. So, when they see, “Oh wow, there’s a really focused play that I can go after that’s very targeted”, they get ramped up about that. I’m derailing here from the metrics a little bit, but yes, it starts with the activity level and we basically just look at the numbers, to be honest. If we can. I think it’s harder and I would love to hear from the panel when you’re looking at things like what Deb was bringing up with coaching, how do you measure some of the plays on the softer skill side that don’t have metrics associated. I’m going to ask that question.
BB: Do you guys measure your sales plays and the productivity from them?
DS: Yeah. Well, when I work with customers, because my role is to coach them to do sales plays the right way, it’s usage and executive alignment and are people using them? You can have all of the sales plays you want in these big binders and books and pages and pages of them. But are they being coached to? Are they being used? When you’re sharing your success of your deals, are reps telling you that that play helped them? So, downloads and views are very important, but I want to hear from the closer. Did that play help you get your deal? And if it did, how and how do we get that best practice out to everybody?
BB: So, how do you get that information from your sales managers into sales enablement?
DS: With different tools. In our case with SalesHood, we use a lot of video and we do a lot of peer sharing. When a deal closes, for example, our customers pick up a recorder and record who the customer was, how they want it, what obstacles they ran into and what play works. And what I like about that is that’s the sales people telling each other what’s working, not a marketer or a sales ops person. So I find it authentic and the right way to do it.
NM: I have a different approach actually. Mine is a little bit more formalized in Salesforce. I partner with marketing a lot prior to executing upon sales plays, for obvious reasons. They provide a lot of content, but I have created a secondary campaign code source, and each sales play by name is a name that you can pull in as a rep. So, for me to go to managers and say, “are they using the sales play?” They can superficially say yes, but I can clearly run a report in Salesforce and see if that’s true or not. So, it’s just another avenue to get documentation. We’re a global sales team and I just want to know regularly, and I don’t want to wait for someone to proactively tell me.
A very informal way as well is we utilize a tool called Gong. And within Gong, I create trackers and the trackers are associated to the sales plays as well. So, if you have any sort of technology like that and you create a tracker, you can clearly hear the words from the sales play as well, and you can run trackers in Gong to see if those words in a play are being used as well.
BB: Great. Alex, what do you think makes a good sales play?
AK: Well, that’s a phenomenal question. I mean, obviously if it’s going to help to progress the deal forward, it is the big one. And also, a lot of times as a sales rep, like I said earlier, you have to kind of sell them on the reason or the value of doing so. And the less that I can be up there saying, “you guys need to do this as a sales team”, and the more that they can be sharing the wins together or sharing why they did it with each other, It’s way more effective.
A lot of times, I kind of touched on this earlier, the executive plays. So whenever we have a deal that is actually, at least within my segment, above $10,000, and they marked it in Salesforce, that actually triggers a task within Outreach for an exec play. What that means is they’ll actually shoot me a note as their manager of a little bit about the opportunity. I will actually shoot a personal note to the prospect and CC our VP of sales. And then our VP of sales will come over to the top. Whether that produces a conversation, awesome. If it doesn’t, that’s great, but if the deal later on goes sideways, we’ve already introduced ourselves. We have the opportunity to come in and save that. We are running this across essentially our entire team, except for one person. She did not want to do this. She kept on delaying it. She was not getting any sort of executive alignment. And it wasn’t until she lost a deal that we said, “if you had gotten that executive alignment, we could have come in there and potentially helped you save this.” Us having other reps share the success stories, but also having them fail at it or feel the loss of it. It saved me. Maybe I should change how I’m doing this. I think that’s part of how you try to enforce it.
BB: Okay. Nieka, what do you think makes a good sales play and how do you track that effectiveness?
NM: Definitely if it’s being used, and how to build a good sales play is, it depends on the dynamic of your sales team. At Udemy, we have a little over 100 global sales team members across sales development and then between commercial and enterprise sales. So, when I’m developing sales plays, my primary goal is to make sure there’s something in it for all of them, because I don’t want it to be just one sided or one part of the sales funnel. I always visually think about the sales funnel and at the very top, what is the play doing at the top to get to the bottom line and the bottom of the funnel, which is the closed deal. So, I think for me, it’s very important to make sure a good sales play reaches all the different roles or all the different stages. Of a customer’s journey with us and tracking that, of course, is very important. So again, if it’s being used, if I’m reporting through Salesforce or if I’m reporting those trackers and just hearing phone calls and hearing customer interactions on how they’re receptive to the sales play is very key.
BB: Great. Emily, who gets involved in developing new sales plays at your organization?
EE: Yeah. So, it’s kind of cool. We started using the business development reps to see, “okay, you’re having a lot of kind of forward-facing conversations with prospects, so what have you guys seen that’s been working?” So we get them involved a little bit in writing of some of the content, which has been really exciting for them because we use it as a growth opportunity for them as well, if they want to move up into management. And so really some of our best writers have come forward and they use it as kind of a feather in their cap to get involved in the content creation. But predominantly we try and get involved with marketing as best as we can.
We really want to know if marketing is going to be targeting a specific persona segment. Can we align our messaging with where they’re already putting their efforts? And that can be really hard sometimes. To be honest, I think that’s where we’ve seen some challenges at CloudFlare is a misalignment there where marketing is going after one area and we didn’t know about it. And there’s really poor communication sometimes. I can talk about challenges too with all of this, but ideally we want to have that alignment with marketing. We want to make sure that leadership likes the message that we’re going after, and then it’s kind of cool to get the business development reps involved in it. And we even have someone on our sales operations team that helps drive some of it. The tracking capability, proofreading of content, ensuring we have the right stories so that it’s a compelling sales play. Making sure that there’s manager involvement so that the coaching throughout all levels of the play is fluid. It should be very cross functional, but I do like getting hands on with it and having the BDRs involved because they’re the ones that are speaking to prospects more often.
BB: Okay. How about the rest of the panel besides BDRs? Then I’d like to hear who specifically in marketing gets involved? Is it demand gen? Is it product marketing? Is it content?
LM: Both. So, it’s demand gen, tied to their campaigns that they’re putting out. And then also product marketing. What’s the message? And then product marketing ends up doing a lot of the training for our sales reps as well, in addition to our sales trainer to make sure that the messaging is landing appropriately for the AEs.
BB: Okay. How about you, Nieka? Who else gets involved in sales plays at your company?
NM: Yeah, definitely the three branches of marketing: product, as well as demand gen, and content marketing. They’re creating collateral and just creating the messaging that we have around our business. Cross-functionally, also operations to make sure that metrics are gained and measured on. Certainly cross-functionally with sales leadership, of course. And then as much visibility as you can give to every single other person in the company is very important.
For sales plays that I run at Udemy, I invite everyone to attend. We take a blended learning approach. So, a lot of times we’ll do in-person stuff. Our offices are here in San Francisco, but we’re global, so I do welcome everyone to participate to make sure that they’re aware of what we’re saying to our customers and what our customers are saying to us because we are the front lines. But even behind the scenes, like the people in our engineering department love to hear what we’re talking about. And they actually ask. to participate in our conversations. And in fact, I ran a training this morning with our head of data science and we have one of our primary personas as a data science buyer. We actually had him talk to us this morning because we want him to be part of our sales play as well. What makes you tick? As many people as you can get involved as often as possible for visibility and awareness.
One other key aspect is whatever you do live is wonderful, and that’s what we’re doing right here. But they’re recording it, and I do welcome, again, the ability to record and archive information because anyone at any time, especially if you’re a global company, will need to recap or even review or hear for the first time anything you’ve created.
BB: Great. Alex, on your team, how do your reps get involved in developing or changing sales?
AK: Yeah. We hold a weekly team meeting on Tuesdays between 7:30 and 8:30 in the morning. We have the constant five topics that we go through, five different sections. One of those topics is always shout-outs. It will be either for myself or the other manager who will shout out somebody who did something really well. And then we always also offer, what are some team shout outs to shout out each other. And it’s just great to hear the different stories or the examples that come from it, whether it’s how you pitched the customer success use case or how you did the ROI analysis up here. So the less that we can do as the managers, to be honest, and the more that they can teach themselves, the better off it’s going to be.
But even on the flip side, the other section we do is, where did I mess up this week? It’s great to hear kind of the vulnerability come out during that section of our team meetings, like, “when I was giving the customer success use case, I failed miserably at talking about this.” Or “the customer really pushed back on this part of the ROI analysis that I gave them because it just didn’t make sense what we were talking about”. And so, being able to not only voice, this is somebody did really well, I think that we should replicate this, but this is something we fell down on. Now, can we share best practices on how would you guys go about overcoming this? Who else has dealt with a similar situation here? It’s just great. I mean, you sometimes come out of those team meetings and be like, “wow, we, we really dove in there and it was cool to see both just the wins and the losses and to learn from those.”
BB: Great. So, I’d like to hear about some of the challenges you guys have faced in rolling out sales plays or working with the sales team on sales plays. I’ll start with you, Emily. What are some of the challenges you guys have run into?
EE: Yeah, I mentioned one already where we were just super misaligned with marketing and they were running this huge campaign and it was a very compelling event. We work in mitigation and there was a huge attack that happened, and there was a lot of marketing happening regarding that event that happened and we missed the mark, to be honest. We were completely, probably a week and a half late. And we kind of noticed because someone was reading, one of our BDRs is reading about the attack and notice CloudFlare banner ads popping up on the page, and we’re like, “Oh, we should probably be messaging about this.” Right? I think it’s a misalignment of communication there.
We also had some organic sales plays happening where some reps crafted their own messaging and started gaining some traction. And it was really off from what anyone on the executive team would have ever wanted to be pushed out. And it gained a lot of traction because it was working internally and it became a problem. So, there is something to be said for people like Alex that are monitoring their team and kind of what communications are going out. But at the end of the day, I don’t think that most managers are reading all of the email communications. We weren’t really aware of this kind of crazy organic internal sales play that was getting pushed out because it was happening by word of mouth.
So, making sure that it’s really clear for marketing and the executives what the messages should be and shouldn’t be. And then making sure that we’re talking with marketing, because we miss out on a potential opportunity to really get ahead of that content and develop the play in time before marketing was pushing that out.
BB: Great. Alright, so I’m going to go quick fire. I’ll start over here with Lindsay. What haven’t we discussed that’s the one key takeaway that you think this audience would benefit from, whether they’re just starting with sales plays and don’t know where to start or they’ve been doing it for a long time? Just from everyone on the panel, what’s that one or two key takeaways you’d like to share with the audience?
LM: The key takeaway would be getting your sales leader buy-in from the beginning, from the top-down, because they’re not going to support their teams with it if they don’t believe in it as well.
BB: And you alluded to that a little bit at the beginning. How do you do that?
LM: That was because that’s the challenge that we faced. So, our marketing team was putting out a one page sales play, delivering it to the sales team over Slack at like 7:00 PM at night. And it would be to drive the sales team to drive prospects to a webinar. And they were calling that a sales play. So, we had to back up, determine what the definition of a sales play was, what goals we wanted out of it, what metrics we wanted to track, making sure that the sales leaders knew about it, were aligned with the messaging.
BB: Right. Thank you. Emily, what’s your key?
EE: For me, it’s, it doesn’t have to be perfect. I think we wasted a lot of time thinking we had to craft this perfect sales play and all of this stuff. We kind of just started throwing things against the wall until they worked. We just went public months ago, so we’re still scrappy, but we were really scrappy a year and a half ago. And it’s like, it doesn’t have to be perfect. Try things out. It’s okay to fail. Don’t waste your time on making sure it’s the exact sales play that you want. Try something out.
BB: Great. Alex, what would you share?
AK: I have two, if that’s okay. First off, as a sales manager, partner with your sales enablement team. Shane and Shelby are actually here. And being able to partner with them. Often, my job is to coach and kind of verbalize things, but they know the technology that helps to enable the team and they know how to track it. If I’m not in constant communication with them to ensure that we’re enforcing this, I have no idea whether or not my reps are actually doing it in the field. So, that’s number one.
Then just to kind of piggyback on what Deb said as well, I think coaching is huge. I know as a rep myself, when I initially started in sales, I wanted to be invested in too. I wanted to feel like my manager was taking the time to coach me to teach me how to open a call, to do discovery, how to negotiate all these sorts of things. And I think a lot of sales managers, at least in my personal experience, they just say, “Hey, follow what she or he is doing and replicate it”. We have kind of like a coaching wheel process at Outreach where we listened to a call, we pick one to two specific things, the top two specific things that they need to work on. We document that within our coaching journal. And then throughout that week, we will be kind of listening to it on the floor. We’ll make sure we’re tracking that within the Chorus or Gong or whatever you’re using. And then after that, the next coaching session you have, your rep has to bring a call that showcases, “Hey, I’ve conquered this. I am doing this, I’m opening up the call correctly based on what we talked about in our last time.” Making sure to document that and make sure that once you have proven that you can do this, “cool, let’s focus on the next thing.” So I think coaching and investing into your team is super important because the reps want to feel like they’re cared about, not just a rep whose job it is to hit quota.
BB: Awesome. Thank you. Nieka?
NM: Yeah, mine is the quote from Field of Dreams. “If you build it, they will come”. And I say that because as an enablement person, it’s my job to provide the structure around the sales play to make something repeatable and reportable and scalable. And so if I can provide that comfort to the sales leader that they know there’s consistency for their team to have this content provided in a meaningful way that’s going to move the needle, then that’s going to be the right approach.
BB: Great. And Deborah?
DS: One piece of advice would be not to think literally as plays like a playbook. Get your plays out of text as much as you can, mix it up a little bit. Giving sales teams books of plays, and expecting executives and managers and everybody, the company to be aligned when there’s big books collecting dust is, I don’t think is the right approach. A play to me is hearing about the top we’re trying to emulate, we’re trying to make every rep as good as our best rep. So let’s hear from them. Let’s use video. Let’s use texts. Let’s use coaching. Give it to them. Easy to digest, easy to find, and make it interesting. Not a check the box program where it’s, “I’ve got the book out.”
BB: Yes. Great. Alright. We’ll open it up to the floor now. First of all, just a big round of applause for you guys. That was great. Thank you all. I learned a lot. We will turn it over for some questions before we break. One right up here in front.
Audience 1: Yeah. What is the format that works well? I guess this question is for Alex. Is it a graphical view? Is it a playbook that has a bunch of text? Does that have videos? I mean, what’s the format that’s working best for your sales reps in terms of what plays to run or the arrows in your quiver, the way it looks. How do they digest it?
AK: Yeah. Good question. For me personally, the way that I communicate best is actually whiteboarding. I know that’s like, you know, every sales person ever wants to whiteboard, I guess. But, making sure that we are documenting, here’s the sales process, here’s the discovery phase. And then this was in the demo. And then scoping and proposal. After every single stage, you’ll kind of do like an up arrow of like, here’s a play you can run after the discovery phase, right? Or after the scoping. Here’s a play you could run here. And so to make sure that you’re kind of laying it all out on the whiteboard, but then in the pipeline one-on-ones, as we really focus on the next steps, that’s where we’re always making sure to kind of nail down at that point. And it’s great to hear that when I say, what is the next step here? They say, it’s to have a great demo, but it’s also then to book the scoping. And I think right now is when I need to do the exact play. And I’m like, that’s exactly right. So it’s great to hear that. Your job as a manager is to teach them the sales process, a repeatable way to teach them the sales plays or the arrows in your quiver you can run. But then after a while they start to learn it, to digest it and say, “this is great, but we want to do something different.” I definitely do not know everything. A lot of times I’m learning just as much from my reps as they’re learning from me. I’m usually actually learning a lot more too. So it’s kind of a co-creation sort of thing.
Audience 2: How do you incorporate your win stories and case studies into your playbooks? And I think Deborah started talking about different media forms like video. I just want to know some of the creative ideas you guys are using.
NM: I can answer that actually. And to piggyback off the question that you asked too, I like to make myself sales plays initially very misleadingly simple, and it’s one page. One slide that we start to engage with the conversation. However, when you click on all the links in this slide, all the magic starts to happen. So, the top of the slide is pretty much the executive briefing of the play, which is like, why are we doing this? We use OKR hours at Udemy, so objectives and key results are at the top of the slide, and then as you go down the slide, each row has some other nugget that we’re diving into and it’s really all links out to other places. But the sales play itself is that one page, which is grand central station, and you continue to go down the play and the page so that it’s easy to not be so intimidating. It’s not a whole book. It’s a page, and then down at the bottom, the customer stories are always embedded in with that place.
At the top, it’s like the summary, what are we doing? Why are we doing this? Then it’s the middle, it’s talking points, discovery questions, et cetera. Then the next row over is, you know where in the buying cycle. The portions of the sales play, talk checks are going to be, and then down at the bottom, it’s supporting resources and it does include pages to our website, which include white papers and so forth, customer stories and all the supporting collateral down at the bottom layer so that you have that information to share with the customer.
Audience 3: I’m curious to hear how you guys differentiate what your sales team should be focusing on versus marketing. I mean, for me, the example I think, Lindsay, that you shared of the sales team promoting a webinar, for example, right? So, when you’ve got those two groups kind of working in tandem and they often cross over, how do you focus them? What’s the difference, I guess?
LM: Do we use our sales teams to promote webinars and how is that different? That’s when we changed the definition of the sales play and what it entails, and that’s when we started focusing on the customer pain. So, tied to a product. For one of our products, SSO, the marketing team would be sending all of the emails that were set up for that, and then all of the AEs would come in with their personalized email messages. Customer proof points that were also supporting that message. So it was a coordinated effort all along the same message.
NM: I was going to say I have regularly scheduled meetings with marketing because when I first started in my role, I learned very quickly that marketing would use Slack as their means of teaching people stuff and it was basically like, blah, blah, blah, and then they’d come back to me, “I don’t understand why the salespeople aren’t using my messaging.” And I was like, “Whoa, maybe, because it was at rapid fire.” So we’ve taken a step back and we meet once a month and I asked them for their calendar in advance. And then what I tried to do is match what I’m doing with what they’re doing and magically it actually aligns. So meeting regularly is key. And other marketing activities you can plug into, like that webinar could be on that same topic, so then that just becomes a component of the complete play rather than the play in and of itself.
Emcee: Just to follow on question there, Lindsay, are you the only one that’s doing campaigns? I think a great deal about integrated campaigns and needing to make sure those are coordinated with sales. Plays are a great way to do that. Who else is using plays in that way, just out of curiosity?
EE: We definitely are at CloudFlare big time, so some of them are organically grown by just the sales team, but we want them to be as aligned with marketing as much as possible. It’s so much stronger if they’re maybe seeing a marketing campaign that’s aligning with what sales is messaging. It just brings it together.
Audience 4: My question ties to that in terms of how you might be tracking plays. It was mentioned about using Salesforce. So just curious from the group. But one specific example, is it a campaign that you’re putting in the Salesforce and then before they start, they’re going to point to that one particular play, as well as at the opportunity object, if there’s an opportunity that you’re working with, or is there a particular play that helped to get you to that point? Thoughts?
EE: I think I brought up the campaign tagging. So that’s exactly right. We do have a required campaign tagging field within Salesforce. But the other way that we can measure the effectiveness, if it’s not in as they’re inside as a campaign specifically, is through a tool like Outreach. We use something called Nova, very similar. But essentially it’s looking at the email open rate. Then we actually do have a lot of manual tracking on the BDR front. So, Alex brought up his team meeting. We have something really similar where we talk about headwinds tailwinds. So like what they’ve done well and what they’ve done poorly, and we address which campaigns are tracking. So, from just checking in the CRM, it is a campaign tagging field that we require.
Audience 5: Hi. My question is for Emily. I love the idea of personalized messaging during a trigger event, but sometimes that can be difficult for marketing to roll out quickly in a timely fashion and obviously have consistent messaging that aligns with the brand. How do you guys deal with that?
EE: Yeah, so that’s where the BDR comes in. Maybe we’re over utilizing them. But they love it. So, they come up with their ideas. It’s really similar, I think, to what Alex is doing too, where we have these weekly meetings and they talk about what we could be doing. Another example would be, Dine was now sucked up by Oracle. And so we have a DNS offering. And so we were like, “Oh, we see that there was this huge compelling even” and we just crafted messaging on the fly, we had one person in marketing look at it and we ran with it. It was something we pushed out literally within a day. And it’s been one of our most successful plays, I would say, because there was a specific selling motion right after that messaging. So, I guess that’s a hard thing too, when we’re talking about sales plays, it’s not all just campaigns. And I think that those lines can get blurred sometimes because it’s, “Here’s the messaging. Here’s the story that we really want to have with customers. Here’s the actions that reps are going to be taking throughout the cycle.” It went all the way through to pricing with that play, because there’s different pricing components. So it’s the full life cycle of that conversation. But it started with one really quick idea in a BDR meeting that they were like, “let’s craft a message.” And we were like, “let’s see how it goes.” You know? So I think what Alex is doing sounds really awesome. Similar to what I think some of our BDR team at CloudFlare is doing, where just make an idea and let’s see what happens.
DS: I think there’s so many different ways. It’s interesting you asked that. We just launched new pricing a couple of weeks ago, and so our CEO picked up again with the video recording. He said, “here’s our new pricing deck.” I’m going to walk through the pricing deck. It’s just a few slides. I want to hear how you are all pitching our new pricing deck. So we all took turns, pitch, gave each other feedback and scored, and that’s how we honed in on our messaging because I immediately went to our top reps and I said, “they ought to be doing something right.” They’re our top reps. So, I thought that was a really interesting way to learn how to message our pricing and think about doing that for all different motions in your sales cycle.
BB: I love what I’m hearing, that we’re getting the people that are on the front lines, BDRs and AEs input. We’re getting executives input. Does this align with our product set and our strategy on where we’re going? And then marketing and enablement and demand gen product marketing all working together to say, “here’s what could really happen”. Whether it’s an end of life takeaway campaign from your competitor that is going away. You guys have some awesome differentiators that are completely different than your competitors. Let’s go after the install base of that competitor. Or it’s use case based on persona. It’s just really relating to the buyer at their level and whether it’s infrastructure, they have relaxed, the persona that cares most and then the strategy that it’s affecting. That’s what I’m hearing. And that’s great to see how you guys are partnering and getting from the people that are the feet on the street. One big last round of applause for our panelists.