In the first Daily Briefing of this week, Jim Benton was joined by Greg Holmes, Former CSO of Zoom and Chorus.ai Board Member. They discussed how creativity and positivity is playing out in sales, and they focused on the most recent findings from Chorus’s research team. Specifically, that meeting volume is flat WoW and that the dip in volume is affecting AE's, not Customer Success professionals.
Here are the numbers:
- Meeting volume holds steady after initial 11% drop as we head into Q2
- Meetings per AE per week fell 17% in the past two weeks compared to last year
Opening up the conversation, Jim and Greg shared their views on the current climate and how they try to infuse some positivity into their mindset.
It seems that most teams are harnessing a lot of creative solutions to pull through this period. Many creative inspiration comes from essential workers like teachers. Greg started his career as a teacher, and has been excited and inspired by the work that teachers are doing to adapt their work to a virtual platform.
“Teachers have a tough transition. A lot of teachers haven’t had a lot of practice on distance learning. The amount of effort that they’re putting into translating their lessons digitally is amazing. Creating this routine and rhythm is helping these kids immensely,” he said. “It’s challenging but they’re getting the jobs done.”
Jim wholeheartedly agreed. “Hats off to them - the teachers have been fantastic. Hats off to everyone who is trying new things.”
There’s room to grow. Get creative. “No matter what,” said Greg, “We’ve got to try to come out of this better than we entered into it.”
Meeting volume holds steady after initial 11% drop as we head into Q2
In this first finding, Chorus looked at how sales is coming through COVID-19. “We see it’s holding steady,” explained Jim, “but we’re below where we were at the start of Q2 last year”
This didn’t surprise Greg. “Right now, you’ve got your AEs working virtually and things are difficult. Be mindful of what sentiment they’re bringing into the calls.”
It’s time to get efficient, regardless of the activity and productivity of your team. “If you’re doing less,” said Greg, “figure out how you can convert more. We have to think about how to fine tune these conversations to make the meetings as impactful as possible.”
AE Meetings per week fell 17% in the past two weeks compared to last year
Chorus dug a little deeper to understand if there is a difference between Sales and Customer Success volume.
The number of meetings that Customer Success is having with clients is consistent both pre-COVID and compared to last year. Sales appears to account for the dip in volume, with the median of meetings per rep per week falling 17% in the past two weeks and vs. last year.
“CS is actually holding steady,” said Jim. “Even over a much longer period, CS are really showing up strong whereas the AE numbers are softer.”
This looked and sounded right to Greg. “There’s no time to be closer to the customer than now. It’s time to stay strongly aligned with customers.”
He suggested that a pivot in playbooks is appropriate. “Move the sales hat to the side and pivot to a more CS mindset,” he advised. “Are there new things you can think about to serve them better? Stay very close and engaged to the heartbeat of your customers.”
Again, it’s time to get creative. “My team in the past has done assumptive meetings,” explained Greg. “Send out a meeting invite if you have a good relationship with them and something really helpful to share. People may jump on the invite and may continue to engage.”
That’s the magic, Jim said. “Make the connection work. If you have value to offer them and make the most of their time - make it a valuable time.”
Greg had a few more tips on creative engagement techniques for sales teams.
“Send lunch, reach out with a fun lighthearted thing. Change things up,” he said,
For leaders, communication is key. “Find ways to do your rallys,” he continued. “Do daily briefings, like this! Daily updates are critical to keep the pulse of the team. You need your team to be positive to be active. A lot of communication, stay close to them, and stay positive.”
Ultimately, look forward. Look ahead to where you want to be at the end of 2020. Understand where your team is now, knowing that this downshift will eventually turn around leading to another acceleration. Will your team be ready to pick up the pace?
“Be ready for when we come out of this,” Greg said. “Once we can get back to what we do best, there will be an incredible energy and productivity will go up. Fine tune your team and their approach to customers. You’ll see some good upside coming through it.”