On today’s Daily Briefing, Jim Benton was joined by Head of Sales Enablement at Divvy, Stephanie Middaugh. They discussed transferring the physical energy of a sales floor online, and the ideal structure of an empathetic sales call.
The world is continuing to make permanent shifts towards remote work. Replicating the in-person, in-office energy is going to be a challenge for some time.
“We were in the office every single day, and the buzz was crazy before COVID,” said Stephanie. “I’ve been back to the office to pick some things up and it is so strange to hear a quiet sales floor.”
Ultimately, we have to prove value faster. You have to shrink your message a little to make it more impactful. It needs to resonate faster.
Demos are shorter, starting later
We have recently heard that there have been gains made by teams who lead with the product, we’re not seeing that trend in the data just yet. Teams still seem to be increasingly focused on building rapport at the forefront of each call.
“I’m not surprised demo calls are starting later,” Stephanie said. “People are more genuinely interested in having conversations. Before all this happened, I would say let’s go let’s see the product. But now I want to talk to people and connect.”
On a typical call, we’re waiting a minute plus longer to see the product. Jim jokingly asked, “Is this our one minute of empathy?”
Stephanie is on board with longer empathetic conversation starters. “I hear that from our teams. We’re asking more of those rapport-building questions and I think it’s great.”
We’re also seeing that time spent in the actual demo is down. Is this also due to the rapport building?
Stephanie says that empathetic rapport building is part of it, but not the whole story. “Ultimately, we have to prove value faster. You have to shrink your message a little to make it more impactful. It needs to resonate faster.”
Divvy has taken this stance on creative empathy seriously. They did something unique.
“We decided to shift from selling our platform to include PPP,” said Stephanie. “We partnered with a bank to give back to the small business community. We were able to streamline the PPP loan process for a lot of people. This helps our sales reps show that empathy in a real way.”
It must have a big impact on motivation, Jim said. “As reps reach out, they’re potentially saving businesses and jobs.” He wondered how Stephanie moved to enable her team so quickly.
“It was a crazy couple of weeks,” Stephanie said. “I never thought I would read so many legal bills! I had to go into the Care Act and learn it all.”
The also needed some on the ground intel. “We opened Slack channel to share real-time questions from businesses,” she said. “In a month, there were 20k messages about questions we didn’t yet have answers to. Finding answers for these people was really rewarding.”
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People are asking if we can help them save their business. Making that impact really re-energized our team. Sales can be a grind, but when you can see that impact it lights that fire in your belly.
We’re all better off-script
Looking at the way we’re demoing and communicating, Jim asked Stephanie if her team and the sales community as a whole is more off-script, and how sequencing has changed.
“We are 100% off script,” she said. “If you’re not, people might react negatively to that. I still see old sequences. My hope is that we can reinforce this humanity we have found in the business world again, I want people to remember this. With so much chaos in the world, I hope that reps remember and use that going forward.”
Jim agreed. “We’re bringing the human back into sales. We’re not just pushing buttons on tech. Our voice needs to be authentic.”
Stephanie is okay with salespeople taking longer to build rapport on the calls. “If we bring back relationship selling a bit more, I think we’ll see positive impacts based on what we know now.”
Applying that empathy in the real world to your customers and prospects is motivating on its own internally. Jim and Stephanie both wondered if maybe there is more joy in sales when it is empathetic.
“I think the team, especially when helping with PPP loans, feels that,” Stephanie said. “People are asking if we can help them save their business. Making that impact really re-energized our team. Sales can be a grind, but when you can see that impact it lights that fire in your belly.”
Building strong communication muscles
As a result of working from home, most teams were forced to have more communication and connection.
“Usually managers could walk down the aisle or pop by someone’s desk,” said Stephanie. “But now we have to do it differently. As a result, we’ve got to structure time to talk. It forces the conversation to more naturally happen.”
She’s most interested in putting this skill and structure to muscle memory. “Can we keep this communication going when we get back in the office? I want to make sure we keep that muscle we’ve flexed over the past two months.”
The actual human side is the skill everyone is training. Again, bringing human back.
We’ve relied a lot on tech. And you lose that as an inside sales rep a bit. I think this is a positive sign and a good thing.
From a personal level, my faith in humanity has been restored. People are willing to help each other. I think we got lost in social media and focusing on ourselves. Things like this make us focus on others. This will give us dividends on the sales floor. We’ll continue to make deposits with people instead of just withdrawals.
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Slow start to eventually reopen
Looking at productivity, it’s amazing how teams, ICs, and businesses have stepped up. But there is still a long way to go.
“I think it’ll be slower for the SMB space to reopen,” Stephanie said. But she is optimistic for the future. “We’re unique because our product doesn’t cost anything and we provide immense value for teams. We can help these businesses ensure they’re set up for success moving forward.”
The rewards of helping others
She left us on a positive note, reflecting on her interactions with people during this crisis.
“From a personal level, my faith in humanity has been restored. People are willing to help each other. I think we got lost in social media and focusing on ourselves. Things like this make us focus on others. This will give us dividends on the sales floor. We’ll continue to make deposits with people instead of just withdrawals.”