Before diving into the data, they discussed a passion they share: people development. Chorus is a proud sponsor of #GirlsClub, helping to empower female reps and managers to become future sales leaders.
Lauren says it comes down to confidence and exposure. “A lot of women have to go outside of company walls to find role models and mentors in leadership,” she said.
Her biggest surprise after launching #GirlsClub has been the enthusiastic success of each member. “How quickly these women take off! It’s a bit like pulling teeth to get women to ask for funding and time from their managers,” she said. “But once they get it, they take off like rockets. They're dipping their toes into leadership. We’ve got a 70-80% promotion rate. And that’s just when they’re in the program.”
Leaders have a responsibility to empower their reps, and reps have a responsibility to raise their hands. Now that we are remote, and that sales leaders are joining more of their reps calls, there’s more opportunity to mentor and coach the future leaders of sales.
The new deal structure for CFOs
We have been sharing data that shows that buying-side leadership participation in sales calls has been significantly on the rise since COVID-19. Today we shared a secondary metric, going deeper into this data.
CFOs are joining meetings at an alarming rate. There has been a 91% increase in CFO meeting participation since pre-COVID.
Sales leaders have intuitively picked up on this shift. It is startling to see the numbers. “The world has changed,” said Jim. “Look at this increase.”
But how should sales teams alter their approach to address the needs and concerns of a level-ed up meeting with a different economic buyer?
“I think we’re used to asking our youngest members to follow their script and run through the demo,” said Lauren, “and that’s just not going to work anymore.”
I love selling to sales leaders because they love the pitch. The CFO has no tolerance for that. Answer their questions directly. They’re not going to go on the long winding journey with you.
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What would make for a successful outcome for CFOs
We have to rethink the structure of our meetings, Lauren says. “It’s not a standard pitch, it’s not a list of features and benefits, and it’s not a demo. You’re not selling the tool anymore, you’re selling the decision.”
Jim does prefer a more visual approach but agrees that it can be overdone. “I think they’re not looking for a canned deck,” he said. “I do think ROI calculators that are customized are important.”
“Exactly,” Lauren agreed. “Show the trends. Give them custom data. Not the features and benefits demo. They are asking, ‘Why am I buying this now?’ It’s not just return on investment, it’s also the speed of that investment.”
CFOs, and indeed other leaders, need to be convinced that your product is business-critical.
“You’re jockeying for limited spend,” said Lauren. “It has to do with risk. It’s risk mitigation. Is this going to save me from something else, is it going to help me pivot, is it going to help me reduce spend… These are the things they care about.”
“What opening question would you ask a CFO?” Jim asked.
“Frankly, I would flip it around,” Lauren said. “Instead of trying to control that call and lead the narrative, I’d stop the call and say: You’re joining this call because you have questions you need answered. Let’s put them on the table and make sure we address them.”
And it’s not just about hearing the questions that are top of mind for them. It is also how you answer their questions. “I love selling to sales leaders because they love the pitch. The CFO has no tolerance for that. Answer their questions directly. They’re not going to go on the long winding journey with you.”
I’ve also seen Conversation Intelligence like Chorus. You used to be able to walk down the aisles and hear what’s going on. Managers have been handcuffed without recordings for far too long.
As we have reported, sales leaders are continuing to join their sellers on calls. To that, Lauren has some advice: don’t take over.
“If you’re joining your sellers on the call. Resist the temptation to jump in and take over. It’s not ripping the headset off and taking over. This is what prevents us from being coaches. It’s doing it, not teaching it.”
A leader is at their best when they are helping to add weight to their side of the table while also helping to grow and train their rep.
Lauren gives us three reasons why leaders are joining meetings:
- Reduced spending
- Making strategic pivots
- More time, not stuck in bs meetings pulled into
This leads to a hyper-focus on people and morale.
Making sure your calls are successful takes preparation. “You have to take it up a level,” she said. “We used to have a given formula for our reps. But our conversations have changed. You have to ask more strategic questions. You have to understand what is happening in their business and what that means for them; why they are looking at these tools right now, especially with a restricted budget.”
Jim added, “If execs are joining calls, they’re reviewing the deals. It has to spread beyond the inbox.” He asked Lauren if she knew of any tactics that are working to help up-level the deal.
“I love that video has rehumanized the process,” she said. “I see a lot more video, more screen share.”
“I’ve also seen Conversation Intelligence like Chorus,” said Lauren. “You used to be able to walk down the aisles and hear what’s going on. Managers have been handcuffed without recordings for far too long.”
The vast majority of leaders get into leadership because they love to develop people. The problem is that it’s the easiest thing to fall off your list. Coaching becomes an ‘I’ll get to it when I can’ priority.
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Managers are spending more time coaching than ever before.
Technology is enabling managers to recreate their in-office sales floor, virtually. And we see that managers are coaching more than they were before the Pre-COVID era.
Both Jim and Lauren have a passion for people development and coaching.
“Companies are figuring out technology right now,” she said. “We train thousands of managers every year. The vast majority of leaders get into leadership because they love to develop people. Though you eventually realize you have more freedom and power as a rep, you love developing people. The problem is that it’s the easiest thing to fall off your list. Coaching becomes an ‘I’ll get to it when I can’ priority. Which is sad because it’s the reason you got into it in the first place.”
Jim agreed. “If you’re not coaching right now you have zero connection to your team. You can’t walk the halls. The scale has always interested me. Deal coaching can’t scale, but this can. You have to show what good coaching looks like.”
Lauren lit up. “I love when leaders get involved,” she said. “The manager coaches the rep, and the leader coaches the manager. But that’s usually where it breaks down. I think it’s critical that leaders get more involved.”
She shared that they’ve used call recording technology at Factor8 for years, especially when it comes to ramp. “There’s always going to be ramp because the game hasn’t slowed down for them yet. If you ask a rep how a call went in their first few months, they have no idea. But when you can use game tape, you can slow it down and learn from it.
What’s happening now in coaching, is that you used to coach the deal not the rep. But now you can coach the rep. When managers get into it, that’s their chance to get into and coach the person. And develop the person.”
Jim agreed, adding that the scale of rep development is more sustainable. “The scale is incredible,” he said. “When it’s a good coaching moment it can impact all deals. If it’s a deal coaching moment, it’s just that deal.”
To make coaching more accessible, Lauren offers this strategy: “Let your reps pick the calls you coach. Catch what they do right. You’ll get a 10x difference in change if you focus on what they’re doing well. Let them pick one thing.”
“Let the rep choose, you can’t lose,” she added.
She left us with a note of encouragement for the future and the momentum of sales.
“It’s time to start selling again,” she said. “We spent a lot of time pressing pause. We did a great job working with empathy. It’s time. We’re getting back to work. Your reps are having better conversations with more people. They have new pipeline, and it’s probably the best-qualified pipeline you’ve had in a long time.”