Technical Sales by Hub
Controlling your Technical Sales Strategy During COVID-19
Today’s digitally transformed work environment has forced sales engineering professionals to revisit their technical sales strategy with a digital-first approach to sales, technical sales and marketing. COVID-19 means that not only are buyers not in the office as they once were, but they are less available in general as they focus on other things. So sellers must fine-tune their efforts to retain, expand, up-sell and land new business.
For example, I recently had a conversation with a CRO (Chief Revenue Officer) who is currently revising his GTM (Go-To-Market) based on an on-premise, hybrid and SaaS (software as a service) product mix. Essentially he is bringing together various disciplines from engineering, product, marketing, presales and sales to define a mental model that can streamline revenue-generating efforts and assign corresponding metrics to measure performance.
Our conversation sparked a simple mental framework that I hope helps similar GTM leaders think through their sales motion based on product packages of on-premise, hybrid and SaaS applied to their target deal sizes of small, medium and large transactions. Because times have changed, and the sales environment may not ever go back to what it once was.
To explore the possible impacts these packages may have on sales strategy, technical sales and marketing, let’s look at the following sections below in more detail.
It is common for the sales organization to have an enterprise, commercial and SMB (small medium business) sales team pursuing large, medium and small deals that are defined by the company and support the corresponding per unit economics.
In today’s WFH (work from home) environment, on-premise products that require on-site support from prospects may be on hold until people return to the office. Hybrid solutions may equally be on hold by prospects unless the product can be installed remotely. SaaS products stand to gain the greatest sales motion in today’s climate since these products can be experienced in a WFH environment.
In short, sales motion to revenue is faster with SaaS products compared to Hybrid and on-premise solutions. Now let’s look at how product packaging may impact presales and sales strategy.
Today’s WFH environment forces the function of presentation, demonstration and evaluation to be done remotely or in an automated manner whenever possible. In-person and on-site engagements that require travel simply are not an option, as many companies have implemented company wide travel restrictions until the end of 2020.
Technical sales should explore how to become the trusted advisor virtually. Unfortunately, on-premise products have inherent limitations on the technical sales strategy and its ability to demonstrate value effectively. Some hybrid products may support a remote engagement model between technical sales and the prospect. SaaS products provide the greatest capabilities to present, demo and manage evaluations to establish value with the prospect, both in a remote and in some cases automated way. For instance, products like Consensus enable technical sales engineers to automate the delivery of demos to prospects, so whenever possible, products like these should be explored if they make sense for the use case.
Now let’s look at how marketing can streamline its activities based on product packages.
Several notable industry trade show events have been cancelled for 2020, so the conventional field-marketing lever is not available to drive awareness and leads. Essentially, all physical outreach efforts that even include direct mailers to prospects’ offices are on hold for the calendar year. Looks like the Covid-19 pandemic has forced a digital-first approach for enterprise marketing.
For on-premise and hybrid products where an install base exists, it is recommended that digital marketing campaigns be focused on retaining, expanding and up-selling whenever possible. No sense in driving land marketing campaigns unless sales, technical sales and the overall sales strategy can perform their corresponding land activities with on-premise and hybrid products. As for SaaS products, marketing should leverage all the digital capabilities at their disposal to target the right personas, within the right verticals and industries, and whenever possible utilize ABM (account based marketing) and persona focused methodologies to maximize their dollars spent on awareness and demand generation. Additionally, whenever the product itself can be used to deliver product experience with the desired personas, this should be incorporated into the corresponding marketing efforts.
With WFH the new normal, sellers can no longer depend on buyers’ presence in the office for on-site presentations and demos. This will affect the approach taken by sales, marketing and technical sales. They’ll need to fine-tune their efforts and home in on their desired personas to retain, expand, up-sell and land new business. I personally find it highly unlikely that business will ever go back to the way things once were, so I suspect that these new methods and SaaS product packages will be the way we conduct business for a long time, even post Covid-19.