SalesTechStar Interview with Ben Calfee, VP Commercial Sales of Showpad

Ben Calfee, VP Commercial Sales of Showpad highlights more on modern-day sales techniques that everyone in sales needs to adapt:


Tell us about yourself and your role at Showpad

I oversee the Americas regional-based sales teams and they are responsible for new business acquisition and current customer growth at Showpad. They also partner with the Customer Success team to deliver strong Customer Value Realization through improved seller effectiveness.  

How would you define the modern salesperson as of today: Can you talk about some of the top skills that a modern salesperson should sport?

Selling is constantly evolving and the combination of virtual selling post-COVID and the flood of new technology has changed the skills required to be a high-performing salesperson.

Sellers must act as trusted advisers to today’s informed buyers. The following is key to driving sales:

  • Cut through the noise with insights and personalization
  • Leverage technology expertly without being paralyzed by all the capabilities available
  • Have a distinct proof of value and create value in every interaction
  • Explicitly connect the dots for customers from product capabilities to their business impact

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Take us through some of the highlights of the survey Showpad recently conducted on modern sellers and virtual selling, what key takeaways would you say sales leaders should keep in mind from this?

Sellers should seek to replicate the in-person buying experience as much as possible for virtual meetings with buyers. Surprisingly, 65% of salespeople said they cannot read the buyer’s body language and cannot gauge if their message is landing successfully. Salespeople need enhanced training on how to build rapport virtually and how to read buyer’s body language and verbal cues in virtual meetings. Sales leaders should consider having experts in body language and nonverbal communication teach sellers how to pick up on these cues and adjust their sales tactic appropriately in a virtual sales meeting.

Even with all of our digital communication channels, information silos exist in most organizations. This creates knowledge gaps for sellers and leads to suboptimal customer conversations. Overwhelmingly, 82% of salespeople said that not working in the office is degrading the quality of interactions between sales and marketing/product teams and creating mixed messaging for customers and prospects. Without a central information hub, sellers are struggling to access, consume and leverage sales enablement and customer-facing materials.

While 94% of sellers agree that it is important to be able to show up as trusted advisers to clients, a lack of knowledge (40%) and training (29%) are hampering salespeople’s abilities to be credible and build trust with customers. While most organizations have helped their sales teams be more efficient through technology automation many are still struggling to help sellers be effective. The quality of our customer interactions is declining in a virtual environment. Sales leaders need to tackle this problem head-on as the hybrid selling environment is here to stay.

For brands looking at re-enhancing face to face sales processes and meet ups, what do you feel they should do to stand out as they veer away from virtual meetings? Do you feel virtual meetings will decline through 2023?

I believe many sellers would like to get face-to face time with customers but the real question is: how often do buyers want to be meeting in-person? There are few things that come to mind when shifting back to face-to-face meetings:

1) Sellers need to be ready to support a hybrid in-person/remote meeting even if they are on-sight with a customer. Not all of those involved in the decision-making process may be able to meet face-to-face at the same time as others, so technology needs to be set in place to accommodate this. There should be a screen for each face in the room, so that those dropping into the meeting remotely can feel a similar level of connection to those in the meeting room.

2) Bridge the gap between digital and in-person by setting up digital shared spaces to collaborate in real time so that the conversation and knowledge shared is seamless, regardless of location.

3) Tailor the meeting type for an in-person meeting. The prospect is going to want to know why it’s worth heading into the office to meet the salesperson, so find ways to make the meetings more engaging and appealing to them.

How do you feel sellers in a typical B2B model should plan their processes and days to build better conversations and impact through their prospecting ventures?

Personalization and sharing insight is the key to prospecting. First and foremost, you must have a strong grasp on how your product creates business value for your customers. It’s not enough to have a product that’s just a technical fit or has operational level impacts. Then, you must invest the time in strategic research on an account and your contacts so that you can personalize all of your communications. Creativity, likeability and clarity of thought need to shine through in your communications.

Take us through some of your go-to sales tech tools and sales strategies?

A strong value-based sales methodology that is uniformly applied across the organization is foundational. Everyone is (or should be) using a CRM, LinkedIn Sales Navigator, a sales engagement tool, and a sales enablement platform to be engaging and effective throughout the sales cycle.

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A few thoughts on the future of the typical B2B seller? How will the role and function evolve in your view?

Business acumen is becoming more important than ever before. Sellers need to dig deeper in their knowledge of business models and the value creation levers that can be deployed. The trusted advisor status that has been the holy grail of sellers for decades will shift from being a subject matter expert to a business impact expert who can deftly connect the dots – and the information – for buyers.

Showpad is a global leader in revenue enablement technology, providing teams with a modern selling solution for maximizing hybrid sales.

Ben Calfee is VP Commercial Sales of Showpad

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