Chris Parker, VP of Sales at Customer.io chats about the core skills and processes that can drive a better technology sales cycle in this Q&A with SalesTechStar:
Welcome to this SalesTechStar chat, Chris; tell us about your sales journey through the years. What excites you most about sales?
I have over 12 years of experience in customer-oriented product and sales roles across high-growth startup environments. I actually began my career in technical marketing and web development and later transitioned into product leadership. Eventually, I jumped at an opportunity to lead a sales team in 2016 and never looked back. Since then, I have held VP of Sales positions across startups at various stages of maturity, from seed to late-stage.
I thrive in the fast-paced innovation that characterizes startups and specialize in the martech field. Prior to joining the Customer.io team as VP of Sales in 2021, I spent time at an e-commerce-focused marketing automation and customer data startup. That experience allowed me to hit the ground running upon joining Customer.io. I’ve established and formalized new functions in the sales organization, including Sales Operations and Solutions Architecture, adding over 40 team members over the past two years. It’s been a whirlwind, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I truly enjoy and embrace the change that comes with building successful sales teams.
How are you seeing typical selling trends in B2B tech change the role of sellers today?
Customers do not want to be “sold” to. They are educated when they enter the sales funnel, have access to more information than ever before, and are looking for sellers to be product experts who can guide them through their evaluation and fill in the gaps. Sellers have to be intentional with the way they set up each interaction throughout the sales cycle and remove friction from the buying process for their customers.
What are some of the top skills and sales tech knowledge areas you feel more sellers need to focus on growing?
The top skills that a salesperson in tech needs to develop are product expertise, competitive intelligence, and the ability to determine whether a customer is a good fit for the product they are selling. Understanding your buyer persona is more important than ever because a seller’s time is limited, and they must focus on high-value activities throughout the day. The easiest way to waste time on low-value activities is by chasing opportunities that will never close.
Can you talk about driving sales in a dynamic environment and what this process looks like for you and your team at Customer.io? We’d love to know more about the sales tech that powers all of it, too!
A sales organization is most productive when each department is focused on a common goal. At high-growth companies, change is not only inevitable but constant. Alignment across departments is critical so that communication flows freely, especially within remote-based teams like at Customer.io.
As for technology, there are endless options to choose from across sales enablement, training, operations, and not to mention lead management, and prospect outreach. What’s most important to consider is if the tool will add value to the prospect’s experience. It’s great if your tech stack can reduce the sales cycle and improve efficiency, but at the end of the day, you want your prospects and customers to have the best buying experience possible, especially during tough economic times.
It’s very common to see companies evaluate new technologies for a longer time than before or enter multiple evaluation cycles before deciding which vendor to partner with. If they had a good experience with you, they’re more likely to come back when they are ready to buy.
Take us through the growing impact of AI in sales today and how you feel it’s set to change the game for sellers. How does your team at Customer.io capitalize on AI to drive sales impact?
I think there is a lot of noise surrounding AI, which makes it difficult to sort through all the information. However, I believe that AI will greatly impact sales in the future, particularly in improving efficiency within the sales cycle and surfacing insights that help sellers advance deals through the process. Our primary reason for investing in AI internally at Customer.io is to improve the efficiency of our operations and positively impact our customers. We believe that AI has many applications and can be used in various ways to achieve these goals. Currently, both at a company-wide level and within sales, we are taking a cautious and deliberate approach to implementing AI.
Customer.io is a customer engagement platform designed for marketing teams to create data-driven campaigns that reach people across all messaging channels at the right time. Their suite of products includes Journeys, a messaging automation tool for all engagement needs, and Data Pipelines, a customer data platform that connects the entire tech stack. Customer.io offers a winning recipe for effective customer engagement by combining real-time data and personalized messages. Founded in 2012, Customer.io is a globally distributed, remote-first company named one of the fastest-growing private companies on the 2023 Inc. 5000 list.
Chris Parker is the Vice President of Sales at Customer.io. He brings over a decade of experience in the marketing and advertising technology industries to his role, where he manages global sales operations and development. Chris is passionate about cultivating robust sales teams and driving growth through creative go-to-market strategies. Based in Massachusetts, he enjoys supporting New England sports teams and spending quality time with his wife and two children.
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