Do sales leaders need to rethink how they hire sales talent and build out their teams in a tough economic climate? Frida Ottosson, VP of US Sales at Cognism weighs in with some thoughts:
Welcome to this SalesTechStar chat Frida, tell us about yourself and more about your sales journey through the years, we’d love to hear about your new role at Cognism…
Thanks for having me! I started my career in travel sales which is what brought me from Sweden to the US. I was initially only going to stay for one year, but here I am eight years later. I’ve spent the last five years in the SaaS startup world and I’ve loved every second of it with all the learnings that come with it.
Cognism attracted me, because as a sales leader, I’ve felt the pain of the problem of sourcing accurate, compliant sales data and that’s what Cognism helps to solve. As the VP of US sales at Cognism, my role is to help scale our US market. Founded in the UK in 2015, Cognism has done incredibly well in Europe and I’m excited to bring the same value to US sales & marketing teams.
For regional sales leaders tasked with expanding business ROI for certain divisions/regions: in a tough market like today’s, what key strategies and sales ops practices do regional sales teams need to focus on more?
Hiring, developing & retaining top talent. Now more than ever, this is critical for regional leaders to focus on. Build a sales team so good they can sell any product in a tough market, and when things eventually turn around they will dominate.
I tell my teams that now is the time to home in on your sales craft more than ever – if you can learn to successfully sell in this market, things will be very easy when back to normal.
Take us through some of your most reliable sales ops and salestech processes: what salestech usually features in your list of tools and when it comes to sales, what core strategies do you always look at highlighting value from?
I always recommend the Salesforce <> Cognism <> Outreach combo. Building an SDR team from scratch is really challenging (I’ve learnt the hard way!) and usually there are three main hurdles to overcome: Identifying the best target list, enabling reps with an efficient workflow to reach out, ensuring you have the right contact data. If one of these three things is missing or broken, it will be very hard for your SDRs to be successful. The Salesforce, Cognism, Outreach combo ensures you’ll always have all three.
For enterprise sellers today what are some skills that you feel can come handy in enabling sellers across the hierarchy sell better?
Value-selling. For how much this is talked about in the sales community, few enterprise sellers are enabled to do this well. It starts with really understanding your buyer, their day-to-day, what they care about, how they’re measured and where your solution fits in from there.
Pair that with a salesperson with strong EQ and they will be your A-player.
What are some thoughts you have in mind regards to the future of B2B tech sales?
With trends like PLG and AI I think the pressure on great salespeople is going to be even bigger and they will end up having a bigger impact on the outcome of the sales cycle. This might sound a bit backwards, but with more and more of the sales cycle happening before the buyer speaks to a salesperson, that person only has one chance to accomplish what in the past was achieved over multiple conversations.
The difference in win rates between A-players and B-players will grow bigger. So while the sales person is involved later and later in the deal, they will have an even greater impact on the outcome of the deal. With that in mind, the most successful sales leaders will be those who spend even more time on hiring, developing and retaining top talent.
Can you highlight more on the impact of AI in sales and where you see it changing the game for sellers down the line?
I think AI mainly will impact two areas for sales: efficiency and predictability. Efficiency because it’ll direct the salespersons focus to the deals that will actually close and help them take the right action at the right time with the right prospect. Intent data is a great example of this where I believe we’ve just scratched the surface in terms of how it could be used to boost efficiency, both before and during the sales cycle.
When it comes to predictability, there are a few forecasting tools out there getting fairly close with helping sales leaders see into the future. I think we’re not far away from AI telling sales leaders where they are going to land in a very accurate manner.
BONUS READ – Jon Miller, CMO at Demandbase chats about the evolution of ABM in this webchat with MarTechSeries:
Episode 171: People Culture and its Impact on Business Growth: with Linda Lee – Chief People and Culture Officer, Velocity Global
Episode 170: Creating Connected Brand Experiences: with Jamie Adams, Chief Growth Officer at Scorpion
Episode 169: B2B Sales, Process Enhancements and Tips: with Sean Flynn, SVP of Global Sales at Avalara