Kelli Hobbs, VP of Business Development at Valuedynamx talks about a few proven growth and expansion tricks that work well for B2B brands in this catch up:
Tell us about yourself and your sales journey in the B2B tech space…
I’ve been in B2B sales, and more specifically the loyalty space, for about 20 years. I started my career by selling loyalty solutions to financial institutions and found myself in my first management position in 2010. It was then that I discovered my passion for connecting a company’s objectives with the people, processes, and resources needed to drive those goals in a profitable and sustainable way.
My journey in B2B sales has been a well-rounded one, with experience across the prepaid, travel, and hospitality industries. However, the majority of my career has been focused on selling to financial institutions, which has been critical in developing a deep technical understanding and product-level knowledge that is needed when selling to large enterprises. Fast forward to my current role as the Vice President of Business Development for Valuedynamx, and I am able to seamlessly blend my experiences in the travel and hospitality sectors with my extensive knowledge of the financial industry, allowing me to better understand and address the distinctive challenges of our clients.
When it comes to driving regional expansion and growth for B2B: what have you seen works better than other strategies?
There are several keys to successful B2B business growth and expansion, but step one should be understanding the market demand. A deep understanding of market demands is crucial, especially when entering as a startup or with no existing brand presence or clientele. Other important considerations for driving growth, in no order of importance, include:
- Making strategic decisions by understanding your place in the market: Assessing your approach, budget, and resource allocation is essential to understanding what you can build versus what you can buy.
- Having a lean approach: Employing a lean approach allows for swift iterations and the ability to “fail fast” before making improvements to meet evolving market demands effectively. Be ready to acknowledge the potential need for pivots or updates.
- Leveraging strategic partnerships: Aligning with strategic partners can help facilitate market entry.
- Understanding regional differences: Recognize that regions may have varying levels of technical advancement and understanding, requiring patience and adaptability during expansion.
Take us through some of the salestech processes and sales ops processes you rely on to drive impact and growth?
Many of the salestech processes and technologies I use on a day-to-day basis are what I would refer to as fundamental and traditional sales tools, but they’re instrumental in optimizing our efforts and driving growth within our organization. For example, customer relationship management platforms are vital from a sales ops perspective in helping a sale reach its full potential. CRM greatly contributes to our team’s ability to cross-sell or upsell. For instance, if I’m in the US talking to an organization, someone else can access the CRM to explore opportunities with that organization in another region. It serves as a repository where the entire organization can access valuable information and quickly gain knowledge about where in the sales cycle an organization lies.
Sales scheduling, while seemingly very tactical, is an important piece of the puzzle. We’ve streamlined this process on our website and in our email signatures, using tools like Calendly or similar technologies to enable easy access to our calendars. From a sales process standpoint, it’s incredibly beneficial as it simplifies scheduling and coordination, giving the sales team more time to do what it’s meant to do – sell.
Team collaboration with clear roles and responsibilities is vital to success. Leveraging teams, especially when working on Request for Proposals (RFPs) or collaborative projects, can be highly effective in meeting goals. But a strong emphasis must be made on project management, including having a structured agenda for meetings and producing a post-meeting document that outlines action owners, dependencies, and timelines. This practice ensures accountability and helps keep everyone on track.
Can you talk about the five common mistakes sales leaders make today, especially when they take over a new team?
Drawing from my years of experience, here are what I believe to be the most common mistakes sales leaders make today when inheriting a new team (plus one bonus mistake for good measure J):
- Neglecting to learn more about your team and their needs: One common mistake is not dedicating enough time to understand your team, especially if you find yourself in the place of inheriting one. In today’s multigenerational workforce, effective communication and an understanding of the psychological needs of team members are crucial. It involves celebrating individuality, recognizing how employees prefer to communicate, and understanding what motivates them.
- Rigidly adhering to existing processes: Another misstep is assuming that the existing operating model is the right way forward. Sales leaders should assess whether current processes and decision-making align with their strategy and objectives. Don’t hesitate to make necessary changes, especially once you’ve gained insight into your team.
- Lacking a clear game plan and not leading by example: It’s essential to have a well-defined plan and not only that, but to also lead by example. Leaders should actively participate in the processes they preach to set the standard for the team.
- Not remembering the role of leadership: Effective sales leaders understand that they serve their team rather than making demands. They actively seek feedback and ensure their team has the necessary tools to excel. If not, they advocate for their team’s needs.
- Not fostering leadership in your team: Many leaders miss the opportunity to tap into the wealth of ideas within their team. Encouraging feedback, conflict resolution, and open dialogue is where innovation thrives, and new opportunities emerge. Leaders should actively foster leadership skills in team members and engage in collaborative brainstorming sessions. For instance, during weekly meetings, giving team members the chance to lead or moderate can help them grow and take on new responsibilities.
- Lack of leadership or management training: Sometimes, sales leaders are placed in leadership positions because they excel in sales but have little or no experience in people management. Organizations should ensure that their leaders receive formal leadership or management training. This is vital for HR implications, maintaining a positive people and culture environment, and preventing potential team disintegration. Lack of preparedness in leadership roles can have ripple effects across the organization.
A few thoughts on the impact of AI and the future of Sales?
AI is an incredibly compelling topic across all industries at the moment. When it comes to AI in sales, the future is largely shaped by an individual organization’s vision and objectives.
For large enterprises, AI can find valuable applications, especially in areas like chatbots for customer service. Striking the right balance between fiscal considerations and the desired customer communication approach can be a delicate dance. At Valuedynamx we’ve embraced a model where customers or potential clients can initiate a conversation through our website, and a human team member promptly responds. This strikes a balance between automation and personal engagement.
It’s crucial to emphasize that while AI can drive efficiency and cost savings, it should complement, not replace, the human touch. Relationships are the lifeblood of sales, and no technology can replace genuine connections with customers. AI’s true value in sales often lies in its analytics capabilities, which can provide insights into marketing opportunities and campaign performance. Establishing best practices in integrating AI into sales strategies will be essential, ensuring that fiscal considerations align with the desired customer interactions.
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