William Tyree, Chief Marketing Officer at ringDNA joins us in this interview to share a few top findings from the ringDNA Selling Forward survey and to discuss a few thoughts on the effects of remote work in the new normal, especially on customer-facing sales and marketing teams.
Hi William! Welcome to SalesTechStar! Let’s start with what’s on everyone’s mind: How have the Covid-19 induced lockdowns and business challenges impacted how your marketing plans have been remodeled to boost business for the next few quarters?
Because ringDNA has enabled both remote and on-premise sales teams for years, we add tremendous value in a period when all sales reps are remote. Like most marketing teams, we are very accustomed to working in a mostly virtual environment, but we’ve had to double-down on digital due to the lack of in-person events and conferences.
The recent report by ringDNA on how tech companies are dealing with this current crisis and uncertain times threw up some interesting findings, could you share the top highlights of the report (a summary!) and your thoughts on how you see these changes or findings reshape the way marketing and sales are set to function in tech and B2B.
One of the most immediate impacts of the pandemic on the B2B sales and marketing world is the nearly universal shift to remote work. The robust and bustling sales floor of yesterday is now a dispersed set of individuals working from their bedroom desks or kitchen tables.
The ringDNA Selling Forward survey found that 84.4% of sales and marketing leaders feel that teams are as productive or even more productive when working remotely. That stat shouldn’t surprise anyone who has worked at a technology company, where many if not most companies have been steadily supporting remote work for years.
The question is really whether remote sales and marketing teams can be as effective as they were onsite. On this note, we also asked companies about their priorities in terms of technology. While the number one need was greater operational efficiency within their teams, that was followed closely by technology that will improve sales performance. That’s important, since managers can’t be everywhere, especially when people are working remotely. To account for that, sales teams should look to use AI-powered guided selling technology that specifically tells reps who to contact and how to contact them en route to the shortest path to sales.
There are a slew of findings today talking about how several companies expect to extend their work from home norms until the end of 2020 with some of the biggest firms deciding to allow a permanent work from home model for a certain section of the workforce. According to you: what are your thoughts on these changing trends, imposed largely by the Covid-19 virus, in what ways (positive and negative) do you see these changes to work culture affecting the operational smoothness in Sales and Marketing teams in the tech space?
Conventional wisdom has focused on companies needing to do more with less in a crisis, but sales leaders are less concerned with cost-cutting and more focused on improving team performance and eliminating inefficiencies. Plenty of challenges come with remote working environments that may be initial hurdles – physical disconnect between teams, fragmented communications, among others. However, I don’t see remote work ultimately getting in the way of operations if data and intelligence can make teams create better sales experiences, and therefore improve productivity and performance. For sales conversations by phone or video conference, we’re seeing our customers use data to discover which approaches and even words are more or less effective.
Managers can review detailed reports on reps to provide real-time coachable moments from anywhere and monitor progress over time. These insights are immeasurable as sales teams are able to work smarter together with round-the-clock guidance based on actual behavior.
While several companies are expecting to bounce back over the next quarters, the fact remains that it is going to take that bit of extra effort and creativity to ensure business continuity and to boost revenue, sales and marketing have to step up the next few months despite the ongoing challenges. What top tips do you have here for both teams to align efforts more effectively and drive pipeline?
The best piece of advice I can give to sales teams is to not be afraid to lean into AI. About a third of the companies who responded were already using AI to transform performance, with just 3% calling AI a job killer, which is great progress for the industry. Just two years ago, Forrester said that AI would eliminate millions of sales jobs, and that was clearly wrong. AI just makes sales reps better.
Given the economy we are in, teams should also revisit their target customer profile and markets every single quarter. It won’t be necessary for all organizations – 37% of our respondents indicated they had not made changes related to strategy and targets in light of COVID-19 – but for those who do see new opportunities, making the right pivot, quickly, is crucial.
Additionally, it’s important to not undermine the value of sticking to the sales playbook. Especially in more sensitive times, adjusting messaging to better resonate or align with prospects’ immediate needs is more important than ever. Continually coaching sales teams to stay on message is key, and technology can also help ensure adherence to messaging (even in the middle of a live sales call).
We’ve spoken about the findings from the latest report, we’d now love to know about ringDNA’s plans! What are your team’s / company’s thoughts on business recovery and does the team plan to imbibe work from home processes till the end of 2020 or otherwise?
We’re prepared to be agile as the situation unfolds. While we miss seeing our friends and colleagues in person, the company is well-positioned to work in a fully remote capacity for as long as needed.
While remote work is still largely in place due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic even though businesses and economies are slowly inching towards reopening, what are some of the thoughts you’d like to share with teams as they re-align and try to resume pre-Covid-19 routines?
First, I would suggest teams keep in place much of the digital toolset they acquired or adopted during the pandemic – nothing can beat making processes and workflows more efficient, pandemic or not. Second, I would suggest to teams, especially those who have been working remote for months on end, to ease back into the day-to-day office setting, As frustrating as working remotely has been, many do see the clear benefit of flexibility it provides (cutting out commutes, spending more time with family), so I would encourage leaders to maintain a sense of workplace flexibility for teams, especially as many continue to navigate child and elderly care.
In terms of realignment, there is so much value in face-to-face meetings, in both engaging teams and spurring more creative ideas and brainstorms. Encourage more frequent team meetings, in a safe or socially distant manner, to reinvigorate teams as they return to a semblance of a pre-COVID-19 working environment.
ringDNA is a sales engagement platform that helps businesses scale revenue growth through AI. The leading choice for Salesforce customers, ringDNA offers a complete solution for sales engagement, sales playbook execution, performance insight, conversation intelligence and much more. Backed by Goldman Sachs, Bryant Stibel and Palisades Growth Capital, ringDNA was named one of the “Best Places to Work” by BuiltinLA and Comparably, as featured in USA Today, and “One of The Best Privately Owned Companies in America” by Entrepreneur magazine.
William is the CMO at ringDNA, where he proudly leads a team of marketers who are passionate about using AI to help sales teams perform at their best.