SalesTech Star

SalesTechStar Interview with Dan Morgese, Senior Manager of Thought Leadership at Gong

Dan Morgese, Senior Manager of Thought Leadership at Gong chats about the state of today’s sales talent in this short catch-up with SalesTechStar:

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Welcome to this SalesTechStar chat Dan, tell us about yourself and your role at Gong…

I started my career in B2B research and advisory, providing go-to-market leaders the data they needed to make informed decisions while growing their organizations. The last three years before joining Gong were spent specifically aligned to our clients in sales. During that time, I had the opportunity to see firsthand the challenges revenue leaders were facing when it came to gaining visibility into how their sellers were not only spending their time but what ultimately drove their success. Given the static and incomplete nature of the data they had access to, there were a lot of assumptions that had to be made.  

Because of that experience, I jumped at the opportunity to take on this Thought Leadership position at Gong, a company helping revenue leaders and teams solve that exact problem. In my current role, I help manage and amplify our strategic content, specifically addressing industry trends, leveraging the expertise of internal subject matter experts, and showcasing the treasure trove of data that Gong makes available to the industry.

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Gong recently undertook research and released The Reality of Sales Talent Report 2022 in tune with the findings…we’d love to hear the key highlights…

We’ve all seen our fair share of articles, blogs, and reports on the impact the Great Resignation or Great Reshuffle has had on organizations, but at Gong, we’re all about unlocking reality. So rather than paint with broad strokes about the shift of talent in general, we wanted to address the problem for sales leaders specifically. With that clear objective, we went to the source and directly surveyed B2B sales professionals.

How large of a problem did the great resignation pose for B2B sales? What was driving reps to either leave or stay at their organization? What were the most significant challenges they faced? What do they value the most when it comes to picking their next selling opportunity? These were all questions the sales leaders we speak with on a daily basis were asking. After analyzing hundreds of responses, the results of the report were really eye-opening:

  • 45% of respondents indicated that they’ve actively pursued new employment opportunities in the past six months, meaning that right now, half your team could be ready to jump ship.
  • The largest challenge that sales leaders need to overcome is the ability to motivate their sellers.
  • Millennial sales reps were actually 2x as likely to report difficulty staying motivated as their top challenge.
  • Financial compensation plays a vital role in attracting high-performing sellers. But a company’s mission, outlook, and culture play a much more significant role in retaining them. 
  • 75% of sellers say they prefer working from home, and despite the rise of remote selling, productivity ranked last on the list of challenges sales reps face.
  • There are five key drivers of seller motivation that need to be addressed at different stages of the sales talent lifecycle: money, mental health, mission, managers, and mobility.

How in your view should businesses be preparing to upskill their sales teams while building hiring/talent pipeline plans to face talent challenges?

While our findings ultimately show there are five drivers of seller motivation (listed above).  If I were a sales leader who only had the bandwidth to address one, I would focus on the impact my frontline managers were having on hiring and retention programs.

I think the old adage, “People don’t leave bad jobs, they leave bad bosses,” still rings very true. The unfortunate thing is that many managers still aren’t given the tools they need to be successful. In fact, our study shows that 68% of reps leaving their organization in the past six months felt they had inadequate levels of coaching to be successful in their roles. 

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Technologies like Gong give managers full visibility into coaching opportunities, remove friction by making it easier for them to coach based on real customer interactions, and drive accountability, providing leadership insights into coaching activity over time. 

By investing in, coaching, and upskilling your frontline sales managers, you can impact the other four areas of seller motivation to some degree. Sales managers are responsible for the coaching of your reps, giving them the skills and competencies they need to close deals and ultimately hit their number (money).

The ongoing development of your sellers will also eventually lead to the experience and background they acquire to grow into new roles within the company (mobility). Managers have a major influence on their team culture and create a sense of purpose and belonging for their direct reports (mission). And finally, a routine part of 1:1’s should be checking in on the mental health of your sellers. 

A few thoughts on the future of B2B sales in terms of how teams will start shifting in terms of how they work/structure their hierarchy and roles etc in future

It’s a super exciting time to be in B2B sales, and I think there are a lot of similarities to what we saw in the martech boom of years past. Buyers are more open to new virtual/digital channels than ever before, and I think we’ve seen over the past two years that, in most cases, sales organizations that have adapted to these changes have seen great success. This has a massive impact on a couple of areas.

First, for talent, I think remote/virtual/hybrid sales opens up the opportunity for more people to take on a career in sales who may not have previously had the chance to do so. This means talent is no longer bound by where they’re located geographically and fosters more diversity within sales teams. On the flip side, it also means you have to be more intentional about retaining your top performers, given their employment options have increased exponentially. 

Second, I think the playing field will be leveled to allow more junior sellers to use data and insights to uplevel much faster than we have seen in years past. Organizations will start to see their less tenured reps excel much earlier in their careers by leveraging best practices of peers, reviewing game tape, and receiving more targeted coaching. 

Last, with the continued adoption of sales tech, I think we’ll start to see a continued transformation of buyer expectations. The amount of data available to sellers about their contacts, accounts, and opportunities will raise the bar on what a buyer expects in terms of personalization and the value that vendors bring to their evaluation process. 

Some last thoughts, takeaways, before we wrap up…

I think that for many people, mountains of data, artificial intelligence, and insights-driven sales can all feel very cold and impersonal. However, I would challenge sales leaders and sellers to understand better how they can leverage tools to build stronger relationships with their teams and customers. Knowing information is being automatically captured allows us to be more present when engaging with others. Automation saves us time to spend in higher-value areas. Insights allow us to develop a deeper understanding of our customers and teams. These benefits can help us be more intentional, personal, and empathetic in how we connect at work every day. 

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Gong unlocks reality to help people and companies reach their full potential. The Gong Reality Platform™ autonomously empowers customer-facing teams to take advantage of their most valuable assets – customer interactions, which the Gong platform captures and analyzes. Gong then delivers insights at scale, enabling revenue and go-to-market teams to determine the best actions for repeatable winning outcomes. More than 3,000 innovative companies like Morningstar Inc., Paychex, LinkedIn, Shopify, Slack, SproutSocial, Twilio, and Zillow trust Gong to power their business reality. 

Dan Morgese is senior manager of Thought Leadership, Gong

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