SalesTechStar Interview with Denzil Samuels, Chief Marketing and Growth Officer at ServiceSource
Denzil Samuels, Chief Marketing and Growth Officer at ServiceSource joined us in this conversation to share his views on the changing pre and post-Covid-19 B2B landscape when it comes to evolving customer transformation initatives:
Can you tell us a little about yourself Denzil? What are some of the biggest sales and marketing takeaways the Covid-19 pandemic has given you?
I am the Chief Marketing & Growth Officer at ServiceSource, an outsourced go-to-market services provider that delivers B2B digital sales, customer success and renewal solutions on behalf of enterprises worldwide. Throughout my 35 years of experience in technology across several industries, including software, telecom, industrial, travel and aerospace, the coronavirus pandemic has the chance to be the biggest catalyst of change within the B2B world.
One of my biggest takeaways from the pandemic is that especially when traditional methods of marketing or selling are closed, people become even more open to finding ways to stay connected, but the content you offer matters more than ever before. For example, we used to host in-person wine-tasting events which have now gone virtual. You could say that sipping wine in your living room can’t come close to a winery experience in Napa Valley, but people have become open to trying experiences in new ways, especially if they can keep connecting with their peers and keep learning new things despite being miles apart. The same is true for selling. The disappearance of face-to-face selling during the pandemic, opened clients’ minds to virtual sales or what we now call, ‘digital sales’. This was an unprecedented shift. So in summary, the biggest takeaways are:
- Focus on content (and what you do best!)
- Find creative ways to virtually continue build relationships
- Embrace digital sales as a new way of selling
Getting the right digital sales mix in a remote selling environment, at a time when every brand is trying to cut through the noise with an innovative online reach requires a different strategy and plan. What top tips would you share here?
Even with the increased shift of relying on digital tools, personalization and the human touch are always highly valued in sales. Personal relationships have become invaluable during a public health crisis, when buyers are experiencing distress and unprecedented disruption to normal routines. While the human element is integral to a successful go-to-market strategy, businesses need to be able to scale their outreach with the help of digital assets to maximize growth potential. In B2B sales, sellers can be responsible for hundreds of prospects at the same time, with the help of digital tools. Ideally, digital can automate the early stages of the sales cycle, collecting data along the way to inform future human-to-human interactions. Only a data and insight driven customer journey experience based on personalized touch points will enable a sales representative to build the type of relationships needed to convert leads into customers and prevent churn.
Could you share your thoughts on the future of digital sales in B2B- what kind of tactics will become more popular as consumers and sellers adapt to the new normal going forward?
Coming out of the pandemic, it is highly likely that B2B buyers will continue to accept the “Amazon effect” and lean on digital channels to facilitate much of the customer journey experience. Some businesses will be tempted to implement a pure tech touch approach with self-service tools handling much of the process, while others will be eager to return to handshakes and in-person meetings. Delivery models will also change, with on-premise installations retiring in favor of the cloud, changing subscription models in the process, as there will be less multi-million-dollar capital investments at the outset. This will have an outsized influence on sales strategies because customer renewals will take on greater importance over customer acquisition. The one thing that will not change however, is the Sales organization that focuses on selling ‘outcomes and value’ versus selling features will always win.
Data and analytics is a hot favorite for every sales and marketing executive today; how can marketers and sales teams use their data and analytics tools to enhance the customer experience and journey during this Covid-19 downtime?
The rise of data and analytics in sales was a long-time coming. The old-school approach involving golf and steak dinners certainly got the job done, but a modern sales operation requires a more holistic view of customers. As businesses recover from COVID-19 disruption, they need to determine how to build out their customer intelligence. They can start by mapping out each and every customer interaction and creating comprehensive customer profiles for future engagements. Customer data once it is analysed, provides insights on the customer. These insights drive actions and the actions drive outcomes. You have to focus on selling outcomes to your customers. What do I mean by outcome? An outcome could be helping them to fix a problem or to reduce their cost or to help them sell more, etc. Knowing the customer’s needs or pain points and figuring out exactly when the customer is ready for the right conversation can make all the difference in a customer relationship. These kinds of insights are made easier when data and analytics are fueling decisionmaking.
What are some of the best industry initiatives according to you taken by some leading / innovative companies during this time to enhance employee experiences and customer sales and support strategies?
At ServiceSource, we have sales team members worldwide to provide the global reach our clients require, and the safety of our employees became the number one priority when the coronavirus first emerged. The pandemic forced us to transition to a remote-only environment, but we have thrived by using a new operating model that encourages communication and accountability. This operating model establishes a cadence of communication that serves to cement our culture as well as allows our teams to check in on performance metrics and expectations. It’s all about integrating our culture needs with our business goals.
To beat the challenges arising due to the pandemic, what balance of sales/marketing techniques and tech (martech / salestech) would you advise?
Every B2B company should have already adopted martech and salestech platforms to help co-pilot the customer journey. In today’s climate, where sales interactions have drastically changed due to the pandemic, these tools will only help empower frontline employees who are trying to build new customer relationships and maintain sales, in a whole new way. For some products and services, salestech tools are capable of managing each and every touchpoint. But when you move up the stack in terms of price point, product complexity and level of customization, then traditional marketing techniques come into play to help disentangle the complexities and simplify the experience. While salestech has a fundamental role in today’s sales cycle, it should only be a supplement to a sales team, not a strict alternative. There needs to be a right mix so that sales experts can leverage the speed and transparency provided by tech.
Denzil Samuels serves as Chief Marketing & Growth Officer for ServiceSource and is accountable for all aspects of the company’s go-to-market and growth acceleration activities, including sales, strategic partnerships, global account management, global marketing, branding, communications and global learning. Denzil brings more than 35 years of experience in technology across several industries including software, telecom, industrial, travel and aerospace, driving major positive transformations and growth for some of the tech industry’s largest and most respected companies.