SalesTech Star

SalesTechStar Interview with Eric Gorney, EVP Sales at Siteimprove

Eric Gorney, EVP Sales at Siteimprove chats about a few sales practices that should prevail in B2B teams in this catch up with SalesTechStar:


Welcome to this SalesTechStar chat Eric, tell us about yourself and what inspires you about being in sales?

I’m fortunate enough to lead Siteimprove’s North American sales team. I’m a Chicago native, transplanted to San Francisco a couple of decades ago. I started my career at Oracle and spent some time with many prominent companies you’ve probably heard about. Prior to joining Siteimprove, I was with SAP for more than a decade, moving from individual contributor to sales exec leader from HK to San Francisco.

Sales starts with inspiration – the collective knowledge from execs sharing their vision and how the sales leaders approach that vision to do business. From there, the opportunity to meet with different individuals makes every day interesting. One day you meet with heads of organizations at high-tech manufacturers. The next day you might be meeting with financial services companies. The cool thing is that you are talking to CFOs, heads of manufacturing and CIOs, which gives you a comprehensive view of our business and strategy.

Sales at Siteimprove is rooted in an authentic purpose around accessibility and ensuring everyone can participate in the digital world. As a salesperson, it is great to be able to lead with a story about a company that has been in business for 18+ years, has 7,000 customers worldwide, and is truly purpose driven.

With 20% of the population having some kind of disability, our goal is to contribute to a more inclusive economy and bring our part to the conversation, not just here but across the globe. In furthering that mission, we gain deep relationships with clients, and often they become friends. It’s inspirational and rewarding to watch salespeople close deals, win targets and achieve their personal growth. It brings me tremendous joy to do what I do every day.

When you have that sales background, you can move to different roles within the organization. And given the global nature of the company, it also allows you to move across the world. Not many roles offer that. I loved the time I spent in Hong Kong. I had a chance to learn a new language and learn about a new culture. Fully immersing yourself in another country’s culture allows you to understand how business works in different parts of the world. It is a great way to see similarities and then learn how to incorporate people’s differences. This knowledge advances you on so many levels.

How are you seeing trends in B2B sales today evolve as companies adapt back to pre Covid selling models?

The reality is the future is about the present. The world has changed such that we operate online rather than in person. People are back-to-back with calls and Zoom meetings, and we’ve had to pivot. We have to answer “How are we going to help,” and “Why should a company buy and why now?” We need to come better prepared when we interact with our clients. We can no longer lean on the relationships and personal friendships that were easier to develop when we were in person. Relationships will always be important but being prepared for value selling and coming in with a plan for every client meeting is more important than ever.

Read More: Siteimprove partners with Nordic Capital to accelerate growth

As part of your sales processes, what are some of the core strategies you rely on and what have been some of the core salestech used to drive your sales output through the years?

At Siteimprove, we are dedicated to our client base with a large portfolio in government agencies, education, manufacturing, retail and financial institutions. Siteimprove ended the year with a 42% increase in ASP across those verticals.

In 2021 Siteimprove crossed the $100 million in Annual Recurring Revenue (ARR) mark, a significant milestone driven by continued growth throughout 2021 and investment in our core products and platform. Part of the company’s growth is in the large enterprise marketplace. We offer a full-circle approach – connect the marketing, BDRs, and sales and ensure we are aligned on how we enter, market, and talk to our prospects. We truly need to understand their company and customers to show how we can help them achieve their goals and objectives. We are similar to other companies that have $100M ARR in this regard. We rely on tools and technologies that deliver best-in-class capabilities that enable sales teams like SalesForce with automated solutions to ensure we are running and using best-of-breed solutions.

As we continue to grow in the enterprise market, we realize the importance of segmenting by market so we can bring true value in our first conversation. We can tell a customer story from the same industry to illustrate our value better. Our recent industry recognition as a Leader across four G2 categories within the Enterprise sector – Accessibility, SEO, Digital Governance, and Digital Analytics – goes a long way in demonstrating that we are an enterprise-ready, comprehensive and scalable solution.

When building out sales teams today, what in your view are some of the skills that sales leaders need to be looking out for?

When we look for sales talent, we are always looking for people with a strong consultative selling approach, communication skills and a drive to succeed.  Beyond the sales basics, we focus on our diversity principles and the performance benefits that come from diverse teams.  We look for diversity, not just in characteristics, but in experience as well.

But hiring is just a first step. Once a diverse team is in place, sales leaders need to help their teams build a foundation based first on their commonality, and then guide them to see the benefits from their diversity of thought and experience.  Beyond that, we expect leaders to challenge themselves every day by asking: How can I support career development? How many folks on the team are achieving job satisfaction and meeting their career goals? What’s important is that we help our managers adapt and transform into people leaders. It’s all about the people, and people thrive in a “We” focused culture.

Read More: SalesTechStar Interview with Susan Cook, CEO at Zaloni

If you had to sum up the future of salestech and B2B sales: what would you say?

I get this question a lot about the future of work.

The future is right now. We cannot predict what will happen in 6 months. In the past, clients would build three-year roadmaps. Now clients work in a 12–18-month window. This requires sales teams to be nimble, flexible, and to sell with true conviction. The most important indicator of success is when leaders make decisions quickly. If you cannot make decisions quickly, you will lose.  Today’s leaders need to make swift decisions and confidently run the business. Teams will follow, and clients will believe in your vision and product.

Some last thoughts, takeaways, digital sales/customer communication tips and best practices before we wrap up!

When I talk to and engage with prospective employees during the interview process, colleagues or new hires, they ask how you measure success. I reflect on my many years and have three Cs in my mind:

Company – wherever you are, you need to believe in the company. This starts with the leadership team. You need to be aligned with and believe in your team.

Clients – believe in your clients’ goals and objectives, both on individual and company levels. Focus on your clients’  goals before your own. Be committed to your peers and clients. It takes years to build trust and minutes to lose it, and you might never rebuild it.

Always be curious, ask what they want to accomplish, and truly seek to understand it. It will take you a long way.

It seems very simple, and there’s no order to the 3 C’s, but they all have to work in synergy to make it successful.

When was the last time you made a new friend?

My closest friends are former clients. You build trust, and they feel the same, and this is how you build relationships. Connection starts with a business conversation, and it turns into a multi-year friendship, talking about families, growing a relationship on a whole different level.

Read More: Make the Most of Your AI/ML Projects with MLOps

Siteimprove | Nordic Capital

Siteimprove transforms content into the foundation of winning customer experiences that drive revenue.

Eric Gorney is EVP of Sales, North America, for Siteimprove. SiteImprove is powering the internet-for-all with a SAAS platform that helps companies widen their reach with all consumers, including those who are often excluded from important digital experiences. Enabling companies to turn content into revenue through digital inclusivity, SiteImprove’s platform drives ROI by optimizing accessibility, content quality, performance, SEO and marketing analytics. SiteImprove has partnered with hundreds of companies across the globe, including Merck, OpenReach and Vodafone, to enable millions of people to engage with the digital world.

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