SalesTechStar Interview with Greg Peel, Vice President of Sales, North America at Aircall
Greg Peel, Vice President of Sales, North America at Aircall chats about the dominant sales features in today’s B2B marketplace:
Welcome to this SalesTechStar chat Greg – tell us about your sales journey through the years and more about your role at Aircall…
For the majority of my career, I worked for public companies in the HR/Payroll/Benefits space in the United States and Canada. I was fortunate to be trusted in building and rebuilding teams, while scaling some of them to over 400 people with three lines of leadership.
In 2022, I made the transition to Aircall, as they met the five characteristics I was looking for in an organization: Be part of a fast growing company, provide a solution that will make life better for our customers, have the opportunity to grow/build an organization, has a reputation for their great culture, and still have an impact on developing people (we can never take our eyes off of the front line employee regardless of what piece of technology we are selling).
Aircall is a wonderful company, with so many talented people, and I’m lucky enough to have been given the opportunity to utilize my experience in order to assist the organization in reaching their next stage of growth.
How in your view can sales leaders expand sales models and ROI faster despite complex market conditions?
There are several ways to generate business, however for me, there are two main avenues for revenue growth – Lead gen through marketing efforts and referral relationships.
Sales has become very complex, from the way people buy to sales best practices, and is now executed primarily in a virtual environment. Fortunately, at Aircall I am surrounded by some of the best marketing leaders I have partnered with when it comes to filling the funnel and enjoy watching them constantly refine their methodology.
Throughout my career journey I have learned that the most cost effective way to grow revenue is through partnerships. When you foster a strong partnership, it provides trailing benefits including a higher closing ratio as a result of a trusted relationship, a better customer experience, and a higher retention rate. Even though there are costs associated with running partnerships, they often come at a lower cost of acquisition.
Take us through some of your most preferred RevTech and SalesTech that you’ve relied on over the years?
This is a great question because I find us adding more and more to our SalesTech package. It started with a solid CRM, then adding in prospecting tools, then enhancing the lead database, leveraging social selling tools, offering e-signatures for a better experience in a virtual world, and further adding in marketing tech, partner management tools, and other automation tools.
While our leaders are pursued constantly around other solutions, it’s all about finding what is best for us as we manage expenses while comparing it to the additional revenue we would bring in.
If you had to change five factors about the state of the modern day B2B tech selling process: what would they be?
1) After the initial discovery meeting and both sides see there is a potential fit, let’s just get all the decision makers in the next meeting. Today’s buying process respectfully has several people with a vote in the buying decision and bringing in all the people together to discuss as a team will help both the potential buyer and seller. Recently we brought on a new customer and in the first meeting, we had the CEO, CFO, COO, and CTO all on the call. With everyone there, often they were talking amongst themselves and running through all of the logistics behind the decision, which eliminated several future one off meetings for them. We were able to go through everything in three meetings and both parties felt confident working together.
2) Technology is rapidly changing and the amount of capabilities can be overwhelming. I think buyers should just start with what they need. I know everyone wants to have every bell and whistle available, however set yourself up for success and implement what you want to achieve now. Then when that is flowing, address additional enhancements. From working at multiple organizations, I often see a disconnect between what they buy and what they actually use.
3) I would love to see a very personal demo experience. At all three companies I worked for, sales reps do a great job and are incredibly knowledgeable, however they get in routines and present based on what they become comfortable with causing them to sometimes miss hitting on something specific, which may end up being a deal breaker for a customer.
4) Eliminate email follow up! If customers are truly interested in continuing the sales process, even if they ultimately say no, have a next scheduled meeting. A meeting can even be a 15 minute touchpoint for the next step. Too many times, sales people end up in the dreaded “I don’t want to email them again” and the prospect is stuck with the “they keep emailing me” feeling. Keep the conversation active until it’s a no sale or a new customer. A better experience for all!
5) Trust the ROI calculators. When it comes to an individual’s retirement, there is something called “the latte factor”, if you go spend $4-5/day on coffee versus making it at home and saving that money, you will retire with several hundred thousand dollars less. The problem is, it’s true! The numbers are real in tech company calculators too. Sometimes they appear bigger than you imagine but the reality is the extra minutes a day of productivity, for example, a few more calls a day per employee, truly add up and can make a dramatic difference when you are filling out an ROI calculator. The problem with them is the numbers are so big, they almost appear unrealistic – yet they show a harsh reality.
How can sales teams today build more data driven processes at scale without compromising on value or customer need – a few thoughts on how you’ve driven this along the way?
There are two items that come to mind on this and both are sound proof to scale. One involves the sales professional and the other involves prospecting. The first is meant for internal employees (remember earlier I said we always need to have an eye out for our employees) and data driven processes. Data is valuable, yet can become overwhelming. So find the five data points that can make the biggest impact on an employee and coach them to those key pieces of data. It can be around ICP (Ideal Candidate Profiles) in pipeline, key selling metrics, or metrics that will help grow the company. While sticking to a handful of measurable items and obsessing over them, they can be implemented as teams grow and become your foundation for sales greatness.
The second item is having a team of data scientists. This is a trusted group in any organization that constantly is assessing your client base, prospects saying yes or no, and other factors like customer retention or churn. I had a previous opportunity where I took part in building a model on nearly 40 factors and rated them based off of these items, not all having the same weight. What we found was that we could take the top 10-20% of our prospects and they would close 4-5x higher than the rest of the prospect pool.
Can you highlight more about the future of B2B sales and salestech and how you feel this market will shape up?
The biggest shift we saw this past decade was the move to virtual sales. I think the next big move is a self service sales model. Many companies will say they offer it, yet there are plenty of gaps still today.
We do a lot of that as individual consumers, however there is still a long way to go to truly get to a self service model in B2B where the experience is not compromised by even 1%, the closing ratios remain the same or higher, and the onboarding experience is still offered at the same customer rating, if not better. Once organizations master this, it will allow their employees to become more profitable, improve margins and spend time where the ROI will be even greater.
As organizations master this in their lower end of customers served, they will be able to adapt upmarket in their respective markets very quickly and this will change sales. Not only for the buyer, but then when you look at the sales professional, they will find themselves moving upmarket as well and enjoying a more complex sales role. It will truly be a win for the customer, employee, and selling organization.
Aircall is a phone and communication platform, designed for sales and support teams. It is an entirely cloud-based voice solution, easy to use, reliable and integrated with all CRMs and critical business and conversational tools such as Salesforce, HubSpot, Intercom, Slack, Gong, and many others. Through a combination of its powerful software and dedicated people, Aircall helps SMBs drive productivity and turn customer and employee satisfaction into key growth drivers. Aircall has expanded its international footprint and currently has over 800 employees from 40 nationalities spread over 8 offices – New York, Paris, Sydney, Berlin, London, Madrid, Sydney, and Singapore – and was named one of BuiltIn’s Best Places to Work. As part of the Deloitte Fast 500 list, Aircall achieved centaur status after securing over $100 million in annual recurring revenue earlier in 2022.
Greg Peel is Vice President of Sales, North America at Aircall
Episode 159: The Benefits of AI in Content Development, Marketing and Sales with Ben Pines, Director of Content at AI21.com
Episode 158: Optimizing Sales and Brand Journeys with Ken Hohenstein, CRO at OneStream
Episode 157: Inventory Optimization and Its Impact on Supply Chains with Richard Lebovitz, President and CEO, LeanDNA