7 Secrets Behind Tenable’s High-Performing Sales Team

Hey everyone, I’m Ivan 👋

As the Senior Global Director of Sales Development at Tenable, I’m always looking for better ways to meet the needs of our leads and customers. Sales has changed a lot in the past two years, and as a result, it’s pushed our pursuit of new tech to greater heights.

Before the pandemic, we had already been making moves to improve our tech stack and accelerate revenue. But suddenly, more sophisticated technology wasn’t just an important business initiative. With trade shows cancelled in 2020 (and much of 2021), our main source of pipeline was gone.

To keep new pipeline coming in, our marketing team devoted more time to inbound marketing and improving our speed-to-lead. And on the sales side, we also focused on marketing-sales collaboration, while leveraging new technology.

With a renewed focus on Conversational Sales, we were able to 2X site visitor-to-lead conversion rates and 3X our qualified pipeline.

These are the seven secrets behind our own high-performing sales team. 

If you’d rather watch my presentation on this topic, click here. Otherwise, keep reading for all the insights 💡

1. Ditch the MQL (and Have Leads Talk Directly to Sales)

Post-pandemic, we noticed that more and more senior-level executives were getting comfortable using chat and digital buying processes. Every week, we were surprised and delighted by the companies and titles engaging with us via chat.

When we first signed up for Drift, we were just using it for live chat. Though we had planned to adopt more advanced features in the future, at the time that COVID hit, we still hadn’t done that. Matt Mullin, our Senior Director of Global Marketing Operations, started learning more about Drift Fastlane.

Fastlane lets companies keep their forms on their website, collect important lead data, and then immediately connect qualified leads with sales. This reduces the hand-off from days to minutes.

Not only has this helped us connect sales with leads faster, but we’ve also improved our ability to help customers via chat too. We get them connected to customer success and other resources much faster than before.

2. Organize SDR Teams into Inbound and Outbound

We have an outbound SDR team and an inbound SDR team. Our SDRs work in the inbound team for about 8 to 12 months. The inbound SDRs get to experience the excitement of immediately helping convert a visitor into a booked opportunity. Fastlane has drastically improved the speed of booking meetings, contributing to a greater level of satisfaction and engagement among our SDRs.

After they graduate, they move on to the outbound team, where they do another tour of duty for 6 to 12 months before they can graduate to another, more advanced sales role.

By separating our SDRs into inbound and outbound teams, they get to learn new skills at the right time. First, they start off with people who are mildly or very interested in what we do. Then and only then do they learn how to cold message our target accounts.

3. Leverage Signals of Intent to Prioritize Outbound Prospects

We use Drift to give our sales team all of the prioritization and personalization data they need. They can log in at any time to discover which target accounts have shown inbound interest and what content they’ve interacted with. Essentially, Drift lets us know what action to take and offers tools for immediately connecting with our target accounts across multiple channels.

For example, if we see that a target account has read three whitepapers in the past two weeks and that they’re all about vulnerability management, then we know that we need to check in with that prospect and ask how they currently manage their vulnerability risks. That way, we’re in a better position to find any gaps in their existing strategy.

4. Alert Account Executives When Their Best-Fit Accounts Are on Your Site

Not only can reps login at any time to Drift to see which accounts to prioritize and how to personalize their messages, but they’ll get notified of important activity too.

If a target account or lead is currently visiting any page of the website, Drift will notify the appropriate SDR or AE, so they can engage with them. They can check what page they are on and have visited recently so they’re armed with accurate information. For example, if the prospect is on the pricing page, the SDR might ask if they want to go over pricing options on a quick demo.

5. Make Video a Big Part of Your Outbound Strategy

One of my absolute favorite things about Drift is Drift Video®. First, we get the lead prioritization insights and the activity data we need to personalize our outreach. Then, we use these insights to send short and highly personalized videos — and track those emails for even more signals, like opens and watch notifications. Those signals will later help us decide what actions to take and what messaging to use in other communications.

6. Let New SDRs Shadow Experienced SDRs During Chat Conversations

One of the best ways to train SDRs is to have them shadow experienced sellers. For us, chat conversations have closed the gap and made up for the loss of trade shows for pipeline growth. They’ve also replaced trade shows when it comes to shadowing. SDRs used to be able to shadow experienced sellers during these in-person events.

Now, we make sure to have SDRs silently watch over private chat conversations to see how experienced sellers respond. It takes time to identify pain points and needs and to learn how to ask the right next question to keep the lead engaged.

7. Analyze Response Times and Conversion Results

We’ve seen exponential growth in our pipeline as a result of all of the above strategies. We’re experiencing conversion rates of 25-40% depending on the region (from visitor engagement to booked opportunity). We analyze lots of different data to measure our success with conversational marketing and revenue acceleration. We look at our teams’ response time to qualified leads in terms of seconds, not minutes. And we also measure the length of the conversations that we’re having, how many conversations we have, how many conversations we’re closing (turning into direct purchases or demos), and how many are left open.

“We’re experiencing conversion rates of 25-40% depending on the region.”

Even if we don’t close a conversation, we want every visitor to have a good interaction, and for that to turn into interest and later down the road, pipeline.

With the right tech, and well-organized and trained teams, you can do what you set out to do: help solve problems for your leads, target accounts, and customers ⚡️

Conversational Sales keeps the meetings coming while also providing your sales team with the real-time visibility, insights, and communication tools they need to prioritize target accounts, be more productive, and win more business, faster.