Selling Secrets Executive Summary
The Future of Sales is Digital
We’ve always had lofty goals at Drift. We want to grow fast. We want to be the best at what we do. And we want to make our customers successful. Now we’re entering a new stage of hypergrowth that’s more mature – one that requires us to develop smarter processes to scale.
As a sales organization, our main focus is selling and accelerating revenue, but more than ever we have to be intentional about how we grow. Personally, I’ve always loved being close to the action. And revenue is where the action is.
In sales leadership, you need to be able to read what’s happening, find ways to improve, and then go out and enact that change. At the same time, you need to do this without stifling the personalities and enthusiasm that define your sales organization.
As we grow at Drift, we’re focusing on new mid-market and enterprise targets, which have very different sales cycles. This requires us to make smart investments and be intentional about all of our processes. Growth is an exercise in adaptability and change.
That’s to say nothing of the global transformation going on around us.
Until recently, Drift was an office-first culture. There was a sense of camaraderie that came from working together, especially for our SDRs. For many of them, it’s one of their first jobs out of college. And it’s a hard job, one where you’re told “no” a lot. If someone had a bad call, they could turn to their friend for a joke or some words of comfort. You don’t get that from your cat or dog working at home all day.
Now that we’re a remote-first company, we’ve had to change how we coach and onboard new SDR hires. We’ve developed ways to simulate the in-office learning experience. Like having new SDRs start on Drift Live Chat, with an SDR teammate or customer advocate there “digitally” to help them out. If the SDR needs internal support, they can tag in a teammate – all without the customer knowing.
B2B sales cycles, in general, have also changed. Because buyers’ preferences have changed too. A McKinsey report found that almost two-thirds of today’s B2B buyers now prefer remote human interactions and digital self-service vs. in-person sales meetings.
The good news is, there are now so many ways to connect with buyers, whether it’s text, email, chat, LinkedIn, video, or a phone call. It’s more important than ever to be tight on your message and find a way to stand out. Often that’s less about communicating urgency or being the loudest voice in the room, and more about understanding peoples’ preferred way to communicate.
At Drift, we’re constantly growing and learning as a sales organization. But we’ve built an incredible team of experts over the last few years. Not only are they deeply embedded in our platform every day, but they bring with them expertise from the world’s most-renowned sales teams.
Now, we want to share their knowledge with you.
In this guide, you’ll hear from our sales leadership and the Drift SDRs, account executives, and account managers on the frontlines. Not only will you get to see how we use Drift @ Drift, but walk away with insights and sales secrets from our in-house sales cycle experts.
Sales Secrets for Developing SDRs into Future Business Leaders
Like most salespeople, I got my start as an SDR.
I adored the job. I loved the hunt. Unearthing new business opportunities was nearly as exciting as actually closing the deal.
While I’m still as passionate about sales prospecting as I was back when I started, a lot has changed in the past eight years. The growth in sales technology has left prospecting feeling more impersonal. Instead of having genuine conversations, sales reps often run through rigid templates and scripts.
But, at the end of the day, we’re humans buying and selling from other humans. Companies like Drift have done a great job re-humanizing the sales cycle – especially during the prospecting phase. At Drift, everything we do focuses on people and genuine conversations.
A good SDR will convert about 20% of the conversations they have on the phone into meetings. But that leaves 80% of conversations open. What we’re trying to do there is connect the dots for our buyers. We’re answering buyer questions, demonstrating value, and delivering an amazing website experience along the way.
Using Drift allows us to have those conversations wherever our buyer happens to be. For example, our SDRs receive notifications whenever somebody from their target account is on our website. This allows them to drop in and have a real-time conversation instantly. Meeting people where they are and engaging with them on their terms is hugely impactful.
Even when our reps are offline, our artificial intelligence (AI) technology has their back. Every morning our SDRs have bot-booked meetings waiting for them to start their day. Drift is like an always-on technological teammate, ready to help buyers every hour of every day.
Even though it’s a bot handling the chat, we’re still laser-focused on the individual. Our approach to prospecting delivers a supportive, personalized, and engaging service to buyers – but it’s beneficial for reps, too. People often join Drift as an SDR without knowing exactly what they want to do next. That’s why training is such an important part of my job. Over their first 18 months, we expose SDRs to many different elements of the B2B sales cycle and help them map out their career progression.
To double down on that, we even launched a virtual career fair. We brought in professionals from dozens of different post-SDR career paths: field sales, account executives, management, sales enablement, and so on. They ran fireside chats and fielded questions and queries from SDRs.
After building a career in business development, it’s important for me to help others do the same. And I love how supportive Drift has been in helping me do that.
A Day in the Life of a Drift SDR
From prospecting into key accounts to outbound outreach – here’s a behind-the-scenes look at the strategies our SDR team uses at Drift.
How Did You Become an SDR?
What do you do here at Drift?
What Drift Features Do You Rely on in Your Day-to-Day?
SDR Tips & Tricks to Drive Success
Inbound & Outbound Sales
Sales Secrets for High-Performance Sales Teams
I started selling when I was 11 years old.
It was the 1980s and I lived in St. Paul, Minnesota. Any time it snowed, I’d walk door-to-door and ask my neighbors if they wanted their walkway shoveled. I’d negotiate the price, assign my buddies to walkways, and distribute the cash. Through high school and college, I scaled up and experimented with other ideas like private snowboarding lessons.
Just as I evolved from a pint-sized snow shoveling mogul into a sales executive, I like to see a progression in my account executive (AE) hires.
I look for people who have progressed in their careers. Maybe they start out as an inbound SDR and transition to outbound or a senior SDR role. There’s a lot of scope for progression within the AE function as well. Perhaps they start in mid-market and move to commercial or enterprise. Whatever the specifics, seeing progression tells me that someone wants to grow.
Retention, knowledge, and outlook are important, too. Have they successfully weathered the onboarding storm? Are they coachable? Can they implement feedback? Do they have grit? Are they humble?
But finding the right people is only half the equation. Sales has come a long way since my days shoveling walkways in the St. Paul suburbs. With new technology like Drift, we can turn the dial on AE performance.
We’re using Drift daily to accelerate the sales cycle. For example, we’re harnessing Drift Video for follow-ups. It makes a huge difference. We can condense a stack of emails into one succinct video. Then there’s Drift Prospector, which we use to better understand who we’re targeting and how to reach them. It narrows our focus and empowers us to get deeper into the right accounts.
Although technology forms a core part of our sales cycle, that’s not necessarily the case elsewhere. Other businesses have only begun their digital transformation. Some have yet to begin. That said, as the world embraces virtual B2B buying, I think that will change – and quickly.
The future of B2B buying is exciting.
Our goal is to delight our customers and visitors, regardless of how buyer behavior evolves. Innovative sales organizations are transforming the generic online buying process into a VIP personal shopping experience. When we get that right, the benefits don’t stop at conversion. If we deliver an outstanding buyer experience, customers stay with us for longer.
And all of that ladders up to significant commercial change: We accelerate the sales cycle and our revenue.
A Day in the Life of a Drift Account Executive
Here’s how Drift’s account executives use Drift to gain the competitive advantage they need to accelerate sales cycles and close new business.
How Did You Get into Sales?
What Do You Do Here at Drift?
What Drift Features Help You Level-Up Your Sales Process?
What’s the Sales Advice You’d Give Younger You?
Account Management & Growth
Sales Secrets for Delighting Customers & Driving Long-Term Growth
After graduating from college, I spent five years in finance.
It was mentally engaging and challenging, but it lacked the human element that was important to me. Instead of living in spreadsheets and breathing data, I wanted to sidestep into the world of sales and marketing, where I could use my data-driven mindset in a more personable setting.
I secured my first sales role in 1999 and I’ve never looked back. Since then, I’ve worked across the go-to-market function – in marketing, sales, and customer success. Today, as VP of Sales at Drift, I lead our mid-market sales strategy, split between net-new logo acquisition and retention.
Although there’s a lot of overlap, acquisition and retention each require a different set of skills. We use dedicated account managers and account executives to pursue those aims.
Our account executives concentrate on landing new logos. After the deal is signed, they work with new customers to onboard them and get them running. About six months into the relationship, our account managers take over. They’re focused on aligning our services with a customer’s goals and objectives.
Our ultimate goal is to help our customers grow and expand their company with one connected sales cycle and customer success program. But businesses grow at different rates. Our account managers get deep into businesses, drive a consultative approach, and identify new opportunities within whatever growth trajectory there is.
I strive to place the customer at the center of everything we do. That’s particularly important given the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Like many other companies, we doubled down on customer retention. For example, we added renewal specialists who collaborate with account managers and success managers to ensure we’re driving excellence in retention.
And Drift’s Revenue Acceleration Platform helps us achieve that goal. With it, my team can access amazing data and insights on our customers. We understand who to engage, gain insights into their communication preferences, and learn about their goals, challenges, and pain points. And we can then immediately act on the data we see.
Whether that’s shooting off a quick Drift Video or switching between chat and video calls, Drift makes our interactions effortless. Those capabilities are invaluable to our account managers and renewal specialists. If we weren’t Drift, we’d be their biggest customer.
A Day in the Life of a Drift Account Manager
Customers are your greatest source of learning and advocacy. That’s why investing in their success is so important. The more successful they are, the more successful you are.
Here’s how our team uses Drift to delight customers and grow revenue opportunities post-sale:
How Did You Get into Account Management?
What Do You Do Here at Drift?
How Do You Use Drift in Your Day-to-Day Work as an Account Manager?
What Drift Tips & Tricks Should Every Account Manager Know?
What Advice Would You Give Other Account Mangers?
Helping is the New Selling
At Drift, we have a mantra: Helping is the new selling.
We hope these sales secrets and best practices spark new and creative sales strategies for your team – and help improve your sales cycle, from first conversation to renewals.
Feel free to reach out to any of these sales experts with your questions. As you can imagine, they’re always down for a chat.