It seems like not too long ago sales reps were trading business cards, shaking hands, having in-person lunches and frequenting packed trade shows. With the onslaught of COVID-19, one events company saw opportunity and necessity to pivot as in-person events evaporated in a matter of weeks.
Below is a graph of lost revenue for in person events from a survey conducted in August:
(source - LiveDesign)
Endless Events was ready to take on the difficulty of creating fully digital event experiences. They built a team that had the know-how and talent to organize and manage world-class digital event experiences. However, there was still a major obstacle to overcome. The sudden need for everyone to rethink their events flooded the Endless Events sales team with a large volume of companies and people reaching out and needing to be educated. Most didn’t know what they wanted nor what their options were.
With the disruption of COVID-19, everything was new - from sales process to new product offerings - for Endless Events. The complexity of pivoting the business was still causing a lot of friction in their process, so they contracted Revenue River to get everyone on the same page and working towards a common goal.
Miscommunication and a misalignment of priorities caused issues like a backlog of Marketing Qualified Leads (MQL) that needed to be contacted, a lack of communication about product updates, a sales cycle that was too long, and lost information when passing leads from one person to the next. Through coaching we were able to identify the causes of these issues and work with them to get things back on track.
We decided one-on-one time was needed with each member of the sales team to address the root causes of the array of issues stated above. We opted to apply the G.R.O.W. methodology. G.R.O.W. stands for Goal, Resources, Opportunities and the Way forward. We settled on G.R.O.W. because we feel that understanding and setting individualized goals would be the best way to move the sales team in the direction they needed to go.
We settled on 8 weeks of 30 minute coaching sessions with every member of the sales team which was made up of a Sales Development Representative (SDR) and a couple of Sales Executives (SE). We also had a weekly sync with Endless Events’ management to align the individualized goals with those of the company.
To get a full understanding of the issues at hand we analyzed sales training and standard operating procedure documents, shadowed sales calls, and most importantly dug into the HubSpot data. When looking at the backlog of MQLs it was clear that the SDR was having trouble prioritizing who to contact first, how to ensure that spikes in new MQLs could be handled quickly, and how to properly identify and nurture qualified leads. When looking at the call data we noticed that the call lengths were about the same length for both qualified and disqualified leads. When we dug in more we realized that their sales process had them launching into a capabilities presentation before they knew if the prospect was qualified to buy the product. We flipped the order in which they approached the conversation allowing them to get through calls much quicker when the prospect wasn’t qualified and allowed them to zero in on prospect pain points when going through the capabilities presentation. Doing this made it easier to identify qualified leads faster and we knew it was working when we saw that contacted MQLs grew steadily over time.
Continuing to comb through the HubSpot data, we also saw that new MQL spikes correlated with predictable marketing activities. This meant that the SDR could predict when an influx of MQLs might occur by syncing up with marketing and planning for activities like webinars. This advanced notice let them prep by scheduling more dedicated time for MQL follow up.
Lastly, using HubSpot Reports and G.R.O.W. coaching we were able to address issues with the lead handoff process. Client leads were forced to repeat themselves when they were passed from one person to the next, making them question the team's readiness to handle their event. In some cases, key information was getting lost, causing proposals to get rejected and reworked for items the lead had already informed Endless about. The cause of this was two-fold: too much reliance on their call recording tool and not enough information logging in the HubSpot CRM. The sales team replaced most note-taking by going back to call recordings. We were dealing with situations where little to no notes were being taken and shared with the team. Through coaching we were able to address these habits and reform them. We knew it was working because we were able to track sales activity showing an increase of call notes being added.
Because of improved documentation, less corrections and iterations in the event planning process were necessary. This meant that by the time the proposal was sent out it was likely to NOT need corrections, speeding up the sales cycle.
Through all of the turbulence that COVID had created in the events industry, and the huge opportunity we had, we knew we needed to act fast to capitalize on it. Revenue River helped us jump on the opportunity and energize our sales team to help us grow massively.
Coaching is a great way to get people the individualized attention they may need and the G.R.O.W. framework keeps conversations structured and aligned with goals. However, a major challenge with coaching is how to show you are making a positive impact. What made us successful with coaching for Endless Events, was taking an extra step to tie behavior changes to tangible items that can be tracked in the CRM. In our case, HubSpot proved essential in showing that goals we were working towards were moving the needle on key performance indicators and that helped get the sales team's buy-in to ultimately change.