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Hot Takes

Get Ready For The End of Sales As We Know It with Erol Toker

Sales

How can sales survive the double threat of buyer fatigue and hyper-automation? In this talk, we’ll share lessons from our pivot from a sales-led to a ‘revops-led’ GTM motion.

In this session with Erol Toker, founder of trykitt.ai, you’ll learn:

  • How we discovered RevOps.
  • How it completely changed our business metrics.
  • How it changed our sales function for the better.

[Transcript] Get Ready For The End of Sales As We Know It

Although transcriptions are generally very accurate, just a friendly reminder that they could sometimes be incomplete or contain errors due to unclear audio or transcription inaccuracies.

Gary Amaral 

You are lucky enough to be on my stage today. I’ll be hosting 10 amazing speakers, and we’re joined by our first one today, Erol Toker, multiple-time CEO, and co-founder most recently of trykitt.ai

Erol, thank you so much for joining us really appreciate you taking the time, and I am really excited for your topic. So I’m gonna let you take it away and share what you have to share.

Erol Toker

Cool, yeah. Super excited to be here, I actually gave this talk once, and that’s actually–jumping right in, that’s actually the fun fact for today.

So hi everybody, I’m Erol, and I’m the founder of a couple of different companies. I’ve been working in the RevOps space for the last 10 years with different products. 

My interesting fact, kicking this off, was I actually gave this presentation as one of the main event main stage talks last year, and it went really really well until we got to the Q&A I gave, I sucked the air out of the room a little bit because I didn’t have a good answer for something that somebody asked about, “well, where’s RevOps headed?”

But I think I’m really well prepared, and you know, being the first one on stage, I’m gonna try to breathe some life into you guys and hopefully have a really good Q&A.

So, the origin of my talk, like how did I get to this point? Just to sum up really simply, the first company I ran, we did everything right. All the metrics looked excellent, we raised the series A, and then my life got worse. Like a lot worse.

Get Ready For The End Of Sales As We Know It With Erol Toker

Money was supposed to make it better, it just made me more exhausted there were more problems, more complicated problems. I didn’t really understand what was happening, and then COVID gave us a little bit of a pausing moment where we could kind of take a look around just because everything came to a standstill.

This is the story of some of the things that we learned and how we changed our business from that period. So basically, we came out of that with three learnings, and we’ll talk about each of these with examples in the next slides.

Get Ready For The End Of Sales As We Know It With Erol Toker

So the first one is: It’s really easy to kid yourself with today’s ‘Best in Class’ metrics; I say today’s, it’s not very clear that the metrics we used last year are going to be the metrics we use next year just given how everything has come down to some form of sanity. But the main thing is like it’s really easy to kid yourself if you break down and silo your metrics and say we are absolutely crushing it, and there’s only one problem over there, but everything else is going great. 

Never works that way. This really brings me to number two. Every Department’s problem started somewhere completely different. Then the third part, the third lesson, was, you know, I’m not anti-sales. This talk is about the end of sales as we know it.

I actually did sales for many years; I loved it. I have an engineering mind, and to me, sales is the ultimate engineering puzzle exercise thing, but after going through this experience, I really started to ask myself, you know, is it worth all the effort and all the headache that comes with it?

Because yeah, it’s fun, but when you try to scale with 20, 30, 40 people, it can get awfully awfully messy. 

Basically, taking these three things, what we realized was we were spending all of our time trying to build a sales machine from our point of view. So it was like we’re trying to build this factory floor, this conveyor belt where we send emails and people come in, and they go from A to B to C to D, and we knew exactly how much the cost of making those jumps was.

But you know, we never really thought about what was happening from the customer’s perspective, and I came from a product background, and in Product, we talked about this concept called ‘job-to-be done,’ which is, you know, you can sit there and say the job-to-be-done of sales is to close business but, at the end of the day, the job of sales is to make the business successful. Right?

So rather than talking about having a great marketing department, a great sales department. What does it mean for the business to be successful? We thought to ourselves, well, the answer to that is the right people come in the door—the exact right people for the business.

We’re not going to close the revenue, the exact right people come in the door, they see exactly what they need to see to buy a product, and then leave us alone.

Because that’s what we notice, everybody knows this in their business; the best-fit customers are always the quietest, and they always renew, and they always pay more than everybody else. 

So who is that person? What do they need to see? Where are they in the world? What are they doing on a Wednesday at 9:35 A.M. central? Who is that person?

Illustration Of Breadcrumbs Icp Worksheet

Ebook

Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) Worksheet

Learn how to create an Ideal Customer Profile and build a successful sales strategy with this Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) Worksheet.

Those are the questions that we started to ask, and we started working backward from that, and as we did that, it was a very interesting sort of three to six months. These are just some of the– I know that we like to talk inputs-outputs–but just to show you some of the outputs that we achieved in just six months; these are what happened with some of the stats.

Get Ready For The End Of Sales As We Know It With Erol Toker

So our MQL to SQL rate, in other words, people who showed up to people with whom we booked a meeting, whether or not they progressed in the sales process, went from 15 to 85 percent.

That means almost every single meeting that we took was pretty much qualified. The amount of time it took to do demo prep, so in other words, just think about like getting yourself psyched up in the right place, making sure that you have the right screens up, that you have the right demo flow, and that you’re getting customized.

We used to spend about an hour sort of prepping for those sometimes. Obviously, if you had multiple in succession, you didn’t do an hour and a half for each, but there was this like really big cost for people to get prepped, and especially if you have multiple people getting on a call, it was hurting our efficiency.

We brought this down to two minutes. We stopped negotiating, We stopped doing quotes, and just the stress just sort of melted away for us, and it melted away for the customer.

So, how did we do some of this? It was always something simple. So we talked about the problem in this department started somewhere else, so let’s talk about customer retention; it’s really easy to say, ‘Oh, you know this customer didn’t understand the value of the product. They didn’t see the, you know, we didn’t do QBR’s. The rep didn’t get them to like them enough; they wrapped and weren’t able to do some sort of magic.’

But the reality of what we found with a lot of these customers that were churn risks was, you know, we were never their dream product.

You know, they were always marginal, and it was always profitable to bring them in at the surface level, and it kind of is profitable you keep investing in account managers because you’re like, well, it’s a $200,000 deal, $100,000 account manager. 

It’s profitable, but behind all that, there are all these hidden debts that you never ever see. The backlog for engineers, the engineers you have to hire, due to the constant to save people, the give-and-get that you have to do. 

With demos; we stopped doing live demos. We started showing; we started building videos of the perfect parts of the demos, the exact two-minute segments that everybody needed to see in the demo, and believe it or not, we would show these videos live, on a call, so we would observe the video alongside with them and whereas everybody was recording these calls sending 30-minute videos that you know nobody was going to watch on the customer side.

They’d always say, ‘Send us the video.’ Of course, they never watched them, we would send them the exact perfect videos that they needed to show other people that they actually would watch.

So, from a customer’s job-to-be-done perspective, from a product perspective, what does that mean? That means we’re helping them achieve their goals. We’re not trying to cut down on the time that it’s taking us. 

All we did was try to be empathetic to the customer, and that intrinsically just happened to make everything great for us, but really, we were optimizing towards them, and this just happened throughout the funnel. Like every step of the funnel.

Do you know CPQ quotes? You know what we did? We said we’re gonna buy an e-commerce checkout website software, the same thing that people do basically, you go to Amazon; you check yourself out, and that’s what our customers did.

So we didn’t have to go back and forth seven times with CPQ. We didn’t have to chase down signatures; we gave them the checkout form, and they’ve signed it, or they didn’t; they got access or they didn’t.

Really, really simple, and everything sort of worked out, and then things got even weirder because we got this article published when we shared our findings in Sales Hackers. So once we started making these changes, it was like gravity stopped applying.

We have these ideas about what great sales is, and this is the stuff that I practiced, and it worked, right? So when you get on a call, you do little talking, and you do a lot of question-asking, and you do a lot of discovery. 

And you’re always pushing the information to the end because you want to give a perfectly crafted pitch. What we found when we looked at our conversation intelligence data was the best customers and the best deals had us talking the most, and we asked very little questions.

Customers asked all the questions. We just gave the answers, and the reason for that was going back to this: we stopped marketing broad things in the hopes of booking meetings. We started marketing to try to find the right people who would never churn, and so we started thinking of marketing as a way to scare away all the wrong people and attract all the right people.

So it’s just been a really interesting experience, to sum up, I don’t think sales is necessarily going to go away. Well, I know sales absolutely isn’t going to go away, but I know for a fact that just looking at those metrics of talk time versus questions, or whatever, the entire nature of sales is going to have to change this new world and Rev Ops I think is going to be the Catalyst that is going to make that happen.

So my takeaway for today is this: Stop trying to make your reps more efficient, make the customer’s journey more efficient, and everything will figure itself out.

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Hot Takes Live

Replays

Catch the replay of Hot Takes Live, where 30 of the top SaaS leaders across Marketing, Sales, and RevOps revealed some of their most unpopular opinions about their niche.

These leaders shared what lessons they learned and how they disrupted their industry by going against the grain (and achieved better results in the process).

Gary Amaral

Amazing, thanks Erol. Tons of questions come to mind here, and we’ll give some people an opportunity; anybody out there listening who has a question, please don’t be shy. Happy to ask it for you.

But my first question here was, can you describe that process around the perfect customer, like finding that perfect customer right, because we all go through these exercises defining ICP, defining personas, and the typical kind of attributes that everybody talks about? 

How is yours different, and what did that process look like?

Erol Toker

Yeah, so for me, this comes from the product world. There’s this concept called job-to-be-done. The guy who championed it was Clay Christensen, lots of content out there from him and somebody who worked with Bob Mesta, you have to read about it, but basically, their whole argument is that the way that people buy things is they they try to make progress, right?

They’re trying to get things done, and this is the whole vitamin versus the painkiller thing. We try to solve problems when we find ourselves in specific situations, and that’s where the journey starts. I may be a white male who is middle-income and worked in tech for 10 years. 

These are my properties, but that has nothing to do with my buying situation or my buying motivation, right? My motivation is more like it’s 9:30, it’s 9:42. I’m a father, I have two kids downstairs, I don’t get to work 12 hours the way that I used to, and I struggle with XYZ and running my business. That is my situation.

So I think overall, the way that we do this like ‘Oh, who’s your ICP?’ Whatever, all of that tends to reflect a lack of vision and strategy because if you had a vision and strategy, you would be starting with the person, and you’d be thinking, not in terms of how can I get the thing that gets more people in and you know buying more you would be thinking, “How can I literally scare away all the wrong people and attract only the right people?”

Because that’s what my product was built to do, to serve these people, and if I want more people, I need to build a product that serves those other situations that cater to those situations, and that’s how you expand the situation by situation, not demographic by demographic.

Gary Amaral

Cool. Another kind of practical question that I think people would be interested in. So, the idea of–you know, I’ve coached reps on this a million times, ‘Hey, like, don’t talk so much, right? Get the prospect talking,’ and I think you’re suggesting flipping on its head, but it’s really not about the amount of time one party’s talking versus the other; it’s really about is the right information being used?

Erol Toker

That’s right, yeah.

Gary Amaral

So how do you get, how do you structure, or what are any tips or tricks on how to get the prospect on the phone to engage and to ask those questions and to be the driver of the conversation?

Erol Toker

If you’ve done your job in marketing, they’re going to show up with questions. To me, that is a barometer of how good a job you’ve done. The reason we don’t give information, the reason we seek information up front in reps.

By the way, this is for SDRs; the reason we cold call people and the reason we have sequences that have seven topics over 32 days is because we don’t know upfront. We haven’t done the research to know exactly what we can do for those people because we’ve been given like, “Oh, it’s a white male in a Chicago suburb, who’s whatever,” and go, “We think we can sell them, go find out.”

If you’re in marketing and, by the way, this is what trykitt.ai does by the way, if you are in this digital world, if you can read if you can map the right person to your product, and you have a real strategy around that what’s going to happen, you’re going to send an email that’s going to look like this;

“Hey Gary, We profiled your business we notice you have 32 SDRs and 100 AES; we also know that you’re using software XYZ we think we can save you $732,142. I have a spreadsheet I’d love to break it down: are you the best person, or is this something Armando looks at.” 

That is so specific and so informed that that person is going to show up on the call. You know you’re not going to ask them questions; they’re going to be asking you the questions.

Gary Amaral

Yeah, yeah, fair enough. 

Erol Toker

So that’s flipping it on its head. You don’t try to–them asking questions is the byproduct, or us not talking and listening is the byproduct of everything that came before it.

Gary Amaral

Right, awesome, Erol, we’re at time. Perfect amount of time, actually. Thank you so much for joining us; I’m sure there are going to be people who would love to pick your brain or would love to learn more and might be interested in learning more about trykitt.ai other than visiting tri-kit.ai.

How can people get in touch with you?

Erol Toker

Yeah, so I write on LinkedIn every day, and I run a community called ‘Automation,’ so I’m very active in the RevOps Community. I think if you just hit–go to LinkedIn, find me, follow me. There’ll be plenty of opportunities to exchange ideas and talk.

You know, I’m a RevOps nerd, so I will talk to all of you if you reach out.

Gary Amaral

Thanks again, Erol.