Episode OneHundredSeventyFive

Don’t Toss Your Playbook — Optimize It

Guest: Evan Carlton, Sales Enablement Manager at Matillion

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About This Episode

Have you decided what to do with your current playbooks?

Hint: Don’t throw them all away.

I recently had a chance to discuss playbook optimization with Evan Carlton, Sales Enablement Manager at Matillion.

He shared 5 strategies he’s been using during the COVID-19 pandemic.

1. Adapt your messaging

During the first few weeks of this global crisis, we were all in knee-jerk reaction mode.

Now, however, we’re seeing people begin to settle into the so-called “new normal” — meaning that most of us will likely keep working from home for a while.

“It’s flipped things on its head, especially for sellers these days. We already have a tough job. It just got a lot harder,” Evan said.

Task #1 is to make sure your messaging is resonating with prospects.

Unless you’re selling a crisis management service, you’re going to have to pivot your value prop to resonate with prospects.

“You don’t want to over-pivot and go completely all COVID with your messaging. So  there’s a fine balance to be had,” Evan said.

Get updated information directly from your customers. Find someone you already have a good relationship with and pick their brain. 

  • What’s on your mind these days?
  • What concerns do you have given the new situation we’re in?
  • What are your new challenges and pains and goals? 

Once you find out what matters to your prospects, you should consider updating your call to action.

(Instead of asking for 30 minutes of someone’s time, ask them to rate their level of openness to discussing an idea.)

2. Change your top of funnel approach

“Deals that are in flight are still closing,” Evan pointed out. “The pipeline is still moving.”

It’s at the top of the funnel where he’s seen resistance to set meetings. Or else they’re bailing out after the first touch point. “They’re saying, ‘Hey, I can’t do it. Not a priority. COVID, right? Call me in a few months.”

Substitute the ask for a sales call to offer to buy a prospect’s lunch. (Delivery is a good option, too.)

Ask to sit down, chat, and find out if there’s any interest.

Even if not, it’s still a good outcome: “You get to learn about what we’re doing over here at our company, not to mention we get to support local businesses that might be struggling,” Evan said.

3. Focus on nurture

For prospects you’ve already reached out to, you need to switch from selling to nurturing.

That’s right, don’t try to sell. Build a relationship instead.

“This whole situation we find ourselves in is exposing a lot of things in terms of how our society is structured — that maybe we need to revisit,” Evan pointed out.

“This is another instance of learning from this situation. As salespeople, we get that lead and we just go straight for the meeting instead of trying to build that relationship,” he said.

Evan suggested creating a sales nurture.

Asking for a meeting right now? Probably not the wisest move.

“What might be more wise is the slower relationship, building that value and rapport,” Evan said.

A sales nurture through outreach is a more meaningful and valuable focus right now.

4. Sales & marketing alignment

“Shout out to all the marketing teams out there, because it’s also tough for marketing right now,” Evan said.

He admires the way that marketing has been able to pivot and is grateful for the example they’re setting. 

Evan got an idea from a fellow salesperson and suggested it to Matillion leaders. “For every product demo we deliver in April, what if we donated to an organization fighting against COVID-19?” he said.

They loved the idea and launched the campaign. “I love the fact that they’re willing to support sellers and be open to new ideas right now,” Evan said. “I’m seeing more collaboration than I’ve ever seen before between sales and marketing.”

5. Tweak your playbook

Here are just a few of the ways that Evan has changed his approach:

  • Soften the ask with empathy
  • Rework the outbound sequence based on what’s effective right now
  • Don’t be afraid of creativity
  • Focus on value, education, and growth
  • Invest in developing your team

Evan suggested focusing on personal growth by reflecting on what can improve both individually and for the team.

“I’m attending digital events and webinars from other leaders in the space, trying to soak up as much as I can these days,” he said.

Don’t change everything about your playbook, though.

“Making sure that you are adapting while not over-pivoting is critical. Be hyper-conscious about the changes you’re making and measuring those changes,” Evan said.

Get in touch with Evan on LinkedIn to continue the conversation.

For more engaging sales conversations, subscribe to The Sales Engagement Podcast on Apple Podcasts, on Spotify, or on our website.

About The Podcast

The Sales Engagement podcast is the #1 podcast focused on engaging your customers and prospects in the modern sales era. This show features real-life stories and best practices from revenue leaders doing the job day in and day out, in a casual, radio-like talk show.

Each episode features modern tactics, strategies, hacks, and tips to get the most out of your sales engagement strategy and help you navigate the next generation of sales. You’ll find energetic talks that will provide you with real actionable value around building meaningful connections and creating a better selling experience through authentic conversations that you can measure.

The Sales Engagement podcast is here to help B2B sales leaders, customer success leaders, and marketing leaders innovate and usher in the next era of modern sales by building pipeline, up-selling customers, and ultimately generating more revenue with more efficiency.

Hosted by Joe Vignolo, Senior Content Managing Editor at Outreach, and Mark Kosoglow, Vice President of Sales at Outreach.

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