On 28 April, we hosted a webinar together with IMDA. This webinar was the second installment of a 6-part series of webinars held over Zoom that Qualgro and IMDA will be hosting together. Through our interactions with start-ups in the industry across different markets, we launched a series of webinars that will cater to common start-up pain points or difficulties most start-ups will face. Through this series of webinars, we hope to provide deeper and more tailored content that start-ups in this landscape really need.
B2B sales has always been a different ball game, and in a region as fragmented as Southeast Asia – it’s a whole different beast of its own. Regardless of your growth stage, having an effective B2B sales strategy can determine whether it can scale successfully and sustainably in its growth trajectory.
Our speakers boost a wealth of experience: Cat Williams-Treloar – CRO of TradeGecko, which was recently acquired by Intuit. Cat has had two decades experience across B2B and B2C spanning North America, Asia-Pacific and EMEA. Charlie Wood – MD ANZ/APAC of Winning by Design. Charlie was previously a founding MD of Dropbox APAC, and also held VP and leadership roles at Salesforce APAC, and at Microsoft. Paul Harapin – Head of Revenue & Growth, Asia Pacific & Japan for Stripe. Paul started and scaled various companies across the pan-Asian region over almost 30 years, which include VMware and Tivoli Systems.
In this session, our speakers discussed tips on effective practices, common pitfalls and emerging sales metrics one should be aware of in structuring their B2B sales process. We’ve highlighted some of the most important points but if you wish to learn more, you may access the video here.
Best Practices for Effective Sales Motions Across Different Regions
- Understanding Global Segments
Paul explains that the major differences in sales motions generally stems from the stage of the company and the different segments they are targeting, and not due to geographic factors. He explained a company targeting SMEs predominantly uses social selling to approach their customers, while companies targeting large enterprises largely conduct account-based selling where high-level decision makers in the enterprise need to be identified and targeted. He also explained that as a company moves to scale, different resources and tools will be available to them that will affect their sales motions.
Cat affirms Paul’s stance that sales motions change as a company scales up in size. She shared that when she first started in TradeGecko, a lot of the sales motions involved an in-bound machine where the sales funnel heavily involved SDRs (Sales Development Representatives) and sales assistance mechanisms. As the company scaled up, the focus shifted to product-led growth where they used self-service tools to improve product-market fit and to increase PQLs (Product Qualified Leads) in the funnel. This helped TradeGecko ensure that customers that go through the sales funnel are properly cultivated, which in turn helped to improve retention.
Creating a Successful Sales Funnel
- Customer Selection is Key
Charlie explained that if a company does not properly identify the types of customers that are most likely to purchase the product, it will lead to many late-stage leads being stalled out in the funnel without any monetisation. He further advised that a company should not solely rely on inbound-marketing to generate leads, instead, he recommends the usage of asynchronous selling where the sales teams can record a customer-tailored video pitch and proactively engage customers who best fit the profile for the funnel.
- Attracting the Right Customers From the Top (of Your Funnel)
Cat shares that being a thought leader and generating content in the space can bring awareness to your company and the solutions you provide. She elaborates that during her early days at TradeGecko, they branded themselves as a thought leader in commerce and inventory management, and they also published many articles and insightful research pieces on their website. This helped to drive traffic to their website and as a result, generated leads into their sales funnel
Charlie re-emphasised the importance of customer selection by creating resonance and attracting the right customers. By modelling future customers based on your existing customer base, you can then create better targeted top of funnel activity to attract these customers into the funnel. For example, you could look at the characteristics of a ‘good’ customer and identify how these customers generate value for your pipeline.
Key metrics for B2B sales
Metrics are important for sales teams to ensure that they are on the right track, and allows them to keep a finger on the pulse of the company’s health and their sales processes. These metrics, however, are different for B2C and B2C sales teams.
Charlie first emphasised on the importance of being granular when looking at the sales funnel. He uses the Bow Tie funnel to explain that a company should plan carefully on all the stages of customer journey: from customer attraction all the way down to customer retention strategies. Without doing so, a company will have difficulty in properly capturing the correct metrics that accurately reflect sales performance. Next, Charlie recommended introducing a “sustainability measure” where a company can calculate how much resources a company should spend on at every stage of the sales funnel. This allows the company to, from a future targeted revenue, reverse engineer the proper amount of resources they should allocate to each stage of the funnel.
Cat also recommends having a “North Star” metric. By identifying your “North Star” – you single out what’s of the greatest importance to your company, and you can build your entire sales channel around achieving your “North Star.” She cited an example of having GMV (Gross Merchandising Value) as her North Star metric, where she built processes around achieving a high GMV.
Another important key metric Cat recommends tracking for B2B sales is a response time metric (e.g.: first response time, average resolution time.) This will greatly reduce the amount of wait time before customers can receive help from the sales team. This will increase customer retention and customer success, and also improve customer experience throughout the funnel.
For more resources on important metrics, you can refer to Winning By Design’s repository of information here.
Tips for hiring your sales team
- Best practices when structuring sales team
The structure of a sales team will vary according to customer segments and industry. Charlie advised that the first step is to determine the type of sales you’re conducting, and what your customer profile is. If you are doing one-stage or two-stage sales, you will have to get close to your customer. In such situations, he recommends having a team that consists of field marketing and sales engineering personnel. He explains that a field marketer can best understand the local environment and market, allowing them to create sales campaigns that best fit the local environment. For a complex product, a sales engineer will help understand the product from the perspective of the customer and help to improve product-market fit.
Paul recommends having dedicated teams with skill sets and experience that cater to specific products that target different customer segments. This goes back to the first and most crucial step of “knowing what you’re selling and who you’re selling to”, a theme that has echoed throughout the webinar.
- Hire experiences that fit
Hiring a sales leader is an important factor in determining the success of the sales team. Here, the panellists weigh in on what to look for when hiring a sales leader.
From Charlie’s experience, hiring a leader and problem solver is better than hiring a subject matter expert in most cases. Oftentimes, he sees many early-stage companies making the mistake of hiring a successful sales lead from a well-established large enterprise, thinking their success would carry over to the early-stage company environment.
This is often not the case as the skill sets and experience required to be successful in an early-stage company involves problem solving with minimal resources and infrastructure, and are very different from the skill sets required in a large enterprise. A sales lead in an early-stage company has to be able to build from scratch, be resilient in facing the difficulties in working in a challenging environment and be able to solve problems with minimal resources.
Cat reaffirms Charlie’s advice and adds that while sales methodologies can be taught, having the grit and attitude required to succeed in the face of difficulty is more critical in a startup.
With the dynamic and ever-evolving environment of B2B sales, we hope these insights shared by our experienced panellists have helped you better understand how to generate a successful sales funnel and create value for your customers!