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Episode 5

What Sales Teams Can Focus On During The Pandemic

David Kreiger
Founder and President of SalesRoads
How To Survive (Or Even Thrive)

The Coronavirus has disrupted businesses worldwide. Sales leader, David Kreiger, shares what he believes sales teams can focus on as they shift to remote work. Hear his ideas on how to best support clients, protect business and maintain personal health during the COVID-19 crisis.

Highlights From This Episode:


  • How the pandemic has changed client expectations
  • The value that salespeople can bring to their clients right now
  • Tools that sales teams can use to measure the value they deliver clients
  • Metrics that sales teams should be tracking to validate their worth
  • How sales teams can prepare for the future

Full Episode Transcripts

Paul: Hey, welcome back everybody. It’s time for another episode of RapidTesting.AI. The show where we help you be to be and CPG marketers generate data that turns into money and the woman who knows how to make that money. She mints it at home every day, is the Vice President of User Experience and Technology Strategy at Tenlo. Welcome Tessa Burg, how are you?

Tessa Burg: I’m doing well. How are you Paul?

Paul: I’m holed up here in the bunker at OC Talk Radio. I’m under 50 feet of concrete. It takes five passes and five swipes of special swabs to get in here, but we’re holding the line and we’re presenting programs as part of our essential services here today.

Tessa Burg: That’s awesome. So yeah, today I’m calling in from my home in Rocky River, Ohio, just outside of Cleveland. And so not as secure, but-

Paul: Is it rocky in Rocky River today? Here is it?

Tessa Burg: It is. It just hailed for four minutes and it stopped. And then now, it is bright and sunny and approaching 58 degrees.

Paul: Well, that’s what they say. I grew up in Detroit. So, if you don’t like the weather, wait 10 minutes, it’ll change here. So, who’d you bring along today to join our merry band of people? We’re trying this via Zoom, like the whole world is today, so they can actually watch this as a video. You can see us in our virtual studio. I’m cutting in and out a little bit with my microphone there, on my virtual background here on my Zoom. But who’d you bring with you today to chat about what sales teams can focus on during these crazy times? I think they should all just go home. There’s no sales during this time, huh?

Tessa Burg: Yeah, that would be interesting to say the least. I definitely think people should stay at home, for sure. But it’s been kind of crazy to follow what’s been going on in the market. At Tenlo, we’ve been pivoting on every single plan because even though we’re all working remote, that doesn’t mean that business still isn’t going or that it’s not an important time to build relationships. So, that’s why I’m super excited about our guest today because he is from SalesRoads. He has been featured in Fortune Magazine, Wharton Magazine, CNN Money, a very well respected leader in the space. His name is David Kreiger and he’s the founder and president of SalesRoads. Hello David and thanks for being on the show.

David Kreiger: Yeah. Hi Tessa. Hi Paul. Thanks so much for having me. It’s great to be here.

Paul: So, is there sales still going on or is this just a time to connect with customers and remind them you’re still there and hear what you can do to help them? Or are we actually still trying to close deals in these difficult days?

David Kreiger: Well, I think that the way you put that, is right, Paul. That we’re looking to connect with people, build relationships. I think that it’s a unique time because when have we ever, in at least our lifetime, all gone through something in the whole world as one here, with shared circumstances, shared experiences, right? And at the end of the day, I think sales is really about two things. Building relationships and then helping people that you’ve built relationships with. And I think, right now is a great time to do both. And if you do both well, sales will follow. And so, I think you just need to be mindful of that. I think you really need to be mindful of that anytime, in any circumstance. But this I think, really puts that in overdrive and I think is a great time to build relationships, help people. And then when you do that right, sales will follow.

Tessa Burg: That’s awesome. I love that answer. And I wanted for people listening, we have a combination of salespeople and marketing people. Can you give us some examples of what you mean by providing help or providing service to their clients now?

David Kreiger: Yeah. So for instance, one example just for us and we’ve been trying to do this for all our clients and think through ways to do it. But just to give an example for SalesRoads, we provide [SDR 00:05:04] outsourcing services. So sales executives who are doing prospecting, trying to engage with people, we can do that type of work for them. So right now when we’re talking to our own prospects, we’re not necessarily directly talking about taking over their SDR functionality. We’re actually thought about it a little differently. We’ve been doing this type of work for 13 years in a completely remote environment.

David Kreiger: I started the company 13 years ago, everyone worked from home. At that point, everyone thought we were kind of crazy. Now everybody can relate, right? So what we’ve done is, we’ve been reaching out to companies and people within our network and saying, “Right now, we get it. You are probably transitioning a lot of people from an office setting to home, that’s jarring. Can we just help you? Do you have questions about it? Do you want to just sit down? We’re happy to brainstorm.” So, we think about our prospecting right now as just reaching out to our current prospects, to our current clients, people we know and just trying to figure out a way that we can help them, that’s independent of what we do as a service.

Tessa Burg: That’s great. So, what about for industries where the sales teams were used to walking physically in to a space to sell? Some of our clients sell into hospitals, some sell into colleges and universities or hospitality and their teams who are so used to being on the road are now at home and they want to reach out, they want to help. But it’s almost a completely different dynamic for them. What could we just say that would help them to make that transition? And you’ve always been remote, so what’s important when you’re trying to foster a remote relationship?

David Kreiger: Yeah. And so, I do understand that for people who have been on the road all the time and the way that they’ve really been working with their clients is in a face to face relationship, that this can be, or at least conceived very different. And so, what I urge those individuals to do is think about what is similar about it. And when you start thinking about what’s similar, it might make it a little less scary. You might be able to react in the right way. You might be able to carry on the types of conversations you had, all be it through Zoom, right? So, I think first, when they’re going out in the field and they’re sitting down for meetings, really what they’re doing is having a conversation, just like we’re doing, right? Face to face. And at the end of the day, that’s what they’ll be doing via Zoom.

David Kreiger: So first of all, just look at what the similarities are. And when you strip it away at the essence, it’s the same, right? And so, I think people need to have that type of mentality going into it. And so, once they have those meetings and they set up those meetings, I think that they’re going to find that it’s very, very similar. Now, what I think is more challenging, once they change the mindset, is creating that routine and creating that structure for the day. Because they’re used to having their meetings booked out. They either fly or they’re driving to them and they kind of have their structure. And what I’ve been hearing is a lot of field sales are struggling a little bit more, with how do I structure my day or at least create these opportunities when that is very different.

David Kreiger: And so, what I’ve been talking to a lot of people about is really putting your calendar on overdrive. And really, if you hadn’t been managing your calendar in a good way or had been doing it yourself, really do it every morning. Take a look at what you’ve got on your calendar. Block out every single thing that you’re doing, every meeting that you’re going to have. And in times where you don’t have things, think about ways that you can proactively reach out to people in your network, people that you used to meet with just to check in. And a sales call doesn’t have to be more than that, right now. Just check in, how are you doing? You know, things like that. And to really try to find ways to organize your day. And I think then, that’s the biggest hurdle. And then once you’ve done that and you start engaging in the conversations, you’ll realize it’s very similar to sitting across the table from them.

Paul: And I just threw in one thought here, you guys. Let me listen today and be more than the engineer. So, I’m actually on the video here. I’m usually the man behind the curtain. We just did a show earlier today where somebody said, “Through zoom, I’m more efficient than I ever was. I don’t have to drive and fly. I’m talking to more people than I ever have but I’m not sure I’m connecting with them. I’m conversing with them, I’m communicating with them, but I’m not touching them. We’re not somehow bonding the same way.” Is that just because we don’t know how to do this or is that an inherent problem with these virtual meetings?

David Kreiger: I don’t think so. I mean I’ve been doing all of my sales basically, virtually. I mean most of my clients, even before they’ve become clients of our, we don’t necessarily … So granted, I’ve got the perspective of 13 years. And so, I guess I think again, it’s a mindset. If you’re not connecting with someone over the phone, as long as you’re looking at them, maybe you’re not asking questions and getting them to talk. Some of the basic fundamentals that you have in a face to face situation, I think are similar, virtually. And so, I’m not a hundred percent sure of what they’re particularly feeling, they’re not connecting. Yes. Tonight, can you no longer go golfing? Or take them out to eat? No. But you can’t have great conversations.

David Kreiger: You can have meaningful conversations. You can also send … Amazon prime is a fantastic sales tool. You can send them some chocolates, you can send them something that they’re thinking about. If something that came up in your conversations to create those relationships to create that type of interaction they might be feeling is missing, you just might have to be a little bit creative and do it in a different way. But I know from doing this 13 years, as long as you have the right mindset and you approach it in the right way, you can have very meaningful relationships with your prospects, with your coworkers and with anybody you work with, in a virtual environment.

Tessa Burg: That’s great. So at Tenlo, we’re a marketing company. We support a lot of marketers who support sales teams or do sales enablement, get ready for trade shows, get ready for more physical experiences. What do you think needs to change from a marketing support or sales enablement standpoint, as we look ahead at really remote working remote selling becoming a permanent thing, not just a COVID thing?

David Kreiger: So I think the marketing role, I mean, I think it’s key in general. But I think it’s so key right now. I mean, our marketing team has gone on overdrive. Because of that, the mindset of the thing that we talked about at the beginning is to really lead with trying to help. And what better way can you help then creating thought leadership pieces, creating things that can be helpful to the prospects right now. And I believe that a lot of that can be really driven and should be driven by marketing. And so I think, marketing really can help give salespeople the tools to not have to think with the mindset that they’re closing right now but think with the mindset that they’re helping. If they have the right tools in their hands that can actually help their prospects help some of their clients. And that’s, when done well, marketing can really help sell into this environment in the right way because they’re developing those tools for it.

Tessa Burg: That’s awesome. So what have been out of the brainstorms that you’ve done so far? Some bright spots or is there anything that you’ve tested that’s been really effective during this time?

David Kreiger: Yeah. And we’ve been looking at some of the data recently. So just in the first seven days in April. So just to start with bright spots. Our success metric, which is either appointments or surveys, if we can talk a little bit about how that shifts a little bit in this environment, has gone up by over 400% from the first week in March. And so, we see that there was a lot of people who were scared, they were transitioning to remote work and they weren’t necessarily engaging with people over the phone through proactive prospecting. What we’re seeing now, is it’s getting even better than it was in the past. And I think that there’s a few reasons why that is. One, at least for our clients, what we did for each one of them is to think about what their product or service does right now for their prospects.

David Kreiger: It’s a new reality. There’s new needs, there’s new things that prospects are thinking about. How can we craft the message and the value prop, so that we’re helping those prospects at this time? And then take that value prop and transitioning into the right message. And then really testing and reiterating and figuring out what words are working, what’s resonating, what’s not resonating, what kind of feedback we’re getting from the prospects. So, I think when done well with the right mindset, with the right type of value prop, the right type of messaging, even in this environment, it’s a really good time to engage with people. People have more time to speak to you, they’re not as busy. And so, I think that that’s one bright spot in sales right now.

Tessa Burg: You mentioned that you’re helping clients rethink about how their current products or services are relevant right now. Have any of your clients had to get really creative with rethinking their product or even business model to be more relevant now and be more helpful?

David Kreiger: Yeah. We have an interesting client right now, that has helped schools with in school learning through an iPad, right? But it was all set up for the teacher in the front of the room and the kids in the room with the iPad. And so obviously, that doesn’t really work right now since a lot of schools are not in session. I think what, every state except for one maybe, right now? So, what we worked with them really early on because actually we were seeing this happen even before everything closed down, is that can we pivot to help schools both do the remote learning, right? Because everything is going there.

David Kreiger: But instead of just doing remote learning in schools, investing a whole bunch of remote learning for right now through the summer, they can invest in doing remote learning with you. But then when they come back, they have a solution for in school learning with iPads. And how can we do that at a time that really helps the schools? So, is there a promotion? Is there something that can allow you to give away some of these iPads? Just get these things set up for them, so that you’re really helping schools in their time of need. But will pay dividends for them moving forward because they were helpful and then hopefully in the subsequent year there’ll be using their service. So, we really work with our clients on a holistic level really, even thinking of their tweaks to the products that they can make within reason to be able to service clients needs.

Tessa Burg: Paul was giving me some hand gestures. Oh, we’re taking a break right now.

Paul: That’s right. That’s it. That’s the sign for cut here. That’s the kind for break here. All right, well let’s take a quick break so everybody can realize some other ideas here. Like this one.

Automated: If you’re like so many people and you feel the pandemic has totally shut down your business and stopped your sales, then consider signing up for free Fridays. Here’s a new idea that came forth out of this craziness. You can join Tenlo remotely for a free one on one brainstorming session. That’s right free and before your scheduled time they’ll research your industry, business and customers and they’ll try and give you some ideas for free. Then on Friday, they’ll work together to come up with some simple ideas to help you move forward out of this mess and back to where you want to be using your existing staff and resources and experience.

Automated: For more info and to sign up, it’s pretty simple. You just got to do something. You’ve got to use that mouse and go onto the website and go to Tenlo.com. T-E-N-L-O. Tenlo.com. That’s a pretty creative idea here. Have people come to you and we’ll give you some ideas here for free to see if we can start something. I have one quick question and it’s a question I think we’ll obsess over for the next year. Once we come out of this and we will, it’s not a forever thing. When we do, what’s the new normal? Is it going to destroy sales as we knew it? Will people just turn to online stuff and stop going to conferences and networking and calling on their customer and going out on the route and stop and buy? Will they cut back? Will they stop doing it or will we just go back to the way things were and turn off our Zoom accounts?

David Kreiger: I wouldn’t sell your Zoom stock yet.

Paul: Okay. All right.

David Kreiger: So this is going to forever change the sales landscape, business landscape and the way that we interact. I mean, even move movie theaters and things. I think, there’s going to be a new normal for everything. Will we all continue working from home? I don’t think so. But there’s a spectrum. And so, let’s talk about sales specifically, right? So, I think what we’ve seen over the past 10 years specifically, but even a little bit before that, the sales a decade ago, a little bit more than a decade ago, was all done in the field, right? Everything was face to face. You go out and you meet your prospects and that was the process. What we’ve seen over the past 15, 10 years, has really accelerated even up until now, is a move to inside sales. Where people have been doing Zoom, discovery calls, closing deals over the phone, really investing in their inside sales team and more quota has been allocated to inside sales and outside sales than ever before, before this.

David Kreiger: So, this has been happening without what we’re doing. But this is going to put it on absolute hyper drive because I think people will realize there are, well listen, there are some industries that it’s important to go out and meet people and things like that. But there are so many things that can be done virtually that worked before, you can create good relationships. You can help people and prospect with people without ever meeting them. And I think a lot of people will realize the power of that and how much more cost effective that is, right? So it’s a balance, right? And you don’t have to fly people all over the place. Like you said, Paul, “You’re more efficient with your calendar.” If you’re just going from Zoom meeting to Zoom meeting instead of driving an hour or an hour and a half each time. So, I think it’s going to really accelerate this change that was already happening in sales. Will it replace outside sales completely? Never. But I think we’re going to see this trend continue and just continue even faster, after we come out of it.

Tessa Burg: I agree. I think that is a pretty solid prediction. I think we’ve covered a lot of great points. I want to package them all up and then see if you have any closing thoughts, David. So first, I think it’s really important that everyone realize now is the time to be helpful. We’re not all going to go on vacation because we are going to come out of this. But this is a great time to build relationships and be authentic. And it’s also a great time, something we talk a lot about on this show, is to create sales marketing alignment. So collaborate with your marketing team more than ever to brainstorm ideas on what thought leadership actually provides value and makes clients lives better. And then I think, what you’re saying, that prediction might actually scare some people. But I think it’s very encouraging that we just embrace the next normal, will be different. And it can actually be more collaborative and a stronger relationship builder in the long run. Any other thoughts, David, that you want to leave the audience with?

David Kreiger: I think at the end of the day, just need to stay positive throughout this whole thing. Like we’ve been saying overall, “We are going to come through it.” And I also encourage sales leaders, at least in the short term, to be careful of something we had talked about earlier too, Tessa. About making sure that they hit their April numbers and their March numbers and things like that. If you drive certain metrics too hard right now, first of all, I don’t think it’s going to work and I don’t think you’re going to get people to close. But I think you could ruin your longterm perspective in 2020 and I think we’re going to come out of this strong. I think there’s tremendous stimulus. I see people still working and building relationships, coming out with great ideas.

David Kreiger: And I think we’re going to have a strong year, even though this is going to be a really tough quarter. But make sure that sales leaders are having their team focused on the right metrics. Like metrics around building relationships, having those calls. How many times have you scheduled that consultation call where you’re coming up with with ideas for your clients like you guys are doing, Tessa. I think that’s awesome. But think about some of those short term metrics in a different way while still keeping your team accountable for the 2020 metrics and things like that. But if you push too hard right now, on the wrong things, I think you could do more harm than good.

Tessa Burg: Yeah. I think that’s true. Marketers are great at using data and connecting close to customers and salespeople are awesome at naturally building those relationships. And so, it’s almost like you have to be a little bit more lenient or change the metrics to give your people the space to be who they are and be good at what they do.

David Kreiger: Yeah, absolutely. And I think it’s good to have the metrics because you want to make sure you’ve got accountability and things like that but just think about the metrics in a little bit more creative way. What’s going to move you towards your goal, hitting your numbers in 2020? But maybe isn’t going to lead to revenue tomorrow, but it will lead to revenue if done right the next month, the month after that and the month after.

Tessa Burg: Yes. I agree. That is the vision I am holding onto, as well. It has been fun doing the free Fridays. We’ve had some interesting conversations and especially with brick and mortar.

David Kreiger: Yeah.

Tessa Burg: Really need to rethink what’s the expertise they’ve built up just creating their products and bringing their babies to market, affords them a different virtual line of business. So, in all walks there are opportunities.

David Kreiger: And the one other … Just one last parting thought [inaudible 00:22:09]. Love your free Fridays. One thing we found from doing those types of conversations is, they can be as beneficial to us as to our prospects because we learn from them. We understand what they’re going through, what is their mindset, what are the things that they’re struggling with. And it might be different than we thought they were or definitely than they were a month ago. So, we’ve been doing similar types of things that I think is really helpful for both parties because you get to have that conversation and understand each other during this time.

Tessa Burg: Yes, I agree. Paul is giving me another signal to wrap it up.

Paul: That’s right.

Tessa Burg: Paul, do you have any closing thoughts before-

Paul: I think it’s going to be an opportunity. We always cry over what’s lost before we take a look at the opportunities and get happy about the new possibilities. So, I think there are new possibilities coming, but we’re going to have to go through a mourning period as we lose some familiar touchstones of how we’ve done things in the past here.

Tessa Burg: Yes, I agree. So, if people want to get in touch with David, visit salesroads.com and check out his company for sure. David was also named one the most influential sales leaders by SLMA. So, a lot of expertise as companies are looking at what this next normal and looking at what remote work for sales looks like. And if you’re interested in the free Fridays, reach out to Tenlo.com, we’re the marketing side of this conversation and you know we’re there for you. We’ll help, be like a sounding board for what’s next.

Paul: And I have to compliment you, not only coming up with the Free Friday idea, you’ve come up with a new term that I’m going to start using. Instead of the new normal, as if something will shift and then it’ll stay that way forever again here, which is what we always hope. You’re just calling it, the next normal. And then a year from now, there’ll be a next normal, another one. The normals come along every year, or two, here.

Tessa Burg: Yep. They do.

Paul: All right. Thanks for sharing all this stuff and for tuning in today to our program here on Funnel radio.

David Kreiger

Founder and President of SalesRoads

David Kreiger is the Founder and President of SalesRoads, a business-to-business appointment setting, lead generation and SDR outsourcing company.

Under David’s leadership, SalesRoads has grown significantly and consulted some of the largest, fastest-growing companies to help accelerate their sales through proactive prospecting. SalesRoads has also been a 100% remote work-from-home organization for the past 13 years.

David is considered a leading authority on building highly effective remote work environments and was named one of The Most Influential Leaders in Sales & Lead Management by the SLMA. He’s also been featured in Fortune Magazine, Wharton Magazine, The Christian Science Monitor and CNN/Money Magazine.

David Kreiger, Founder and President of SalesRoads, a B2B appointment setting, lead generation and SDR outsourcing company

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Under David’s leadership, SalesRoads has grown significantly and consulted some of the largest, fastest-growing companies to help accelerate their sales through proactive prospecting. SalesRoads has also been a 100% remote work-from-home organization for the past 13 years.

David is considered a leading authority on building highly effective remote work environments and was named one of The Most Influential Leaders in Sales & Lead Management by the SLMA. He’s also been featured in Fortune Magazine, Wharton Magazine, The Christian Science Monitor and CNN/Money Magazine.