Meeting the Needs of the Modern B2B Buyer
In episode 64 of Pit Stops to Podium, Leslie Venetz discusses meeting the needs of the modern B2B buyer, including speaking in their language and giving them reasons to care that are relevant and valuable to them. The buyer, not the seller, needs to be the hero of the story.
Leslie is the Founder of Sales Team Builder. As a 3x Head of Sales who successfully sold SMB to C-suite enterprise, Leslie brings a unique perspective and diverse set of experiences to help commercial teams build repeatable processes and winning playbooks that produce revenue. She is a motivated and dedicated sales leader, with a powerful history of success in new business development & sales leadership.
If you’re ready to learn from one of the best, then buckle up and hold on!
Creating and Implementing a Sales Cycle
Reps need to understand what the challenges are for the people they're reaching out to as opposed to centering the outreach efforts on simply presenting what their product or service does. While hyper-personalization isn't necessary, good segmentation practices and unique trigger-based campaigns are.
"Sales is still, to an extent, a numbers game. If you want a full pipeline, you need to be actively reaching out to enough prospects that you're catching the right prospect with the right message at the right time"
Structuring the Cadence of Customer Engagement
Use a three channel approach: email, phone call, and social. Be aware that running to new channels, such as AI, can cause over-saturation, resulting in messages that turn into white noise. When this occurs, it's a good idea to double down on certain tried-and-true approaches such as cold calling or email. It's also good to be creative in the form of videos, GIFs, and memes to assist in engaging the customer.
"In terms of channels, it has to be less about where you as a rep or you as a company want to be, and it has to be more about where your customers are"
Tips and Tools for Sales Differentiation
For a more efficient process, any sales, marketing, or customer success professional should be utilizing AI email tools. There are also tools now which can personalize outreach efforts based on personality insights. In addition, you should look to automate low-value activities, which will in turn allow you to spend more time on strategic, intentional ones.
"What can I use AI for that gets me maybe 50% of the way there so that I'm not staring at a blank page and allows me to spend extra time making sure the messages...really work for my audience?"
Connect with Leslie
Brendan: Welcome to Pit Stops to Podium the RevPartners podcast where we talk to execs who competed and won in taking their companies from high growth to high scale. My name is Brendan Tolleson and I serve as the co-founder and CEO of RevPartners and I'm delighted to have with me today Leslie Venetz for this episode of Pit Stops to Podium, welcome Leslie.
Leslie: Thank you for having me, excited for this conversation.
Brendan: I am too uh and so let's did I say your last name right? I feel like we were joking make sure I didn't screw it up.
Leslie: Out of the gates nailed it, I love that.
Brendan: Hey good start then uh well Leslie as we get started let's so let's just introduce who you are so uh when I say who you are what you do oh and then we'll get into who you are as a person but in terms of what you do professionally Leslie is the founder of Sales Team Builder uh for our audience who may not be familiar with Sales Team Builder what is it?
Leslie: Sales Team Builder is a sales consulting firm I'm pretty well known for an interactive training Workshop series that I do love to stay close to the Reps training coaching but the core of the work we do is um coaching training and Consulting with sales teams that are like that 10 million or above and have realized that they either need to stop relying so heavily on their inbound funnel and start developing some of those outbound muscles or they've been doing outbound but it was like a every rep was shooting from the hip sort of scenario and they're realizing if they want to continue to grow particularly hyper growth they really need to create repeatable processes and and you know figure out what works the greatest number of times for their buyers.
Brendan: Well that's great certainly something that a lot of companies are in need of these days and and to your point with a modern buyer I think there's a lot of Reliance on inbound but to your point there's also that need to exercise that muscle uh as it relates to prospecting and outbound um what's the origin story of Sales Team Builder how did you get there what was your past experience that informed this need in the market?
Leslie: Yeah origin story I um like I don't even know what I was thinking I just didn't know what I didn't know I joined a startup as employee number one. Looking back I'm like what why um but it was incredible I mean for anybody that's been early stage of the startup it was it was only 18 months but it was like an 18-month band where I felt like I learned five ten years yeah worth of how to do things 100 hour weeks does that to a person um and you know through that process like I created the MVP I launched the MVP I did the whole GTM I thought I can do this for somebody else why don't I have my own company my own brand and frankly I didn't really see myself becoming a full-time entrepreneur like that was not where I was pathing I was really pathing to cro um but the opportunity to impact multiple organizations versus one was was really compelling to me um and you know we all had a lot of time to think during the pandemic and and so you know the origin story was employee number one at a startup Why not start my own company I started initially working with startups on the GTM and then realized I liked working with organizations that were a little bit more established uh you know already had their Tech stack had performing reps and seat they were ready to go much bigger much faster and here we are.
Brendan: That's great yeah I mean I I can certainly um relate to what you just said I've I have a lot of white hairs now um because of startup mode uh but also you know well even what we do at RevPartners that the compelling nature of impacting more than just one business uh certainly resonates so thank you for what you're doing and enabling other uh organizations as it relates to the sales team um Leslie before we get into some of those actual insights from what you've been doing we do have a tradition here at Pit Stops to Podium and that's to get to know our guests outside of work so we talk about what you do but who are you what are the things that you're passionate about Hobbies interests Etc?
Leslie: And just go I'll just start naming them?
Brendan: Give us three.
Leslie: Three um okay well I'm in Native Montanan
Brendan: And no it is or not like Yellowstone? Not not the national park let's just be clear the TV show Montana think it's garbage or do they enjoy the spotlight they're receiving?
Leslie: No I think they they generally like it and they after the I don't watch it but after the first season they actually started filming in Montana so I think they especially like it because Montana's just drop dead gorgeous and then you see places that you've actually been as a local so I think that's pretty cool but um in the couple of episodes I have watched it doesn't seem to be an accurate reflection of the place that I grew we don't frequently murder people in like six of drama um I'm lukewarm on the series um but I'm a native Montanan and it is it's the last of us Place everybody needs to go that's my uh my my pitch on Montana uh I'm I am an Avid Reader I love love love reading um non-fiction sure I run a business book club but I'm also a sucker for fiction I have like a real soft spot for Agatha Christie like anything murder mystery I love fantasies I love historical fiction um and my looking at my soul cycle bike so I would be remiss maybe to not mention that as as my like it's a bit of a cult and I'm very comfortable with that I love it so much it brings me immense immense Joy.
Brendan: What's the last last book you read or current book you were reading?
Leslie: So right now I'm reading on the non-fiction site I'm reading Annie Paul's doll without selling out for the second time um and he's been a mentor for a few years so I actually gotta pre-read that but it's one of the business Book Club books um and then I just started a new book called suspended sentences that is a historical fiction I'm only like 30 pages in less than that like 20 pages in so I'm not exactly sure what it's about but I already love the writing style and just a sucker for like turn of the century historical fiction it's just captivating.
Brendan: That's great well thank you for sharing a little bit about who you are I think it's always fun to have that connection um well let's transition into kind of the meat of this conversation you know you mentioned a little bit in terms of what you're doing at Sales Builder in terms of like the company stage who's become pretty reliant on marketing as a source for leads but that's not always going to fill up your funnel uh especially as you mature maybe you're going to Enterprise there needs to be that combination of inbound plus outbound which isn't always an easy muscle for people to learn or to do and so I think there's a lot of tips and tricks that you can help as it relates to that but before we get in and make some of those application before before we dive in it might be helpful just understand really what are the needs of the modern B2B buyer because again that's going to inform how you would you know recommend that they attack um attack maybe the wrong word engage uh with that buyer?
Leslie: Attack like a athlete ninja Guru um needs of the modern B2B buyer no I love I love that question because historically sales as a profession has been really seller-centric and we all see it in our inboxes and when we get cold calls that it's I we my product right so I think the like the simplest way of thinking about the needs of the modern B2B buyer are telling them why they should give a heck which we so often fail to do like we um can talk a lot about maybe some some data points or we can feature dump um but we as sellers really need to challenge ourselves to speak in the language of our by of our buyers and give them a real reason to care that is relevant and valuable to them which sometimes means personalized but it doesn't always have to be hyper personalized I think that's one thing that people get like really confused is they're like the evolution of buying is that every single touch Point needs to be hyper personalized and you need to spend two hours researching before you send one email um and I am much more rooted in like make sure that every single piece of communication with your buyer is relevant to them and valuable to them and I think that that's what they really crave is that like respect where we're earning the right to ask them to read an email or spend time with us or consider their product or our product.
Brendan: And I think at the root of that is please and feel free to challenge it but the customer is the hero not you um and so when you talk with the eye and then we uh and being relevant to them it's really understanding what is it like why are you reaching out to them and how can you help solve certain problem unlock an opportunity I mean it seems like that's a lot of what you're alluding to of the positioning that that the new not the new but the seller needs to have if they want to kind of eliminate the noise that exists in that inbox that you just described.
Leslie: Yeah absolutely and it's it's kind of you know it's been like one of marketing's go-to's for many many years make the hero make the customer the hero of of your story um and I think it's it's one of the many pages that sales Pros can take out of the marketing Playbook to really make sure that we are centering our buyers in the the way we communicate and the channels we use to communicate the kit like everything that we do needs to be um about meeting them where they're at versus what we want or what we expect or think is right.
Brendan: That's great let's talk into you know with that kind of foundational or that Foundation rather like ways in which uh if we have sales sale people in seat meaning they are a sales rep or you have a manager that's managing a team uh ways in which you know they can be effective and so let's get a little bit into some of the application of or the principles here so uh if they're going to make it personalized uh and they're going to make it about kind of the the buyer not about the seller um let's talk a little bit about you know the sales like the sales cycle when does that begin who who owns what you have SDR you have an AE potentially in that type of format or or maybe it's just an AE uh how do you think through kind of the origination and the cycle itself?
Leslie: Yeah so absolutely has to be on with the SDR I mean that for for most uh customers is if you're truly running like an maybe starting a mid Market but certainly if you're running like Enterprise outbound often the first time that they're meeting your brand is going to be in this cold Outreach from an SDR because you probably aren't running heavy like dark social or plg or you know inbounding uh even if you are it doesn't matter your SDR um certainly needs to be empowered to create you know those relevant valuable touch points um as a as a starting point I think a couple of good rules for people to keep in mind because it's it's really easy for like influencers on LinkedIn to talk about you know how everything needs to be hyper personalized and how you know I'd rather send five hyper personalized emails a day than 50 this and that and and well that's great great and like I think it's really attractive content because people are like yeah me too like sales is still to an extent a numbers game like if you want a full pipeline you need to be actively reaching out to enough prospects that you're catching the right Prospect with the right message at the right time for them um so I think what that means at the very beginning of the cycle Brendan is helping your reps really understand what the challenges are for the folks that they're reaching out to so that they feel empowered with the why is it important to them and then the how do we solve it related to that versus the what do we do because so much Outreach just centered in like that here's what we are what we we do um I don't think that that means you need to research every single Prospect for an hour before you do Outreach but I do think that the companies that come out ahead in the lens of a recession maybe even like not not in that lens will be folks that um spend extra time either deeply segmenting their territory so it is a Cadence that or sequence that maybe only goes out to 18 people but they are you know 18 CFOs from Fortune 1000 cpg companies who have been in seat for less than a year you know whatever those layers are or um unique trigger-based campaigns and not like just I saw you got a round of funding here's my thing yeah like I saw you got a round of funding and here is something valuable that I'm going to give you as a deposit before I ask anything in return or here's a relevant Insight that I'm going to share with you that makes you want to learn more about why I know that so I think that would be the starting point.
Brendan: Yeah and I like the idea of like having a methodology for like how you create your list right in terms of what are the different triggers or actions that you need to be mindful of now let's talk a little bit about um from a you mentioned Cadence so there's by there's probably a lot of people a lot of opinions on this in terms of the right way to think through a Cadence and what are the right channels some people say calling is dead some people say uh emailing is dead and of course they're social and the dark funnel you were talking alluding to earlier um so when you're when you're engaging with with customers is there a do you have a recommendation or at least an opinion on like the effective way to Think Through how to structure a Cadence?
Leslie: So figuring out what channels it's it has to be less about where you the rep or you the company want to be and it has to be more about where your customers are and I think we so often lose that like so often on LinkedIn you see reps that have been entirely uh in inbound roles talking about how they would only outbound on social like emails dead cold Calling is dead and that's I mean I think some of it's just like the naivety of Youth and not having done multiple types of sales in different sales environments um general rules I suggest a three Channel approach so usually that is going to be email phone call and a social but maybe you want to mix it up maybe it's text messages maybe it's uh you know instead of LinkedIn it is I don't know Facebook or wherever you're at or maybe you want to do handwritten notes which I'm a massive advocate of um but I think give give your prospects at least three opportunities to meet you on a channel that they want to be communicated with on um so I think that's a good rule of thumb and I also am a huge advocate for being a little playful and being being a bit creative uh and so maybe that is video maybe that's sending like gifs or memes or whatever I think it's really fun to play with new channels like Chachi PT and like using AI That's that's great have fun with that but also remember that as everybody else is rushing to those new channels they become saturated really quickly like we saw with LinkedIn in mail at the beginning of the recession 40 uptick all said it became White Noise so as everybody is rushing to those new channels that is truly a perfect opportunity to double down on something like cold calling or double down on something like direct mail um in a sort of like what's old is new again because they aren't as saturated um mentality so yeah at least at least three channels and don't be afraid to be creative and don't get too distracted by the shiny object syndrome but you know have have fun and be creative as new things come you know come up.
Brandan: Yeah it to me it's it's freedom in a framework it's like hey here are the three different paths you can take and it largely it's gonna be in close to your point about hey what is relevant but also who are you selling to and like what are the way like the buyers ultimately gonna dictate probably which of those three you heavily lean towards but to your point give them optionality uh to meet them on their Turf um and also reminds me you know Josh Braun who you probably know uh just the whole idea of being a red X in a sea of black X’s how can you be different um and uh to your point and maybe it's video or direct mail um there there is like the the trends where certain things are hot and they're not but it's like how do you even in the midst of a trend differentiate I think it's a good uh segue into kind of the last topic which would just be you know what are when you think about being a red X you talked a little bit about those in terms of tactics um what are tools that you've seen that can actually help facilitate that to where you can leverage your strengths or be human but also do this at scale when you have a personalization and differentiation?
Leslie: Yeah um so some of my favorite tools that I'm using right now are AI email tools when I'm building copy for myself or for my clients I put it through reggie.ai lavender and an old school tool that I've been using for over a decade called Boomerang by Baden um all of them have freemium options like there is no reason that any sales or marketing or customer success professional should not have at least one of those plugged into their inbox and be utilizing the freemium option like Boomerang is just just free free like it's it's not freemium where you get 10 or whatever it's free so that's huge for me I don't understand why everybody isn't doing that um I also use a tool called humantic.ai which I think is a new Evolution in personalization so it's not old school personalization like field mapping it's not even really like contemporary personalization that is more rooted in value and relevance for the persona it's personalization based on personality insights that tell you how that person likes to be spoken to that's really cool I think that's wild I so I'm having a lot of fun with that um and those tools help me write better emails they help me write them faster um and with you know this this new tool that I'm getting used to like hopefully help me write emails in a way that people read them and they're like wow that really I feel really seen by that email um so those are faves in in you know in my tech stack um and I I use a lot of stuff I use an interactive video um tool that I think really like really helps connect with people um yeah like I think that when I look at my tech stack in the tools I'm using I'm like what can I automate that's a low value activity that allows me to spend more time on like strategic intentional activities or what can I use like you know AI or ml4 that gets me maybe 50 percent of the way there so I'm not staring at a blank page and allows me to spend extra time like making sure that the message and the channels and the timing really work for my audience.
Brendan: It's like you know what what can I automate uh that anyone can do to allow me to focus on the things that only I can do uh that there really goes the extra miles that's that's great.
Leslie: I have a real like automate delegate or eliminate I have like my whole checklist and if something stays on it for more than two weeks I either have to pay somebody to do it for me or I cross it off and have to admit to myself that it just is clearly not not that much of a of a priority so anything I can automate in advance of getting to like my mental stalemate is a win for me.
Brendan: yeah it reminds me my COO tells me almost every day every yes is a no um and so we have to your point automate delegate eliminate uh for us to focus on only on the things that we ultimately can control or should be prioritizing rather as we kind of wrap up final lap question for you uh Leslie is um this will be a daunting um initiative or task for somebody uh what is like if you say hey what of encouragement for people that are looking to take on this tactic um but what would you tell them why is it worth it or uh what is an easy step they can take?
Leslie: Why is it worth it is is pretty easy because you are going to ultimately sell more tighten your sales Cycles tighten your conversion ratios so like there's there's a clear like revenue and margin play um but where to get started I think is a much more challenging question because it is big into your earlier Point like if you just Google it or you pull up LinkedIn you're going to see a lot of conflicting opinions um so two pieces of advice one would be to plug in communities plug into communities where these conversations are happening so whether it's listening to podcasts like this or getting into like a sales hacker or rev genius or like those communities where you can easily tap into that expertise and external perspective powerful and like there are also a lot of templates to get you started from companies like Reggie or like gong or outfit you know what I mean like reputable companies that have tested templates that they just give away for free so don't start from scratch like you should never start from scratch go out and figure out what's worked for other people test it and then you can iterate from there and it's going to make it you're going to LeapFrog at least a little bit by doing that.
Brendan: I love that it's uh don't do it alone uh and there are places that you can go or you could just hire Leslie uh which is awesome um I'll try to you know tee it up for you so uh I'll just say call to actionso uh with that in mind Leslie uh what are ways in which our audience can engage with you are there channels they should be mindful of you don't have to keep your email but where where where can they find you yeah?
Leslie: Absolutely I post on LinkedIn every single day that's just my name Leslie Venetz um I also create on TikTok under the handle sales tips talk so if you prefer video instead of words you can find me there.
Brendan: All right let's say well thank you for stopping by I really appreciate your insights on this topic it's a fun topic hotly debated and it's always good to hear from people as their opinions on on how to run this effectively uh to all play together organizations so thank you so much.
Leslie: My pleasure thanks for having me.