Tell us a bit about yourself and how you prepared for a career in selling Sales Technology?
To avoid having to get a proper job while pursuing university studies, I started playing poker. Several months into playing online and live, I realized I had a knack for it and was making more money in one tournament that I could dream of with a typical student job. This previously unknown talent served me extremely well throughout my higher education pursuits and funded my year of traveling immediately after.
On my return from traveling the world, I came to the realization that although lucrative, poker wasn’t my passion so I thought about how I could transfer the experience and skills I had built up and apply them to a new industry and came up with sales.
My very first (and only interview to this day) was with a company called Datamonitor where I was placed into the EMEA SMB Tech Sales Team. Shortly before I joined, Datamonitor was sold for a 7 X revenue multiple and I very quickly became excited by how lucrative the SaaS-based business model was and how predictable revenue yields such attractive multiples.
My goal from then on was clear: earn my stripes as a tech sales rep, learn the industry inside out, build knowledge around growing successful sales teams and then start my own SaaS-based business.
Six years after going through the ranks as a Senior seller, Manager, and, ultimately, the VP of Sales, I Co-founded Pivotal iQ, a London-based, SaaS, Tech Intelligence company with my partner in 2016. After a crazy year one, Pivotal iQ was recognized as one of the fastest-growing SaaS companies in London in our second year, and due to our explosive growth, we were acquired by US-based HG Insights in September 2018 where I am now the VP of Sales.
What are the top 5 sales strategies you swear by? How have these evolved throughout your career?
I created the following 5 step process to help accelerate sales across my teams
1. Hire the best people you can find.
2. Take a scientific and meticulous approach to identify and prioritize the right territory to target.
3. Sell the solution your product solves, not the product itself.
4. Build rapport and coach your sales reps to reduce churn and turn them into A players.
5. Be decisive not only in hiring but also in letting go of underperforming reps.
Can you tell us about some of your most successful Sales/Marketing campaigns from your professional journey so far?
In 2018, IBM announced Netezza would be going end of life. At the time, HG had the largest and cleanest data set of accounts using Netezza, so we reached out to all companies that had a competing product and asked if they would be interested in knowing which companies had this end of life product installed and how much they were spending on IT. Clients who used our tech intelligence were able to quickly create their own laser-focused competitive displacement campaigns to increase pipeline and drive new logo wins.
SAP integrators have also had great success using our data to identify companies that had not yet migrated to HANA. Identifying these customers allowed them to target relevant prospects with effective outbound Marketing and Sales activities that highlight the value of HANA and why it makes sense to upgrade. As you might suspect, being able to target this precisely and with the right message led to much better conversion rates.
Tools and Technologies for Sales
What are the main challenges you are seeing with Technology providers today?
Everywhere you look, markets are being disrupted so there is constant pressure to innovate products, evolve Sales strategies and create smarter campaigns. And while you’re trying to evolve and think of different approaches to grow revenue for your business, you must also be consistent in your day job of nurturing and reaching out to prospects and current customers so that you can hit your numbers in the current quarter.
The inherent tension between change and keeping the business running means many of the technology customers we speak to are resistant to making any big moves. Many of these prospects also aren’t quite sure how to integrate data into their process to accelerate business growth, so it’s easier for them to stick to what they know regardless of how outdated or inefficient their methods are.
One thing is clear however, for successful companies, data is the new gold. It is the companies who make this realization and deploy data-driven decision making in their organizations who will realize the extraordinary results enjoyed by our current customers. These results include 10x click-through increases on Marketing campaigns, a 3x improvement on closing ratios, and a 55% reduction in Sales cycle times.
Do you use HG Insights for your own Sales journeys? How do you use it more effectively, knowing it’s your own product?
Yes, all the time. We are our own best case study. We empower our own Sales team to use our data to challenge their prospects about something they do not know. For example, using our technology intelligence we can reach out to a customer or prospect with a message like this:
“Hi X, we are reaching out because our data tells that us your ‘biggest competitor’ has just won a contract with your ‘largest customer’ and although you know you have a $100k a year order with them, what you don’t know is your ‘said customer’ is currently spending $3.8m on storage/cloud/security in 2020. Would you like us to show you more data on your competitors’ customers, how much they are spending, and when their contract is coming up for renewal?”
When a prospect gets a message like this, it piques their interest because it’s exactly the kind of information they need to expand their footprint in an existing account or possibly displace a competitor.
Why is knowledge of Technology Intelligence so foundational to helping solve these challenges?
Any intelligence on your customer or prospect can be golden assuming it’s accurate. However, knowing what technology product your customer or prospect has installed, what dollar amount they have budgeted for that technology, and when the contract is up for renewal allows your sales and marketing team to be much more focused in terms of who to target and what message to deliver.
So instead of having an exploratory call where you ask a series of questions to see if your prospect needs your solution, you can jump right into a prescriptive conversation where you summarize your buyer’s pain points and show how your solution can solve them.
Can you tell us about some of the Sales tech tools that you’ve used to successfully shape your initiatives and campaigns?
Making an Impact on the Sales Tech Ecosystem
What are your thoughts/best practices when it comes to integrating Sales tech/MarTech stacks and functions?
It’s all about alignment. Whatever your strategy is, you must ensure that Sales and Marketing teams are aligned on which companies to target and prioritize, and what your message should be.
Our most successful customers do this by making sure our tech intelligence is available in both their MarTech and Salestech stacks. This gives their sales and marketing teams the same foundation for making strategic business decisions to support a common goal.
What are the top 5 things that B2B/Tech Sales leaders should always keep in mind when planning Sales strategies for a new tool or product?
1. Identify the companies that have the highest propensity to buy and light up focused marketing campaigns to nurture and warm them up.
2. Prioritize the list and pass on to Sales for old school prospecting.
3. Carve out messaging that is focused on solving a problem the client has, rather than a feature your product has.
4. Create a consistent cadence to ensure you are getting the right balance between building awareness and burning bridges.
5. Ask for referrals.
What’s your favorite Sales-related quote?
Aim for the stars or you will shoot your foot off.
I made this up but I use this to get my team to think about breaking barriers and stretching themselves to achieve new heights.
Tell us about some of the top events you’ll be participating in, in 2020 –
We are looking forward to going to SaaStar in March. A lot of our fast, disruptive clients that are powering their way to $100m ARR or have already smashed through that milestone and now aiming for the $1bn mark will be there. We will also be attending.
Thank you, Scott! That was fun and hope to see you back on MarTech Series soon.
Scott Smyth is the VP Sales at HG Insights. He is a experienced market intelligence professional with a successful track record of supporting clients to build more qualified pipelines, reduce their sales cycles and drive new logo business wins.
HG Insights is the global leader in technology intelligence. Every day, HG Insights uses advanced data science methodologies to process billions of unstructured digital documents to produce the world’s best technology installation information, IT spend, and contract intelligence. The world’s largest technology firms and fastest growing companies achieve a tremendous advantage by using HG Insights to accelerate their sales, marketing, and strategy efforts. This is powerful information you can use to out-market, out-sell, and out-grow your competition.