How to Turn Your Sales Development Teams Into Thought Leaders

Author:

Aurelien Mottier
Reading Time: 3 minutes

Episode

81

How to Turn Your Sales Development Teams Into Thought Leaders

Aurelien Mottier

CEO at Operatix

Jeremy Brown

Content Marketing Manager at Crunchbase

By now we’ve all heard about sales thought leaders using personal branding to promote their ideas.

If personal branding — and sales thought leadership — is something you want to break into, where should you start?

We asked that very question to Jeremy Brown, Content Marketing Manager at Crunchbase and Founder at Startups Give Back. He told us about how his 8 years of content marketing experience have helped enterprise and startup teams build thought leadership content.

Let’s get into our conversation about sales thought leadership.

left quote
right quote

At the end of the day, we want to buy from people we trust

Jeremy Brown – Content Marketing Manager at Crunchbase

Personal brands beyond execs

 We’re familiar enough with CEOs investing in personal brands to help promote their companies.

“You don’t have to be an executive to be a thought leader,” Jeremy said.

The reason you want to be a thought leader is to build trust — and what better industry is there for trust building than sales?

“Imagine if your sales team had thought leadership within their own networks. Now you don’t have to rely on some of the tactics that salespeople do to sell,” Jeremy said.

When sales professionals are transparent, when they talk about both the pros and the cons (and are upfront about the price), they build trust with their customers.

“At the end of the day, we want to buy from people we trust,” he said.

That’s what sales thought leadership is at its heart: building trust with a particular target audience. 

Caveat: The thought leadership route is not a quick win. It does take time to establish sales thought leadership for an individual or team.

To be effective in thought leadership, you need a combination of transparency and technical knowledge.

“I do weigh transparency over anything else,” Jeremy said, “a person that I trust and is being honest with me, putting me in a position to make the best possible purchasing decision for myself.”

left quote
right quote

Valuable content is meant to help that individual get enough information so that they’re confident in making a purchasing decision

Jeremy Brown – Content Marketing Manager at Crunchbase

Building a content-based  “lead generation engine”

Jeremy shared his strategy for how sales professionals can use content to build their own lead generation engine — and ultimately rely less on cold calling and emailing.

Thought leaders have people approach them. The first touch is automatically warmer.

1. Positioning yourself as a consultant

Salespeople are excellent at building trust very quickly. The turning point is when they can build trust as a consultant rather than as a sales professional. 

“The prospects never really look at them as a sales person,” Jeremy explained. “They look at them as someone that they trust would give them information that will be valuable to make a purchase decision.”

This involves telling prospects not to buy when they won’t receive value.

Which hurts, yes, but ultimately promotes the transparency that leads to future sales.


2. Producing valuable content

Valuable content doesn’t mean information about your company, pricing, or products. 

Instead, it’s about blog posts, podcasts, videos, and status updates that explain factors related to the purchase.

“Producing content is meant to help that individual get enough information so that they’re confident in making a purchasing decision,” Jeremy said. 

3. Gaining respect & reputation

The end achievement is sales thought leadership that will bring potential customers to you for advice about purchasing in your industry. 

Not — and this is important — your specific company.

When you gain respect as an authority in your industry, you will also gain sales in your company even while you dissuade some people from buying products and services they don’t need or at the wrong time.

left quote
right quote

What’s going to move the needle is producing content that’s very valuable to the people that you’re trying to sell to.

Jeremy Brown – Content Marketing Manager at Crunchbase

Actionable tips for the thought leadership mindset

 Jeremy had encouraging words for launching yourself into sales thought leadership.

  • Platforms. Nearly everything is free right now, so finding a space to establish yourself isn’t costly. LinkedIn, Medium.com, or your company blog are great places, with LinkedIn being the most trafficked site.
  • Channels. Find a channel that you’re comfortable with. If you’re not a great writer, try video. If you’re camera shy, go with podcasting.
  • Topics. “Audit yourself and what you’re interested in,” Jeremy suggested. If you’re short on sales thought leadership ideas, consult your company’s marketing team.
  • Time. Dedicate some time both to ideate and to produce the content. Once a month or once a quarter is a great way to start, with once a week being the long term target.
  • Personality. If you only share about business, your followers don’t get to know you as a human. Be sure to put a personal spin on your content, too.

Be consistent — and aim for frequency. “Frequency is important in the long run, because being a thought leader, you need to be putting your thoughts out there,” Jeremy said.

Give yourself time to grow your reputation, with the awareness that your sales numbers might fluctuate until you’re established. It’s okay to start slower.

“The more you produce, that might take you away from some of your cold calling,” Jeremy said. “But if you do it right, you will have more people coming to you.”

Lastly, try to be practical, not viral. “What’s going to move the needle is producing content that’s very valuable to the people that you’re trying to sell to,” he said.

Get in touch with Jeremy about sales thought leadership through his handle @socialjeremy across all major social media platforms. 

To hear this interview and many more like it, subscribe to The B2B Revenue Acceleration Podcast on Apple Podcasts, on Spotify, or on our website.

powered by Sounder

About Operatix

Operatix is a Sales Acceleration company specialized in supporting B2B Software vendors to identify new revenue streams, increase qualified sales pipeline, and accelerate channel development across Europe and North America. Operatix has a wealth of experience in working with the biggest tech players worldwide as well as a multitude of emerging software vendors.

Simplifying Sales Emails: Creating Compelling Campaigns

Ollie Whitfield

Managing outsourced sales teams: 4 tips for success

Aoife Daly

Your Go-To-Market Strategy Done Right

Pete Crosby

Ready to get started?

Learn more about how we can get work as an extension of your Sales & Marketing teams to drive more revenue.

Channel Transformation

Digital transformation is changing how companies buy and use business solutions, making vendors re-assess the capabilities of their channel ecosystem. With channel dynamics in constant flux, vendors need to be ready to cut ties with partners that don’t share their vision or have connections with the right B2B buyers.

 

Operatix has supported numerous vendors in their path to Channel transformation by assessing current partners and recruiting new partners that are more aligned with their new channel strategy. Once the right partners have been identified, Operatix built scalable outbound sales development programs that accelerated their routes to market.

Inbound Response Management

In a competitive industry like technology every lead counts. Operatix can help you maximize conversion from MQL to SQL and from lead to pipeline, increasing both your revenue and ROI on marketing activities.

Account Identification

Identifying the accounts that are more likely to buy from you is part of our expertise. We will research the market, identify verticals and industries that can benefit from your solution and set up qualified sales engagements for your teams to kick-off the sales process. 

Cold Prospecting

Our team will identify new sales opportunities within the strategic accounts that you haven’t been successful in penetrating through your sales & marketing efforts. By applying the ‘Challenger Sale’ methodology we use a tailored, multitouch approach to connect with prospects, generating qualified sales engagements for your team and ultimately increasing your pipeline.

Outbound Sales Development

Using a proactive outbound sales approach has been proven to be one of the most effective methods to engage with prospective customers. By applying the ‘Challenger Sale’ methodology we use a tailored, human approach to getting in touch with prospects to increase your qualified sales engagements and ultimately generate more pipeline.

Outbound Sales Development

Using a proactive outbound sales approach has been proven to be one of the most effective methods to engage with prospective customers. By applying the ‘Challenger Sale’ methodology we use a tailored, human approach to getting in touch with prospects to increase your qualified sales engagements and ultimately generate more pipeline.

Partner Concierge Service

Our Partner Concierge Service helps vendors accelerate their channel programs, by engaging and nurturing channel partners and supporting them to get to revenue quicker.

Demand Generation

Whether you need to implement a demand generation strategy or get more results out of your existing demand gen engine, Operatix can work alongside your marketing team to yield better results out of your demand generation programs.

Account-based Marketing

An Account-based Marketing strategy is only as successful as the revenue it generates. At Operatix we will support your 1:1, 1:few or 1:many approach to get your team in front of decision makers in the accounts that matter the most to you. 

Lead Qualification

If your marketing leads aren’t converting, it might be a lead qualification issue. Operatix can help sieve through leads that need further qualification, so they are ready for an AE or sales team member to engage with.

Account-based Selling

At Operatix we will support your 1:1, 1:few or 1:many approach to get your team in front of decision makers in the accounts that matter the most to you. 

Pipeline Generation

Generating Pipeline for our clients is our key-objective. And we do that by using a multi-touch, multi-channel approach to generate qualified sales engagements for our customers’ sales teams.   

Account Intelligence / Deep Dive

Understanding buying centres, hierarchies and relevant personas in strategic accounts is a fundamental step to increase conversion rates. By leveraging account intelligence in a sales conversation your team can tailor their message and provide value to their prospective customer. But sales & marketing teams often struggle to dedicate time and resources to do the deep research and this is where Operatix can help.

DMID – Decision Maker Identification

Finding quality data is an on-going challenge for B2B Tech vendors. The accuracy of data platforms is questionable and that is why Operatix developed a manual process to identify & verify contact details for decision makers within strategic target accounts.

Playbook design

Operatix can develop Sales Playbooks that enable teams to sell more effectively. Your Playbook will be fundamental to get your messaging right, accurately position your solution against competitors, and adapt the communication of your value proposition to different buyer personas.

Recorded Testimonial: RXVantage

Fill in the form below and receive the recorded testimonial of Jeremy Gilman. 

Recorded Testimonial: Qualys

Fill in the form below and receive our recorded testimonial from Joerg Vollmer, the General Manager at Qualys.

Recorded Testimonial: Incorta

Fill in the form below and receive the recorded testimonial of Emily Lewis. 

Sales Playbook Development

Operatix can develop Sales Playbooks that enable teams to sell more effectively. Your Playbook will be fundamental to implementing the correct messaging, accurately position your solution against competitors, and adapting the communication of your value proposition to different buyer personas.

Lead Qualification

If your leads aren’t converting, it might be a lead qualification issue. Operatix can help filter through leads that need further qualification, ensuring that they’re ready for an AE or sales team member to engage with and progress through the funnel. 

Partner Portal / Marketing Concierge Service

Vendors often spend thousands of dollars building multifunctional Partner Portals to help channel partners educate their teams, manage opportunities, and create marketing programs. Still, these portals are often underutilized due to lack of bandwidth and capacity from vendors to offer support in enabling their partner community. Operatix, through their Partner Development team, can support your partners to make the best use out of your partner portal, managing the relationship with your partners and helping them set up co-marketing campaigns to drive more revenue for both businesses. 

Marketing & Sales Alignment

The sales development function is often seen as the “glue” that brings sales & marketing teams together. By working as an extension of your teams, Operatix will be your predictable source of pipeline, sales & revenue.

Optimization of MDF

Market Development Funds are an important component of any channel ecosystem, though vendors believe they are not maximizing the return on investment they should be getting from their MDF programs. At Operatix, we build scalable outbound sales development programs that will give you the visibility of return over the invested spend and will provide clear value for your channel partners.

Increase Partner Productivity

The 80/20 rule is still very applicable to the channel, which means that investing in partner productivity should be a priority for vendors looking to grow their businesses. Operatix can increase partner productivity and shorten sales cycles, by identifying ready to engage sales opportunities for your most valued channel partners.

Virtual Channel Account managers

Our VCAM team is responsible for building, maintaining, and managing sound relationships with current and prospective channel partners. They can get involved in opening up new sales conversations as well as closing small businesses up to $ 10k.

Tier 1 & Tier 2 Activation

Whether your business decided for a Tier 1 or Tier 2 distribution model, Operatix can help your channel partners get to revenue quicker. By providing qualified sales engagements to your channel partners we can accelerate your route to market with tangible and easily measurable results.

Solution Selling Training

Far too often vendors insist on enabling their channel partners to talk about features and technical details of their solutions. Customers don’t buy features; they buy the benefits your solution can bring. Operatix will work with your partner community to train them in articulating your message from a high-level business perspective, enabling them to talk to prospects about the value your solution can bring to their company from a board-level perspective.

Channel Enablement

Enabling your channel partners have measurable wins for your business when done right. Operatix has a proven track record in enabling channel partners from a sales & marketing perspective, providing them the knowledge and tools to successfully pitch your solution and sell the value & benefits of it. 

Partner Recruitment

Recruiting the right Channel Partners is the first step for a successful channel program. Operatix has helped over 350 B2B Software vendors recruit suitable channel partners across EMEA and North America, supporting them to scale and expand their presence in different geographies and verticals. 

Risk/Reward Business Model

To truly work as an extension of our client’s sales & marketing teams, we have also adapted our business models to show how our clients operate, and how their success is measured. With our risk/reward business model your investment is proportional to the results our team delivers.

Sales Qualified Leads

On average, 52.5% of the sales engagements set up by our team progress into a next step in the sale process. That means that 5 out of 10 meetings will progress either into a POC, a Demo or a pipeline opportunity.

Geographical Scale

Trading in different geographical markets not only requires a knowledge of the native language, local rules & policies, but a deeper understanding of the local culture and habits. We have the ability to deliver campaigns in multiple countries with flexible resource allocation. This is through our team of international speakers, who have the ability to sell in 17 different languages across the globe.

Increase Revenue & Decrease Cost

Building an internal sales development team comes with many additional costs and challenges that aren’t always taken into account: recruiting resources, training and enabling them etc. You also need to take into account the need for having the data and tools to make them successful, which in turn requires time, capital and effort. By outsourcing your sales development to Operatix you will see your revenue increasing, while decreasing costs and business risk.

Predictable Pipeline Generation

On average, our clients see a 26X ROI on the programs we deliver. By understanding your revenue targets and sales pipeline gap, we will work on a sales & marketing plan that will deliver tangible results.

Vertical Growth

Entering new industries or launching new product lines? Operatix can accelerate your growth by supporting your go-to-market strategy, and getting your sales teams in front of decision makers in key target accounts.

Reduce Headcount

By outsourcing your sales development and partner programs to Operatix; we reduce headcount and the challenges that come with managing people, technologies, and processes. We take care of your sales development, so you can focus on what matters the most: growing your business.

Revenue Acceleration

Operatix helps your business get to revenue quicker. By providing qualified sales engagements for your direct sales team (to kick-off new sales cycles), or by accelerating the growth of your channel partners, our focus remains on delivering tangible results for your business. 

Persona-based Selling

Operatix team will design specifically tailored messages to influence the different levels of decision makers in the sales process, tailoring the communication according to each job function. Our focus is to sell the value of your solution from a business perspective, not its features.    

Recorded Testimonial: Bitglass

Fill in the form below and receive our recorded testimonial from Aya Fawzy, the former director of Bitglass.