The Data Behind Sales Process Changes

July 9, 2020

Sara Howshar

This week, Jim was joined by Joe Booth, the VP of Sales Operations for SecureAuth to discuss how the security segment has adapted their sales process and strategy based on the changes in the market.

Our own data showed that the security segment had a big spike in activity from February to March when companies moved their teams remote.

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Managers are taking 21% more actions than baseline

Signals of Urgency in Your Sales Cycle #

It’s become more essential - and more challenging - to ensure a secure connection and infrastructure. Since then, there has been a slight return to normal, though there have been shifts in team sales processes.

The data reflects this.

We saw that surge in those first 2 months. We had to accelerate our sales cycle to match the demand from the market.

Sales Meeting Volume is Way Up in Security #

Since pre-COVID, overall meeting volume across all segments is down 8%. But the security segment? The security segment is up 26% in meeting volume since early March.

Jim and Joe agreed that in the midst of the world as it is now, seeing that overall meetings are only down 8% is a big win for the sales industry.

The fact that the security segment has seen a dramatic increase validated Joe’s real-world perspective of what their sales look like on the ground.

“Everyone now has a device, an endpoint, that’s at risk,” said Joe. “Urgency has gone through the roof. I’m really proud of how the team at SecureAuth has been able to meet that.”

The jump from February to March was dramatic.

“This is the urgency that we were talking about,” said Joe. “They're opening up the strings to the purse and saying, ‘Go buy what you need to.’ We saw companies that weren’t as prepared as they should have been, or they were prepared but now they need to scale it out.”

There were a number of things, like figuring out how to do Proof of Concepts quickly, that Joe’s team had to move quickly on to address this urgency.

“We saw that surge in those first 2 months,” he said. “We had to accelerate our sales cycle to match the demand from the market.”

Deals Are Progressing Faster #

That initial surge wasn’t just seen in the number of meetings that sales teams were having. No, for the security segment, that pop from February to March is seen across the board. Notably: In deal progression.

There was a significant, +45% increase in deals that progressed in the security segment.

“There was a surge of new opportunities,” said Joe. “But you also had other industries - like hospitality and travel - that went away.”

The urgency to start talking to security solutions carried through the entire sales process.

“We had a great Q2. Right now it’s about market share,” said Joe. “All these companies that are enabling a remote workforce, you’re seeing a lot of free licenses. We jumped on that bandwagon. We gave free licenses through the end of the year, and if they want to renew we’ll address that then.”

While it’s not an especially new tactic, it’s particularly effective when you know your audience.

“The interesting thing about security professionals is that they can be cautious,” He said. “They really want to vet it regardless of how much it costs. It helped us get our foot in the door with companies that still need this security.”

What it comes down to, he said, they decided: “Protect your business through this year free of cost, we’ll address it next year. It forced us to adapt our sales team overall.”

Net-30 Payment Terms Are Back #

The urgency from some prospects is balanced, of course, by those who need a little more flexibility.

In early March, 30-Day payment terms were being extended to 60 or 90 days as companies were shrinking their budgets.

Overall, 30-Day payment terms took a big hit in early April, dropping to just 56% of deals with 30-Day payment terms. Now they’re back up to 70%. Still less than early 2020, but on it’s way up.

“I’m fortunate, our CFO and finance team and general counsel are fantastic,” said Joe. “They decided that we have to do what makes sense and act on good faith in these hard times. We want to get deals done so that businesses can be protected.”

When asked how the SecureAuth sales team reinvented themselves to respond to these changing processes, Joe said that they’re actually just getting faster.

“It’s not so much reinvention,” he said, “but more hurry the heck up. We had to accelerate our sales cycle. For the business we’re in, the enterprise sales cycle can be 6-9months. But over this time it ended up being over the course of a few weeks.”

The entire team had to move at a much faster clip. “This is about deal velocity,” he said. “Not so much about trying to reinvent, but simply to speed up.”

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45% in deals progressed from February to March

Sales Meetings are Still Better in the Morning #

The way we work has changed too. Our data uncovered that there are 25% more meetings before 9 am and a whopping 121% more meetings after 4 pm.

“If I was a sales rep,” said Joe, “I’d definitely want to be on the left side of this slide. If you’re a smart leader, I’d encourage your teams to hold meetings in the morning. Don’t be the guy holding a demo meeting after 4 pm when attention span is zapped.”

Jim agreed. “It seems mornings are being a bit more protected. But there’s clearly room to get into that commute time as well.”

Supporting Changes Throughout Your Sales Org #

So, you’ve realized you need to make these changes. You’re pivoting to meet the needs of your market. How do you ensure the enthusiastic adoption of your new process?

To Joe, it’s pretty simple: Support.

“There are two types of sales managers,” he said. “Those that love to motivate and coach and lift up their teams. And those who were great sales reps that are promoted to managers but don’t really know how to manage. They don’t last that long.”

The data shows what sales leaders everywhere are feeling. Managers are taking a lot more of an active role with their teams and in their deals.

“We’ve seen this at SecureAuth. We had so much more observable data because our managers are so much more involved in their deals.”

It’s an exciting change in the way leaders are engaging with their teams.

Looking Ahead to Q3 #

When asked how Joe is planning Q3 will go, he offered a healthy dose of optimism. “I think Q3 will be better in 2020 than in the past,” he said. “Usually people are on summer break. Taking their kids to Disneyland or going on European vacations.” But this year? This year, people will be available.

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