Freedom Within a Framework: How Sigstr Finds Success With Sales Empowerment

By: Teresa Weirich

December 20, 2017

Sales is a complex subject matter with many differing voices across the discipline. Not only do sales organizations vary in size and industry, but every sales team tends to hold onto a core value, a methodology, or a belief about how the sales process should be conducted. While it’s impossible to determine which belief or core value is right or wrong for that particular organization, every modern sales team has one thing in common: they are constantly forced to navigate change.

For Kevin Vanes, VP of Sales at Sigstr, he sees change in the marketplace on—quite literally—a daily basis. Sigstr, an email signature platform for marketers, lands squarely in the ever-evolving MarTech space where in 2017 alone, the landscape grew by about 40% to a total of 5,381 solutions (from 4,891 unique companies). Kevin and his team experience market shifts on the regular which, in turn, affects how they run their internal sales processes.

What “Agile Sales” Means to Sigstr

In a previous article, we explored why agile selling matters to organizations. But Kevin and the Sigstr sales team live out the practice of agility regularly. Kevin explained that due to the marketing landscape and the nature of whom they’re selling to, the sales team constantly has to reinvent processes and re-focus their attention. However, constant change can be dangerous to sales organizations. Adopting new practices too frequently or constantly making seemingly small tweaks to discovery processes can quickly derail sales professionals from their primary focus: selling.

“Tactically, having an agile sales process means that we can adopt small changes by rolling out to one sales professional, test and make improvements, and then roll out to another one or two sales professionals before the entire team adopts the changes,” said Kevin.

Measurement is supremely important to Kevin, especially within the context of agile selling. As Sigstr doesn’t have an Operations role yet, he is constantly tuned in to metrics and data to understand the root of what’s working and what needs improvement. In an example, he shared that Costello has played an instrumental role in helping the team align persona-based messaging with their first call discovery process. Kevin went on to explain that at the end of each prospect discovery call, there are 4 potential next steps, ranging from an internal meeting to a pricing and packaging conversation. Now, Sigstr’s ability to be agile has allowed sales professionals to select the decided upon next step while on the prospect call, then continue to use the designated Costello template to stay on message.

Subsequently, by using an agile sales platform to guide first prospect calls, Kevin can now measure when a sales professional goes off track or determine which of the next steps leads to the best sales outcome—and the worst. All of these measurable data points allow Kevin to not only make adjustments to the process, but to be a better coach to his sales team.

Freedom Within a Framework

While Kevin doesn’t subscribe to a particular sales methodology perse, like Challenger Sale or the Sandler Method, he has chosen to adopt what he believes are the best parts of many different methodologies. But his most important mantra to his team and one that he believes in wholeheartedly? “Freedom Within a Framework.”

To Kevin, this type of freedom means that while he is operationally-driven, he intentionally puts up guardrails that allow his sales professionals to operate freely and successfully within boundaries. Each Sigstr team member brings something unique and meaningful to the table, so it’s important to Kevin that they are able to flourish in their own way while taking some creative liberties—so long as their freedom remains within the designated framework.

When Sigstr adopted Costello as its agile sales platform, it was a forcing function for Kevin to review various forms of messaging and address typical prospect personas, such as a performance marketer or brand marketer. It wasn’t until he went through the process for himself that he was able to build out a framework that he believed the entire team should adopt. And while the team has complete freedom to operate within the guard rails, the Sigstr sales team still iterates and adjusts the messaging to keep up with the constantly changing industry demands.

The Ability to Scale Sales is Fundamental

Developing a strong sales methodology along with a compatible tactical sales process can be a difficult and time-consuming endeavor. Add onto that the fact that most sales leaders rely heavily on sales teams inputting deal mechanics into Salesforce and updating call notes or sharing highlights in 1:1 meetings, and a major challenge emerges: Scalability.

A single sales leader can’t possibly manage every team member all the time (and frankly shouldn’t need to). Kevin, a native Hoosier and a diehard IU basketball fan, shared an analogy worth noting: Tom Crean’s recruiting approach. Tom Crean, IU’s former head basketball coach, recruited players with a high degree of athleticism to perform within his “dribble drive” offensive philosophy. The key being their individual ability, which made the offense ‘go’. In a sales situation, these types of all-stars make up only the top 10-20% of a sales team. These individuals will hit quota no matter what tools a sales leader provides and they are essential to every team. However, as most sales leaders know from experience, the typical makeup of a sales team is comprised of 60% in a middle bucket that need structure and help to attain quota. A more defined process is what this group needs and sales leaders should be spending their time creating repeatable processes that can help these team members succeed.

With Costello’s help, Sigstr has created a framework that allows sales professionals in this middle bucket to have a clear, proven path to success, allowing them to understand what to do and when. To Kevin, that’s the beauty of an agile sales platform. It allows the process to be collaborative and iterative while scaling up, regardless of how involved he is or isn’t with each specific deal or team member.

Costello is allowing the Sigstr team to rebuild and re-focus as a team—ultimately building upon the tremendous success the company and sales team have already seen. And in the future? Kevin sees the agile sales platform expanding as a critical piece in the sales process beyond first prospect calls to technical evaluation discussions and pricing and packaging conversations.

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    Teresa Weirich

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