Optimizing Prospect Experience

Overview: Kyle Coleman VP of revenue growth and enablement at Clari discuss the importance of focusing on the customer and what is best for them.

About the speaker: Kyle is an experienced sales & marketing leader. He has passion for people development, identifying & solving problems, creating & optimizing processes, and unifying departments across the revenue org.


He pursues challenges and problems with vigor and positivity, and is known to always be smiling. Kyle is an avid runner, reader, podcast listener, and a proud corgi owner.

Hi everybody, my name is Kyle Coleman and I’m the VP of revenue growth and enablement at Clari. A revenue operations platform based in California. Helping revenue teams create a revenue process that is connected, efficient and predictable. I’ve been here at Clari for about almost two years now leading demand generation sales, development and sales enablement. And prior to Clari, I was early at a company called Looker, and help build the SDR team for about six years. And then Looker was acquired by Google in the summer of 2019.   

I am here today to talk about one of my favorite topics, which is optimizing the prospect experience. There are so many different components of the prospect experience that oftentimes get overlooked or aren’t given enough time of day and are given enough thought, aren’t given enough strategic thinking on the part of Marketing Leaders, sales leaders, revenue leaders, however it is you want to frame it up. And the issue with that is that it’s causing some pretty serious issues throughout the entire cycle. 

 It’s causing a leaky bucket and a few different categories, a few different funnels here. So you’re losing leads before they convert to meetings, because you haven’t optimized this prospect experience. When you get them into meetings, you’re perhaps not converting them into opportunities, because there are a few process things that you just haven’t optimized. Then once the opportunity does exist, you’re losing them throughout the deal cycle.   

There are a lot of different reasons for this. And there’s no one size fits all solution to it. But there is a mindset. And there’s a mode of thinking that I think can really help companies and revenue teams optimize all these different funnels, and plug all the holes in the bucket. The way that I think the mindset that’s useful to keep in mind here is that a lot of post sales teams, think about this concept of bear hugging their customers, you know, customer success, account managers, value engineers, executive introductions, Board of Directors, introductions, all these things that are meant to ensure that customers are as happy as possible.  

And so what we need to think about on the pre sales side is how do we take that mindset of delighting our customers and really bear hugging them to show them how much we care? How do we do that in a pre sales way? How can we show our prospects that we’re thinking not about what’s good for us, but we’re thinking about what’s good for them.   

And so this quote is useful to keep in mind from Clint Eastwood. It’s not about you, it’s about them. And this is a mistake that I think pretty much I know, I’ve made over the years, I think pretty much every revenue team is making as well is that when we think about, you know, SDR qualification, for example, we’re saying, Well, I know what our ideal customer profile is, and I know what my my qualification criteria are to create a meeting.  

So I’m going to go down the list, I’m going to make sure all these boxes are checked, and it’s going to be good for me, it’s gonna be good for my process. But if you’re the prospect on the other side of that phone call, you’re sitting there and you’re like, this is not, this is not useful for me, they don’t actually care about what I’m trying to do they care more about this rigid set of qualification criteria that they’ve created.   

So that little mindset to say, all right, well, let’s shift a little bit. Let’s think about, let’s think less about qualification. And let’s think more about education and true discovery, and really understanding what their problems are. If we can solve them, not how we can solve them. But let’s be very honest with them. And let’s be honest with ourselves from the jump and say, hey, look, we don’t know if our solution is going to be the right one for you. We don’t know if the pain that we that we sell for is the brightest burning fire that you have right now.  

So let’s learn about it. Tell us about what you have going on comprehensively. Like, we know that you’re not just interested in purchasing Clary right now, we know that you have a litany of other things that you’re focused on. So let’s learn about them. And if there’s an opportunity for us to move forward, great. If not, we’ll catch you in three months and see if it’s a better time then.   

And so this a little bit of a switch. shift in mindset ensures that they know you care about them, that you’re qualifying opportunities properly, and only working things that have a real likelihood of closing, and basically that you’re creating a really nice pre sales experience for your prospects. And so you can do this, that little example about discovery versus education versus qualification. You can think about this in every single component of the prospect experience. I’ve mapped out a few of them.   

So this top line are things that are most traditionally thought of as being marketing owned. And the middle line of this prospect journey are things that are typically going to be SDR owned. And then the bottom line are things that are typically again sales and sales engineer owned And I’m sure this is not the most comprehensive list in the world, you could break this down even a bit more granularly. But the important part about this is that you can think about how to optimize every single one of the blocks in this journey. And so the way that you can think about all these things is basically just stepping back. And being really honest with yourself about how much strategic thought has gone into these, have you really dissected what it means to think about content consumption.   

So when I am a visitor on your website, and I want to find out about what you do, you’ve gone out of the way to create all this great content, either with an internal team, or you’ve outsourced it to an agency or whatever it is, your content exists, hopefully, you take pride in it, if I’m a prospect, and I can’t find that content, what’s the point of having created it? Or if I’m a prospect, and I find the content, but then there’s this huge form that’s 30 fields long, and I have to tell you, my mother’s maiden name and the color of my first car, it’s like, What is all this stuff? Why are you making it hard for people to consume your content?  

And then really, you know, you can get more quantitatively quantitative based and you can say, well, when people start filling out my forms, what percent of them are completing it? So that form abandonment rate is really interesting. And then content consumption? How will you deliver content? Are they getting that PDF immediately? Are you emailing it to them? Is there some other landing page experience that you’ve created? And let’s look at the analytics there? And let’s see what our prospects prefer, as a relates to consuming that content. If it’s emailed, and a landing page? Are they opening that email more and spending more time in the content there? Or are they going to that landing page in real time and viewing things there? And what’s the bounce rate?  

What’s the dwell rate. All those sorts of web activity stats in to think about as it relates to content consumption. Again, to optimize for them. You want to do the thing that is best for them. That delivers the value that they’re expecting to get out of your content.  

So another sort of version of this is through this middle row, again, which is mostly SDR owned this component of what I call selling the meeting. And this does not mean that you’re just trying to convince people to take a meeting for the sake of a meeting, but rather, you’ve already gotten them. SDR has already gotten them to agree to a meeting. Now, oftentimes, it’ll happen on the phone, it’s a relatively short conversation, or sometimes that happens over email. There’s not a ton of context that that kind of goes back and forth between what they’re trying to do. And what you’re hoping to show them in that first meeting. And so it’s up to the SDR then to keep that person interested in the meeting that’s forthcoming.  

So if I’m an SDR and I set up the meeting for seven or 10 days from now, that’s a long time. And there’s still what I refer to as a priority gap between how high a priority they are to you. And how high a priority you are to them. So that prospect is number one, on an SDRs priority list. Like I’ve got to make this happen. This is how I’m paid. It’s super important. But that prospect unless they’re super interested in that, you know, that fire again, is burning very brightly. Typically, they’re not extremely excited about a first meeting with a new vendor. So you have to convince them that they should be.  

And so what the SDR can do in conjunction with Product Marketing, content marketing, and even with the sales team, is create what we refer to as a pre meeting, nurture drip. And so this is a manually executed, drip campaign that serves up content that’s already created, you know, we’ve already created this content to address these questions. So I want to make sure they know you know, maybe I only had a 32nd conversation with them. But I should still have a sense of what they’re trying to get out of this meeting.

They’re trying to solve. forecasting use case, that’s what Clari solves oftentimes for our customers, then I want to send them a piece of content that says, here’s a really robust solution to in quarter and out quarter forecasting. And here’s how one of our customers Okta made it happen for themselves. Just no call to action, no, nothing. Just thought you’d enjoy this piece of content. We’re going to show you something very similar in the call that we have together. So we have that to look forward to.   

And then additional content that’s either based on their persona, or based on their industry, the industry that they’re in or some other reason that you have to add value to them ahead of that meeting to reduce the notions that you’ve had, that you that you have, you already got them to agree, that’s a really difficult thing to do. Now you need to reduce no shows and you keep them engaged, you need to prove to them that there’s something in it for them. And this pre meeting drip is a really useful way of doing that.  

Now, you don’t want to send them an email or two every day, that’s too much. But, if that meeting is seven or 10 days out, and you send them two or three emails. Then a day of meeting reminder. There’s no harm in that, especially if the tone of your emails truly is value add. So think about that. Think about keeping folks warm ahead of Meeting reducing your no show rate. And importantly, again, creating a really good experience for them. That their expectations are aligned with what they’re going to get out of the meeting. And then you actually deliver in that first meeting, you know, you actually have to show them the things that you’ve promised to show them so that all this flows together.   

Finally, post meeting touches. So this is something that I think a lot of revenue teams, pre sales teams take for granted. Oftentimes, they say, Oh, you know, I hired these really smart and accomplished and capable sales people, and they’re going to take care of everything after that first meeting, like they’ve got it, they don’t need any help. And that’s just not the case. Like, yes, they are smart, they’re capable, they can do all these things, but a little bit of standardization and a little bit of guidance, goes a really long way.  

And so having some, creating some templates that can inform these post meeting touches for different scenarios, is very useful for a sales team. So if that first meeting is with a sales operations persona, and we showed them our forecasting solution, I want to give them a template that says, here are the things that we can send to them.   

After a meeting, here’s how we solve this pain for this person. Here’s how we’re driving next steps, here’s what you can expect on the next call. And then you can work in some sort of give and get frameworks there, too, you know, we’re gonna put together an executive demo for you. And we just need you to sign this mutual NDA. You can just keep things moving that way. And again, just give a little bit more of a framework a little bit more standardization to your sales team, so that they can ensure that they’re creating the right experience for their prospects, by ensuring that they always know as I’ve seen.  

As you see here, that the questions on the right, the prospect always knows that we are mindful of the pains that they’re experiencing day to day, week to week, month to month, and that we can address and solve those pains. We’re always doing the things that we need to do to tastefully keep them engaged. We’re not just asking, asking, asking for things from get from them. But we’re giving to them, we’re educating them. We’re showing that we have a point of view on their business and on their role. And what we can make happen for them, we are the ones who are driving next steps.   

So again, a mistake that a lot of sales folks make is that they defer a bit too much to a prospect. As somebody who buys software free more frequently than I care to admit. I always prefer it when the sales team says here’s what needs to happen next. And here’s why. They’re driving those next steps. And they’re doing it in a you know, mindful way and they’re not pushing. They’re just saying, hey, look, I sell this stuff all the time. I know what needs to happen from a sequence of events standpoint. And I’m delivering that to you and guiding you through the sequence. So that you don’t have to do that all the thinking for me. Like I’m helping make this happen in a more strategic partnership.   

it’s important beyond this, these first meetings that we’re engaging with the entire buying group. Again, we’re creating this prospect experience. And it’s not just one person who’s going to be making this buying decision. But in all likelihood, it’s closer to seven people who are making this buying decision. So what have we done to arm our sales reps with the materials that they need. To create a good experience for all seven of those people similar paradigm, just broader set of personas. And it requires content creation, content, aggregation, and then delivery mechanisms that are useful for the prospect.  

So in summary, if you can really think about every step of your prospect experience, and those kind of, you know, relatively high level buckets, and you can break down every one of those buckets, and so that you can optimize all the sub components of them, you can codify all of those components for your entire team. And then you can standardize the right way to do things.  

Again, always keeping the prospect in mind and really putting yourself in their shoes. And saying if I were the one who is on the receiving end of what my team is giving. What I like it, what I enjoy it, would it be useful? Hopefully the answer to that is yes. And if it is, then you can standardize that process. You can be pretty sure that you’re filling as many of the holes in that bucket as possible. And you’re keeping as many people in the funnel as possible and delivering as much revenue as you can. So that is my take on optimizing the prospect experience. I hope you’ve enjoyed it. If you have any questions please feel free to reach out. You can find me on LinkedIn just Kyle Coleman at Clari. Thanks so much, everybody. Enjoy the rest of the summit.