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Driven newsletter archive

Issue 14. January 20, 2020

Swipe revenue from your competitors |  How much to pay sales reps | Help your SDRs reach the C-suite | Get more from your trade shows

It’s full-on crazy time now. Back to the daily scramble.

And I’m here to help.

Let me be your personal gofer. Tell me what information would help you hit your numbers. I’ll dig it up for you and other readers.

Were you among the people who recently asked for information about tradeshows conferences, and events?

I’m not satisfied with what I found.

I pored over more than a dozen sources. To my surprise, the Internet offers slim pickings on trade shows and conferences. Nor does Amazon list more than one or two highly rated books.

I’ll look for more and better for next week.

This week’s topics:

  • Get the more from your investment in trade shows, conferences, and events
  • In a recession, swipe revenue from your competitors
  • How much should you pay SaaS sales reps?
  • Help your SDRs engage with C-Suite executives

Reading time

Your estimated reading time this week is about 5 minutes.


Get more from your investment in trade shows, conferences, and events

Participation in trade shows, conferences, and other events consumes about 20% of the entire marketing budget for B2B companies. That’s the average in the United States.

Yet many companies don’t get enough value for all the money they spend. Or worse, they don’t measure how much value they’re getting.

Are you highly experienced with trade shows and conferences? If so, you already know most of what follows. Still, it may help to go through the checklist again.

It’s possible you’ve overlooked something important. Without a checklist, even top surgeons have left their instruments inside of patients.

Here’s what to do before the event:

  • Choose your events carefully. Review their demographics to be sure they’re right for you. Are enough of the right people coming?
  • Set specific, measurable objectives.
  • For past events that didn’t deliver the results you expected, try going bigger or smaller in the future.
  • Promote your participation beforehand, especially on social media. You don’t need an advance list of attendees if you have a strong presence on social media.
  • Book meetings with key prospects before the event. Don’t let your competitors fill up their calendars before you invite them.
  • Choose your staff carefully. Train them to work the event effectively.
  • Prepare paper forms or set up electronic systems to capture lead information efficiently, without much handwriting.

What to do during the event:

  • Schedule the people who will work the exhibit. Be sure someone is always there during show hours. Don’t schedule anyone to work more than an hour or so without a break.
  • Hold a daily briefing session with your team. Share questions and answers. Collect competitive intelligence. Compare thoughts about what’s working and what’s not.
  • Encourage your team to take careful notes about what they discuss with the people they meet. Capture qualifying or disqualifying details for each. The notes will help you personalize your communications when you follow up after the event.

What to do afterwards:

  • Contact your leads promptly. Individualize your followup as much as you can from the information on the notes you’ve collected.
  • Measure your results. Count your leads. Calculate your cost per lead.
  • Perform a post mortem with your staff while memories are fresh. Note what went well, what didn’t go well, and what to do differently next time.

Dig deeper

Tradeshows: Measuring and Evaluating Results. Creative Training Solutions. 2002. [Downloadable PDF. 12 pages. No charge.]

Best-rated book on Amazon:

Conventional Wisdom: The Attendee’s Guide to Making the Most of Trade Shows, Conferences, and Conventions. Jim Bob Howard. 2012. 17 pages. Kindle edition only. 16 ratings. 4.9 of 5 stars.


In a recession, swipe revenue from your competitors

Is a recession likely in 2020? Most chief financial officers (CFOs) in the United States think so.

An impressive 97% of CFOs said an economic downturn has already begun or will begin in 2020. That’s according to Deloitte’s latest CFO Signals Survey. Last year the survey reported that 88% of CFOs expected a downturn in 2019.

Such strong CFO sentiment doesn’t mean a recession is 95% likely to occur. Other economic indicators are also important.

But CFOs typically cut spending when they expect a recession. More than 80% of respondents to this year’s survey said they’ve taken at least one defensive action to reduce their risk in a potential downturn. They’re focusing more on cost reduction and returning cash, they said.

What might this mean for SaaS companies?

It may become harder to sell new SaaS licenses or even to renew current ones. Renewals may be tough for any software that has not become deeply ingrained in customers’ operations.

Economists have a poor record of predicting recessions. Nevertheless, it pays to be ready in case one occurs.

How should you prepare? Obviously, watch expenses and cash flow.

And unless you’re in a vital segment like cybersecurity, expect your markets to grow more slowly.

Your best growth strategy may be to take market share from competitors.

Sales Benchmark Index (SBI) suggest you do three things:

  • Understand the competitive landscape.
  • Make sure all your business functions (Sales, Marketing, Product, etc.) are tightly aligned on your strategic plan and objectives.
  • Execute the right strategies for gaining market share. Those strategies different from the ones for expanding in a growing market.

Dig deeper

3 Actions CEOs Take to Capture Market Share from the Competition.” Daniel Korten. SBI blog. January 13, 2020.


How much should your company pay SaaS sales reps? And how big should their quotas be?

Jason Lemkin at SaaStr suggests these rules of thumb:

You may pay commissions on the total value of the contract signed, or a percentage of the revenue you collect up front.

For your company to be profitable, you have to generate enough revenue to pay for the cost of the salespeople, plus a contribution toward other operating costs.

Special considerations

Your sales reps have to earn a living wage. If it’s hard for your sales reps to close deals because your company offers little marketing support, you may have to pay commissions at the high end of the range.

Startups may have to pay higher commissions or offer equity to help offset the risks of taking a job with an unknown company.

In a very tight labor market, SaaS companies may have to pay more for top sales talent.

Regardless of any rule of thumb, you’re always competing against the comp plans of comparable companies.

Are these numbers in line with your experience?

Dig deeper

Everything You Need to Know about Sales Commissions in 2020.” Meredith Hart. Hubspot blog. January 7, 2020.

2019 Expansion SaaS Benchmark Report.” OpenView Partners. [Downloadable PDF. No charge.]

Sales Compensation Trends Survey 2020 Executive Summary.” Alexander Group. [Downloadable PDF. No charge. Registration Required.]

How Much Money Do the Best Inside Sales AEs Make?” Jason Lemkin. SaaStr. September 8, 2019.

How Much Do Enterprise Account Executives Make?” John-Henry Scherk. DocSend blog. March 23, 2016.


Help your SDRs engage with C-suite executives

Some SaaS industry observers have declared our current time the Era of the End User.

By that they mean companies have become more democratic in the way they buy software. Executives now take a less dominant role in buying decisions than a decade ago.

This is especially true for low-cost solutions driven by product-led growth.

But the C-Suite still gets involved in bigger enterprise deals, when the system is strategically important and the perceived risk is higher.

So it’s still essential for revenue teams to connect with the C-suite.

That can be a tough ask for junior SDRs with little business experience and limited prior contact with senior executives.

How can SDRs — or any salespeople, for that matter — make a better connection with the C-Suite?

For specifc ideas, see How to Help Your Sales Development Team Break into the C-Suite. [Downloadable PDF. 15 pages. No Charge. Registration required.] 


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Have a great week!


Dave Vranicar


Driven is a free weekly email for time-strapped revenue leaders in business-to-business SaaS companies.

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