Sales are the key to any company’s success. Even if you have excellent and innovative customer service, the strategy will not work if your salespeople are not motivated or do not share goals with other teams. In an internal interview, Ariel Anapolsky, Aivo’s Head of Direct Sales, tells us about his work, talent search and retention, the sales culture and his projects and challenges for 2019.
-How has the sales area changed in the last 5 years and which trends shaped these changes?
-I joined Aivo 2 years ago and the sales area grew in several aspects ever since.
Nowadays, the area is divided into three subareas: Direct Sales; Online Sales, which is related to the self-service process through our website; and Partners, which is the development of resellers and companies that work with us towards Aivo’s growth worldwide.
I’m in charge of Direct Sales and in the past few years we have implemented many changes regarding procedures. For example, we created a fully standardized process with defined stages. This allowed us to think about how to present our solutions and what is the right approach towards our buyers.
We also focused on creating a playbook and developing the prospecting area, the metrics and the objectives.
In the present, sales strategies in the SaaS world are constantly changing. At Aivo, we work towards the development of the area in a total integrated way with the Marketing team, thinking this area as a part of our funnel. This way, we accelerate processes and we generate awareness for Aivo in the market.
-Among 2018 achievements, what is it that you are most proud of?
-I’m mostly proud of our team consolidation. We achieved a positive return on investment (ROI) over many of the territories where we work. We achieved this based on consistency and exhaustive work throughout processes. In addition, in 2018 we reduced the sales cycle from almost 6 months to nearly less than 3.
-What do you look for in the Aivo sales team?
-I look for proactive people who are engaged in the whole sales process, from prospecting to closing. It is essential that they like to constantly discover new things.
In short, I think that people who are willing to learn are the most flexible and have the best adaptation capabilities.
-Do you have any talent retention strategies? Is it always a monetary issue?
-No, it's not just a monetary issue at all. The best strategy is to help them grow within the team and have ownership over their work. People who are talented and good at their job like to manage on their own.
I don’t like teams where there is someone telling others what to do. I think it's about collaborative and team work. I like them to grow in that sense. It’s one of the best strategies for them to stay and be 100% excited about what they are doing, and for them to like it and feel there is a challenge.
-How do you ensure a consistent brand identity through the sales team?
-This can be achieved by combining both individual and team work. Firstly, the leadership working on the purpose. Secondly, the whole company, passing values through different actions.
-Specifically, which projects are you working on during this quarter and how are you implementing them?
-This quarter is the first one we have the whole Sales Development Representatives (SDR) team. They are responsible for generating demand. It’s a new area for the company and it has a direct impact on the amount of leads we generate.
In addition, like I previously mentioned, alignment with Marketing is very important. In Aivo, both areas are part of the Revenue team. Therefore, collaborative work between the Sales and Marketing teams is something that we implement every day and that is present in all our activities and projects. We are committed to common objectives and we seek to communicate smoothly with one another. This is how we combine Inbound, related to the leads coming from the Marketing team, and Outbound strategies, the leads generated by the SDR.
It’s constant growth. We generate actions, processes and metrics that are helping us understand what are the best practices and the ways to achieve the objectives. This is a challenge in itself. We are making progress in many aspects, which implies great growth for the area and for the rest of the teams.
-How do you measure the success of these projects?
-The sales area is quite mathematical. Everything we do involves actions that are measurable. The measurable actions get a numerical result, and the successes are celebrated by means of the figures we get every month.
Many times, the figure is not necessarily related to the final result. There are many processes that involve other things, such as the number of meetings we generate.
-What makes a sales culture successful and a constant motivation for the team?
-Sales people are motivated to understand that they are part of a solid team with clear processes and that they have the possibility of developing and actually making the sale. A salesperson is someone who is motivated.
There is a culture that has to do with rewards, which is applied to specific short and long term goals. Aivo improved a lot in this matter. This is important because it is key to celebrate not only the final result but also the stages in between. That is part of a successful sales culture.
-What challenges does your team face in 2019 and which outcomes would you like to see during this year?
-The challenges we face have to do with the expansion of Aivo at a regional level and the creation of teams in different territories. Success remains in consolidating these teams so that they achieve good performance, flourish and grow. And, of course, what we always look for is that this comes hand in hand with positive results.