As part of our Top Performers in Sales series, we recently had the privilege of interviewing Ed Calnan, Founder and President of sales enablement solution provider Seismic. Ed offers perspectives on high performance sales from two angles -- as a leader of a high growth SaaS company, and as an enabler of sales productivity and collaboration for Seismic customers.
When asked what differentiates the best people in sales, Ed cites three key traits: 1) The ability to understand and navigate organizations, 2) Proficiency in addressing business problems, and 3) Discipline to learn from wins and losses. Ed and his Seismic team are uniquely skilled at these pursuits as innovators in customer engagement, sales process, and Account Based Marketing.
Researching and Navigating Organizations
As leading thinkers in Account Based Marketing, it's no surprise that Ed and team take the time to research and map accounts. “We take full advantage of public sources such as LinkedIn and CrunchBase,” he says. “From these we are able to develop detailed organizational hierarchies of the companies we are selling into, which is extremely valuable for finding the right buyer."
In fact, one client, a major financial services corporation, was amazed by how much Seismic knew about their internal structure. “We were asked multiple times, ‘How do you guys know our teams better than we do?’”
Like a good coach, Ed motivates his team to stay sharp. “That means preparing for every meeting with as much detail as possible,” he says, adding that, “when I started selling in 1993, there was limited access to information, but now there is so much available that if you don’t approach every interaction with customers as prepared as you can be, if you don’t take advantage of every available tool, you will lose more than you will win.”
Solving Business Problems
Says Ed, “Great sales pros win not because they have the best products, but because they know how to find buyers and help them solve their business problem by showing them how it was solved by others.”
Seismic's award-winning sales enablement solution targets Fortune 500 companies. “These are not quick, transactional sales,” Ed points out. “I’m proud of my team and our creative approach to selling.”
Ed teaches his team how to build relationships, use customer case studies and tell stories about fixing a business problem that the prospect is living. “In every deal we win, we use content and tools to make sure we have an edge.”
Learning from Wins and Losses
While Seismic wins more deals than it loses, it learns from every prospect that gets away. One recent loss that stung Ed was an opportunity where his team couldn’t connect with the prospect’s decision maker. Even though Ed’s team was better prepared, “the purchasing team kept us out,” he says. “We used all the tools, but couldn’t get an audience.” Still, Seismic turned over every rock and stone to analyze the loss and get an understanding of how to improve.
On the flip side, says Ed, “With every loss comes a win if you are working hard.” His team recently closed the biggest deal in Seismic’s history. “One of the biggest tech firms in the world, he says, now uses Seismic to drive their sales and marketing efforts.”
When the deal closed, Seismic did a forensic exercise. “We looked at every touch point in the 18-month sales cycle,” he recalls. “We presented a 360-degree view of that sales pursuit. Eight hundred emails exchanged, 250 demos or meetings, 35 people on our side with a touch point with the prospect – ranging from a 22-year-old inside sales rep to the CEO and back down again. It was wonderful to see it all come together.”