It’s official. The world is changing. Customer needs are shifting. And these days, the “volume over value” approach to prospecting just doesn’t work for expanding companies and sales teams. Instead of scaling effectively, they wind up with more and more on their plates—which means they have less and less time to actually do what they do best—connecting with their customers.
If you want your sales team to ride new waves of growth like professional surfers, they don’t need more tasks or more disconnected apps. What they need is a way to start prospecting smarter.
Recently, we sat down with Doug Botchman, Director of Revenue Operations and Kelly Parks, Senior Revenue Enablement Manager of Ceros to talk about smarter prospecting and how a new focus on customer connection helped their sales team close more deals than ever. Here’s their story.
How Ceros’ New Prospecting Strategy Increased SQLs by Over 18%
Q: What is Ceros?
“Ceros is a cloud based suite of tools that empowers businesses to use their existing resources to create engaging digital touch points across the entire customer journey without the need for development. (think quicker, better, more cost effective),” explains Kelly.
“We are wildly passionate about changing the way content is created on the web. Ceros believes content creation has been constrained by technology for too long and creativity has taken a backseat. Ceros exists to unlock creativity. Our mission is to inspire creativity with liberating technology and everything from the platform itself to the company culture centers around it.”
Q: Can you tell us more about Ceros’ origin story? How did it all start?
“Ceros started as a reprographic business in 2012, transformed into an ad agency and eventually transformed into the incredible platform it is today.” explains Kelly.
“The company has been evolving at a rapid pace for a decade. In the last five years alone, we’ve more than tripled our employees and expanded our lineup to include a full suite of tools and services.”
Q: How did that rapid growth affect your sales team?
“When we went from a company of 100 to 250+ people, we faced some challenges. The strategy was ‘more, more, more.’ We were trying to fuel growth via more tech and high activity volume and that kind of approach doesn’t work forever.” says Doug. “Ironically, the more we added more to our systems, the less productive we became.”
“On top of our productivity tanking, our pipelines were running dry of qualified leads—and the sales team didn’t have key information about the leads to help personalize outreach or connect effectively.” explains Kelly. “Without insights, prospecting was like playing darts in the dark. Ultimately, the lack of visibility and time meant our reps weren’t able to connect with prospects, and our customers suffered because of it.”
Q: What was causing the lack of insight, and what did you do about it?
“Our sales system was really disjointed and hard to use. So, instead of trying to wrestle with the tools, our reps were keeping their notes all in Google Docs, spreadsheets, Post-It notes and Slack messages.” says Kelly. “As the sales team grew, more and more data was living in different places and keeping track of it was impossible. We ended up losing a lot of context and insight into the customer. We needed that visibility. But before we could get it, we had to get organized.”
“We placed all of our products and brands under the same umbrella. This gave us the ability to see the entire customer journey from one single place, regardless of which pipeline(s) the customer was in.,” says Doug.
“Now, instead of collecting data that ends up sitting – unused – in disparate tools, we use HubSpot’s Business Units. It helps us bring data together and visualize what audiences are using which products—and how we can effectively sell to existing customers, get them to expand their product portfolio, and provide them with value via relevant content and personalized outreach.”
Q: What impact did that new visibility have on how your team engaged with prospects?
“Gaining visibility helped us uncover a lot of insights and opportunities to connect with quality prospects, but if we wanted to win, we needed to diagnose consumer pain points and provide prospects with timely help.” says Doug.
“Our manual entry process made that an impossible feat, so we needed a way to help our Sales Development Reps (SDRs) perform speedy and contextually relevant outreach. To do that, we tapped into the visibility we had gained and utilized automation to create personalized content and sequences to connect with prospects in real time.” says Kelly.
“Now, our SDRs get real-time alerts whenever prospects visit the website or open an email. They can see what prospects are engaging with and provide them with quick, relevant content based on whatever they’re interested in.” explains Kelly.
“The unified view that HubSpot has given us has allowed us to really personalize our messages using important information from discovery calls in the customized contact/company record. And it doesn’t slow the team down because everything is right there for us to act on. Because of it, we’re moving leads through the process faster than ever.”
Q: That sounds like it would lead to a lot of leads in the pipeline. How did the team balance volume vs. value?
“If we wanted to stop filling up our pipelines with leads that weren’t worth our time and effort, and start focusing on the leads that were most valuable to us, we needed to build a strong and scalable lead management process.” says Doug.
“We started by customizing discovery call forms with important questions and information that would help us measure the quality of each lead. Our dashboards pull in that info to help us track lead potential and identify who are most important prospects and customers.
“The ability to capture content and share it seamlessly gives the team the time and info they need to not only pinpoint quality leads, but to build strong, personalized connections with customers.
“Sales Hub has given us the power to optimize our prospecting process, manage leads, and quickly convert connections into customers using lead funnel reporting. Our deal generation for open meeting opportunities has increased 180% over the last five years, which has led to an average overall growth of 18%-20% YOY for SQLs.”
Q: What impact has smarter prospecting made on the Ceros sales team?
“Working smarter instead of harder has led to remarkable results within the sales team and beyond.” says Doug. “A smarter approach to prospecting has allowed our reps to focus on bringing in valuable leads and transforming those connections into positive, long-lasting customer relationships. Instead of throwing darts in the dark, we’ve been able to turn the lights on and continuously hit the mark.”
Q: What would be your advice to other companies who are struggling with growth and prospecting?
“The best advice we would give is to first ensure that your marketing and sales teams are aligned and working towards the same goals. Leverage technology to automate tasks, gather data, and gain insights on your prospects. Rely on your CRM to help you make your day-to-day as efficient as possible.
“Innovation should be at the forefront of your strategy. Always be looking for ways to improve and streamline your operations to help with growth, and lead to more seamless prospecting. Lastly, regularly measure your performance against your defined goals and adjust as needed. We’re all a work in progress!”