What if I told you your Sales team could tap into a highly engaged group of people who would create more than double the deals you currently generate? And that these deals would be two times larger in dollar value?
Sounds too good to be true, no? Not when you've fostered an authentic community.
According to Erica Kuhl, former VP of Community at Salesforce, members who engaged in their community were:
TLDR: community is a sales game-changer — and it’s time for Sales teams to include community as an intentional part of their strategy.
If you’re a Sales leader reading those numbers, you’re probably salivating just a little bit. But before we go any further, an important caveat: for community to generate this kind of value for the Sales department — and all other facets of your business, for that matter — it cannot be treated exclusively as a sales tool.
There’s nothing worse than joining a community and having your first touchpoint being a salesperson reaching out because joining the community triggered some alert in their sales system. Sales teams should not run or set community strategy, nor should communities exist solely to drive sales. (We unpack that a little more in our blog, How Community and Sales Can Work Together — Without Losing Members' Trust, if you’re after more detail).
That said, Community and Sales can be close collaborators and partners in driving revenue in authentic and holistic ways, while also driving community growth and providing value for members.
I propose one of the best ways to build intentional outcomes between Community and Sales teams is to turn your Sales Development Representatives (SDRs) into Community Development Representatives (CDRs).
A traditional Sales Development Representative has a fairly simple goal, at least at the surface level. Their job is to find qualified prospects and turn them into sales meetings for an Account Executive. Very often this process can look a bit like this:
This experience is frustrating to both the buyer and the seller, and it doesn’t provide much value to either side until a sale happens (if it happens at all).
Which is where the Community Development Representative comes in. A CDR would do the same thing as an SDR, with one major addition: a CDR puts community invites and engagement between the prospect and sales meeting step. This creates an authentic way of providing value to the prospect and the community, while also creating a path to true relationship building.
For the CDR, this is not quite as simple as adding a community invite or link to a sales email. The C in CDR would require the individual to be authentic in how they invite and welcome the prospect to the community, as well as focusing on providing engagement opportunities beyond the initial invite.
CDRs should work closely with the Community team — in their outreach, they can use content the team or members have created that’s relevant to their prospect, invite them to upcoming (relevant) events, share insights into publicly-shared pain points, etc. All of these behaviors can be learned by being an active participant in the community and working with the Community team to get a deep understanding of members and what the team is creating.
So rather than the frustrating conversations outlined above, a CDR’s communication would look something more like:
In a nutshell: while a salesperson focuses on getting a chance to talk to you about the product, a CDR focuses on the community first.
At Commsor, our incredible Community team has built a thriving Community of Practice, The Community Club. It’s a community for community professionals that exists completely independently of our products (although almost all of our customers are active members).
With our Community-Led focus, we’ve found the CDR approach is something that’s evolved organically over time within our Sales team. They’re among the most active members of our community internally, and have built robust relationships with members — so much so that they’re often the ones approached for demos!
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gotten on a 30-minute sales call with someone, only to have them spend the first 15 minutes telling me how much they enjoy our community and how much value it’s provided them. We know that it impacts the bottom line — our average contract value is 42% higher with community members than non-members.
Of course, in an expanding community of 1,000s, it’s not always easy to keep track of leads or industry MVPs. We use CommsorOS’s Key Account Tracking feature to help us manage potentially important prospects when they join. It alerts the team when we have a new member joining us from a specific company.
Combined with our other features like Auto Welcome Message and Company View, we can cater introductions and a welcome to this person from the moment they join, as well as see others from the same company in our community and how they've been engaging.
This takes a lot of the heavy lifting out of the CDR’s research, so they can focus on their ultimate goal: to build a relationship, and providing real value to a prospect. After all, communities exist for you to build value with, not simply extract value from.
Sales is not the only team that can benefit from a Community-Led strategy — here’s more advice on: