Picture this… Training and Selling with Metaphors

Devon-McDonald by

Last week I was in Pasadena, California with Central Desktop, one of our portfolio companies that offers online collaboration software.As I dicussed in my most recent post, OpenView Labs, the strategic consulting arm of the VC, offers lead generation services to our portfolio companies if their business goals are aligned with this type of initiative.

Central Desktop recently hired two new lead generation specialists that I will be managing from a process-oriented standpoint in the Boston office. OpenView has developed and tested a successful Lead Generation Model for SaaS companies at the expansion stage, however, it is always worthwhile for the new hires in this type of scenario to get product training straight from the company itself. Additionally, it is beneficial for all the team members to get to know each other in person so that the group works cohesively towards the larger goal.

A good portion of our time in Central Desktop’s office was spent with Gemma Mailhot, the Director of Sales. Gemma is full of energy, and one thing in particular that I noticed about her training style is that she is constantly using metaphors – this really helps everyone visualize what she is talking about (the product, sales tactics, etc), particularly when she is training people who are relatively junior and don’t come from a software background.

Not surprisingly, Gemma was very much focused on the Lead Qualification Specialists using a script that enables prospects to imagine what it would be like to have a platform like Central Desktop that could help solve their business needs. She was constantly saying… “Picture this…” when she was describing how she envisioned the first couple minutes of a cold call playing out. I found myself really connecting with what she was saying because I was able to visualize the product from the perspective of something that was easy for me to relate to…

For instance, Gemma described Central Desktop’s platform as a building. The building has many offices for the different departments. In each of these offices you can step into a room and have everything associated with that department at your fingertips…. the people, the shared files, the conversations, the plans (tasks and milestones) etc… It’s safe, it’s organized and it’s easily accessible to the members of that team.

That’s the experience of having a “workspace” in Central Desktop – all departments/groups/projects are organized as though they are in separate “rooms” for everyone invited to participate to easily access information and collaborate more effectively.

The management teams at our portfolio companies consist of successful leaders like Gemma who have mastered the language of their product… Prospects are convinced that they NEED this offering to be successful because they can truly envision the experience.

Our portfolio companies’ expertise, coupled with our venture partner’s best practice processes and the Labs teams’ operational support, makes for very successful businesses.