The Future of Sales Development at Navan

The Future of Sales Development at Navan

Ben Coggins

5 May 2022
5 minute read
a group photo of the TripActions sales team

Ben Coggins, Navan's VP of Global Sales Development, oversees the U.S. and international sales development organization.

The corporate travel and fintech industries are in the midst of a dramatic transformation—one which requires a consistent awareness and willingness to adapt how we approach sales. In fact, software as a service (SaaS) itself is going through a seismic shift alongside the industry we serve. In the spirit of change and evolution, the global Navan sales development organization has a new vision that more closely aligns with the principles of product-led growth, which has proven to be the future of SaaS sales.

Navan Sales Development 1.0 was very focused. We built a solid foundation with highly talented teams and have a set of actionable key performance indicators (KPIs).

Navan Sales Development 2.0 will build on that solid foundation to improve our strategy in various segments and build more efficiency into our processes. We’re also adding new technologies to empower our teams as we grow our global footprint.

Navan acquired Swedish corporate travel agency Resia, German travel management company Comtravo, and UK-based travel and event service Reed & Mackay between May 2021 and February 2022. The company also expanded Navan Expense, its fintech-powered corporate card and expense management solution, across the UK and EMEA.

Sales Development 2.0 extends the foundation we built internationally to honor our proven fundamental strategies. This expansion allows us to be more flexible and creative when considering the unique needs of each independent market and its customers.

Moving forward, it will be essential for us to continue to evolve and adapt, in order to best serve customers in Germany, France, and the UK. The sales development representatives (SDRs) will be at the forefront of growing and building Navan's presence in those markets.

SDRs sit at the intersection of growth when a company moves from top-down enterprise to high velocity, self-service sales. No matter how streamlined a process is, some people need guidance, and we’re there to assist along the way. If the SDR team can support them, we not only create more customers, but we can also find trends and continue optimizing the end-user experience. In this way, SDRs can truly improve how much value we deliver for customers at a much larger scale.

Moving from a traditional, top-down sales strategy to a product-led, bottom-up strategy allows us to have more conversations with a more diverse set of customers. This shift ultimately empowers the team to build a product and optimize the go-to-market strategy for a larger market.

The New State of Sales Development

Where the sales development organization sits within tech companies is split, and the decision usually depends on the core strategy of the go-to-market team. When Navan focused on enterprises and large businesses, the sales development organization reported up through sales. Focusing on account-based marketing made sense because it fostered alignment between account executives and SDRs, as these team members were collaborating on the same list of accounts. As Navan evolves, we’re expanding the reach of the business to meet the needs of enterprises as well as startups and small- to medium-sized companies.

Companies that align around product-led growth would be wise to align the sales development organization with the marketing team to craft one unified demand engine, where all marketing—inbound and outbound campaigns—work well together. This alignment is the most innovative strategy for getting as much coverage and visibility in the market as possible.

It’s an incredible opportunity for our growing team to act on the previous two years’ learnings and benefit from the marketing team’s fresh eyes. We will better understand the language and perspective that marketing brings to our go-to-market plans and gain access to their viewpoints.

Through this partnership, we can cast an even wider net and find ways to take advantage of the more significant market trends we’re seeing from a higher POV in the funnel. We’ll then double down on those strategies that lean into macro-trends and generate more opportunities.

First-Hand Experience of the Product

I first learned about Navan while leading the sales organization of a 40-person startup. As we implemented Navan there, I experienced first-hand the transformative effect that modern travel and expense technology can have on overall operations and success.

The company had an extensive sales and customer success organization, so travel and expense (T&E) was the second-largest line item on the budget behind payroll. We were trying to figure out ways to control costs and gain insights.

The company had an unmanaged travel program, so employees purchased their own flights and hotels and expensed all the related costs later. We then implemented Navan, I saw a change overnight. My team loved the user experience and that they could earn personal rewards for booking business trips.

Everyone adopted the platform and started making more fiscally responsible decisions. Ultimately, the company got the real-time visibility it was searching for and started saving on its T&E program. Seeing Navan first-hand was a big reason I wanted to join the company.

There have only been a few times in my career where I've seen a technology come in and make sense to everybody immediately. Navan is one of those technologies.

What It Means for Talent

The Navan SDR organization provides a well-defined career path for high-performing individuals looking to build a career in technology sales. As we diversify our strategy and move toward product-led growth, there are opportunities for top talent to decide whether they’d like to move up through sales, customer success, marketing, or management. As our team becomes more cross-functional, it poses exciting opportunities for anyone joining the team.

When an SDR organization moves from sales to marketing, individuals’ day-to-day work doesn’t change much initially. But the job should ultimately become easier, due to the tighter collaboration between marketing and sales development. There’s a higher, more pervasive awareness in the market, and the sales development can reach out to a more responsive and engaged group of prospects. It speeds up the rate with which SDRs find success in their role, and it shifts the balance from cold prospects to warm leads.

While the Navan sales team initially focused most of its resources up-market to support enterprise teams, the shift toward product-led growth also marks the start of a new organizational design. Moving forward, the sales development team will focus on three distinct areas: enterprise, mid-market, and startups/small businesses.

We are invigorated by this new direction and are looking for new sales development representatives to join across the U.S. and Europe. If you’re interested in learning more, check out the Navan career page today.

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