Building the Deal Desk Association - A conversation with Steve Chung

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by Mohammed Shehu

Community is a powerful driver of category growth. Steve Chung, a Senior Deal Desk Specialist at WalkMe (and a previous interviewee in our Experts series), wants to tap into that element for deal desk professionals.

The Deal Desk Association (DDA) started as a LinkedIn group and page for other deal desk professionals to come together, share their stories, get answers to their problems, and advance their careers through tools, courses, and connections.

And at close to 900 members in just a year, it has received exceptional attention. Anyone who works in a deal desk organization as an analyst, manager, or sales rep is sure to find a home in the association. We spoke to Steve to understand what makes the DDA a compelling community.

The top challenges deal desk professionals face

A deal desk team acts as a trusted advisor during complex, non standard deals. Compared to a standard deal with defined processes that move along the sales cycle, a complex deal presents many risks of errors in deployment, pricing, and the overall deal process.

At this point, you need a deal desk analyst or manager with the skill to navigate the sales cycle and drive profitability and customer satisfaction.

While key responsibilities in the job description usually involve deal review, deal structuring, pricing strategy, and customer relationship management, a deal desk team is also responsible for setting up the sales process that ropes in internal stakeholders, hastens the approval process, aids revenue recognition, and drives sales efficiency and customer success.

As such, the deal desk profession has evolved over the past few years, bringing in more requests, tools, and complexity in closing B2B deals. Understanding these changes and preparing for them in advance is a core skill sought by most deal desk professionals.

“A lot of these challenges are often process or operational issues. Sometimes, it’s just communication.” - SC

But like other B2B professionals, deal desk practitioners face challenges outside the workplace - often related to their lives, families, and relationships. People want to bring their whole selves to work - and companies that balance out their operational needs with their employees’ lives stand a greater chance of retaining and engaging their deal desk teams.

Clocking in at close to 900 members as of writing, the DDA LinkedIn group has proved to be a much-needed release valve for a profession that’s only beginning to define its role in the B2B sales and revenue operations engine.

Top reasons to start an online deal desk community

Steve’s goal is to standardize the profession and ensure every practitioner has the knowledge to succeed in their role. While members are usually those with ‘Deal Desk’ somewhere in their name, the group aims to be inclusive enough to welcome people who work in or report to adjacent roles on a deal desk team.

“[Our ideal members are] anyone in the deal desk role - or folks in a role that supports the deal desk function - and any folks who are interested in learning more about the deal desk profession.” - SC

As of writing, a LinkedIn search returned 126,000 results for people with ‘deal desk’ somewhere in their bio - a huge TAM for an association with barely any competitors. Steve’s goals are threefold: to increase the number of members in the DDA, to engage those members through value-adding activities, and to monetize the association sustainably.

Current members include the following job titles:

  • Deal desk manager
  • Deal desk analyst
  • Sales rep

The best activities for your online deal desk community

The DDA currently hosts polls to source insights on topics, activities, and news. Other activities - such as monthly newsletters, webinars, and interviews - are in the pipeline.

But communities thrive off sustained investments of energy, time, and money. As the main active contributor to the community, Steve looks forward to onboarding more primary contributors to assist with social media content creation, website maintenance, event coordination, and more.

Despite limited resources, the existing members already contribute to their collective growth by engaging with the group’s content and driving referrals for job openings. For example, a new member joined his current company, WalkMe, after engaging with other members on the LinkedIn group.

“I think some of the most memorable things were when, right off the bat, one member had referred another member into the group and shared that this DDA group has a job opening. And as soon as you know it, that guy, Shane, becomes my coworker at my current employer, WalkMe.” - SC

How to build a deal desk community: Channels and events

While LinkedIn seems like the ideal home for the DDA - owing to the existing presence of deal desk professionals on the platform - Steve’s goal is to move beyond the confines of LinkedIn and bring the community to life on other digital and offline platforms, such as the association’s pending website. He’d also like to host real-life workshops and other in-person community events.

“There could be some seminars, workshops, or even an annual conference that a university backs. I’m currently in conversations with some universities so that deal desk, as a profession, can be standardized.” - SC

Integrating with external partners is a core aspect of Steve’s plans for the DDA. As of writing, the association is exploring a partnership with a leading university to set up intro courses to deal desk topics. He’s also working on an open, non-exclusive sponsorship model with companies such as Momentum to co-create content and tap into the growing deal desk community.

“Deal desk professionals are often the ideal users for these companies, and creating that type of synergy with what these companies are looking for - whether it’s inbound leads, engagement, or just awareness - is mutually beneficial.” - SC

How to monetize a deal desk community

While the DDA started as a labor of love, Steve isn’t blind to the need for viable monetization to sustain the community. Pending registration as a legal entity, Steve aims to introduce membership fees and other forms of monetization to serve the deal desk association better.

“I would imagine some sort of annual membership fee and recurring fee for other channels like a certification, events, and so forth.” - SC

Membership fees are a great way to earn recurring revenue and drive incremental value for an organization - something B2B sales organizations intuitively understand. More money also means better activities, merchandise, hiring drives, and content, attracting more members and leading to a virtuous cycle.

Join the Deal Desk Association

If you work in a deal desk role, joining a community of your peers can provide many opportunities to connect, learn, and level up your career. As the first association of its kind on the web, the Deal Desk Association is an excellent starting point. And at the low, low price of just $0 (for now), there’s never been a better time to join.

To get started, head over to the Deal Desk Association LinkedIn group and request to join (approval is quick), and introduce yourself to everyone else. Make sure to connect with Steve Chung on LinkedIn for more updates on the DDA, and sign up for their mailing list at dealdeskassociation.com.

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