The State of Sales Development in 2020
AJ: Hey, everyone. Welcome to this live expert panel on The State of Sales Development in 2020. Brought to you by SDRevolution. My name is AJ Alonzo and joined with me is Greyson Fulbright for this event. We’re both the co-founders of SDRev and we’re co-moderating this event. So, Greyson go ahead. Say hey to everyone.
Greyson: Hey guys, Greyson here from SDRev. We’re really excited to be hosting this panel. We really want to help teams navigate this post-COVID landscape and our panelists will be touching on really the impact of today’s climate on sales teams. And then more importantly, what we want to answer is what advice and how should people be moving forward so that they can prepare for the future and not only survive, but thrive in those climates.
AJ: We’ve got some awesome panelists here today, but before we introduce them just wanted to run through some housekeeping real quick. Obviously, this is a live event. You’re all here, if you’re here live, thank you. But we are recording it. So if you can’t stay for the full hour, or if you’re planning on watching this at a different time at some point in the future, we’ve got you covered.
We’re also taking questions from the audience throughout the event, so if something pops up during the discussion, feel free to chat into – I believe the name is just SDRevolution – if you have a question, go ahead and chat them directly and we’ll see if we have time at the end during the Q & A session to get it answered for you.
Greyson: Cool, So to get us kicked off, I wanted to go around and kind of give all of these awesome panelists the chance to introduce themselves and kind of give some context to the audience. So first I want to introduce Morgan J Ingram. He is the Director of Sales Execution and Evolution at JBarrows and, not only is he a LinkedIn top sales voice two years in a row, 2018 and 2019, he’s a really powerful change agent for SDR teams. So Morgan, thank you for joining us. And if you could take a minute and tell us a little bit moreabout your role and what vantage point you think you’re going to be bringing to the panel today?
Morgan: Yeah, so what I do as of today is the Director of Sales Execution & Evolution. So I’m still prospecting on a day-to-day basis to show “Hey, what is working and what is not,” as I’m training clients from a global perspective. And so what I’m bringing today is talking about what is working in terms of prospecting, what not to do, things to think about as we continue to move in this sales development and prospecting functions.
Greyson: That’s awesome to hear. Cool. Well, glad to have you, Morgan. Next is Lindsay Frey. She’s the president of an Inc 5000 company in the sales development services space: demandDrive. And she has managed hundreds of SDRs in her career. So Lindsay it’s really awesome to have you here and can you briefly highlight your story at demandDrive and maybe share what experiences you’re hoping to bring with us today?
Lindsay: Yeah, thanks. That’s great. So, yeah. I’m Lindsay Frey. I’m one of the co founders at demandDrive and we help technology companies build and manage sales development teams. So we’re currently managing a team of about 80 to 90 SDRs across lots of different clients and been running teams for the better part of 20 years here. What I really hope to bring to the table is just helping give some insight into best practices around managing SDR teams in a virtual way and what’s been going on the last few months and how do we move forward? So talking about engagement, motivation, the impact that we’ve seen on metrics, and how to approach that as we move forward.
Greyson: Awesome, cool. I’m really excited to hear about that. Awesome. So to cap us off, last but not least, Colin haven’t forgotten about you! We do have Colin Waldrip here. He’s the SDR Trainer and a former SDR at SalesLoft, which is a leading sales engagement software, it’s really trailblazing modern sales development for today’s sellers. So Collin, could you maybe give us some more context about what your role is as an SDR trainer and what you’re really hoping to bring to today’s panel with your experiences.
Collin: Yeah, so I started at SalesLoft about three years ago as an SDR myself right out of college. Went through the gauntlet. I spent about a year and a half in that role. I struggled a lot in the beginning of that role and then figured out how to overcome it. That inspired me, especially after a conversation with Morgan, to become an SDR manager for about a year and two months after that. And then just recently I transferred in as an SDR trainer. They opened up that role for me to really focus on some improvements I thought we could drive in the organization. So really excited for these conversations and excited for the role as well.
AJ: Awesome. Well hey, thanks all the panelists for being here. We’re going to jump on in. I’m going to start by kicking off a question over to Lindsay. Really just wanted to touch on this. There’s a lot of discourse around sales development right now. It seems like everyone has something to say in light of what’s been happening with COVID. So to kick things off and sort of tee up a question for you Lindsay, from your viewpoint, what do you see dominating the conversation right now?
Lindsay: Yeah thanks, AJ. You know, it’s interesting because, obviously, we have a lot of different clients that sell into a lot of different industries and so I’ve been getting a lot of questions over the last few months here.
I think in the beginning when we first were under stay-at-home orders, people definitely were very, very nervous, right? Kiind of panicked, you know. What impact is this going to have on my business? Specifically, what impact is this going to have on my SDR team?
I think that people sort of walked that back a little bit of some of that panic and now they’re realizing, “okay we’re going to have to continue driving revenue, we’re going to have to continue growing our business.” How is that, what is that going to look like? It still has to happen, but it’s happening in a bit of a different world.
So I think just questions about how does this pandemic and everyone working from home, and everyone being in this together to a degree, impact metrics. Things like you know, should we still be expecting the same level of output from our SDRs? How is it impacting the rate in which they are able to connect with prospects? I get a lot of questions around how to best engage with your SDR team while remote? How to motivate SDR teams while remote, right? I mean I think that the luxury that at least demandDrive has had is we’re all together at the same office. So you know, motivation, competition, contests. It’s it’s easier to do when you’re in front of each other.
So I get a lot of questions around that. I get a lot of questions around how do we compensate SDRs? Should they still be compensated in the same way if the goals are adjusted and are changed?
And then I get a lot of questions because our clients sell into a lot of different industries, which industries are being impacted the most? And some certainly are, right? So we talk about that. And you know, folks want to know what commonalities there are between some of our clients and themselves. So I think those would be the things that I’m being asked most about.
Greyson: Awesome. Yeah, I think it really kind of breaks down into two pieces. You know, on one front, everything’s changing internally because SDR teams are having to figure out like – not only the managers, but the reps themselves – how to actually work and do your job at home. Not alot of accountability, less transparency, and then like you said, I think this climate is really impacting industries differently. And to get to your point AJ, I think it’s one of the reasons why everyone has something to say, because it’s really a customized situation when you get down to it.
But I think there are some common things that are good to focus on versus bad to focus on. So to go over to you Collin and give you a similar question, I love Lindsay’s idea that we are really all in this together, both buyers and sellers, and I think everyone is just trying to navigate the best they can. And getting on this topic of how much conversation there is around COVID, I think a lot of it can get unproductive if people are too focused on fear, uncertainty, panic, or maybe just kind of like regurgitating advice just to keep the buck rolling. So Collin what topics have you seen too much of out there right now? And what topics do you wish teams would focus more on in today’s climate?
Collin: Yeah, so I think I would be safe to speak on everyone’s behalf that we’re good on articles around work from home. I don’t know what it was about everybody had to go work from home and every marketing team, and me included when I created cadences and messaging, I was like, “Hey let’s like give advice on how to work from home.” And everybody’s done that. It’s just like, no matter what, I just hate working from home at this point and no articles gonna help me out past what I’ve already read. So I think that’s kind of dead if we’re still sending that.
Two subjects that I do want to hear more about, and one of them we’ll actually address on the call today, but it’s this idea of empathy. Like what does selling with empathy even mean? We actually ran a test over here where we took half the team, half of them when all of this happened, they just ran with their normal talk tracks. And we compared it to half the team who actually led with Coronavirus. Like they proactively brought it up. And the team that actually lead with regular talk tracks outperformed the team who proactively brought up Coronavirus. And so can you get too cheesy just trying to talk about Coronavirus? So that topic of like what is leading with empathy really mean?
But I think one of the subjects that gets roped in with leading with empathy is this idea of how do you personalize? How are you standing out from everybody else and earning time on someone’s calendar during this hard time? And that is another topic that I’m really interested in. You know, I would love to get on LinkedIn and just see post after post of sales leaders anybody just saying, “hey I gave someone a meeting. Here’s what they used to get the meeting,” or SDRs saying, “hey here’s the email I wrote to get a meeting. Here’s the talk track I used,” because those are the things that get me inspired. I’d love to see more of that.
AJ: Yeah, that’s a really good point. Just the idea. And it really, swings back to the whole “we’re all in this together” idea that community is really what’s going to drive this forward. And the adage that I’ve been working off of for probably the past couple of months now is “the rising tide lifts all boats” in the sense that it kind of sucks for everyone right now.
There’s no sugarcoating it for a lot of people, so if you can do what you can to help out everyone around you, then in the end we’re all going to get out of this together, hopefully in a better place. So the idea that sharing what works versus, “Hey this is what doesn’t work, don’t do this,” that mentality moving forward is something that I would also like to see a lot more people do. And I will say that I am also guilty of the working from home article stuff. I wrote a couple of those myself. Part of the problem.
Morgan, I’ll swing this over to you, someone who sees a lot of content and is really active on LinkedIn and kind of thrives in that space and has created a really strong voice for the sales community. You know the power of content and what it can do for sales teams and, depending on what you put out there, really influence decisions. So on your end, what have you seen leadership teams focus on? What have you seen SDRs focus on? And what are your thoughts on the situation as a whole?
Morgan: In terms of focusing on for their teams to get better during this time or focusing on what they could be posting on LinkedIn?
AJ: Well, you know, what they’re seeing on LinkedIn and how that’s impacting their decisions for how to get better during this time.
Morgan: Yeah, I think the biggest thing that’s a miss is that sometimes we all try to figure out things ourselves as sales reps and not ask the client what they would like to see. So if you’re not talking to your clients or you haven’t done a roundtable to understand what they’re going through, I think that’s a miss right now across the board.
And so the sales teams that I know that are doing well, they’re having roundtables as part of their webinar content to have the prospects talk about what they are challenged with and what their parties all are. You also can as well right now, if you’re a sales leader, write down what are the main things that your buyers are going through and create messaging off of that as well. So you don’t have to have a round table. That’s just an idea I’m throwing out there.
What I will say as well is what I’ve seen that people are doing that are successful is that they’re willing to understand their ICP’s ICP. So what that means is from an ideal customer profile standpoint, and what an ideal customer profile is what type of companies are we going after? We all know that that’s changed. So what I mean by ICP ICP is when I’m targeting this company, are their buyers making money? Are they buying their solution? Because if they’re not, that’s probably a company you shouldn’t be reaching out to. Because if they’re not making money from their customers, they’re not gonna buy from you.
So you got to change that perspective there. So if you’re reaching out to different clients right now, you have to really dive into that ICP’s ICP and understand what you should be doing to grow during this time. And that’s talking to your clients and then be willing to do things a lot differently than what people are doing. I will say that based on the data, that there’s been a 48% increase in activity on LinkedIn in terms of sales development and that’s because more people are on LinkedIn and willing to have the conversation. So also keep that in mind as well.
Greyson: Yeah, I completely agree. And I think that brings up another side of empathy too. Because a lot of people when they think about empathy, especially in the context of sales development, it’s all about the outreach. And it’s all about like, “what can I do like right now that I’ve made a call or I’ve sent an email to try to appear as if I’m genuine or appear as if I care about you. I think what you kind of described is background. You know, you can get to the right places and have the right conversations, if you deeply understand not only who you’re targeting but what their situation is like and then try to actually build momentum towards things that are valuable to them. I love that idea of like getting an event together around that buyer audience and having them discuss their problems because they’re getting, you know, different points of view in similar industries and, at the same time, like whether a deal happens or not, that rep is getting invaluable knowledge, getting invaluable clout for their personal brand, and so I think you really touched well on that, Morgan.
So I want to go into the future. I think we’ve talked a little bit about the topics that are dominating the conversation and, Lindsay, I wanted to go into this question of empathy because Morgan kind of queued up so well. I think a lot of reps get trained and especially now to quote, “Use Empathy” in their outreach. Which, you know, it is more important than ever in today’s times, but you have to do it well. So in your opinion, what does empathy mean to you, Lindsay, in the current climate? And how are you seeing reps being trained well to do it effectively, both on sales touches and in the background?
Lindsay: It’s a great question. And I love what Collin said earlier around sort of that A/B test he did with his team around the messaging that they always used almost outperformed or did outperform some of the empathy-lead messaging.
And here’s what I’ll say on it. You know, empathy is definitely sort of “the buzzword” that everyone uses. You have to be empathetic, like just throw that out and you’ll be safe. But I think it’s really more around being authentic. If you aren’t really empathetic or you can’t pull that off., you have to be authentic. So if you’re better served just moving forward with your normal messaging, obviously being sensitive to the fact that strong-arming someone into a meeting is maybe not going to work or be a bit off putting, then I would just say be authentic, right?
So that comes with how you personalize your messaging and how you lead with empathy. I think definitely calling it out is helpful. Especially in the beginning when we were first faced with this quarantine, I myself got prospected, you know, was prospected to, prospected at, and received messages from SDRs. And some of them didn’t say anything and it was kind of business as usual. And some kind of called it out and said, “hey I get that we’re all kind of in this together. We’re all navigating these waters and these are interesting times.” I did appreciate when someone said, “I’m really looking at connecting with you when things settle down or when the time is right,” and sort of throwing that out there. That, “hey we have a great solution, but I understand that things are kind of chaotic right now so it needs to be the right timing for you and your business.”
Morgan made a great point about understanding who the buyers are and being sensitive to that. So that’s what I’ve talked to my team a lot about as far as leading with empathy is really being authentic, understanding that everyone and different industries are being impacted in a different way. There’s certainly industries and companies that sell technology that help enable remote workers, so they’re doing quite well. So maybe the messaging there is going to be a little different versus a client of ours that might be selling into hospital systems, which was a very, very different message and you certainly needed to lead with empathy when trying to sell software into hospital systems that were dealing with the pandemic firsthand.
So I think recognizing that, calling attention to it, calling it out with an authentic voice is really helpful, not pushing people into a meeting. Booking things I would tell, typically I tell my SDR teams, try to secure a meeting with a qualified prospect within one week as quickly as you can, right? To not have too much lag time, but then really educating them that it’s okay if you book something a month out, just securing something on someone’s calendar, you can kind of re-address it at a later date knowing that the world is in a bit of a crazy spot. So I hope that answered your question a little bit, but I can dig in a little bit more if you want, but that that’s kind of what I’ve been talking to my team about.
AJ: Yeah and I think that you brought up a lot of really good points in terms of like, and this is something I see… “my take” on dominating the conversation, but a lot of people are looking for that silver bullet in situations like this where it just doesn’t really exist. And like you said, being authentic and doing the right work is harder and it takes a lot more time, but it’s the way that you should be going about it and how you should have done it in the first place.
AJ: So like looking for the non existent silver bullet is I think what a lot of teams are doing when they say, “Oh use empathy in your outreach. Oh, do this. Do that.”
Lindsay: There’s no secret sort of word or sentence that I can give you that’s going to just magically increase your lead rate or your conversion rate. But I think being authentic and doing your research is going to be really, really helpful.
AJ: So a lot of teams in that case, you know, they’re looking for this solution, and Collin I’ll swing this over to you, but they’re looking for different ways to go about their prospecting process and maybe if they are looking for that nonexistent silver bullet or if they are playing the long game versus the short game, like switching up the way that they approach prospecting. It’s pretty apparent across different industries, but I’d be curious from your perspective how the crisis has shaped the way that you approach prospecting, both now and then, if applicable, how it’s going to impact you in the future and how you plan on training reps under this new normal that we’re all kind of entering.
Collin: Yeah, I really can’t echo what Morgan had mentioned earlier about the ICP enough. I mean, I think the most important thing you can do as a seller, no matter what is really, really intimately know who you sell to, like everything about their day in the life, about their frustrations, what makes them mad, what are the projects on their plate, like understand everything. And so hopefully that was done before all this happened.
But I think one thing that this epidemic did is it made everybody revisit that conversation. Like for us, probably the biggest thing in my role over the past two months has been revisiting that conversation and understanding what’s changed about the people we sell to. And so in the past two months, we one of the people we sell to is the Director of Sales. So we had our internal director of sales join our SDR Scrum and talk about, over the past two months, like what’s changed for you? Where’s your mindset gone? What are projects on your plate now that weren’t on your plate three months ago? What are things that are frustrating you now that weren’t frustrating you three months ago? Like, what’s changed? Because that has molded how our talk tracks have changed. That molds what we lead with in our cold calls, what we lead with in our emails. And so I think re-addressing that conversation about everything you need to know about your buyers to understand them is the most important thing you can do in all your messaging.
I think the second piece of that is I think there’s an understanding that this isn’t a problem you can just throw more metrics at. That’s not to say everybody needs to go low volume, but it’s not a problem where you just make more calls and you make up the gap. I think sellers just literally have to be better right now. I think it’s tough for almost everybody and you just have to be a better seller. And so I think you have leadership looking at metrics that have always been there, but they haven’t really, really looked into it. Like positive conversation rates, like if someone says “hello” on the phone, who’s the best at that outcome or that call being positive, like interested or you scheduled a Disco or you schedule a demo, and really studying those talk tracks about what’s working right now with that Rep.
You know, they’re studying like efficiency scores. So for your reps, how many activities is it taking to source a qualified meeting? You’ve got rep A who takes X amount of activities. You got rep B where it takes nine times the amount of activities. That means rep B has to work nine times harder. And so I think a lot of leadership right now is studying that gap and really diving into coaching their reps to be better and focusing on that skill. And I think that’s something that’s going to last way longer than this pandemic is realizing some things that work really well in sales that they’ve never really looked into. And we know this is happening because in the past month and a half with our customer base, there’s been 30% more cadences created than ever before. And so that tells us that people are trying new things. They’re studying their sales motion. They are creating new cadences to try new things out. And I think that’s good to see in the sales community and just getting creative and trying new things out.
Greyson: I totally agree….
AJ: Real quick before you jump in Greyson, I just wanted to ask a follow up there Collin. You mentioned the idea of like the longevity of the process that’s going on with sales leaders right now in terms of digging deeper into the metrics and trying to understand them on a more granular level and how it impacts teams and that it’s going to stay for longer than this pandemic will. I’m curious if you think similarly, to the point you brought up before that in terms of talking with individuals within your own organization that fit your ICP and really understanding what they want, what their frustrations are on a day to day basis, o you think that it’s going to take another situation like this, like another sort of crisis pin to go back to that or is this going to stay? Are we going to keep interviewing people internally and get that feedback from them? Because I know a lot of companies don’t do that right now.
Collin: Yeah, I think anytime you see this big of a change – not even at a economic scale, even maybe in a business case – but like when something changes, you need to revisit the conversation about what’s changed for your prospects. If the market changes, what’s changed for your prospects? Because if you keep the talk tracks you were using two years ago and so much has changed between now and two years and you’ve got just old talk tracks, so I think it’s always staying up to date on the frustrations that your potential customers are having, what a day in the life is. As technologies evolve, some of the frustrations are lessened so you need to know that’s happening out there. And so I think that’s always evolving.
And I honestly think it’s a hack for any sales leadership, getting your customers to come in and talk to your SDRs about their day in the life. Like you can teach them all day long, like coming from like a sales trainer, you can teach them all day long, the exact words, but when a customer says, “here’s why I bought your software,” the reps are just like… That’s why it’s like a hack to the system. Just have customers come talk to your SDRs and say, “ hey here’s are my frustrations. Here’s exactly why I bought your software,” and I think you’ll see if you did that every single month, I think you would have customers come in and their answer, their frustration, why they bought develops over time. And you need to know that as an organization.
Greyson: Yeah, I agree. And I think what you propose there is this idea that when business environments change, it forces the companies to be aware and be agile. And especially if you’re in sales, I mean, you nailed it on the head earlier, but you should have intimate knowledge of the market you’re selling into. And what that implicitly means is you have to keep up with them and actually stay up-to-date on how they’re changing. Because you can set a strategy, you can have a cadence that worked well in the past, but if that’s what you stick with and you don’t really try to do constant testing, interviews, trying to get that feedback, then you’re not only going to lose performance over time, you’re going to be lost and blind to, you know, what did change? What is happening?
I think the reps are kind of expected to learn to be empathetic, learn to do consultative selling, learn how to, in real time, understand these new changes that are happening and try to deal with them. But I wanted to transition to you Morgan and talk about the leadership side. What advice would you be giving to managers right now to help prepare not only themselves and their team, but the individual reps to thrive in this new environment? Because what we seem to all agree on is things are changing and some industries are changing faster than others, so as a general rule or some advice, what would you say, Morgan, to the managers out there trying to get their team together, trying to build that awareness, and trying to get themselves in the right direction.
Morgan: So first and foremost, it comes to messaging. So Lindsay had touched on this, which is everyone says, “hey, we got to be empathetic now.” Okay, cool. Yeah, we get it. However, what does that mean? So you want to change that to tactical empathy, not fake empathy. And so what tactical empathy is at the end of the day is going back to what Collin was saying, which is having conversations on why are people buying your product, why are people buying your service, and having more SDRs understand that and hear that so they’re able to then create the messaging that they care about when it comes to prospecting. As leaders, that has to be on the forefront.
And so when you have those messages that I get and they’re like, “yeah hope you’re safe and you’re healthy,” that’s not going to be very helpful in terms of prospecting because that’s more fluff and you need to get straight to the point. If you know that person, then have at it. However if it’s a cold prospecting email, that’s not leading to higher opens and it’s not going to lead to higher response rates. And that’s just what I’ve seen across the board and talking to a lot of reps and a lot of executives on the prospecting end.
To dive deeper into that from a leadership perspective, if you’re a frontline manager it’s time to be a proactive coach. There’s a difference between being a manager and a coach. A lot of people can manage. Not a lot of people can coach. And so the main focus now is what can you be doing to help your team move forward? Are you doing weekly coaching sessions on certain topics that your team cares about? Are you doing mock cold calling sessions? Are you – you just said a 30% increase in cadences – are you creating new cadences and A/B testing them and piloting them with new reps in the organization? If you’re not doing these things, that’s where you’re going to be falling behind.
And it’s not just about being a sales development leader. It’s being a sales leader. As we move forward in this new environment, reps are going to be asked to close and also prospect at the same time. There’s not going to be a place where AEs can just sit there and chill. So if you’re prepping that SDR to move into that AE role, you should also be teaching him how to qualify appropriately, how to close appropriately, not closing the deal but closing for next steps. These are things that we need to be focused on as a sales development community is building sales reps, not just focusing on the prospecting sales itself.
AJ: That’s awesome. I think that really ties into a lot of the discussion around enabling SDRs more now and like the idea that you don’t have an SDR to just sit there and make 150 dials for you and try and book a handful of meetings for your AE, sort of like that mindless go out and get me get me meetings, but more of a strategic partner to the AE team, to the management team, to the coach, and really like investing in the SDR role, so that like I kind of touched on earlier, the rising tide lifts all boats works internally at a company too. Like if you bring up the bottom level of your organization on the sales side of things to new heights, the whole organization is going to get better from it. Is it sad that like we’re talking about this now because of a crisis and that it sort of was like the spark or the catalyst to have conversations within teams internally? a little. But like stuff that you should have been doing the whole time, I think is what you really were touching on. Like, we should be coaching, we should be managing better.
Morgan: Yeah, absolutely.
AJ: Awesome. So we did get a handful of questions from the audience as well. Thank you to everyone who did submit something prior to registration. And there were a handful of topics in there that we really wanted to touch on during this discussion and I’ll throw the first one over to Lindsay because it’s kind of directly related to your role here at demandDrive. In terms of centrally-located SDR teams and the idea that we might all go back into the office one day, a lot of organizations are kind of punting on that idea and moving towards more of a structured work-from-home style scenario or restructuring their work-from-home policy all together.
So a lot of reps have started remote. They’re looking for advice in terms of how to effectively ramp up in the role at home and a lot of managers are looking for advice in terms of like, do I let everyone back in the office when I can? What do I do from here on out? So we’d love to hear some thoughts from you on that.
Lindsay: Sure. Yeah I think, again in the beginning, the first few weeks of this, it was a lot different than sort of how things have shaken out, right? I think I, for one, do not like working from home. I’m just gonna go and say that right now. I prefer being in the office, being around sort of everybody and kind of feeding off that energy. I enjoy that. But we’re not in a situation where that’s doable right now.
What I think kind of happened is we are fortunate to live in the time that we do where we have technology and solutions that can enable us to work from home and work remotely really efficiently and effectively. So that helps and I think that once everybody got acclimated to their day-to-day, the da-to-day structure in life working from home and utilizing those tools, I think – at least from our standpoint and I’ve heard this from a lot of clients – things figured themselves out, right? People were able to be productive and people were able to hit goal and work effectively and work efficiently. So now we’re faced with, at least in Massachusetts where things are lifting a little bit and people are going out a little bit more, what do we as a private business do? What’s the right thing to do for our people and what’s the right thing to do for our business and our company? I think as sales leaders, we’re thinking about that and then the reps and our team members are also, you know, they have varying degrees of comfort, right? In whether they’re ready to go back or not.
So, I think that what it’s going to look like? I think is there a time in the future where we’re all back? I do believe that’s going to be the case. Is it going to take some time? Probably. I think that what we’ll most likely see – and AJ I was talking to you a little bit about this earlier – is perhaps small groups coming to the office. One thing that I’ve talked to my team about is if one of our client success managers wants to bring in a few reps, and obviously social distance and stay six feet apart and wear masks in public spaces, just want to throw that out there, that that would be okay, right? That there might be some benefit to hearing other people on the phone around you, if somebody’s struggling maybe bringing them in for some FaceTime.
But I think that we’ve, at least from our standpoint, and again, what I’ve seen a lot of clients do is think, okay well we’ve kind of figured this work from home thing out, like we’ve kind of figured out that – for the most part, there’s always outliers – but for the most part people are able to work effectively so we’d rather be sort of conservative about our re-entry plan then force everybody to come back and then and maybe not be comfortable with that, if they are able to be productive and maybe kind of keep it at those small groups and in kind of a safe way. What I’ve seen is that there’s some SDRs that love working from home, they’re actually more productive, they’re able to get more done, there’s less distractions, and I think then there’s SDRs that, much like myself, do feed off the energy of others and miss that camaraderie, miss the ability to be in the office. And Collin I laughed when you said that because you mentioned that and, you know, I was talking to some folks and it seems – this is just kind of an aside – but once we got to week seven, I think a lot of people hit a wall. Like, “okay we’re figuring things out. Like this is okay,” and then week seven happened and everyone’s like, “okay when are we going to be able to see everybody else? But I think that can happen, we just want to do it the right way.
As far as new SDRs, you know, we’ve hired actually quite a few SDRs during the pandemic, so I haven’t even been able to meet them in person, it’s all been virtual. So that poses some challenges for those folks, right? That they have to join a team in a virtual capacity and have training all done via zoom. So I think my recommendation and suggestion to those folks, to new SDRs, is to really reach out. Utilize tools like slack and tools like LinkedIn to connect with your client and with your peers and your colleagues. You know, I think we’ve been at demandDrive trying to do… I’m doing a bi weekly all-hands meeting just to make sure everybody knows what’s going on with the company, what’s going on with our clients, shout outs for things that are going well for certain SDRs, certain teams. So I think just taking part in those types of meetings. I know there’s a lot of virtual happy hours, everyone’s talking about those. I think especially new people, join them! Like reach out. You know, I was talking to one of my SDRs earlier and AJ actually she was saying that she didn’t really know you very well before we all left for the pandemic, but now you guys have been doing the virtual yoga class on Tuesdays with Kevin so now…
AJ: Hey it’s a WORKOUT, not yoga.
Lindsay: Oh AJ, come on! But that’s really been, like she’s actually gotten to know you a lot more just in that way. So I would suggest and recommend, you know, especially new reps to take part in those things. If your company is hosting, you know, like virtual events like that, I think it’s really helpful and certainly use all the tools that we have at our disposal to connect and stay engaged and making sure that leadership works really closely with training teams or senior SDRs on how to best engage their SDR teams when they are training new hires or training on a new project or product. You know, that has to be tweaked a little bit. I think it’s hard to stare at a computer screen all day, especially when you’re training, so making sure you’re taking breaks and things like that. But I kind of rambled on AJ, was there anything else you wanted me to touch on there?
AJ: No, I think that was great. No real, real good, high level overview of like, you know, this is the reality of the situation.
Lindsay: I don’t unfortunately have a crystal ball. I don’t know when we’ll all be… I’m sorry, Colin, I wish I could tell you like when you’ll be back in your office with all your colleagues and friends. But you know, I think it is smart for companies to kind of be conservative and realize that we are fortunate to live in a world where technology has allowed us to do this pretty well. And then, you know, hopefully in the not too distant future, we’ll be back together.
Greyson: Yeah, I think you touched on it perfectly because I’ve been doing remote work for quite a while, like more than five years. So I’ve always lived in this world and you know, as this transition has happened, I think you touched on the two pieces that I would bring up perfectly, which is like you need accountability and need communication, because nothing changes. It’s just how you go about interacting with the people on your team, how you go about measuring and tracking performance, and then I think the biggest thing that a lot of people struggle with is the accountability piece. Because managers can help you to a certain extent. I think peers can help you to a certain extent, but it’s a different way to work where you have to learn how to be proactive and accountable even at home. Like you might be working, but that home environment, it’s very easy to get distracted and kind of get you pulled out of that. So I think that was a great answer, Lindsay.
Okay, Collin. So I’ve got a question for you because messaging and how you engage with buyers I think was a very popular question that a lot of the registrants reached out about. And in our first video series at SDRevolution, you brought up what was called the social cadence. I think it was from InsideOut that had brought that about where we talked really about this idea of having multiple channels going on within your cadence and really reaching buyers where they like to be reached. So to kind of cue off this question, in light of everything that’s gone on in this new climate with people interacting in different ways, you know, to the general messaging that you receive, have you found any, like certain types of messaging or new cadences that is being better received than, you know, what used to be in the past or maybe what you were currently doing at SalesLoft before it all happened?
Collin: Yeah, I think as far as cadences… We’ll look at like touches, like they’re always in any organization, you’re going to have people no matter what that are going to prefer the phone, and they are killer on the phone, and they don’t even want to touch email. They’re all *unintelligible* emails or give me templates, just let me make phone calls. Then you have people on the opposite side of that who are really creative, they can write really good emails or do really good on LinkedIn and I don’t think this changes that at all, you’re still gonna have those people. What you may find is the people who are really, really good on the phone, maybe they’re not setting that one or two last meetings to get to their number and they need to strengthen the other channels.
And so I think for that middle piece, what we found is, it’s more important than ever to build credibility and a brand with a prospect on the front end of reaching out to them. So for us, we put a lot of thought into the first email we send somebody, a lot of research into it, we’ve spent a lot of time with reps, really researching the process of finding research so they don’t feel like they’re spinning their wheels and we’re just saying, “hey go personalize,” and throwing them to the wolves and they have to figure out how to personalize. So I think that’s a really important piece of teaching everybody. If you’re gonna write a really good email, what does that look like for them? And that’s the first step for us like building a brand with that prospect and in a good, like, building credibility. And then yeah, I think it’s the LinkedIn. I think it’s everything so that before you ever pick up that phone, you’ve already built some credibility ahead of time. So you say, “hey this Collin over at SalesLoft,” and they say, “Collin, yeah I got got the email,” and I think that’s even more important nowadays, is to build that brand on the front end of your cadence or of your process, whatever those steps are. And then find the reps that are really good at phone that’s always hit their number through phone and then work with him to help him on email now, and then vice versa.
AJ: Awesome. Yeah, a lot of enablement talk, You know, finding and bringing out the most in your SDRs really and giving them the tools that they need to succeed, versus like you said, tossing them to the wolves and letting them get eaten up by prospects on the other end.
Collin: One thing I will mention on that topic, something that’s been consistent to us. We started using something called Alyce probably six, seven months ago. And it’s a gift sending service. And the cool thing about it, especially in the current climate is you don’t pay for the gift until they accept it via email, until you let them know over email that you’re sending them a gift. They just have to accept it and then you pay for it. So as a company, it’s not really expensive to send gifts and we had really, really good results with that before this. But even through all this, in the past month and a half, we’ve averaged probably a 36% meeting booked rate if they open the email with a gift. And so I think that’s something like a really unique touch that not a lot of people use that we started using about six months ago and it is holding steady through all this. People really appreciate that extra touch of doing the research on them, seeing that they like something, and then you sending them a gift about what they like and saying, “I’d love to trade this for a conversation,” that seems to be working really, really well for us right now.
AJ: That’s awesome. Yeah, it kind of hinges you know, on the idea that you’ve done the research and you’ve personalized that gift to them versus like, “here’s a $15 Starbucks gift card, can you please take a meeting?” There’s a very different connotation with that message versus like, “Oh I know you’re a big Arsenal fan. I thought it would be fun if I got you this like soccer ball that has an Arsenal logo,” That has a bit of a different flair to it.
Collin: Yeah, we had one of our reps… a bit creepy, but for the gifts we do a little bit more research. And he went on Facebook and saw that his prospect had a dog that he absolutely loved. I think his dog’s name was Toby or something, and absolutely loved his dog. And he had been working with this prospect for a while. The prospect actually set up a meeting, ghosted, ,and has just not responded in like a month. And so he sent a gift and it was a three month subscription to a Bark Box. And the subject line was “Toby, will you ask your dad to give me a meeting,” and then in the email is like, “Hey I know we’ve been going back and forth for a while right now, like things are absolutely crazy and I get that, and I get that it’s time-consuming to hop on a meeting, maybe feeding your dog now it won’t be so time consuming because I bought you a subscription to barkbox,” and then it’s just like, “literally click here to accept your barkbox subscription,” and then he booked a meeting right there. And so that’s one of the creative ways, one of the better ones I’ve seen. That’s just really quick and easy.
AJ: Awesome. Yeah, I like the idea of giving reps and enabling reps to think outside the box, be creative, do that kind of research, and really focus on kind of taking the SDR role to another level and being more than just somebody who books meetings, but someone who strategizes and works towards booking the right meeting, getting in touch with the right person, understanding why you’re reaching out. That whole thing.
And Morgan, you kind of touched on this on this earlier and it’s a question that we had introduced from the audience before we started, but the idea that SDRs are going to start ending up being more like junior account executives at some point and really transcend beyond that appointment setter level and be more strategic partners to their AEs and through their support. So we’d love to hear your thoughts on that and then some advice for anyone in the SDR role to improve collaboration with their AE team and how to get to that level from where they are now.
Morgan: Yeah, so like how I see it is that there are gonna be a lot more people that are going to move into, instead of going from SDR to normally just an AE where the SDR is supporting you, it’s gonna go from SDR to more what a lot of people are calling them as corporate sales executives. And what that means is that you are being asked to do your own prospecting and close SMB-type deals, so that you can still have the motion of prospecting while closing so then when you go to mid-market and enterprise, you still have that skill tight within your entire modern sales prospecting. Because there’s a lot of people who have selling experience and have been in the role for a while. However in working with clients, they aren’t prospecting as much because they have the SDRs handing it off, which is a huge disconnect in most organizations because they asked their AEs to prospect and they normally aren’t.
And so, what can an SDR be doing right now? If you’re an SDR and you’re sourcing deals for your AE, go from the first call and stay on all the calls until it’s closed-won. Now, not every deal is going to close, right? But if you’re an SDR and you’re looking to skill up, then find an AE you want to work with and listen to those calls. Ask them to BCC you on those threads. That’s what I did with my enterprise AE, I was BCCed on big deals just so he could show me like, “hey, this is work that goes into this. You don’t just hand it off and the deals close. There’s a lot that goes on.”
And so I think sometimes as an SDR you’re just saying, “hey, I set up the meeting, you should just close this” when there’s more things that happen. Right. And in return the AE should respect the SDR for setting up those meetings because it’s a hard job to do. And so making sure that you’re having an AE mentor, so if you’re an SDR right now or an SDR manager on this call, you should encourage your SDR to get an AE mentor so they can have someone they’re meeting with weekly to go over, “okay, this is how I run my discovery call. This is why I do things this way. This is how I organize my day.” And these are things that are extremely important that are missed sometimes across most organizations. So if you’re looking to skill yourself up as an SDR take the time to listen to those calls. Take the time to ask for feedback from other AEs on how you can get better and find any mentor that you can cling on to so you can get those results as well.
AJ: Awesome. That’s really good advice and good on the collaboration side of things. Like, you’re all on the same team when you really think about it. There’s no reason to silo the two teams from one another. There shouldn’t be a fence in between the two of them. I hear a lot of teams are like, “oh, if you’re an SDR, your job is to toss meetings over the fence.” Metaphorically, you don’t see what’s on the other side of the fence. You just know that I take a meeting, I toss it over and every once in a while it pops out as a closed deal. Whereas it should be a totally transparent situation like, “I gave you this. Why do you like this deal? Why do you not like this deal? What could I have done better to qualify it for you? What do I have too much of?…” like, that’s all super important and stuff that yeah, I think a lot of teams should focus on right now.
AJ: Especially now.
*Greyson begins to say something, but his internet freezes*
I know Greyson was about to ask a question, but it looks like he froze.
*Panel banters about his smile and how excited he was to ask his question*
Yeah, it’s way better to be frozen in that situation. I’ll take it for him…
*Greyson starts to talk but his internet fails him once again 🤖*
He’s back. You’re back. You froze for a second so…
*Greyson is still very much frozen*
Lindsay: I think AJ, you maybe should take it anyway.
Collin: He came back as a robot.
AJ: You uh, you are robotic, unfortunately. That’s just the, you know, the internet doesn’t want to cooperate all the time, which I totally understand.
So the question that he was going to ask, at least I assume he was going to ask, and I’ll open it up discussion-wise to the three of you on the panel, is a lot of topics brought up were around…giving, and sort of on the front end as an SDR, giving more than you take. When you speak with a prospect you’re supposed to know a whole lot about them. You’re supposed to really understand their frustrations, their needs, what their day to day looks like…we’ve talked about this. But the idea that in order to “get” something from them – a meeting, some kind of information about their situation – it often requires a give. So I’m opening it up to all of you, what do you consider to be a good “give” and a strategy around what you could give as an SDR to a prospect to “get” the meeting? For lack of a better phrase. And Lindsay, you look like you’re ready…
Lindsay: I can jump in quickly. And so …a couple thoughts, right? I think you’re absolutely right, you want to know quite a bit about your prospect and you don’t want to just be every time you’re emailing them asking for a meeting. Or, “hey, do you have an update on next steps?” That, you know, that definitely can be off putting. So you know, what I educate my SDRs to do – it can be anything from a piece of content that you think would be interesting to them based on maybe, you know, what they’re sharing on social media or what, you know, their job description entails, right? So a piece of content that you think they would be genuinely interested in.
It could be, you know, advice that you had on maybe a challenge that they talked to you about a couple months ago, and maybe you found a technology or solution or workaround that could maybe help them and you know, that shows that you were listening and paying attention and you can offer just some advice.
My main thing is, though, just give that and don’t then ask for something in return, right? Like, it’s just kind of, “hey, here, I thought you know, based on our last conversation, I thought you’d be interested in this piece of content. It really talked about X, Y, and Z.” Or, “I had an idea about that problem that you talked about,” and then just leave it at that, right? If they’re interested they’re going to then respond to you and say, “hey, you know what, we should reconnect.”
You don’t need, in my opinion, I don’t think you need to kind of call that out. Just offer whatever it is that you’re offering. I mean, I like this Alyce service. I had a company send me a nice bottle of wine that was…they didn’t get the meeting, but I definitely appreciated it. But I think just give and then, kind of let it go and If they’re interested, they will reconnect with you. Is my two cents on it. Yeah.
Collin: Something I think I’ll add to that is…I don’t know, because we just went through the stage of trying to put together a kind of a “give cadence” where we can have a piece of content that we just give to our prospects. I think what we quickly realized is there’s not one piece of content that just resonates with all your prospects unless you have a very defined prospect. And I think giving is like…you give to a very specific scenario. And so, like an example of that is we just got a new CRO and the CRO had mentioned in one of his meetings that every time he joins a new company, he reads this book. And like, for me, it was just like, “anytime if I’m prospecting a new CRO, and they’ve been at their job in less than a month, that’s a perfect give.” Just like, “hey, most CROs when they join an organization, this is the book they read, wanted to go ahead and give you this book.” That’s a great give. Or if you know something very specific where you can have a give for that person and it’s actually helpful to their use case? Those are the powerful things where I don’t know if you can ever put together like a cadence or a template where it’s just one blanket “give” and it helps everybody unless you create it specifically for a specific use case. But I would be aware of that.
Morgan: Yeah. So what I would do is I would go to marketing, and I would ask them, “what’s the most downloadable content that they have? And what’s also the most watched webinar that they’ve had?” And then that’s what I would give, because obviously, the market has said that those are things that they really like. Then add those as pieces of your outreach strategy.
And then on top of that, as well, Lindsay already said it, is don’t ask for time on those. It’s just like, “hey, our clients are saying this article is something that they found to be great. Here are the three bullet points of what it covers. Hope you find insightful.” So by you having that as a give, It doesn’t…you don’t come off as a person that’s trying to take something in return. You’re just saying, “hey, this is just something for you to check out.” And more people reply to you and more people engage with you because of that. So it’s understanding what you need to give, right, from Collin’s perspective, and not just saying, “hey, here’s some things I just want to give to you to give to you.” Don’t just send a book and you’ve never read it before and you don’t know if it’s going to be applicable. Like, really understand what you are giving to that person and making sure it’s relevant to them. So that’s my take on it.
AJ: I love it. I wish I got more books in the mail. To be honest, I’ve been trying to read more…
Lindsay: I know, seriously.
Morgan: Be careful what you ask for!
AJ: Yeah, all of a sudden, I’m gonna get Amazon packages. Yeah…
No, that was, that’s awesome. And just to kind of wrap all of this up, I think, you know, we got a lot of really good advice from the three panelists here in terms of not just what we’ve seen, but what we’re kind of expecting for the future. And really, when you think about sales development moving forward, we all touched on it, but not a whole lot has changed in terms of how we’re doing things. It’s just understanding situations and responding in real time, human to human, and really understanding your prospects and moving forward from there. So, there are no silver bullets. We’re not saying that there are silver bullets. But, hopefully what we talked about today on this panel can, you know, push people in the right direction and understand how to go about this moving forward as we enter a “new normal” that none of us really know what’s going to happen in. And so it’s unknown for us all, but I think at the end of the day, we kind of know what we’re doing anyways.
So if anyone has any last quips, thoughts, whatever’s, anything at all, by all means, this is the time to say it. But I thought I learned a lot today, and I put this together. So that says something.
Lindsay: Thank you, AJ. Thank you, Greyson.
Morgan: Yeah I also wanted to say the same thing. Thanks so much, AJ, Greyson, for putting this together. And for everybody that was listening – don’t just take notes and get excited and move on, like, do the stuff that everyone said here. I say that every single thing that I’m on. Like it’s, you know, you can get excited about it but that doesn’t mean nothing if you don’t execute it. So definitely take what we’re saying here. Try some of the stuff out, implement it in your teams and see what results you get. Yeah.
Greyson: Awesome. Cool. Cool, guys. So um, thank you guys so much for joining us for “The State Of Sales Development in 2020.” Like AJ mentioned, we will have a recording of this event if you had to hop off or if you just want to share it with your team members. And in the meantime, you know, make sure to go to SDRev on social, you can find us on LinkedIn and Facebook and follow us. We’ll be posting updates in the future for content and events like this, and feel free to also join our community. You can give us your email and we’ll make sure to keep you up to date on everything going on. Most recently our podcast is coming out next! So Collin, Morgan, Lindsay, again, thank you guys so much for joining and dropping some knowledge bombs on everybody today, Tuesday’s of all days.
Collin: Thank you guys for putting it together
Lindsay: Yeah, you guys. Take care Okay. All right