EPISODE 24: TOOLS & TIPS FOR OUTBOUND PROSPECTING
Episode 24 Transcript
Alex: Hello and welcome to the SDRealness Podcast brought to you by Sales Development Revolution, where we’re talking with practitioners about their take on important topics in the sales development space. As always, I’m Alex here with my co-host, Greyson.
Greyson: Hello, hello, everybody.
Alex: So, this season’s theme for anyone who hasn’t been listening is see action, take action for this podcast where we’re diving into specific topics in sales development with experts to learn their tactics and strategies that they use every day. Today’s topic is going to be centered around the tools and tips you need for successful outbound prospecting. And joining us for the conversation is my former colleague, good friend Brad, who’s the manager of sales development for North America at MoEngage. Brad, thanks for hopping on with us.
Brad: Hey, thanks, Alex. Thanks, Greyson. And great to be here, excited to be talking with you guys today about some sales development tips especially in relation to prospecting, one of my favorite parts of the job.
Alex: Yeah, we’re so happy to have you here with us. Before we dive into a lot of the details and start pulling out some good information, can you give us a little bit of context about MoEngage and about your team over there and how it’s made up?
Brad: Totally. So, I’m a bit new in the role. I’ve been here for a little over two months now. I have three SDRs on my team currently. Two of them are pretty new. They’ve been with us for two or three weeks. And then we have one SDR that’s a bit more senior. He’s been with the company for a couple of years. But MoEngage, we are an insights lead customer engagement platform. And so it allows marketers and brands to communicate with their customers across multiple channels really analyze, segment, and optimize customer engagements. And so a lot of words, but really just allows marketers to engage with our customers across SMS, in-app messaging, push notifications, email, things like that. And then really analyze all of their data. Really cool tool. Check us out, MoEngage.com, you know, subtle plug.
Greyson: I love it. And I’m really glad that we can have this conversation here because, in my opinion, I feel like what you do in terms of how you market and sell can almost define the tools you use. And then yet on the same dime, the tools that you end up using can end up defining or changing your process. And I think what makes this conversation so complicated, is one, all orgs are different. And then two and three, there are a million different tools out there, and a million different processes out there that you can find in a sales or sales development team. And so to kind of frame the conversation, I want to bring everyone back to Earth on the same page and get your take on when you’re thinking about prospecting. And you’re thinking about both the process and the tools that people out there are using. What is good? What is bad out there? Help us kind of define what you’re seeing.
Brad: Totally. And that’s a great question. And so I think the first thing you really need to think about as a sales development manager, you need to think about the structure of your team, you need to think about the tools that you already have in place and where you might be missing pieces, and if there’s room to make up some of those missing pieces. And so for example, I think I’m really spoiled in the fact that coming from a company like demandDrive, where I had the chance to work with so many different companies, I had a chance to work with so many different tools that these companies were using. And so it gave me a little bit of insight into everything, right, using ZoomInfo, a LeadIQ, SalesLoft, Outreach, having different Salesforce instances, and HubSpot, and all this great stuff. But it was like almost too much, right? You have all of these everything’s going on, need to figure out what’s going to work for each specific project.
And so when I’ve stepped into this role now at MoEngage as a newer team, the sales development team, we have been working to figure out what tools we need, and what is going to get us the results that we need. And so you need to really make sure that you have the right tools in front of you. And so for me, that’s LeadIQ. We’re using SalesLoft, and then making sure that everything’s set up the right way. And so our goal is going to be adding to our database, adding the right prospects to our database, and engaging them in the correct way. So, good versus bad, it’s going to be different in tools everywhere. Different companies, different organizations are going to need different tools because they’re trying to accomplish different goals from where they are in the stage in their team’s development.
The one really bad thing that sticks out to me and I’m sure that you guys have gotten emails like this if somebody reaches out to you and it just doesn’t make sense for you to have a conversation at all, whether you’re not the right title, you’re not the right persona, there’s no reason, no call to action that really sticks and no value-added. And that’s getting into the messaging piece of things. And I won’t dive into the messaging piece. But it gets into also the prospecting piece, where if somebody is reaching out to me, as a sales development manager, let’s say from an HRIS system to say hey, how are you managing the people within your company and the payroll? How is payroll working within your company? I’m totally not the right person. And that’s just a classic example of blind prospecting, going in not utilizing the filters within a tool, like a Sales Navigator to pull in the correct titles, the correct personas, and just any keywords specifically that might be in a profile.
Where if I’m going to be reaching out to somebody for like a payroll tool, I’m probably going to have the word payroll searched in my keyword somewhere.
And for example, for MoEngage, I’m probably going to have customer engagement or digital marketing or something along those lines as a keyword to search. So, it gives me some idea that that person, on some level, is going to be receptive to the conversation. That — [crosstalk] Sorry, go ahead, Alex.
Alex: Well, I was just going to sort of build off that point you made in the sense that, I think a lot of these tools, the reason we’re talking about them is because they can work really well and really successfully. But they can also send the wrong message to the wrong person, or pull the wrong person into your CRM and clutter up your data and things like that. And so I think it’d be interesting to hear your take on this on how you can make sure that your team, once you have these tools in place, right, you know they can work the right way, how you’re making sure that they are using them the right way, they’re properly on boarded, and they know how to avoid some of these bad practices that can happen if you’re a lazy SDR or something like that.
Brad: Training, training, training. Same word three times. It’s important to sit down — with my SDRs, I sit down with them every single week, especially as we’re kicking off using some of these new tools to do a review of all right, what have we done this week? Who have we pulled in? Are those the right people? Or are they not? Are they completely in the wrong direction? And what levers do we need to pull on? The other thing is, I like to put everything in writing. It’s really important for me as a visual learner, that I need to see something if I’m going to be able to retain that knowledge. And so I have an SDR playbook that I put together for my SDRs. And there’s a section on every single tool that we use. There’re screenshots in there, I draw on the screenshots, step-by-step instructions.
So, if I’m out of the office one day, or if I’m not near my phone, and an SDR has any sort of question about how to use that tool correctly, they have a place they can go, they have a resource where they can look and see. And go in and just know every bit of information that they would need to know. And they also have the rest of their team to rely on. Where not everybody is going to know everything, but some people may know bits and pieces that you might not. So, open communication, and we’ll talk about this a lot today. It’s just open communication, training, and having access to information at all times. That’s really what I lean on for making sure that the process is in place and that it’s stuck too, especially as new tools are coming on board and things get kind of messy. And there’s new processes added in.
Alex: Yeah. And I mean we don’t have to dive into the communication quite yet. But it is — I really like the way you’ve made it available, right? You made this information available in a way that they can get to themselves because I think, and this touches on something different is that you want your reps to be self-sufficient, right? Obviously, you’re their manager and you want to be able to help them be as successful as possible. But I think that’s a really good strategy as far as allowing them to do the research for themselves because I think like you said, having it written down in front of them is a lot easier to retain a lot of times than if you just like keep answering the same question out loud to them over and over again.
Brad: Right, right. Exactly. And I definitely learn that way by going out and doing something on my own. And if — there’s definitely people that don’t also and on the other side of things and some people do need to be walked through items multiple times and that’s totally okay. People learn in different ways. And so I’m always available to my reps to get on a Zoom call, to get on a screen share, and show them again. But ultimately, I think it’s more conducive to having a successful team if you’re kind of having the SDRs go out and learn to do things on their own to a certain extent, and always having that information available really, really allows that. Let me see here. So, that is one of the bad going through blind prospecting. Then we kind of touched on how to set up some of these tools and making sure that the SDRs are really sticking to the process and learning the process over time.
One of the really good things that I want to make sure that I touch upon is another one word three times and I have this written down in my notes because it’s just that important is segment, segment, segment. And then I wrote real good next to it because it is real good to segment your prospects and drop people into different buckets where you can. And this also goes back to tools, it’s you need the right tools in your tool bag. Having a tool like a SalesLoft, or an Outreach, or even a Yesware — shout out Yesware. Love that tool — to run specific campaign is super important to this piece. Because you can create different campaigns or cadences or sequences or whatever your tool calls them for different personas for people that might have different keywords on their profiles or different titles. Or however you’d like to, you can segment and bucket your prospects. And that gives you the ability to see what personas and what titles are reacting to different subject lines of your messaging or calls to action or just bodies of your emails or phone calls, whatever messaging is. Because that at the end of the day is going to be how you make your decisions in the future. What has worked and what hasn’t worked is a very simple way to boil down SDR strategy is what works, what doesn’t work, and what needs to change.
Alex: Just to follow up on the segmenting thing. Obviously, segmenting is something that all the best teams do do and sort of split their targets into buckets or accounts, depending on how they want to prospect. What has that process been like for you specifically, as you’re bringing on these two new reps? You’ve got the older rep who’s probably been doing this a while. How have you been able to sort of define these buckets maybe or figure out what different segments your team needs to be successful?
Brad: Right. And so that’s a great question. And I’m lucky enough where even though my sales development team is pretty new within the company, we have a larger global organization that has a really defined inside sales team, as well as an awesome, a really killer marketing team for not only the global organization but also North America. And we work super closely with them. They’ve done an awesome job of building out personas for different verticals. So, like e-commerce, travel and hospitality, retail, banking and finance, e-commerce kind of right alongside with retail, Telecom. And within that, we have buyer’s guides that they’ve put together and different persona slide decks and all of this awesome information that I’m able to give to my SDR team and say this is going to be bucket one, this is bucket two, and so on and so forth, and that’s where we’ll start.
And then even within those, having buckets for titles. So, we know that we’re probably going to be reaching out to marketing roles, definitely. There’s also going to be some product roles in there. And then there’s also going to be analytics or insights or just customer acquisition, other random titles that get thrown in there. And so we kind of mix those two things together in the creation of our buckets, especially as we’re getting started in North America, or continuing on kind of a newer process in North America. We know that on the global level, that’s where things are. But it could very well be different in the US and in North America. And so we’re really trying to hone in now on which of those buckets are going to yield the most success for us.
Alex: Nice. Have you noticed any huge differences between what the sales team has been doing and what you’re able to pull out?
Brad: We’ve definitely noticed that a lot of our stuff is coming from marketers, but it also depends on the size of the company, which is also back to segmenting. It’s important, right? You got to track your mid-market stuff, your small business stuff, your enterprise because the titles that you’re reaching out to at those enterprise companies may be different than a small business where a small business, you might be talking to the CEO. Whereas enterprise, maybe it’s a marketing manager, or it’s our director of marketing. But we’ve noticed we’ve been pretty on par with what the sales team has seen. But also, like I said, we’ve just started our outbound prospecting efforts. And so this is all stuff that we’re working to put in place now, so check in with me in a month or two, and I’ll let you know, have some more updated numbers for you.
Alex: There we go. We’ll have to have a follow-up podcast.
Greyson: I love that. I wanted to kind of follow up here and talk more about the internal team logistics when you’re dealing with either tools that are new or maybe process or kind of like change management that you’re trying to pull off as a manager. Can you talk a little bit about the two perspectives that you have in your team? I think it’s really awesome that you kind of have those two unique perspectives of some fresh, fresh SDRs likely new in sales, getting their feet wet. Versus a really veteran person that might have been on the team before you came on, and has been using the same tools for X or Y number of years. So, talk to me about the politics as a manager of what do you do when either you have identified a gap or a missing piece that you need to fill? Or maybe you’re trying to make a change and you’re getting pushback, or you’re trying to make improvements and something goes wrong. What does that look like on the ground?
Brad: Yeah. I mean, I think first and foremost, especially in my evaluations and the way that I like to structure things is talk with every stakeholder, really, just talk with all the SDR. So, I had a unique situation where I came in and before we had brought on these two new SDRs, we had about a month and a half of time where I was working one-on-one with the SDR that had been there. And so he was helping to get me ramped up, which is great because I can see from his perspective through the entire process. And him and I then worked on any optimizations that he needed to see. And so that was the first step. It was, hey you’ve been doing this for a year now, a year or more within North America. What are those changes that need to be made? And what would you really like to see and what is a roadblock for you?
And from there, we then work to put in best practices that I had seen successful in other roles in other organizations, and go about implementing things that way. And first and foremost, the problem that we are seeing was outbound prospecting being hurdle number one, and getting [inaudible 00:18:16] new prospects. And that’s where we landed on this, then we need a prospecting tool. And that’s number one. And that’s already been worked out, which is really great. And it’s showing how the fruits of our labor from this evaluation process that my SDR and I had gone through over the first month and a half of my time with the company.
Alex: Nice. And so then what happens when you bring in two brand new SDRs? What’s that dynamic like?
Brad: So, when you bring in the two new SDRs, and I think it’s really great, this is going back to having like a playbook. So, you have your playbook, you say this is kind of what we do, this is the process. But let it be known it’s always open to suggestions or interpretations. If there are things that you would like to see added to here, don’t be afraid to tell me about that. Don’t be afraid to ask. Going to the point where SDR teams are meant to be as collaborative as possible. It’s imagining each SDR as an individual member of a larger group being one. You’re going to be more successful when you put all your heads together rather than if you’re trying to hide your process from your other SDRs and just strictly compete with the SDRs. Because you can get stuck in the competitive ways and it’s great to have a competitive SDR team, but it’s also great to have a really collaborative SDR team that’s working together while you’re competing. Super important. And so — Go ahead.
Greyson: I was going to follow up on that and just ask because I’m sure other people might be interested in this as well. But how much leeway or control would you recommend a manager give either a newer SDR team or kind of an SDR team that’s starting to scale? How much leeway would you give them on maybe them getting their own tools or maybe them saying I’m going to AP tests this process and just kind of being proactive about that? Would you agree? Would you want to kind of have more control over that? What are your thoughts?
Brad: I think as you’re getting started, I think it’s important to have control. But it’s also important for me for the SDRs, to be able to make some of their own decisions. Whereas I need to see — give me 30 days of doing my process, and then give me some suggestions. What can we change? But show me some data to show me that it’s not going to work. Because it’s all going to have to come back to the data at the end of the day. But other tools, right, like, if you have the ability to have a company expense account, or things like that, where you can get a tool that’s going to cost you 30-40 bucks a month, and you think it’s going to help, why not? I think there’s things that shouldn’t be open for interpretation within prospecting, like some of the core tools being used and processed for, let’s say, adding to the CRM, and just lead flow, general things like that. Those are some of the things that need to be set in stone, or else you’re going to end up with a messy database, you’re going to end up with not utilizing the things that you’re paying for.
But other things like maybe you found a Chrome extension, that is super helpful. I remember when ZoomInfo first came out with their ReachOut Chrome extension, and nobody knew what it was. And there was like me and a handful of other SDRs that were like, “We found this really cool tool and we just added it because we could.” And it was great, it worked, it got a bunch of leads. And it made adding to the CRM so much quicker because you could just copy and paste and drop it right in instead of typing in all of the numbers. So, I think there has to be a level of control that you’re maintaining over the SDR program. But I think pick and choose the things that you want to be flexible upon and really make it known to your SDRs what you are willing to be flexible on. And write it down, put it in writing.
In my playbook, the things that are flexible or open to interpretation it says it right on the bottom of the page. Like the cadence structure. I have cadences and says for each type of lead, whether outbound or inbound, or based on lead score, this is the cadence that I would use. And then right at the bottom of the slide, it says, open to interpretation. Feel free to make any changes to this that you would like. This is not a one size fits all cadence. Make changes as you will. So, it’s kind of my take on that.
Alex: Yeah, I really like that. Have you run into any conflicts or butting heads between any of your SDRs or anything like that? I know, it’s a small team, so they might just all get along. But have you had any sort of friction or anything like that yet?
Brad: No, that’s not something that I’ve run into. My team, we work really well together. It’s the idea, we’re like just this small team that’s getting started and we’re figuring out how to be structuring not only the prospecting aspect of things. I know that’s kind of what we’re talking about here. But also just the team in general, lead routing and territories, who’s taking what. Not something that we’ve run into. Will we? Maybe, at some point. I would like to say no. But also conflict can sometimes be good. You can learn a lot from internal conflict, to some extent, right, as long as you’re taking away the good from it and you’re really listening to the ideas that are being brought up, and it’s in a more constructive conflict, I would say. Is that a thing, constructive conflict?
Alex: Yeah. Sure.
Brad: I’m going to just TM constructive conflict. That’s a thing now.
Alex: Making T-shirt for it. Send them out. Right.
Greyson: Awesome. Okay. So, Brad, before we wrap up, I do want to give you some time to leave any last tips or best practices that you can think about for any SDR manager or SDR that’s wanting to not only better utilize the tools that they have, or find better tools for the future, but also to be a proactive member of the team. Because I think one thing that I pulled out of this beyond just general tips and beyond the types of tools to use is really the team thing is important. I think people — We’re not talking about culture here just for the fun of it. There’s really important thing about the fact that humans drive business and human interactions are what get that done. And so you talked a little bit about communication. But I just wanted to open up before we wrap up to see like, are there any last tips that you would give to a manager or an SDR to help them just be better in this department?
Brad: Yeah. Couple things. One, for managers and SDRs, going back to communication. If you have Slack, great. If you don’t have Slack, start a WhatsApp chain or a text chain, or however you can communicate with your team, both managers, and SDRs and just have that open at all times to anything and everything SDR-related. Whether it’s prospecting or not, put your thoughts, put your feelings in there, let everyone know. If you have a question, what I like to say to my SDRs and to really, anybody that I work with is just if you have a question, even if it’s not a complete thought, ask me. We’ll come up with a solution, we’ll finish the thought, we’ll figure out what that question is, even if it’s not a real question yet. And then we’ll work on a solution and we’ll work on putting something in place to fix that or to drive better results.
Open communication at all times is the most important thing. And going back to, just to relate this to the past for me as an SDR on the floor at demandDrive with 30-40 SDRs sitting around you and you have a question, it was almost you stand up and ask your table, stand up and ask the people next to you. And I worry about the communication aspect of being an SDR disappearing in the age of Zoom and the age of working from home. Because you’re not right there it’s a lot harder to turn to your left and say, “Hey, Alex. Hey, Greyson. I have a question on this. What do you think I should do here?” Make sure that you’re not missing that piece, make sure that you’re still bringing that in. Jump on a Zoom if you have to. Jump on a Google Hangout. If you need to have that face-to-face aspect, do it. If it’s something quick that you can do over Slack, that’s just as good. That’s piece number one.
Piece number two is it’s going to get kind of monotonous as an SDR where some days, you’re not going to talk to people on the phone. Some days, you’re not going to get any responses. And sometimes you just need a quick win. And so on the prospecting piece, one trick that you can always use is don’t have a specific message that’s related to scheduling a meeting. If you end up talking to the right person, that’s great for some of these times. But I used to like to take — if I had gone a day, a day and a half without talking to anyone on the phone, I might pull up a specific persona that I know is probably going to be pretty close to the people that I want to reach out to, but maybe lower level. Maybe they’re not the right person for a meeting Maybe they’re a marketing manager, as opposed to a marketing director, so it’s not going to be worth scheduling a time. But they might answer the phone or I might have a conversation with them and I might be able to pull up some sort of qualification information, not necessarily about them, but about the company.
Check off boxes one, two, and three, and still leave four and five open. But at the end of that call, make sure that you’re asking for a referral, so then you can leverage that and go to the marketing director and say, “Hey, Alex told me that you’re going to be the best person for me to reach out to. We talked about this, this and this.” Be very specific and you’re more likely to then pass that meeting or be able to provide value because you’re going to know boxes one, two, and three about the company that you’re calling into. So, it’s like phone prospecting. It’s not using the tools in front of you, it’s using the tool in your head and your mouth, right, to figure out who it is they need to talk to you and what you’re going to talk to them about. So, that’s always worked for me. And it’s always been a quick win if you get someone on the phone that it’s like you’re in a desert looking for water and you finally find that oasis. You get one person and then oftentimes, I feel like after you have that first live conversation, it just — the way that it works out, you have like five more right in a row. So, don’t be afraid to just make a hundred and fifty phone calls in a day if you have to.
Alex: Awesome. Yeah, that’s an awesome piece of advice, right? Because people lower level I think the data backs up when I reached out they’re more likely to talk. So, just — if you can’t find any research on a company and you can’t get a hold of anyone, basically do your research through the company, which is basically what you said. So, huge. Love that piece of advice. Brad, thank you so much for joining us to talk today about — I mean, we talked about developing effective outbound prospecting practices, we talked about some management skills and communication. We’ve been all over the place, but lots of great insights. If people want to learn more about you or learn more about MoEngage, how can they get in touch with you or the company?
Brad: MoEngage.com is a great place. We have a website chat. If you have any questions about MoEngage, use our website chat. The SDR team handles it directly. We’ll be in touch. I’m on LinkedIn and so I’m sure when this gets shared, you guys can tag my LinkedIn in there. And if you have any questions, send me a — what is it, a connection request? Send me a message, we can chat.
Alex: Awesome. Thanks so much, Brad. This has been Alex and Greyson for the SDRealness Podcast. Until next time SDRs, keep it real.