EPISODE 23: ALIGMENT FOR MARKETING-DRIVEN SDR TEAMS
Episode 23 Transcript
Greyson: Hello, and welcome to The SDRealness Podcast brought to you by Sales Development Revolution, where we talk with practitioners about their take on important topics in the space. I’m Greyson and here with me as always is my co-host, Alex.
Alex: How’s it going, Greyson?
Greyson: Going well. I’m excited. This season’s theme for the podcast has been long but exciting. It’s a see action, take action where we’re specifically focused on tactically diving into topics in sales development, and really learning from people who are on the ground live doing these things every day. And in my mind, today’s topic is a big one. We’re going to be talking about alignment. Alignment between sales and marketing with an emphasis on SDR teams out there that are specifically being managed under a marketing team. Joining me to discuss is Kayla, who is the SDR manager at Quantum Workplace. Kayla, thank you so much for hopping on with us today.
Kayla: Thanks, Greyson. Excited to be here.
Alex: Awesome. Yeah, Kayla, thanks so much. So, to kick this off and put a little context around our conversation, I’d love to just start, Kayla asking you about what you guys do over Quantum Workplace and about where your SDR team aligns. I know you’ve recently gone through some shifts over there. So, you want to sort of walk us through that setup you guys have now?
Kayla: Yeah, so the quick overview of Quantum Workplace, we sell into HR, specifically HR software that helps with employee engagement. So, anything from like employee surveys, to then also performance management tools, so things like one-on-ones, feedback, those sort of things, so being able to bring the two together. And a little backstory of Quantum of how we’ve kind of gotten to this point. When I started as SDR at Quantum, I actually reported under sales, and had for the last two years, up until just recently here at the start of 2021. The SDR team has now shifted and trying something new, and reporting under marketing.
Alex: There it is. Simple as that. But I think that does give us some good context to work around a good framework for the conversation because it means you have insight into what it means to really roll up under sales. And now you’re learning sort of this new experience over the last couple of months of rolling up under marketing, what does that mean for you and for your team members? What are the differences there? So, I’d love to dive into a little bit of the good and the bad when it comes to aligning with the marketing team versus the sales team? What are some good best practices that you’re seeing or that you guys have helped develop? And what are some other things that maybe you’ve experimented, maybe you’ve tried, and they’ve just fallen flat, things like that.
Kayla: Yeah. So, I’ll start with the good first. And that really comes from this idea that I can’t actually claim that it was my saying, but our marketing lead had this analogy that said it feels like at times, though, we’re working towards a common goal between sales and marketing, really just trying to fill the pipeline of our account executives, and felt like at times we were disconnected in that marketing had to bait to be able to talk to our prospects. And sales a lot of times had to pull for the, you know. And together we’re not working towards the same thing. We’re probably working harder than smarter. So, I’m bringing the two together to be able to use each other’s tools to fill the pipeline for those account executives. And really, by being able to do that, it gives the SDR team now more information at their fingertips of what is happening to my prospects? Who am I prospecting? And what types of messages are they getting and when, from marketing? And how can I tailor my outreach, to almost feel like a consistent story with what marketing is saying from a one-to-many perspective.
To now, I can come in from a one-to-one, and it all feels like one consistent theme, versus it feeling almost fragmented and different. Some of the bad things, I’m going to say bad things, but the challenges that have come up instantly with the shift is that fear for the SDR historically, and always have that growth path into wanting to be an account executive and stay within sales. And all of a sudden now you’ve shifted that and said, okay. Well, we’re reporting under marketing, and that career growth and development all of a sudden can feel like that path that was laid in front of me, all of a sudden shifted. And that’s something that I’ve been working really hard to make sure that we still feel that that path is just as clear as it ever was before even though maybe who we report to on a daily basis has changed, those opportunities for growth and development are still as clear, still as capable as what they ever were before.
Alex: Yeah. And I think that’s a really important point to make is that a lot of the struggles of making that shift are not based on reality. I don’t know if that’s the best way to phrase it. But it’s this fear of the unknown of like, oh, well, but I like the sales team. I report up to this AE, he’s like sort of my mentor, like, you’re just going to pull me away from him? So, what sort of specific steps did you take from there? I know this gets sort of into the next question. But what was your goal or how did you help sort of alleviate that fear among your team members that were scared of, I guess, being left behind by sales?
Kayla: Yeah. So, for me, one thing that I was really passionate about from the beginning is, though, we’re making this change, I wanted to set the expectation not only for my team, but for my new team that I was going to be joining into, that I wanted the SDRs to feel just as close to those AEs, and almost feel like, rather than taking the SDR team and pulling them away from sales, and now shifting them over to marketing, how can it feel like marketing had just actually grown closer, and that we’re all three. The SDRs are kind of sandwiched in the middle. And one way of doing that is to retain all of those meetings, and team bonding, and one-on-ones that those SDRs are still having with their Account Executives.
So, right now, my SDR team is paired one-to-one with an AE. And prior to the switch, they were having bi-weekly one-on-ones with those Account Executives to really talk through like, how were my meetings? What are the quality of them? Could they have been better? How are they progressing? What’s happening? I wanted to make sure that those things remain. And that realistically, it didn’t feel any different so that their day-to-day, truth be told, really remained the exact same on what it was before. And if anything, the one thing that might have changed the most might have been my day-to-day, less so than the SDR. So, that though, my manager might be different, they still woke up and came to work that next day after that shift, start of Jan one, everything continued to move forward in like the generality of just my daily structure, and who I’m spending time with and being able to connect just as close with AEs.
Greyson: I really love that and I think that’s a good call out. Because I feel like people when they think of whether or not an SDR team should be managed under marketing or management or sales, I feel like it’s a very polarized kind of topic. They almost sound — they’re almost making the question like, do you want sales to be connected to the SDR team? Or do you want marketing to be connected to the SDR team? And I think what you just spoke about is really saying like, listen, we’re not cutting any ties between what relationships and what processes that the sales team had with the SDR team. And we’re also not cutting off that feedback loop. And if you and Quantum Workplace are actually able to pull together marketing into the fold while maintaining that strong bond you have between the SDR and sales, that’s a full circle feedback loop.
Well, that’s something that I feel a lot of organizations rarely have is this full, transparent cycle of feedback that’s able to easily go through all three orgs or all three departments, and not by force. And I love the way that you’ve already kind of started digging in to a little bit of the process. So, I kind of want to follow up on Alex’s question, and really just open up and say with your experiences so far, managing or being part of this SDR team, while it was managed under sales versus now, now that it’s marketing-driven, what does the process look like in terms of maintaining motivation, keeping those relationships strong? And also getting used to, like you said, the tools and the processes that might be different on the marketing team versus the sales team?
Kayla: Yeah. So, realistically, it starts — to your point, like that big feedback loop, I want it to feel like it’s one whole journey, that the SDR is a part of, and it doesn’t just start and end with now marketing. Right? Yes, marketing is helping me with that intel that they’re sharing with me, and we’re being on the same page. So, for an example, I’ll use something that we just went through. A webinar, we originally had a webinar. And it started with bringing in myself, and an SDR perspective into even like the ideation process of a webinar. And being able to have a voice within those conversations, even in the beginning stages, when ultimately those webinar goals if the goal of that webinar is to drive pipeline, let’s bring in a voice of someone who’s in sales, or has sales background. To how can we make sure that the message that we’re conveying in this webinar is going to translate into people wanting to meet with us post-webinar. So, that would be part one, getting them in on the start, but it doesn’t end there.
So, now after that ideation process, being able to pair with marketing through the entire journey prepping for the webinar sharing, here’s what the agenda looks like, here’s when the first promos email is going to go out, SDRs, here’s how you could follow up that promo email and make sure we drive attendance. Then down to the webinar actually happening where SDRs are encouraged to join the webinar as well as attendees. So, let’s [inaudible] in, let’s make sure we know what’s happening to then post-webinar, again, being in on what’s the timeline for then follow up emails that are going to go out for marketing and when is my role as the SDR to step in. And then follow up that marketing messaging [inaudible] driving one consistent storyline. And having it feel like one whole thing, even from that prospect’s perspective, that though it might be coming against that one too many, it’s coming from a one-to-one as well, staggered in there.
And then to close it all out, being able to then, to your point, close that feedback loop. We haven’t gotten there yet with this specific example. But where I envisioned it going to is post-webinar, after SDRs have done their thing. We’ve tried to set meetings from it, getting together as a team, and we talked about what things were effective, what things weren’t — how did I set a bunch of meetings for this? Were there any challenges that I ran into, and sharing that back to marketing? So, that way, the next time we have another event we’re learning along the way, and not just only looking from like that prep, but through the entire journey.
Greyson: That is amazing. I feel like that’s a very stark contrast to how most organizations run events or marketing initiatives in general, I think that’s a really good call out. And it almost kind of strikes me as kind of the difference between what was considered shotgun marketing or kind of like boiler room sales development versus more of an account-based play. To where in the past, and this still happens, a lot of times, whether marketing is doing blog posts or ebooks or events, it tends to be just, all right. Boom. We shoot it out there, we see what we get, we bring it to sales if it’s qualified, and we’ve done our jobs. Where in this scenario, you’re really sounding like it’s more of an account-based play here, where you’re very involved. You have all three departments at the table, trying to see before, during, and after that investment in marketing budget, how can sales development or how can sales be hopping into this to maximize the opportunity, because you’re totally right.
Like, when you are hosting an event, and your buyers are coming, the journey’s started. Whether or not a sales development rep, or whether an AE or whether they’ve even checked out your brand, if someone’s coming to your event, they’re knocking at your door, and they’re allowing a journey to take place. So, I just kind of wanted to call that out. And if you have more to share on the process, sorry for interrupting you. But that is an amazing description, I think, of just one example, on one channel of how marketing and sales, development, and sales can all wrap together to complete that feedback loop.
Kayla: Right. And I totally excluded out too like from the Account Executive’s perspective, right. They’re the ones that are getting — So, this talks about we want to hook the feedback in from SDRs to AEs in that one-on-one time. The AEs are the ones that run with that meeting, our structure, the SDRs, our team, they set the meeting, the AEs run with it. So, being able to even look at then those that were set by the SDR, how many of those are really even converting into a marketing or like into a sales qualified lead, sorry, and understanding that. Because sometimes too, right, we set a bunch of meetings that get people in the door, but that doesn’t translate into I’m thinking about buying a solution. Maybe they’re just inquisitive to talk, sure. Dig deeper into the subject, but not actually translating that into, I want to see a product, I want to talk about what this could look like at my organization. So, being able to even then wrap that around, and not just [inaudible]
And then again, the SDRs feeding back to marketing, but then the SDR sharing with the AEs, how is this progressing? Are they converting? Are they really not converting? It’s really cool. And again, I can’t take all the credit for this. I think how this has come to be in my organization is you know, of course, myself speaking up with ideas, but this is a comfortable circle between the marketing team also being so so willing to say yes, come in sales. This is new to me too. I’ve never had the SDR team part of our team and providing us with like feedback and ideas. And they’ve been so welcoming as well. Like let’s try something completely new that we’ve never done before.
So, though we had this really cool process, it could not have been done just purely on my shoulders or within my SDR team. Totally, I have to give my credit to the marketing as well and sales to be open to this and it’s new to them as well. Like their team shrinks and SDR is to move over to marketing. It all wouldn’t be as accessible as what it is right now. Or I guess, without any huge roadblocks we haven’t ran into yet, so knock on wood, without everyone being so open-minded to this whole new process.
Alex: Yeah, right. And I think that’s a huge part there is you need buy-in from all three departments as well as the higher-ups that their organization, but really being able to have that genuine, right open-minded buy-in to say, you know what? As a marketing team, maybe we should be passing leads, not better leads necessarily but leads better suited for the sales team over to the sales team. I kind of — I was trying to think of a good analogy in my head while you were talking, but I couldn’t. But basically, it sort of seemed like marketing would just like pass leads over to sales, and then sales, they go in and nurture it or whatever. They just pass it back [inaudible] think of volleyball, but I didn’t know where the SDRs fit in.
But then through this process, maybe like the SDR team was able to come in, just take down the volleyball net. And now everyone can just freely the — see, this is where the analogy falls apart. But the point still stands, like you can freely just like hand leads to each other, talk about them openly. It’s not that it was a contest before, but it’s become so much more collaborative, it sounds like that it really seems like everyone on all three teams has been able to benefit from it. Right?
Kayla: Well, right. And that’s I think where you go back, Greyson, you said this whole battle for where did SDRs belong? I think it stems a lot of times too where there’s this finger-pointing of like, well, you’re responsible for this, and you’re responsible for this. Yet, we have to get towards the same end goal. But I’ll do it my way, and you do it your way. And sure we’ve in years past, I’ve gotten to the finish line, but it felt like we were running two different races yet side by side on the same team, which seems silly. And to be able to now, to your point, well, use your analogy, bring down the net. And it’s okay to give feedback to each other, even if it is constructive. Of like, hey, historically the leads that we were getting, might have been not the best aligned. And I’m spending a lot of time and a lot of effort to play connect the dots back to the person I do need to.
But until we’re able to be comfortable enough to take down that net, you’re not going to have that conversation. And it’s going to go back to pointing fingers, passing blame. And rather than just putting those things aside, and let’s work towards — One of our core values at Quantum is team over herself. Like, let’s put the team over self vibe here, and let’s together work towards that common goal, be successful together has been really unique that we’re, to your point, but it won’t take down the net between the two, and be comfortable to share those things in a place where it’s welcomed. And if anything is again, that we’re going to come out better on the other end.
Greyson: I love it. I wanted to kind of dive in one last time into kind of like tactical process. And it sounds like we’ve talked a lot so far about what the marketing team at Quantum Workplace has done and what marketing teams, in general, can do to help not only align with SDR teams, but with sales in general. And I’m sure also that the people listening to this podcast are probably familiar with how SDR teams and sales stay aligned.
So, I wanted to kind of reverse it here, because we’ve brought it up a few times but haven’t dug into details too much on what should the SDRs and the SDR manager be doing when they’re relaying that feedback to marketing? Since that, I think is more of a brand new thing, where oftentimes, I think when SDRs are talking to salespeople and sales leaders, and these people are often in sales, they know the numbers, they’re worried about deals, they’re worried about quota. Whereas I’m sure the marketing team, they have different conversations, maybe different focuses, different priorities. So, what’s your experience in terms of the type of feedback and type of collaboration that SDRs expect when they collaborate with the marketing team?
Kayla: Yeah. So, I think it gets more into — Well, I’ll look at it two different ways. One, in terms of like actual, the events themselves, and like what that feedback looks like and how it’s a little bit different. You know, we still talk numbers, just like what you would on a sales team. A lot of times it is numbers-driven and data-driven. We’re still talking about those things, but we’re also getting more tactical in the sense of talking about not just how many leads that we convert, like, what kind of information. And when I say information like intentionality I should say. How can I leverage some of the things of — gosh, I’m getting lost here. Some of the things like maybe during the webinar, there was a poll. And using some of like that data that’s within a poll to use that in my outreach, and sharing that stuff over. And giving feedback of maybe this question wasn’t a great one because I wasn’t able to directly incorporate that into a follow-up that I’m reaching out with.
So, I think sometimes it gets less of how many did we convert, but more of well, we still talk about those things. But more of what were some of the things that were said within the webinar, for example, or this specific ebook, that are ways that I can personalize, that I can be way more intentional into my outreach, and incorporate that into my messaging, and not just the pray method of I’m going to blast everyone posts webinar to meet with us. Can I take information that was shared in the webinar, what they might have shared in a poll, and use that in my outreach?
And then I guess, to shift away from less of like feedback loop in terms of in the weeds after each event or a piece of material. I think a lot of times how we built up that trust is more from can we find ways to get the team to group together and do things together that aren’t related to the role? Because historically, and now my team would probably be the first to admit it up until this shift, and even the marketing probably out this way. I didn’t know much about sales. I didn’t know them personally, I didn’t know the SDRs and what they like, what they don’t like, what they’re interested in. And SDRs could say the same about marketing.
So, before we can even get them comfortable to a point where they can openly give this feedback to each other, I think it’s about can we get everyone comfortable with each other acquainted, and just doing some fun activities, corny little get to know you, little events like that, to just kind of organically bring us closer together first and foremost? Where the SDRs have always had that with those Account Executives because they’ve been working with them from day one when they started their journey as an SDR. So, if I can start to nurture that relationship and find ways to bring us together, that way, they become more comfortable with each other, can feel that they can speak openly, and in a place where it’s like safe too.
Alex: Yeah. And on top of that, you might even have some SDRs, who, maybe they end up liking marketing more than sales. So, that opens a whole different avenue for — I’m a little biased because I am now in marketing as an — from an SDR. But yeah, it’s just an interesting way. And I think it really does sort of open the eyes of both the SDR team and the marketing team to more of the business and really allows them to understand more of what goes on when it comes to revenue generation from a company standpoint as a whole for sure.
Kayla: Right. Well, I mean, to your point, sorry. It gets them in on that even the beginning stage of the entire journey of a prospect. A lot of times when you’re in the sales, you only see it like once they’ve engaged with us. But you don’t get in on what stuff has to happen before they even get that first piece of content. And just opening up their knowledge and their experience into like more of that journey is a huge learning opportunity. Just in general, maybe you find someone that does have an interest in marketing that might not have known before what is the day in the life of a marketer look like?
Alex: Yeah, exactly. Before we wrap up, I just wanted to get any last sort of best practices, actionable advice, top tips that you might have for really the marketing, sales development, sales leaders out there that are looking to maybe realign their SDR team or bring their marketing sales and sales development all closer together.
Kayla: Yeah. I don’t think we’ve figured it all out completely. And I’m not going to say that we have. I think there’s still things that are probably going to be in front of us that we have not anticipated that we’re still learning. But if there’s any bit of feedback, or advice that I could give to anyone that’s going through that shift, or maybe just recently has or thinking about it, from a manager perspective, and how to make sure that we keep the team moving towards like a common goal, and we don’t lose sight about anything., it’s really good to look through the lens of not what am I losing, but what am I gaining. And I’ve been really adamant with my team and trying to put it in that light all the time of, I don’t really think we’re losing anything. I’m sure there’s times it can feel that way.
But I want to cut down on this idea of loss and more look through the lens of what am I gaining. And it’s all those things that we talked about, that ability to join in like ideation and creating a feedback loop and get better leads and know when marketing stuff is going to go out to my prospects so that I’m not mad when marketing comes in and sends an unrelated email to my cadence that I have going. But all these new things I’m gaining along the way to help me be more effective at my role and more successful, I think, is the biggest advice that I can give. And it’s more not even advice, but just this mentality.
Greyson: I totally agree. I often find that mentality is an obstacle that people don’t expect when it comes to different orgs and different types of people kind of working together. I think that’s a really good call-out. Kayla, thank you so much for joining us today to talk tactical about a topic I feel like everyone talks about and has something to chime in about, which is marketing and sales alignment. But I’m feeling hopeful that we actually got to bring some sales development to the table in this interview and really kind of get perspective on what the middleman feels when you’re trying to make these changes and get buy-in from SDRs. Before we wrap up, where can people go to learn more about Quantum Workplace, or to get in touch with you personally if they want to chat with you or learn more?
Kayla: Yeah. So, for learning about Quantum Workplace, you can check out our website, QuantumWorkplace.com. For me, I’m on LinkedIn, just Kayla_Rehmeier. Or I guess the cool thing now is I’m on Clubhouse. I don’t know if that’s the new thing coming around. But you can also find me there. But predominantly, if you ever wanted to reach out, shoot me a message on LinkedIn, happy to chat.
Greyson: Awesome. Well, this has been Greyson and Alex for The SDRealness Podcast. Until next time, SDRs keep it real.