You don’t need me to tell you that, over the last few months the whole world has gone a little crazy. Thanks to Covid-19, everything’s changed, and that includes Sales Development.
But while everyone is trying to adapt, what has been the actual impact? How has Sales Development changed over the last three months? What can we expect in the near future?
We teamed up with RevOps Squared to research how the pandemic has impacted Sales Development teams. Here’s what we found out.
Concerns over Sales Development layoffsWith record unemployment figures, it shouldn’t be surprising that layoffs were one of the biggest concerns. At the time of the research, over 20% of companies surveyed had already let SDRs go. Additionally, over 60% were still concerned about layoffs in the near future. Interestingly, respondents from larger companies were the most likely to be concerned about their future.
These results remind us that we’re still in the early stages when it comes to the economic effects of this pandemic. Even as lockdown restrictions are lifted, we’re going to see more layoffs over the next three to six months, especially any SDRs who are struggling or on a performance plan.
With the pressure that comes from these concerns, it’s clear that companies need to ensure they’re consistently communicating with their SDR teams to alleviate concerns as much as possible.
Companies also need to think about how they are planning to fill the pipeline not created by the SDRs they laid off. Where is that pipeline going to come from? What resources, such as outsourced SDR companies, are available and ready to help?
Levels of Sales Development activityA large number of SDRs have reduced their activity as a result of the pandemic. 36.5% have reduced their number of daily dials, 30.8% have reduced their number of daily emails, and 39.5% have reduced their number of Cadences.
This is largely down to a desire to be respectful. People are still trying to process what’s happening and, as a result, some SDRs have slowed down. However, considering the concern over potential layoffs (see above), it’s essential that SDRs fulfill their role. Executives are now tying activity back to revenue, so smart SDRs are actually increasing their activity. Logically, if there are less opportunities being developed, and the pipeline is reduced, we need to be talking to more people than a few months ago.
If that seems difficult, it’s time to take another look at your messaging. 75% of SDRs are using new/different messaging. Overnight, your prospect’s pain points have changed, but they still have pain points. They still have problems to solve. They still need your help. Of course, you need to be respectful, but that means adjusting—not reducing—your message.
Lack of dedicated inbound teamsDespite the differences between inbound and outbound, both in terms of activity and mental attitude, only 32% of companies had a dedicated inbound SDR team.
Smaller companies just starting out often have a hybrid SDR program to start with, handling both inbound qualification and outbound sales. Traditionally though, those roles are split into separate job functions as soon as possible. However, our results showed no correlation between company size and whether they had a dedicated inbound SDR team.
This really really poses more of a question; if there is no dedicated inbound team, and AE’s are notorious for not following up on all their leads, who is actually following up?
Management of inbound leadsOn a related note, 27% of companies have changed how they handle inbound leads. In most of those cases, that’s involved rerouting inbound leads from SDRs to AEs. With a lower number of leads coming inbound due to the crisis, and layoffs on the SDR team, we see this continuing.
This is understandable, as companies try to reduce any perceived friction and unnecessary steps in the process. However, handing leads directly to AEs means they’re handling more unqualified leads. There is also the risk of leads “falling through the cracks” in this case, ie being send directly to AE’s who get overwhelmed and don’t perform the proper amount of follow up.
SDRs serve an important function, tracking down all the inbound leads worth qualifying and making sure they have enough touches. Cutting out that process is a false economy, and results in more leads not being contacted. Companies need to carefully consider the buyer journey and then ensure that their lead qualification and nurturing process matches up.
ConclusionThe whole economy has taken a hit, and it’ll be many months before we understand the full effect of the pandemic. However, all is not lost. By going back to basics and making an effort to understand prospects, their industry, their personas, and their pain points, SDRs can still be effective.
Finally, self-care is critical. We’re all working from home now, and it’s easy to neglect exercise, sleep, diet, and so on. By taking care of the fundamentals, both in sales and in your personal life, you can come out on the other side of this stronger than ever.
For the full research report, complete with insights and recommendations, download your copy today.
Whether they’re looking to supplement their internal teams or build pipeline, many executives are considering outsourcing their Sales Development team. There’s a tremendous amount of demand, and the industry is growing exponentially (something we’ve seen with the latest update of our Market Map).
However, outsourcing comes with challenges. Anybody with an internet connection and a telephone can set themselves up as a sales prospecting organization, but that doesn't guarantee success. In our recent study, we found that only 32% of respondents would outsource to the same firm again.
How can you choose the right SDR outsourcing company? How can you get the best results? Here are the top factors that you need to consider.
The locationWhere is the company based? Offshore companies are cheaper (typically half the price), but local providers are generally better suited for outreach to enterprise-level businesses where a high level of English is required.
For example, if you need personalized emails and calls made to prospects in the US for a high-ticket product/service, then outsourcing to an offshore company could backfire. Trying to ‘save money’ by going for a cheaper option is a false economy if they’re not suitable for your target market. On the other hand, if you have a low-ticket offer and you’re looking to increase your outreach, then offshore will likely be sufficient for your needs.
The peopleIt's common to view an outsourced service like a machine, producing leads on demand. However, that machine is made up of people, people who’ll be directly contacting leads on your behalf.
When assessing a company, find out how their SDRs are recruited. Will you be able to communicate with and assess them directly? Will you be able to listen to recordings of their calls to hear how they interact with your prospects? The difference between an SDR who’s just dialing it in and one that’s highly motivated will have a huge impact on your results.
CooperationOutsourcing your SDR team isn’t a case of set it and forget it. You can’t just hand the company a list and a few scripts and then walk away. You need a strong relationship, where they have a seat at the table.
This is essential if you run into problems. They should feel that they can come to you, explain the problem, and come up with suggestions to move forward. If they don’t come forward, they’re either acting as a commodity, or you’re treating them like one. By treating them like the extension of your company that they are and giving them input, you can work together for better results.
A standardized approachThere are three variables you have to manage when prospecting: The marketplace, the message, and the messenger. When you're considering an outsourced SDR function, you have to choose a company that can help control those variables.
The marketplace, or who you’re reaching out to, is straightforward. So, if the company you choose has a standardized process, with control of the messenger, the only variable you need to solve for is the message. This means you can easily troubleshoot any problems that come up and pinpoint the issues, allowing you to focus exclusively on optimizing the message.
Agreed KPIs Traditionally, SDR performance is measured on how many meetings are booked. However, not all appointments are created equal. If your outsourced company is using hard-sell techniques on poor-fit prospects, you might get plenty of meetings… they just end up going nowhere. To encourage a more meaningful approach, you might also monitor their meeting-to-opportunity acceptance rate as well as the meeting attendance rate.
It’s unlikely you’ll be offered any kind of guarantee (if you are, that’s a red flag). However, a good outsourcing company will work with you to agree on what is a reasonable result against your KPIs, then work hard to make it happen.
Information sharingEnsure your outsourced firm doesn’t operate in a black box. You want to understand the processes and messaging they are using, and if successful, be able to use those with your own in-house SDR team. You’ll want to develop or validate your SDR playbook with information gleaned from the outsourced team.
ConclusionSuccessfully outsourcing your SDR program is a challenge. However, by considering their location and their culture (and how those fit in with your ICP), then making sure you’re both working together and agree on how to measure performance, you can give yourself the best chance of success and take advantage of the many benefits of an outsourced SDR team.
If you’re looking to successfully outsource your Sales Development program, then Tenbound can help you implement the best strategy for your business. Contact us today for a no-obligation exploratory call.
How many ingenuine, out-of-touch sales messages do you receive on social every week?
Here are direct quotes from just a few of the many in my LinkedIn inbox:
❌ “I definitely think our business could benefit from each other and I'd love to have a chat”
❌ “In case you’re aspiring to take the next step up in your career, so I wanted to send you something that can be a big help”
❌ “Thanks for connecting & your interest in our event” (Wasn’t interest, just connected)
❌ “I would love to hear more about your biz dev, do you do outreach to companies?”
❌ “There might be some opportunities for us to work together. We are an excellent solution for…”
Despite recent clapback from the community against these selfish, unsolicited pitches on social, it’s unfortunately still a very prevalent approach in the B2B world.
Because social is a different context from direct selling with cold calls or emails. Yet many sellers don’t recognize the difference.
Many personal and professional benefits exist for social users, but it takes the right best practices to create positive experiences for those in the community.
To use social networks correctly, SDRs need to understand how to navigate information, relationships, content, and conversations within this unique digital environment.
Here’s a breakdown of the 4 key elements behind using social as a sales professional.
At the core, social is a digital highway of information exchange. LinkedIn profiles, company pages, posts & activities, targeted groups, and more.
Every time a qualified account or prospect interacts on social, they provide invaluable insights on their priorities, personality, goals, interests, and challenges.
An SDR has to balance their level of personalization & preparation for conversations with the amount of time it takes to research that information.
With social, reps can get real-time intelligence on key stakeholders while gaining access to a reservoir of contextual data like previous experience, connections, and new team members.
Social networks like LinkedIn and Facebook are massive communities with an unending flow of content, so they have to manage how audiences grow & optimize how content is distributed.
A one-to-many environment is not the best place for direct sales outreach, but it’s an excellent stage to build personal brand and attract people that care about targeted topics.
In contrast to social selling, audience development is about finding your tribe, sharing value with the community, and building authority within your industry.
Rather than generating sales opportunities through high-volume, direct sales touches, social is about the long game: growing and building trust with a targeted community to improve performance on outbound-focused channels like phone, email, direct mail, etc.
Relationships are at the core of sales.
One great, authentic connection with someone in your professional network can generate future learning, referrals, testimonials, partnership collaborations, and even career opportunities.
However, your momentum with new relationships on social media can plummet if you’re sending automated, sales-focused messaging to everyone you find.
Not only does this messaging disrupt your ability to create one-on-one relationships, it can also degrade your reputation within the targeted communities you care about most.
Instead of a cold pitch message to everyone you come across, imagine the momentum you could create by building long-term relationships and creating positive experiences.
At the end of the day, social in the context of sales development is about influence.
SDRs can use market knowledge, audience, and relationships on social to influence the thoughts and decisions of qualified buyers, both inside or outside of their network.
The ability to influence on social is the difference between powerful thought leaders and the mass majority of B2B sellers that aren’t seeing success.
Are you staying up-to-date on topics & changes in your space?
Are you creating value for and connecting with the audience you want to grow?
Are you building memorable, lasting relationships with your network?
When the focus shifts away from “social selling” to social influence, you separate yourself from the overwhelming number of people that fill inboxes every day.
In the grand scheme of a sales development playbook, social is still a relatively new channel.
As more social users push back against direct sales on social, the mass, generic messaging approach will become less effective and more damaging to your future online reputation.
However, a growing number of sales leaders, managers, and reps are providing massive value to the community on social, creating opportunities for their business without the need to pitch.
With the right mindset behind how to leverage social networks within your sales development process, you can unlock new ways to connect with buyers and create opportunities.
In January and February most sales teams were going through SKO season, reviewing what went well in 2019 and planning for 2020. As with any year, the idea of getting ahead of pipeline is top of mind, trying to win more deals early in the year to crush their numbers and hit accelerators as they cruise into Q4. And the role of creating pipeline falls heavily on the shoulders of Sales Development Teams. No pressure!
Then March came around and the world changed. Businesses closed, everyone began to work from home, budgets went dry, and a new reality set in.
But guess what, many businesses, while adjusting forecasts for the year and quarter, still have to create pipeline to hit any adjusted goal. And guess what, that responsibility still falls squarely on the shoulders of Sales Development Teams. No pressure! Except now you’ve got double the pressure as you adapt to new realities: Buyers are distracted by things at home, and those valuable office direct dials are worthless.
The Main Driver of Pipeline Generation is still the SDR
The person who is dialing, emailing, direct mailing, and text messaging.
The SDR is responsible for 3 pipeline-centric goals:
As we know, cold call dialing is the preferred method to reach these goals in the best of times. In current times, what's the truth.
At Chorus, we have been tracking cold call data through the Covid-19 Pandemic and it turns out, it’s still effective. With some changes. Here’s what we have learned from the data:
What does this mean, while people may be working from home, they are still picking up the phone when it rings. And without the normal social interaction, maybe people are more prone to answer a call just to have the distraction they are used to when they are in the office.
What Does a Great Cold Call Look (and Sound) Like?
The truths of objectively excellent cold calling are still a black box. There are mountains of bookmarked articles claiming silver-bullet best practices and tried-and-true techniques.
And yet, The Bridge Group found that one-third of all SDRs aren’t hitting quota industry-wide.
And that was before Covid struck! Now the old messaging has to go out the window, and you MUST develop new messaging that adds a level of true empathy. What wasn’t easy before, is much harder now.
So how are these SDRs being coached to make their cold calls work? What do they say and do?
Conversation intelligence platforms like Chorus do offer benefits of recording and analysis to SDRs and full-cycle reps.
But can cold calls be assessed and coached in the same way as a sales meeting?
Let’s Think About the Differences Between a Cold Call and a Meeting
Data based on 5M+ sales calls from the State of Conversation Intelligence tells us that on a cold call pre-Covid:
You have to work faster to get your desired result.
SDRs and cold calling in general need to be assessed and coached on differently than sales meetings. Now more than ever.
In the past 2 months, this data has changed. As I said before, cold call volume is down over 25%. 100 dials is now 75 dials. Yes, connect rates aren’t off much, but with lost pipeline and revenue to make up for, that lost productivity will come back to bite companies later.
It’s time that the world of sales coaching and enablement rises to this challenge.
Say Hello to Chorus and Tenbound
We’re excited to announce a new partnership with Tenbound to help Sales Development leaders through all times.
While Chorus can enable enhanced visibility into the performance of your SDR teams, Tenbound can offer you the white-glove service you need to implement changes based on that performance.
How Can Tenbound do this?
With a focus on training your Sales Development teams, Tenbound aims to help cultivate the skills your teams need to optimize their performance.
Areas of focus where Chorus’ AI and Tenbound’s services can help you succeed:
1. Call Opening
2. Objection Handling
3. Value Propositions
4. Locking down Next Steps
With Chorus’ Cold Call Central and Tenbound's Strategic Support combined, SDR Teams are set up for success to crush their goals and drive more pipeline for their team
Most of us are aware that the buyer’s journey has changed dramatically in the last few years (and months given the global pandemic).
This is supported by a CEB (acquired by Gartner) report in 2016 that shared “buyers on average are 57% of the way through their buying journey before even reaching out to a vendor”.
Fast forward a few years since that report, the explosion of Inbound Marketing, and the development of buyer journey optimized content I would argue that it is probably closer to 90%.
That is, buyers have almost all the information they need to make an informed purchasing decision.
In 2007 Chet Homes shared the statistic that only 3% of any market is in the “buying mode” now. This means that 97% of prospects aren’t actively looking to purchase a product or service.
When you acknowledge the above statistics, it is easy to understand why the spray and pray method of prospecting doesn’t work anymore (not that I believe it ever did truly work for 99% of B2B sales teams).
If your prospecting efforts consist of sending templated messages to prospects who just match the “job title” of your past customers, it simply won’t cut it.
Just because someone matches your buyer persona doesn’t mean they are actually interested in buying what you have to offer.
You’ll be sending out hundreds of emails and generating only a handful of replies. And that isn’t fun for you or the prospect.
Prospecting is tough. It’s time-consuming, it takes tenacity to stick with it and the will power to continue prospecting each day.
But it doesn’t have to be so hard.
By taking a smarter approach to prospecting and focusing on triggers and highly personalized emails, you’ll be able to reduce the volume of emails you send, whilst increasing the number of conversations you have with engaged prospects.
This isn’t a silver bullet, but it is an efficient method for starting more conversions that begins before you even draft an email.
What is Trigger-Based Lead Sourcing
Lead sourcing (or list building) is the process of building a list of leads without previous marketing activities.
It includes finding the source of targeted leads and extracting them into a CRM system (or a spreadsheet). Usually, if the source is good enough, finding the names, phone numbers, and addresses of your leads shouldn’t be a problem.
Trigger-based lead souring takes this a step further by only sourcing prospects when an event or sales signal has occurred. It is at this moment you have an opportunity to start a conversation when there is a higher chance that the prospect is “in-market”
Examples of triggers range from obvious to not so obvious, these include:
Below are two of my favorite trigger-based lead sourcing playbooks and step by step instructions on how to perform them without the need of intent data or expensive software.
Remember, only 3% of leads are ready to buy now and it’s your job to nail the timing.
And this isn’t about building large static lists of prospects, it is about curating smaller, dynamic lists and refreshing them with new data on an ongoing basis.
Pro tip: LinkedIn remains the best database for finding the most up to date information on prospects’. If you combine these playbooks with LinkedIn, you will be able to identify a number of decision-makers who are ready to make a purchase or at least considering this option.
Playbook 1: The Social ExpansionThe Social Expansion playbook helps you send highly targeted and personalized messages based on your audience’s interactions.
This playbook helps you identify thought leaders or influencers among your target audience and build a list of those who have interacted with them through comments. When they engage with a post, they are actually giving you a signal that they may be interested in buying the product or service you offer.
From there, you can start a conversation on whatever platform you monitored, including LinkedIn, Quora, Slack, Facebook groups, and so on. Always keep in mind that there are a number of places where your prospects spend time online.
Here’s a step by step guide to the Social Expansion Playbook:
Take a screenshot of their activity on LinkedIn and include that in the email - this will take more time, but worth it if your LTV is higher.
Playbook 2: The In MarketWith the In Market Playbook, you can identify prospects who have expressed an interest in a competitor or non-competing, complementary solution. They will most likely be interested in your product as well.
When your prospects upvote a certain product, you can start the conversation about your own service or product that is relevant to their interests.
Here’s a step by step guide to the In Market Playbook:
Whilst you can automate these steps, I always recommend having a human check over the email addresses, formatting of the data, and any additional data points you intend on using in your outreach.
These are just two examples of using trigger-based events or signals to initiate your outbound sequences.
Use these as a foundation and build your own playbooks that work with your specific audience and your tone of voice.
The days of spray and pray are over, you know this and so do your prospects. Spend more time personalizing your emails and making them relevant to your prospect and you’ll be booking more meetings without burning through large volumes of leads from a list.
About Mark Colgan
Mark is the Chief Revenue Officer at TaskDrive. In his role, he leads the direction of a 100+ person, remote team by aligning Sales, Marketing, Customer Success, and Product – and he loves it.
His brain’s default mode is ‘Revenue Generation’ and his personal mantra is Give without expecting anything in return.
The Tenbound Virtual Sales Development Conference is the only full day live Virtual conference 100% dedicated and focused Sales Development!
Taking place on June 18th 2020 from 8:00am - 2:00pm PT, all sessions are led by the real Sales Development practitioners and the Tenbound team, who will share the most recent strategies, tactics and playbooks you use today to hit your Sales Development goals in this new reality.
This is a must attend virtual event.
All sessions are streamed live and will be recorded for registered attendees to watch after the event ends via tenbound.com.
This one day event is focused on the latest trends in Sales Development. Register now as session rooms are limited to the first 500 attendees who join the broadcast. If you are unable to join the session you will still be able to access the slide deck and session recording post-event.
The Tenbound Virtual Conference experience also includes amazing networking and learning opportunities. When you register you will be automatically added to the event community and able to connect 1:1 directly with other attendees, Tenbound Market Map tool providers and the Tenbound team!
What sales development leaders need to know about the connection between sleep and productivity and how to get more of both.
Even before the uncertainties of the COVID-19 pandemic, Americans were underslept. A large body of research shows we were quite unproductive as a result. During the current crisis, we face even more threats to both sleep and productivity: anxieties keep us up at night, while distractions working from home, burnout from a lack of boundaries between our professional and personal lives, and the cognitive overload of Zoom all curb our focus. Now, more than ever, it's imperative to understand the connection between sleep and productivity and invest in your team's rest.
The Science of Productivity
There's a deep body of research on the negative effects of sleep deprivation on mental processing. The prefrontal cortex area of the brain, which directs what psychologists call "executive functioning", has been found to be particularly impaired by a lack of sleep. Problem solving, reasoning, organizing, inhibition, planning, and executing plans - processes essential to performing our jobs - are all the domain of the prefrontal cortex. It is true basic motor and visual skills decline when people are sleep deprived, but they do so not nearly to the same extent as these higher-order mental skills.
And the more sleep deprived you are, the worse the consequences. This is the concept of Sleep Debt - how much sleep you miss, or owe your body, relative to your sleep need over the course of 14 plus days. The bigger the debt, the worse the impact on how you perform your job. Yet, when organizations think of ways to make their teams more productive, more regular sleep is rarely the answer.
How Your Team's Sleep Debt Impacts Its Productivity
The last 100 years of sleep science includes tens of thousands of studies on the direct impact of sleep debt on workplace performance, and the implications are becoming harder to ignore.
Deloitte, the multinational professional services network, has escalated sleep deprivation to a "business issue", supporting the scientific community's findings that "people’s ability to learn, concentrate, and retain information is greatly impacted by how well-rested they are.” This remains the case regardless of remote work practices or the status of the COVID-19 pandemic. Indeed, rigorous academic research shows that sleep debt affects productivity in profound ways:
● Increases in cognitive lapses that reduce alertness and attention: Researchers found a 400% increase in mental lapses following one night of missed sleep - and the same result for participants who slept for 4 hours over the course of six nights.
● Increases in response times and increased errors in tasks that require sustained attention, especially under time pressure and as task duration lengthens. Research has tied sleep deprivation to an 11% increase in response times - equivalent to the increase you would see from someone with a 0.8 BAC (the threshold at which you're deemed legally impaired).
● Difficulty learning new information and acquiring new skills, with a decreased likelihood to revise and adapt strategies in response to failures. Researchers have found one night of sufficient sleep improves motor learning task speed by 20% and accuracy by 39%.
● Degradation of working memory: When you sleep at night, cerebrospinal fluid and slow-wave activity both help flush toxic, memory-impairing proteins from the brain. Research has found a 40% reduction in the ability to form new human memories under conditions of sleep deprivation.
● Fewer insights: Sleep, by restructuring new memory representations, facilitates the synthesis of your day. Researchers found 2x as many subjects gained insights after 8 hours of sleep than after wakefulness.
● More sick days: Sleeping less than 7 hours a night has been found to make you 300% more likely to catch the common cold. Direct costs due to sickness absence could decrease by up to 28% if a workforce gets sufficient sleep.
Worse, sleep debt can have negative consequences for traits and habits that foster team collaboration and morale, including:
● Increased likelihood to use a negative tone of voice. Decreasing sleep debt by 8 hours reduces negative vocal emotions by up to 67%.
● Emotional irrationality: Sleep deprivation leads to a 60% amplification in emotional reactivity.
● Less empathy: Decreasing sleep debt by 8 hours increases empathic response by 30%.
● Difficulty reading emotions
● Increased risk taking
● Unethical behavior
It’s actually possible to measure the productivity costs of sleep debt in dollars and cents. In an 8-month controlled trial we ran with a Fortune 200 sales team, sellers using Rise increased key activities as their sleep improved. Outbound calls increased by 50%, while overall revenue increased by 14%. When you assume roughly 70% of your salesforce is underslept, it's easy to see how fatigue-related productivity losses add up quickly.
Why We Fail to Make the Connection Between Sleep Debt and Productivity
So why don’t organizations prioritize sleep? Caffeine may be one reason, since we can use it to counteract low levels of wakefulness. But this use ultimately boomerangs, as caffeine negatively impacts that night's sleep, triggering a vicious cycle.
The more insidious reason leaders don’t focus more on sleep debt is we as humans tend to underestimate just how underslept we are and how impaired our performance really is. Indeed, sleep researchers have wondered, if sleep is so important to our daily performance, then why don't we realize it? What they've found consistently is significantly sleep-deprived individuals repeatedly rate themselves subjectively as only moderately sleepy. In "Why Six Hours of Sleep Is As Bad As None At All" the author aptly describes the findings of seminal research: "Lack of sleep ... apparently tricks you into thinking you’re an office all-star. People who slept just six hours per night for two weeks functioned as poorly as if they’d gone without sleep for 48 hours—yet they thought they were performing at the top of their game."
How to Improve Your Team's Productivity Through More Sleep
The good news is some organizations appear to be changing their tune. Google and Goldman Sachs cover healthy sleep in employee trainings. Aetna actually pays its employees about a buck for every night they sleep seven to nine hours. We at Rise Science are seeing an uptick in companies prioritizing sleep for improved productivity outcomes.
The even better news is that improving our sleep—and reaping the rewards for productivity—is in our control (unlike much of the current moment). Managers and other organizational leaders can encourage their teams to harness the benefits of regular sleep. Not sure where to start? Research shows that simply giving employees more control over their schedule, without even directly influencing their sleep, has lasting benefits.
But there are also ways you can explicitly prioritize sleep for improved productivity outcomes. These fall into three main categories: awareness, environment, and behavior.
If all this sounds like a lot, consider the alternative: less focus, decreased memory and learning, irritability, and a cut to your bottom line. A lot is uncertain right now, but the need to run a business remains. If you’re looking for tools and tricks to stabilize your team’s productivity, why not start with the one that is a certainty? Sleep is the most important investment you can make.
At Rise, we're committed to bringing you content that's 100% backed by science. To discuss, go deeper, or question any of the claims we make here, please get in touch: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jeff Kahn is Co-Founder and CEO at Rise Science. Rise is the only app that delivers the real-world benefits of better sleep.
Jeff and his Rise co-founder were the first to publish research on technology-enabled sleep behavior modification over a decade ago, and have recently completed the largest known study on sleep and real-world job performance across the NFL and sales teams.
Jeff's research and work have been featured in The New York Times, Harvard Business Review, and The Wall Street Journal, and on ESPN, NBC, CBS, and Fox Sports. Jeff holds a B.S. in Health Systems Engineering and an M.S. in Engineering Design & Innovation from Northwestern University.
You might be wondering what a marketer knows about cold calls, and the answer is “Quite a bit!” I sit with my SDR team, when we’re not working remotely, so I hear their cold calls and pitches all day every day, which gives me insight into what’s working for them and what doesn’t based on the rest of the conversation.
There’s nothing more important for an SDR / BDR than the first words that come out of their mouth, and that especially holds true for an agent-assisted call, where the potential customer has been passed from the agent to the sales rep for the pitch and you have just a few seconds to gain and hold their attention.
So, what should you say and what should you NOT say?
● DO NOT state your company in your first sentence. Say your name, but not your company. They most likely don’t know what your company is, which gives them no reason to care. Your job is to make them care.
● DO note that you’re an interruption. There’s no way around that. You are an interruption to their day with your cold call, and by acknowledging that right off the bat, you’re showing that you’re self-aware.
● DO NOT call without knowing who you’re talking to. Before you start dialing, or have your human agent start dialing, you should have notes in your CRM for each person on that list from your research into their LinkedIn or past conversations. Don’t go in blind.
● DO ask them for their help. Most people want to help others, and if you state that you’re looking for 30 seconds of their time to just point you in the right direction, instead of saying that you’re looking for them to buy something, the conversation is more likely to continue. Plus, the person you’ve called might not be your ideal customer, but someone else at their company might be. All you have to do is ask.
● DO NOT let the person just avoid the call. But do so nicely. If they say they’re busy or have a meeting to get to, your go to answer is not “Sorry. Bye.” Instead, ask them if there’s someone else you should talk to or if you can set up a meeting for another time.
Once you’ve gotten past those first 10 seconds, you can go on to ask open-ended questions that discuss their pain points and challenges to narrow down what you should focus on for that next meeting.
The objective of any cold call is for it to feel like an actual conversation instead of a sales pitch that hits the potential customer over the head. You want to keep that conversation going to build a rapport and hopefully lead to a sale.
Mary Hart is the Senior Marketing Content Writer at ConnectLeader, a multi-channel sales engagement platform focused on helping B2B sales professionals increase their top line revenue and reduce sales cycle time. https://www.connectleader.com/
This has all happened before, and it will all happen again.
-J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan
I was in college in the 4 years leading up to the new millenia. As we climbed our ladder, our professors would often tell us “ you will enter the workplace during one of the most unprecedented economies in the history of the world. One where there just aren't enough people to fill the demand of what we are setting out to accomplish.”
In the Spring of 1999, the message began to change. The energy of our Economics and Business courses were off. I could feel something wasn't right. I came back from a Summer abroad, and their messages began to change.
“You might need to compromise.”
“You’ll need to practice resilience.”
“You may need to take jobs you never would have otherwise.”
In February 1998, it would take 1hr and 45min to drive from San Mateo, CA to San Jose, CA at 8am PT. On October 1st, 2001, that same drive would take just 48minutes.
Why do I remember that? Probably because it was my defining moment and a drive I was very familiar with.
During college I worked for a communication construction company. Often I would pick up and deliver plans. Most of our Jobs were in San Jose while some of the best General Contractors we worked with had offices on The Peninsula (Silicon Geo Slang...sorry).
One moment, my phone is blowing up because because I am stuck on a freeway full of Out-of-State plates and the General Contractor appt is about to be blown; the next, I am getting pulled over for doing 85 in a 55 and I’m shocked because I just wasn't used to an open freeway.
Right now, at 7:55am, I can see that same strip of freeway via a webcam is just as empty. Perhaps worse in moments.
What’s it going to take to get back to ‘normal’
The last time I was in this position, I was 20 something with a college degree and a girlfriend who had relocated with me so that I can attend college without being apart. When I graduated, I was automatically furloughed because I was part time and didn't have any children or dependents.
This time, it’s the opposite. I am married, 3 kids, and I was furloughed because I was middle management and didn't touch any orders- thus I am a cost.
This is the Half Glass Moment
INSIGHT 1: GET OVER IT.
It’s not personal, even when it is. It happens/ed. Take a moment to grieve, and then start working the problem.
INSIGHT 2: THE NEW NORMAL IS COKE CLASSIC.
The ‘new normal’ is just a rebranded experience that helps us cope. People who succeed in this moment will be the ones who not only realize this but also empathize with people who are coping via the rebrand.
INSIGHT 1 + INSIGHT 2 = SOMEONE’S ADVANTAGE OR DISADVANTAGE.
The momentum in the current economy, as well as the micro economies, has halved. It has not stopped. Right now, someone is taking advantage of this situation. Positively or negatively. This is the half glass moment- which half are you going to be on?
When I was hired at Siebel Systems in 2004, it was after a down-year in founding. What does that even mean? There were fewer companies founded in 2003 than in the 5 years previous. This means the economic momentum had slowed to an achingly slow pace.
I was told, “use the phone first, and then use it again. If it’s worth writing, it’s worth saying.”
We would send 1 email and make 3 dials for every email. Translated, everytime someone received an email, they were guaranteed to receive 3 calls over the next 8 business days.
We went from speaking with AEs struggling to recall the last SDR meeting they received to struggling to find a spot in their calendars for our SQL.
Right now, you are either talking yourself out of the market and talking your way in. Plain and simple.
Objections you are hearing that we’ve all heard before
Here’s a few objections we heard then that you are hearing now along with the ways that they have been solved over the last 20 years
The phone numbers don't work. Companies have closed. Locations have closed. People have been moved to home office or consolidated to new locations. Half our numbers in the marketing database don't work
Does this sound familiar? We heard the same thing during these economic crises:
2001 (dot.bomb + 9/11)
2007 (Mortgage/Financial Crisis)
My questions I asked my teammates:
Do they still have a main number? (great, why don't you call that?)
Do they still have a support number? (great, why don't you call that?)
Do they still have a general inquiry email address? (great, why dont you email that?)
Is Google still in business? (great, why don't you ask her where to find your prospect?)
Is anyone else there we need to know? (great why don't we call SOMEONE who still works there and just ask if they can help us connect with your prospect? LinkedIn says there are people still working there.)
If you don’t try, you can’t succeed. These are simple actions that have huge effects.
Everything is at a standstill - we’re putting all projects on hold.
I call bullshit. Do they have job reqs out there? Are they still in business? Do they still need deals? How many gaps do they have with the workforce that just exited?
At this moment, it is a giant math equation about optimizing fiscal efficiencies so that the company survives.
I dont think it’s appropriate to be asking people to buy things when there is so much going on.
Disclaimer on this one: There is a huge difference between being insensitive and being available. Make sure you are acting on the latter.
As I responded, I looked for a source to cite, but couldn't figure out where I first learned this. Feel free to share the source,
Somewhere along the line, I learned and then confirmed that in sales, just as in publishing, no one cares what you WANT, THINK, FEEL, or LOVE. And the way I was told was that no one f@#%ing cares.
The point? Your job is to listen to learn. And by listening to learn, you show that you care. This moment with your customer? It’s about how THEY feel, what THEY love, and what THEY think they need to do. If someone asks you what you THINK, what they are really saying is:
What do you KNOW about what I THINK, FEEL, LOVE, or WANT?
No one has any budget for anything now. The sky fell and the world is collapsing.
How is this any different than yesterday? It only illustrates why BANT is NOT the best pre-sales technique out there. ANUM is a critical requirement right now. In fact, it’s a guarantee that NO ONE has a budget for anything unless they WANT, THINK, FEEL or LOVE to stop something extremely painful. No one wants a tourniquet until they need one.
And in that moment, they would LOVE to have one. But do you LOVE applying them? No one does.
One company I’m aware of, furloughed 20% of their staff and then went to market looking for 3 solutions to optimize the loss of headcount. Right now, they have $300k in software solution investigations going on right now.
Should you call or should I (your competitor)? Because one of us will get our unfair share of that $300k, and with the attitude, I’m betting on me.
No one is calling me back, responding to my emails.
This is a timed response. How much time do you spend doing versus the time you spend planning to do.
In Sales, you exist only in those two states. We spend 80% of our time planning to do, and 20% of our time doing. Sure it may not be exactly that, and mileage can vary, but the fact of the matter is, in these times you have to ask yourself: How am I making that 20% the most valuable, worthwhile, engaging, and pleasurable experience for my customer?
In this world, more than ever before, we are exposing the sales people who have NOT been about the customer. Those who have NO IDEA how to be about them are stuck with this piece of self-doubt and cancerous defeatism.
If it’s about the customer, then you will spend more time on:
Experiences that will help them solve the problems of TODAY and TOMORROW.
Afterall, isn’t that what life’s problems are always about?
None of our SDRs were making quota....
Rewind the clock a few years, I was at a Unicorn, everything should have been going great.
But our 25 SDRs were struggling. Each week we gave them over 3,000 fresh MQLs, but none of them made quota. We just fired our 2nd CMO and 3rd SVP of Sales, both of whom were successful at previous companies.
I was asked to step in and “fix” it.
What the hell was happening? We were a billion-dollar SaaS unicorn, the movie wasn’t supposed to end this way.
The problem it turns out was simple. Most of the prospects filling our funnel were not prospects at all.
The 3,000 MQLs had been ‘qualified’ using basic Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) criteria like # of employees, industry, and annual revenue. While helpful for sizing, this ICP told us nothing about what our prospects actually wanted or needed.
And at the end of the day, that’s why prospects buy -- when you can fulfill their wants and needs.
Does my unicorn story sound familiar? It should.
In Sales Development today, only 1 out of 100 MQLs will convert to an opportunity. And poor fit is largely why.
Pair this with the common misperception that more leads = more sales, and when leads flood in but sales don’t materialize, you lose your job. Don’t blame the lead, blame the seller, right?
Today only 43% of sales reps make quota – a number that’s declined every year from 63% in 2011. We need to change how we sell and by focusing on what prospects actually want and need, we can.
How to sell prospects what they want.
So, how do you figure out what prospects want and need? Great question.
The wants and needs of a person or business are known as ‘psychographics’. It sounds fancy, but it’s been around since the 1960’s in B2C and is incredibly powerful in selling.
For example, if you’re expecting your first child, you’ll have a strong personal interest in new baby products and services. Those are psychographics. If I sell baby clothes, you are my perfect prospect. It’s that simple.
Do psychographics really work?
Have you ever bought something Amazon recommends? If so, you’re not alone. Amazon sees a 30% sales increase from psychographic-driven recommendations.
How about NetFlix or Spotify Discover? NetFlix attributes over $1B in retention to psychographic content suggestions and Spotify delivers 31% of its music based on psychographics.
These are multibillion-dollar businesses using psychographics every day to deliver valuable goods and services that you, the consumer, want and need.
3 ways to use psychographics in B2B Sales Development
Traditionally it’s been very difficult to figure out business psychographics. What does a business really want or need? They rarely take surveys and they keep their data closely guarded.
But we live in an amazing time for Sales Development. The massive surge in public web data and digital communication makes it easier than ever to know what businesses want and need. Here are 3 ways you can leverage psychographics in B2B to improve prospect fit and close more deals:
Matt Belkin is the founder of GrowFlare, a prospect intelligence platform focused on helping B2B sales professionals sell better with psychographic data. https://tenbound.com/company/growflare/
He also serves as the COO of eSUB, a construction SaaS company, where he oversees all sales, marketing, and client success efforts.
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