On May 24th, we held yet another info-heavy event in a gorgeous environment, with a topic worth delving into:
𝘌𝘹𝘱𝘢𝘯𝘥𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘢 𝘴𝘢𝘭𝘦𝘴 𝘵𝘦𝘢𝘮'𝘴 𝘚𝘋𝘙/𝘉𝘋𝘙 𝘤𝘰𝘮𝘱𝘦𝘵𝘦𝘯𝘤𝘦𝘴.
We hosted great speakers, such as Ivana Mladič (Director of SMB, Emplifi), Alan James (Sales, Outreach) and Kateryna Keretsman (VP of Business Development, Rossum).
Let's now focus on the main ideas each of them shared with us. Full recordings and slides from each speaker are available in our Sales Knowledge Library.
Kateryna Keretsman (VP of Business Development, Rossum)
Presentation topic: Why does every sales process need business development?
Kateryna's invigorating lecture focused on some key factors that boost the companies' sales and revenue, extend their market reach and increase their overall profitability by driving more efficiency.
Let's begin by naming the key challenges when establishing and managing BDR teams.
- Hiring. What do we need to keep in mind during this complex process?
- You need to hire the right profiles. Beforehand, you need to ensure who exactly you're looking for. Determine your ideal candidate's profile.
- The question of retention. Let's be real, on average, a sales rep lasts in a company for 6 months, and 2 of those is onboarding.
- Consistent performance. Besides the right soft skills, your candidate must also be handy at sales engineering.
So, how to set it up right?
From what you've just read, the idea of hiring new BDRs might be intimidating. But rest assured, the better you determine your sought candidate's qualities, habits and abilities, the higher the probability you'll find them and make them stay.
Which are the characteristics that most managers link with “ BDR candidate”?
They're fresh out of school and already have some basic skills to start with, such as the ability to communicate and handle the digital universe. They are also sharp, fast and fearless in sales.
Now, what motivates this type of candidates?
We could say “money”, but they're never satisfied with that. Not on the long run, anyway.
Nowadays, the most frequent “motivating factors” for millennials at work are:
- good work/life balance,
- the feeling of being valued in the company,
- opportunities to grow professionally,
- the feeling of truly contributing to the company
What discourages and frustrates new BDRs?
- being rejected or ignored
- Repetitive and borring activities
- lack of visibility in the company and no appreciation
TIP: This last point is actually critical. Many sales reps end up feeling unappreciated and scolded in companies. Therefore, realize that praising your BDR for a job well done costs you nothing and will mean the world to them.
What activities do we need a beginner BDR to do?
- research on companies and potential customers
- outreach activities while following predetermined scripts
- book meetings for the sales team
Why do fresh BDRs bail?
Likewise mentioned above, on average, BDRs spend 6 months in a company and leave after that in search of greener grass. Of course, the 6 months period is not a rule, as the average is given by a split between those who leave during trial, and those who stay a couple years.
Among the most common reasons for a BDR to quit their job is the realization that the opportunities to grow professionally are rather limited.
Also, many of them are dreaming of skyrocketing in their careers, and then, when all they do is call clients and read from scripts, it all gets repetitive, boring and pointless to them.
As a company, there is a pretty important takeaway for you from this:
- You might not be utilizing the capabilities of your employees to a full extent.
- You might have a retention problem (if many of your new employees bail soon)
- You just keep hiring all the time, you never get a stable team.
Sounds like a pretty cursed cycle, right?
How to get out of it?
- Give your new BDRs more responsibilities. Remember, they are fresh outta college, not babies. Don't be afraid to fully use their time capacity. They'll be thrilled to learn new skills and improve.
Even more responsibilities: let them work on more complex stuff, take part in technical demos, supporting AMs with business expansion, etc.
- Peer to peer coaching: establish an independent team where everyone can learn from everyone
- Engage senior team members in the onboarding process
- Teach them and enable them to do more kinds of activities. That way, you'll not only provide them a more diverse work schedule, but you also end up saving time. On top, your BDR will be growing professionally. Sounds like a win-win, eh?
- Give them credit and visibility - again, it costs you nothing. And they will thrive, driven more by being acknowledged by their employer than by money.
If you take the time to hire and onboard a new BDR, make sure that you give them all the reasons to want to stay. If they don't prove to be a good fit, you can always decide to let them go. However, as a business owner, always keep in mind that you are losing profit by not optimising the conditions of work for your future sales superstars.
Key hiring factors (Example from Rossum)
Next, Katerina shared with us some key characteristics that Rossum is looking for in each candidate. Although some of them might be specific for this company, notice that the majority of these characteristics are generally sought in BDR candidates nowadays:
On the other hand, when hiring, you should also be looking out to leave the best impression possible on your candidates. This includes:
- Maximum transparency: if there are challenges they might face at the start of their onboarding, tell them. If their predecessor left and there's a mess to deal with, let the newbie know also. That way, if they decide to start working with you, they'll know what to expect.
- Alignment of performance expectations: set up clear KPIs for your new employee. Their motivation will increase if there are clear goals to be met. Also, if they hit goals in the first month, the newbie will feel accomplished and successful.
- Team diversity. This doesn't mean that you need to hire a representative of every race, gender and orientation. It refers to different personalities and mentalities on your team. That way, you're bound to always get the right answers quicker than if all your BDRs are melancholic males in their late twenties.
So, you're done hiring. Why should you focus on onboarding next?
Because if you set it up well, it can improve your retention score A LOT.
An employee who is well onboarded is 69 % more likely to stay in the company for over 3 years.
And, at the same time, 1 in 10 employees leave their company because they were poorly onboarded.
What does a probation ramp-up look like?
And how to set up KPIs for your BDR team?
- Results: Pipeline generated, percentage of closed deals, conversions from opportunities to closed deals, etc.
- Objectives: Meetings scheduled vs. held, qualified opportunities
- Activities: Calls, e-mails, connections, talk time, social connections
Kateryna wrapped up her presentation by giving us some best practice tips from Rossum:
- Reach out to different customer personas simultaneously, but while having the proper messaging tech aligned to every one of them.
- Use video in your outreach activities, such as newsletters (they have 30 % higher open rate)
- Send out multi-touch cadences when outreaching to contacts with duration up to 3 weeks (for us best performing cadence is 19 steps, 30 days, activities via 4 different channels)
Ivana Mladič (Director of SMB, Emplifi)
Ivana kicks off her presentation by drawing examples from how Emplify used to function.
At a point, they started to feel the need for greater efficiency and productivity in the sales organization, as too much time was being wasted on admin heavy tasks across different platforms.
That also led to managers having limited insight to what the best performing outreach sequences are, mainly due to inaccurate data as a result of manual reporting.
Emplify joined forces with the Outreach.io tool to improve their processes.
Among the main advantages of this decision, Ivana mentions the following:
These efficiency improvements were able to produce a more predefined way of work for Emplify and a well scalable business model.
At present, Emplify is running on its own “Team Framework”. What exactly is that?
- Having predefined sequences (f.ex. based on a persona) usage in Outreach. Planning better leads to a seamless outreach process.
- Having pre-defined and scalable actions. This leads to more predictability and less guessing, ergo, to saving lots of time and money.
- Data driven follow-up decisions. The new BDRs have all the data at their disposal whenever they call based on a script. Therefore, they already know what their reply sentiment will be like and they can easily define the objections of the customer.
- Faster onboard process. Thanks to all the cadences and sequences and scripts, there is basically a bundle ready for each newbie, so they don't need to start from scratch.
- Faster integration of new products and strategies.
What did these improvements bring to Emplify?
- A higher number of simultaneously running sequences. They are now much more able to perform actions such as AB testing, which obviously takes the whole e-mailing and prospecting thing to the next level.
- Higher conversion to opportunities. Obviously, based on having more data to work with.
- Objection handling. They take it as relevant feedback to the company, because basically that's how you figure out how to keep improving your product.
- Easier tracking of regional differences. The ability to better understand what can be implemented across the globe vs. where every region functions differently.
- A higher level of personalization. Integrating and implementing nuances which make all the difference in personalized e-mail sequences for different customer personas, etc.
Alan James (Sales, Outreach)
Alan came to share with us some of the key findings from a study (Forrester Consulting Study) that Outreach did recently, which involves results from 200+ B2B sales leaders.
The survey we're sourcing from was made by Outreach in 2021 when the pandemic was still a thing, which brought about unpredictability and uncertainty. Therefore, the respondents who took part in answering were impacted by this reality.
What follows are some of the highlighted questions and the most frequent answers to those. The answers are organized from most to least frequently mentioned.
Topic #1: What makes a high performing sales representative?
- a digital-first mindset (the ability to work with tech tools or learn it fast); many companies are shifting more and more toward digital commerce, due to uncertainties related to the Covid pandemic
- a relationship builder; a sharp sales rep is able to bond both with the rest of the team and with customers
- the ability to forecast effectively and efficiently; they must be able to work well with the data available, rather than just guess
- priority focus on diversity, equity and inclusion; the ability to get along well with different age groups, mentalities, races
- industry expertise; while definitely important, it comes last in this list
How surprising is it that being digitally skilled and good at relationships is key nowadays, much more than just raw experience?
Topic #2: What makes a good sales manager?
- the ability to consume, analyze and act on data
- empathetic and caring approach to employees; after all, we're not robots, we're people
- the ability to insulate their team from distractions/pressure
- strong coaching skills
- strong sales skills
- business experience
- the ability to develop good sales reps
Topic #3: Which are the biggest challenges faced across different roles?
This question was really interesting, as the respondents were to name the most difficult challenge a sales employee of any position can come across. The 3 most frequently mentioned ones?
- Leading a multi-generational sales team.
- Keeping up with the pace at which buyers are evolving
- An uncertain economic environment.
As can be easily deduced, except for no.1, you're pretty much facing all of these, regardless of your role on the team.
What exactly is an execution gap and how to close it?
Alan offers a slide where it's clearly illustrated:
If your sales process is experiencing similar gaps, you probably get the feeling like the system is failing you. There are numerous inconsistencies, inefficiencies and inaccuracies across your pipeline.
How does Outreach help you?
- Usage of sequences when reaching out to customers is a key instrument, because it gives us feedback on how we communicate. After a while, we're even able to detect certain trends in this feedback.
- Get planning. Create individual success plans for your account executives. Plans help both the seller and the buyer "read" the whole process before it happens. Again, this boosts success rates on both sides, as well as saves you a whole bunch of time and resources.
- Drive accuracy and forecasting in the whole process. This doesn't mean getting a crystal ball, rather than bringing predictability into your processes by having sufficient data and reports.
- Drive activity and positive interactions.
This was a recap of interesting stuff said on our last SalesHeads meetup. Are you interested in finding out more about these topics and gaining access to the whole presentations & recordings? They're available for you in our Sales Knowledge Library!