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How fast can you go? The Selligy Sales Development Capacity Planner
Sales development capacity planner

Today we’re posting the first version of the Selligy Sales Development Planner. The goal is to help sales development managers plan how to get the most from their leads and their teams.

You give the spreadsheet:

  • How big your team is
  • How many calls and emails they do in a day
  • How many leads you have coming in
  • The touch pattern your want your reps to follow

The spreadsheet tells you:

  • Whether your team has the capacity to do your pattern
  • How much of the team’s capacity your pattern will use
  • How much of your team’s time will be spent on email versus calls
  • How many leads per day your team can handle with your pattern
  • How many reps you need to do your touch pattern
  • How big a touch pattern your team can handle

What’s it for?

The spreadsheet aims to help sales leaders align their touch pattern, lead flow, and team size.

Why did Selligy make it?

Selligy’s in the business of making great tools for sales development. Sales development teams that use Selligy Pursuit complete three times more touches per day than before they started using our tools. We use this spreadsheet to show our customers how big an impact that can have on their business.

How do I use it?

To use it, fill out the following inputs:

  • Number of reps. This is simple, how many sales development reps are going to work on this plan?

  • Calls per rep per day. On average, how many calls can a rep complete in a day if that is the only thing they are doing? This should be a daily average of how many real “touches” your reps can complete, so if a “touch” in your plan means leaving a voicemail, it should be the average of how long it takes to leave voicemails and actual conversations, over the course of a day.

  • Emails per rep per day. On average, how many emails can a rep complete in a day if that is the only thing they are doing?

  • Leads per day. On average, how many leads are added to this plan per day? The model will assume that these come in every day. Since we assume that the team will work every day of the pattern, these days correspond to whatever your business day is.

  • Touch pattern. This is where you create your touch pattern. On each day of the pattern, put a “1” in the column for emails if you want your team to email the lead on that day, or a “1” in the column for calls if you want your team to call the lead on that day. Day 1 is the first day that the lead appears. If you want the team to call and email on the same day, you can just add a “1” to each column.  If you want your team to call the lead twice in the day, just put a “2” there, etc.

What about prospecting? The model currently just assumes that your leads just appear every day (which if you’re looking at inbound leads, they do). If the same team is responsible for adding these leads, then you should reserve capacity for that.  If, for example, you want your team to spend 20 percent of their time prospecting, then adjust the touch pattern until the planner tells you that the pattern is using 80 percent of the team’s capacity.

How does it work?

The spreadsheet maps out how many leads come in per day, and how many touches per day will be required by your touch pattern. As more leads get loaded into the pattern, your team’s work will ramp up.

Some of the math is quite simple:

  • If your touch pattern is 18 days long, your pattern will hit its steady load of touches in 18 days.

  • If your touch pattern requires 10 touches and your pattern prescribes 10 touches per lead, then your team will need to do 100 touches per day when the pattern hits its full stride.

Where things are a bit trickier is in the fact that calls and emails generally take different amounts of time. To do that, the spreadsheet converts the tasks into a common unit of work, then calculates how much your team can handle.  

(For example, if your reps can do 100 emails or 50 calls per day, and you have 3 reps, then the planner calculates your team can do 300 “points” of work a day, where one email costs one “point” and one call costs 2 “points.)

Finally, the spreadsheet does a little mini simulation of each day, calculating how many touches your touch pattern would require as the leads build up. It then compares that to your team’s capacity to show you whether you are over or under capacity.

What’s coming next?

We are working on an advanced model that uses conversion rates to remove leads from the flow as they convert – and shows you how many conversions the team will produce on average. If you’re interested, email us at infodesk@selligy.com and will let you give it a spin!


Account-based sales development: How do you keep everyone in sync?
What sales development tools keep account based sales development teams in sync?

Account-based sales development makes a lot of sense. Assign your sales development reps to the same accounts as your quota-carrying reps. Set up a lot of communication between the two. Surround the account with messages from each in a coordinated way.

What could go wrong?

Strange as it sounds, sales development can actually go overboard and be too aligned with the territory reps. Some sales development teams splinter into mini-teams, with each rep following the beat of their respective account teams. Eventually, if you ask the director of sales development what the sales development reps are working on, or what message is working the best right now, he or she might not really know.  

Soon, the sales development leader knows that the team could be working more efficiently – but, since the their reps are all chasing different projects in different territories, it’s not clear exactly how or why.

As the team grows, communication requires more effort.

When sales development is small, everyone shares what’s working and what’s not. Each week, the results get a little bit better. Everyone is exchanging tips and obsessing over which subject lines work, how many emails is too many, and how to connect with prospects.  Over time, these improvements accrue to make a huge difference.

The shift to account-based sales development can interrupt this natural collaboration. Not surprisingly, the senior sales reps spend zero time thinking about touch patterns, calls-to-action, and subject lines – which is as it should be. Account reps obsesses over how to win and expand deals in their territories.

So how do you get the best of both worlds? Both the efficiency of a centrally managed team – and the effectiveness of coordinating sales development by territory? 

Targets come from sales. Tactics come from the sales development.

In an ideal team, the senior, account-based sales rep is picking who to target. When she is targeting a particular account, she can have her sales development rep canvass the company for other interested parties.  When there’s a local event, the she'll craft the invite list and the sales development rep can pound the phones to drum up attendees.

Similarly, in the ideal team, the sales development manager gives the sales development reps the menu of tactics to use to reach these targets. And, by staying in close touch with how these are going, the playbook gets better and better with time.

This way, everyone gets to do what they are best at – and the leverage of the sales development team is maximized by using the best tactics to reach the most important accounts to the senior sales team.

So, when the salesperson says they want to target Acme Corp., the sales development rep can hit LinkedIn to find more prospects and – thanks to their hard working sales development manager – pull up the best sequence of emails and calls for businesspeople and the best sequence for technical people and start working the account.

To make this work requires discipline and great sales development tools for keeping the team on track, running the best messages and plays, and measuring results. (We’ve written before that many teams are stuck with manual processes and dodgy tools. But don’t worry, we’ve got a better way!)

sig-chris

Chris van Löben Sels
director, business development & marketing

Selligy Pursuit is a tool that turns your sales development plans, including assignment rules, directly into actions for your reps to take.  Sound interesting? Contact us to learn more today.

Top sales development strategies for lead assignment rules

What's the best lead assignment rule for your team?

You have a pile of leads and a group of sales development reps. Your reps are going to make opportunities out of those leads. To do that, they need to know which leads are theirs to work.

But, the moment you have more than one rep, you have a question: How do you divvy up the leads?

The question comes up in both inbound and outbound contexts.  With inbound leads – like website sign-ups – the team needs to assign each lead as it comes in. With outbound leads, where the reps are prospecting new leads, there needs to be a way of breaking up the world so two reps aren’t chasing the same new target.

Here’s a run down of the common methods of lead assignment rules. Each has advantages, disadvantages and costs.  Our goal here is to give you lots of ideas to brainstorm with, rather than collapse similar rules into a single category or give a single recommendation.  

How do you choose?

There is no one-size-fits-all rule. The size of the company, maturity of the product, lead volume and team size all matter. We’d recommend looking at three considerations:

  • Specialization matters. Dividing your inbound and outbound work can make both more effective perhaps by as much as 28 percent, according to Kristina McMillan of Five9, via TOPO. And specializing by industry or named account specialization may yield even more, according to Kevin O'Malley of Catavolt (again, via TOPO).

  • Speed matters. Getting back to inbound leads as fast as possible makes a huge difference, with one widely quoted study, showing that cutting response times to under an hour doubling conversion rates.

  • Simplicity is a constraint – but one you can manage. You can’t increase speed and specialization if your team and tools are not ready for more complex processes. But that’s one of the reasons there are new sales development tools, like Selligy Pursuit. If you want to do better lead assignment, you might want to invest in a new tool that hides that complexity from your team.

Inbound assignment rules

These rules apply to incoming leads, but they can be combined with outbound approaches as well.

Round robin. Very simple. Like shuffling cards, when the next lead comes in, the next rep gets it. It has the advantage of fairness – and of extreme simplicity. It gets leads to reps quickly – if you get a surge of reps in a single industry or territory, they won’t get stuck in a long line, waiting for the rep for that category. On the disadvantage side, round robin doesn’t allow reps to specialize in a particular pitch, isn’t super-optimized for speed, and can’t maximize alignment with field sales.

First come, first serve. This approach is all about speed: when a rep is free, he or she grabs the next lead in the queue. Since there is only one queue, and all reps are emptying that one queue, it’s the fastest model for responding back to leads in the shortest time. Like round robin, however, there’s no specialization or field alignment in this model, which we’ll see in the next couple of approaches.

Snooze you lose. Some tools allow you to assign inbound leads to a rep, but then reassign it quickly if they haven’t responded within, say, 60 minutes. This helps slash the time required to respond. The vendors who make these tools claim major conversion benefits by getting back to leads in minutes, not hours.

Outbound (and/or inbound) assignment rules

Most of the following rules can be used to assign both inbound and outbound, or you can use a combination: such as using round-robin for inbound and one of the rules below for outbound.

Industry. Different industries often use different jargon, have different business priorities, and thus require very different messaging. A simple mistake in jargon can cancel out all of your rep’s credibility. So training reps by industry can prevent costly missteps. Industry specialization becomes more important if your solution is used for different things by different businesses. If you were selling a file-sharing app to ad agencies, “sharing assets and deliverables” would be a good pitch, for example, but would mean nothing to doctors. One challenge to this rule is allocation – it’s tricky to know how many reps to assign to each group.

Customer segment. Like the industry rule, you can divide your team up the way you divide up your customers – by team size or customer size, for example. This has the same advantages as the industry rule: by segmenting your team by the audience they reach, they can hone their messages better. The more different your segments, the better this rule will work. This rule also works best if your segments are based on clear customer traits, such as customer size. Not surprisingly, this rule won't work well for you if single companies can fall into multiple segments.

Personas. It’s not uncommon to have different pitches for the different personas you sell to, such as a ROI pitch for business managers and a feature comparison pitch for technical managers. The industry and segment assignment rules map your reps to the audience. But dividing up reps by persona appears to be a step too far in B2B sales. Since you would expect the different personas to appear within one customer firm, conversations starting in one arena will lead to the other.  (If you have a way of making this work, we’d love to hear about it!) In fact, splitting up personas goes in the opposite direction of “canvassing the account” – having a single plan to reach everyone in the account, which brings us to . . .

Named accounts. One of the simplest rules to understand is assignment by account list. It’s simple, and sets success at each account to be the goal, rather than just “churn and burn.” If your account lists are divided by industry/segment, you also get the value of better messaging, as described above. This rule can be easy to size and allocate, as you can try different accounts-per-rep ratios to see what works. Account lists can also achieve good alignment with your sales field, which is important enough it gets its own category . . .

Field alignment. In this model, the sales development team uses the same territory/industry/size rules as the field sales team. If you have split your field sales team up by industry, it’s probably because the messages and tactics are different by industry – which applies to sales development as well as it does to sales. (That said, if you break your sales team up into physical sales territories, that saves on field sales travel time and cost, but that doesn’t really apply to your inside team.) In all cases, however, the territory approach has the great advantage of creating a relationship between the two teams. And a great AE-SDR relationship can have a big impact. It is natural that the sales team in the territory gives “their” sales development more feedback, helping them improve their game. The territory approach, however, is not optimized for speedy response times for inbound leads or special projects. If you have leads from a trade show and you want to contact them all in a day, for example, you’d get through the list faster by spreading it out across the whole team.


When you’re ready to change . . .

One final note: When you’re ready to make a change in how you organize your sales development team, it’s also a good time to look at your stable of sales tools. Next generation tools simplify your ability to implement more complicated segmentation strategies. Ideally, rolling out a new tool and a new way to work makes both more successful.

And if you didn't see your way of working here,  and let us know what’s working for you!

sig-chris

Chris van Löben Sels
director, business development & marketing

Selligy Pursuit is a tool that turns your sales development plans, including assignment rules, directly into actions for your reps to take.  Sound interesting? Contact us to learn more today.

What's slowing down your sales development team? You are.

Are your sales development tools overloading your reps?

As a sales development manager, you do everything you can to increase your team's velocity and get results. But, many of the things you do to make your team more effective also makes them (and you) less efficient.

Sales meetings, sales playbooks, lead tracking -- the main tools you have to increase how well your team works -- they all drag down how much time your team has to actually sell. We've analyzed the blow-by-blow, minute-by-minute work of sales development reps in multiple organizations. Here's what we've found are the three worst speed bumps on the sales development road. 

Meet Jane, director of sales development...

Let’s walk through an example: Our hero, Jane, the sales development director, has a new plan to contact leads from a trade show. She wants the team to follow a particular pattern – first call and email, then wait a day to follow up with a second email, then make a call the next day, and so on.  She has different email templates and call scripts for businessperson leads and technical person leads.

It’s all pretty standard stuff, but let’s look at how much time Jane spends to make it happen:

Speed bump 1: Playbooks.

To get ready for this project, Jane spends an entire morning writing up the plan and adding it to the sales playbook in order to train her team.  Sadly, Jane has to write a mini computer manual to cover all the logistics: the step-by-step of how to find the leads in the CRM system, how to claim them, where to find the right template, how to code them in the CRM system, and how to set reminders for when to make the next contact. All of this is on top of the basics of when to call versus email, how many days to wait for the next contact, etc.

Since there’s always a new project, writing playbooks takes up a pretty big slice of Jane’s week, time that she’d rather spend figuring out ways to increase conversions.  But at least this speed bump only takes up Jane’s time – the other two impact the whole team.

Speed bump 2: Training meetings.

Time is of the essence for this project: Jane wants to contact these leads as soon as possible, before the leads forget what they saw at the show (and since competitors are trying to reach them too). So Jane wants the whole team on this job. She takes the whole team off-line for an hour to go over the plan.

The sad thing is, only about 15 minutes of this time is spent covering the actual selling pitch. The rest of the time covers all the logistics, so the team knows how to follow all of the logistical details in the playbook. Jane tries to balance keeping the meeting short with actually feeling like her team understood all of the details of the new project.

Speed bump #3: Bookkeeping.

The most innocuous sounding speed bump – bookkeeping – is actually the most costly. Jane’s reps lose time mucking about with importing and exporting leads before they even get started. Then, before each contact, they have to find the next lead, mark it as theirs, and select the right template.

After they do the actual work of reaching out to the prospect, they have to record what happened in CRM, then look up in the playbook what the next action should be and when, and then create a reminder to do the next action at the right time.

In our work with customers we've found that, in many teams, the bookkeeping takes as long as the selling task itself -- meaning that all this bookkeeping can consume half of a rep’s day!

Unfortunately, if Jane cuts out down on the bookeeping, her reps won't be able to track how many times they've followed-up -- and they'll either waste time on leads that they've already hit ten times, or let valuable leads fall through the cracks.

But wait, don't we have lots of sales tools?

Sales development is miles ahead of where it was just three years ago. Most teams use a stack of tools. So why is Jane (and the rest of us) still trapped using meetings, calls, and manual bookkeeping? 

Let's look at how today's common tools help, but don't solve Jane's (or her team's) real problem:

Diallers. Diallers are an incredible invention, but even the best don’t give Jane a way of outlining all of the steps she wants her reps to take. The playbook, the meeting, even manually setting reminders are all still needed.

Sales email tools. While these tools help manage templates, they also don’t give Jane a way to tell reps when to call next. So, again, it's back to the playbook, the meetings, and the bookkeeping.

Sales automation tools. We have finally begun to see some tools that allow individual reps to set up sequences of emails and tasks. These save the rep the time it takes to set follow-up reminders after each contact. But most are still tools for the indvidual rep, who has to set up the sequence themselves. How do the reps know what to set up? You guessed it, by going to the meeting and reading the playbook.

What does the next level of sales development tools look like?
Most of the tools today are for the individual rep, not for Jane, and not for the team. What Jane and her team need is the ability to just pick the right plan and get back to selling. Once Jane picks the plan, the tool should fetch the leads, show each rep what to do next, fetch and fill the right call and email template. They shouldn’t be doing bookkeeping, they should just be selling.

This is why we built Selligy Pursuit: to automate everything about sales development that can be automated. Most of what Jane is telling her team to do – fill in a template, import a lead, update CRM, set a reminder – can be done by a computer. So it should be.

Because our tools should accelerate, not slow down, sales.

 

sig-chris

Chris van Löben Sels
director, business development & marketing

Selligy Pursuit is a tool that turns your sales development plans directly into actions for your reps to take.  Sound interesting? Contact us to learn more today.

In sales development, when does persistence become insanity?

Have your lead follow-ups made your sales development insane?“If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.”

“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, expecting different results.”

We’ve met sales development teams all over the spectrum between these two quotes – teams that hit a lead once and forget about them and teams that call someone every day for, well, forever.

What's the happy medium between the two? How many lead follow-ups is too many? How many is too few? First, let’s look at the two extremes:

“Hit ’em once and go.” In this extreme, sales development reps get a list of leads, pound through the list with an email or call or two, then go on to the next list. The manager of the team might not even know he or she is running a “hit ’em once and go” team. We find this approach in teams with minimal tools, metrics, or formal processes.

What’s wrong with this approach? These teams may be leaving 52 percent of the money on the table. According to a much-quoted Velocify study, touching each lead just two more times will increase your conversion rate 50 percent. Sticking with a lead for a total of six touches will increase your conversion rate 94 percent above what you'd get with a single call. It’s simple: it’s critical to catch your leads at the right time. The competitor who keeps trying is more likely to succeed and advance. If that’s not your team, it will be someone else’s.

And then there's the other extreme . . .

“I’ve called that lead every day for the last two years. I will call them again tomorrow.” In the opposite extreme, once a rep has a lead, they never let go. Ever. Really, ever. We’ve met folks who have been calling a victim lead consistently over a year.

What’s wrong with this approach? Bad manners and opportunity cost. Going back to the Velocify study, if you go from six touches to nine, you might lift your conversion rate by only 4 percent. If you call a lead 200 times, that’s 200 calls you could have made to leads that would have converted, instad of pounding on one that won't. Worse, you’ve actually hurt your reputation with this (admittedly stubborn) account, so you’re further behind where you could have been.  

So how do you find a happy medium?

The highest performing teams think outside of the “touches per lead” box.
Instead of thinking about touches per lead, high performing teams think about sales development campaigns. Each lead from a particular source may go through three campaigns (each of which may have 10 touches per lead).

These teams vary the call-to-action, message, and approach per campaign. Since they aren’t just beating their head against a wall, conversions go up.

The first campaign always uses a standard sales development approach, stating the value proposition and asking to set up a meeting/call/demo/etc. The rep runs this campaign until the lead has been touched 6 to 10 times.

But when that doesn’t work, they don’t give up there. They start a new campaign. (Though often they let the lead "rest" in marketing for a while first.)

For example, they may have a local event, such as a steak dinner with a traveling exec or tickets to a game – something of value that isn’t tied directly to the product pitch and asking for a meeting. Marc Benioff is famous for using steak dinners to grow Salesforce from a departmental to enterprise solution. And it still works. (For example, David Ulevitch, CEO of OpenDNS recently spoke at Saastr, entitled "Steak Dinners, and Trade Shows – Racing toward $100m+ ARR and Growing 100% YoY through Enterprise Field Sales").

The campaign approach combines “never let go” relentlessness without slipping into insanity. If your standard pitch doesn’t work after 10 tries, the problem is probably the pitch, not the number of tries.

Sadly, while most marketing tools center on campaigns, most sales development tools don’t. We’ll write more about what makes a good sales development campaign tool soon. But in the meantime?

Stop the insanity, but don’t give up!

 

sig-chris

Chris van Löben Sels
director, business development & marketing

Selligy Pursuit is a tool that leads your sales development team to follow best practices, without having to lecture them on best practices.  Sound interesting? Contact us to learn more today.

Do your sales development tools make your SDRs look dumb?

Do your sales development tools make you look dumb?Sales development is a tough job. If it takes 50 to 100 leads for you to get a customer, messing up just one sales conversation is a lot of work down the drain. The last thing you need is your tools making it harder by inserting your own foot into your sales development mouth.

Here are three common "Doh!" moments to watch for:

1. Are you a human?

One of your leads, Jonathan Smith, emails you back with questions. Great! You answer the questions and Jon (you now know that’s how he signs his name) likes the answers. Even better!  You’re just about to suggest a live call when . . .

“Dear Jonathan, Have you heard about our solution? I just found your company on LinkedIn . . . ”

Your email tool sends your new friend an obvious form letter – from your address, over your signature. In your prospect’s eyes, you just went from helpful salesperson to clueless spambot, or more likely, just clueless salesbot.

You just went from helpful salesperson to clueless bot.

It’s the social equivalent of suddenly introducing yourself to someone like you’ve never met – 30 minutes into your first date.

What causes it? One possibility is that the SDR forgot to update Jon’s record to exclude him from the next email blast. Another possibility is that something went wrong with how contacts were selected for the email. Often getting this right requires the SDR to manually update multiple CRM fields. And most tools require either the SDR manager or the SDR to write the correct rules to build email lists.

What’s the fix? Ideally, your sales development tool automatically live replies (via email or phone) and automatically updates your CRM so the SDR can't forget to. It should also allow the SDR manager to write different rules for leads that have replied, so an active engagement can't be interrupted by an auto-email.

2. Vertically challenged.

Some vertical industries use vocabulary that is slightly different. But others are so different that if you use the wrong email template or call script, you would have been better off not contacting them at all.

In some industries, calling an “agent” a “salesperson” is worse than never having contacted them at all.

Examples include: emailing a real estate agency about their “salespeople” instead of their “agents.” Or leaving a message for a medical professional about their “customers” instead of their “clients” or “patients” (depending on, again, which part of the profession they’re in). Or sending a whitepaper about “customers” and “ROI” to a university, instead of one about “students” and “efficiency and savings.”

facepalm_4

What causes it? Most SDR tools aren’t sophisticated enough to offer different templates based on customer types. Generally, matching leads to templates is done manually by SDRs, either one at a time or by using search tools to grab a list of leads. Mistakes happen when the SDR doesn’t see the mismatch and/or the lead data isn’t rich enough (or isn’t accurate enough) to get the match right.

What’s the fix? Look for an SDR tool that does the matching for the SDR automatically, then allowing the SDR to review the email or call for fit.

3. Yeah, I already heard that one.

You find a great new subject line or sales development play. Maybe you’re contacting senior executives and asking for a referral to the right person lower on the team.

You train your team on this play. And it’s working. Yay!

Then, things get busy. You’ve been running that play for a long time now. But, it takes a long time to write up a playbook. And your weekly meeting agenda has been full. So you keep that play in the rotation for a while longer.

Too long, it turns out.

When good tactics go bad, like when good milk goes bad.

Now your prospects are getting a “Could you please refer me to the right person” email five days a week -- from you, your lamest competitor, and a bunch of SDR teams that aren’t even in your industry. They delete it so fast that they don’t even look to see who sent it.

Your tactic has gone from good, to stale, to spoiled.

What causes it? Most sales development tools don’t make it easy enough to put new plays or new templates into the rotation. If you are switching from calling high in an account and asking for a referral down to the other way around, it’s not as simple as pressing a button. But if you wait too long to re-target your team, your tactics go stale. Fast.

What’s the fix? Ideally, you need an SDR tool that lets you roll out new coaching, new call prompts, and new templates all at the same time, all in the tool. And it should be as easy as pressing a button. That way, you don’t need a mix of manual and automatic methods to roll out new plays. When it’s that easy, you can switch plays and templates more often and stay ahead of the crowd.

It's time for next generation tools.

As organizations realize how effective next-generation sales development is, it’s time for next generation sales development tools. Or at least tools that don’t make your team look bad.

Sales development is a hard enough job as it is.

 

sig-chris

Chris van Löben Sels
director, business development & marketing

We’re building a tool that makes your sales development team look smarter, not dumber.  Sound interesting? Contact us to learn more today.

What’s the most important sales development tool? And why is it awful?

What's the most important sales development tool?Sales development is a sales management decathlon.

Every sales managment discipline runs at maximum velocity. Prospecting, recruiting, training, email, calls – everything is turned up to 11. Given that it’s the sales equivalent of the carnival guy spinning plates, management tools are critical.

So what’s the most important tool in the sales development toolbox?

It could be your prospecting tools, since if your leads are bad, everything else suffers. But there will always be lots of prospecting tools, each one a bit better than the last. And most teams use several. So there’s no one-absolutely-most-important-tool here.

It could be recruiting tools. Nothing is going to work well if you don’t have the right people. And, since there’s always a lot of staff turnover in sales development, recruiting commands constant attention. But recruiting represents a people problem, not a tool problem. So a difference in tools don’t really drive performance differences in recruiting.

Maybe it’s training tools. Again, with high staff turnover, training never ends. But again, training remains a people problem more than a tool problem.

What about sales email tracking tools? These are certainly popular. But as we’ve written about before, sales email tracking data is helpful, but not a game changer.

Perhaps it’s your dialing tools? Some dialers claim big gains in call velocity when you use a dialer that knows the weather in the cities you’re calling. But, it’s just not clear that watching the weather (or winning sports teams or other weird data) really moves the revenue needle as much as these vendors claim. And, more importantly, calling isn’t the only thing your SDR team does. Your dialer only helps you dial, not prospect, email, or anything else.

Here’s the answer . . . and it sucks.

The most important sales development tool is the lowly Task. Yes, that's right, the reminder, the to-do item, the task, that sad, underpowered app in every tool suite since Office 97 and Siebel 99. Whether you use tasks in your CRM, simple spreadsheets, or some other system, tasks hold together all of the moving parts of the sales development process.

Want your SDRs to follow up two days after the first email? They set that as a task. Want them to follow up seven times before giving up? It will be tasks that remind them how many times are left. When a lead gets back to them, but then goes quiet, what reminds them to try to get the conversation going again? A task.

Nothing drives conversions more than persistent follow up. And what drives follow up? Relentless task management.

And this is terrible.  Tasks are the wrong tool for this. Why?

  • Manually created. Every time your SDR does something, they have to think about what to record in a task and what the next task to set is. There’s no automatic way to set the next task. Even if a lead emails you back, the SDR has to manually set the follow up task.
  • Manual playbooks. Every time something happens, the SDR has to remember what the next play in the playbook is, or look it up manually, in order to set up the next task for the lead. Tasks don’t know “oh, you are supposed to wait two days before the next contact” and just set a reminder up for you. So the SDR has to figure that out themselves.
  • Less selling time. All this mucking about creating tasks takes 30 to 50 percent of the selling day away from the SDR. That’s a huge tax on your results.
  • No agility. With manual tasks, SDR managers have to manually train the SDRs on the rules for who to call when. As a result, they can’t change the rules too frequently, which lowers the team’s agility.
  • No precision. SDR managers can’t do precise targeting. Even if they only focus on just three industries and two types of buyer (like manager and VP), there's no way to run 6 different templates for 6 different industry / job level combinations – not without driving their SDRs crazy.  
  • Manual training. Manual tasks means manual training. All the time. Every minute in a weekly training meeting is a minute lost to selling.
  • Error prone. Because tasks are so time consuming, they're easy to skip. One missed task and that’s one lost opportunity.
  • No reporting. Finally, most SDR managers have no real way of knowing if the team is following the playbook. Manual tasks rarely have enough data to support real reporting (and adding it just makes the whole job more time consuming). SDRs can only hope that nothing is falling through the cracks.

As we’ve written about before, next generation tools are coming to support next generation sales development. And nowhere are they more needed than in task management.

And not a minute too soon, because in sales development, managing tasks is important.

 

sig-chris

Chris van Löben Sels
director, business development & marketing

We’re building a tool that turns task management into a new level of sales development effectiveness.  Sound interesting? Contact us to learn more today.

How does sales email tracking work?

How does sales email tracking work? There are a ton of new tools (Yesware and Toutapp are popular ones) to help salespeople track which of their leads opens which emails they send.  We’ve posted about how salespeople should use sales email tracking to increase their effectiveness. It can be useful, but also distracting. 

In talking about how to use this data, we found that most salespeople and sales development reps don’t know how these tools actually work. Without knowing how it works, it’s even harder to know what it means.

So, here’s everything you need to know about sales email tools, but were afraid to ask.

How do email tools detect who opened my email?

How it works (when it works). When you send a sales email with one of these tools, the tool slips a tiny, 1-pixel image into the email. The tool gives the image a different name in each email. So, your intro email to John Smith may have a reference to the image “http://AcmeEmailTool.com/123456.gif”. Your email to Jane Doe would have a different one, maybe "http://AcmeEmailTool.com/999789.gif”

When the customer gets the email, their email program requests the image from the server (but not all of the time, more on that later). When the request for 123456.gif comes in to AcmeEmailTool.com, the tool knows that someone opened email no. 123456, the email you sent to John. Since no request has came in for 999789.gif, the tool shows that no one has opened the email you sent to Jane.

But it doesn’t always work.

How it breaks down – false positives. One problem is that some email clients are super aggressive about getting images. Apple Mail, for example, will request the image even if the user has just highlighted the email in their inbox. So if your customer is going through their inbox one-by-one and deleting everything, you’ll think they opened your email when they really deleted it.

Some email programs may request the image multiple times, making it look like someone opened the email over and over, even when, again, they haven't decided to open it, they were just going through their inbox.

And that’s not all.

How it breaks down – false negatives. Other email programs avoid downloading images as much as they can (in part to keep spammers from using this same trick). Gmail, for example, doesn’t load images unless the user clicks on a link to make Gmail do it. In this case, your customer may spend five minutes reading your email, forward it to friends, print it out, and frame it above their desk – and it never show up as “opened."

How do email tools detect who clicked on the links in my email?

How it works. Similar to detecting opens, your email tool gives every link in your email an extra ID number for each email (there are a couple of ways of doing this, but the differences aren’t really important). When the user clicks on link number 123456, the request comes in to the email tool and the tool can see which email got clicked.

This mechanism is pretty solid. There’s no way for the user to get the linked content without clicking it. And there’s no way to click the link without the click being detected.

Click detection is, however, vulnerable to some general blind spots that apply to both clicks and opens.

General blind spots.

Forwards. The ID numbers in the images and links are specific to the email. But, the email doesn’t know if it has been forwarded to other people. Let’s say John Smith doesn’t care about your pitch, but forwards your email to Jane Grey, who loves it. Let's say Jane opens it 5 times, and forwards it to David, who opens it 5 more times. Sadly, you’ll think that all 10 opens came from John.

Direct Traffic. If customers open your email, get interested, and then type your company name into a browser, you won’t be able to tell that the one led to the other. You would think it’s easier for the prospect to just click the link, right? But this happens more than you might think. Direct web traffic increases predictably whenever outbound email increases. You may think Andrew Jones ignored your email, when he actually spent 10 minutes on your website.

What does it all mean?

As Gretchen, our director of sales, points out, email opens and clicks are key to prioritizing your sales development efforts. If you get a click, that’s a signal of interest. And often (but not always, see above) an “open” may mean interest, too. It’s a great idea to quickly reach out to a lead when one of these signals comes in.

But, it’s all a matter of balance: Given all of the sources of false negatives, you shouldn’t filter out a lead just because you never got an open or click in your sales email tool. And, given all of the sources of false positives, you should limit the percentage of your day devoted to chasing to these weak, possibly false, signals.

Most of all, as a salesperson, you actually talk to your customers. That's still the best way of finding out what messages are resonating.

That's the power of sales.

 

sig-chris

Chris van Löben Sels
director, business development & marketing

We’re building a tool that takes sales development to a new level of effectiveness.  Sound interesting? Contact us to join the beta for Selligy Pursuit.

In B2B, growth hacking is not enough.

Sales development breaks through growth hacking barriers

Breaking through the growth hacking barrier

Growth hacking is all the rage. Growth hacker rock stars speak to packed audiences of startup entrepreneurs, all hoping to launch their own rocketship of viral adoption. One CEO even claims he doesn't need salespeople anymore.

Their results are impressive. It’s critical for all of us in sales and marketing to understand their methods: find what behaviors drive user growth and retention, continuously test messages and methods to drive those behaviors, measure everything you can. (Want a great place to start? Try the postings at okdork.com and blog.kissmetrics.com.)

But, it’s also important to understand that, in B2B software, growth hacking hits a ceiling.

It’s simple, if your product is strategic to your customer’s business, they’re going to need a relationship with you. This may be true for a number of reasons, depending on your product. It may be because of the price, the business processes involved, or the education and training required to be successful.

Need examples? How about Salesforce? Then Yammer. And now, of course, Box. Don't forget SugarCRM -- created to compete against Salesforce, at the start of our list.  

Need more examples? Look at Brendon Cassidey’s list: Talkdesk, Zenefits, Showpad, Zendesk, New Relic. (He’s fueling TalkDesk’s growth now, after having done so at EchoSign, LinkedIn, and others.)

Stages of B2B software:
1) Make fun of products that need
enterprise salespeople.
2) Hire lots of enterprise salespeople.

Many of these companies started out mocking the sales force of the existing companies in their space. They bragged that “Our product is so simple a manager can just buy it with a credit card.” But those same companies then went on to build massive, high-caliber, enterprise sales forces.

Basically, it boils down to this: If they are betting their business results on your solution, they’re going to need more interaction with you than filling out an online form. Tactical products can fly below this bar, relying on arms-length marketing and online transactions.

But if you’re going to get past the growth hacking barrier, you’re gonna need sales.

Meet growth hacking’s productive twin: sales development

This doesn't mean going back to 1985, three-martini lunches, or it's-all-who-you-know. Sales has been changed in the last ten years by the new world of digital marketing and new ways of finding prospects. More recently, these changes have converged to create a new understanding of the importance of sales development.

Sales development is the new bridge between growth hacking and sales. High-energy sales development teams work marketing leads using email and the phone. and, using the insights from the marketing team, they add their own leads through proactive prospecting. Then they get the conversation to the point that more experienced salespeople can engage to create the B2B relationship that opens the door to strategic products.

Sales development makes both marketing and sales more effective. Direct, human follow-up gets more out of marketing’s leads. And by weeding out dead leads, the traditional sales force wastes less time on dead ends. But, we can still do better. Most sales development teams don’t have the tools to leverage the data-driven discipline of growth hacking (as we’ve written about here).  

Because, once you break through the ceiling, only the sky should be the limit.

 

sig-chris

Chris van Löben Sels
director, business development & marketing

We’re building a tool that takes sales development to a new level of effectiveness.  Sound interesting? Contact us to join the beta for Selligy Pursuit.

If 2015 is the year of sales development, why are the tools from 1995?

Sales Development is the FutureThere’s a revolution in sales going on – the new world of high-performance sales development. (You don’t have to take our word for it, take a look here.)

With all the talk of data-driven, high-velocity sales, you’d think Sales Development Managers run their teams live in some high-tech, Minority Report world, watching all their data go by in 3d, swapping sales campaigns with the flick of the wrist.

Sadly, the reality more like Windows 95 than like Windows 10.

Great sales development teams follow – and continuously innovate with – a defined process for pursuing their leads. But, despite all the hype, most sales development teams actually run this process with the tools of 20 years ago: meetings, manuals, and manually entered reminders.

Most teams use weekly meetings as the main way to transmit new sales plays to their teams. They also use playbooks that – contrary to the name – don’t really contain sales plays but are really just computer manuals. These books walk the team through the manual steps of importing and cleaning data and documenting sales. Finally, when the SDRs get back to their desks, they manually implement the new plays by creating reminders in their CRM systems.

For example, let’s say the new play is “for leads from source X, three days after the first call, send the prospect a whitepaper link.” The SDR would hear about it in the weekly meeting. They would get a new playbook explaining how to filter for the leads from source X. And, whenever they finished a first call, they would set a reminder for themselves to send the link in three days. (And, if the lead emailed them back, they would have to remember to go and delete that reminder.)

Couldn’t a computer do this for them?

mr2

Wait a minute, who am I supposed to email again?

In an ideal world, the SDR manager would define the new play using a system built for the world of the SDR. The system would automatically log the team’s tasks. When the SDR sat down to get to work, the system would simply give them the list of who to contact next and which offer to use. And no one would be stuck manually cutting, pasting, and cleaning data as it went from one system to another.

We’re building this kind of system. It’s called Selligy Pursuit. When SDRs are freed from the administrivia of their jobs, we’re finding they can contact twice as many leads.

It may not be the flying car we were all promised. But we think it’s what the future of sales should look like.

sig-chris

Chris van Löben Sels
director, business development & marketing

Interested in helping us define the future of Sales Development? We’d love to have you. Join the Selligy Pursuit beta!

 


Selligy makes sales teams more effective, by slashing the time required by CRM and helping them see what’s working (and what’s not).

Visit Selligy.com