Back in March, Bloobirds Co-founder and CRO Toni Peri welcomed Trish Bertuzzi, author of The Sales Development Playbook and Founder of The Bridge Group. She answered questions from the audience about how to improve your sales development strategy, especially in unpredictable times.
Toni Perez | Co-founder and CRO at Bloobirds
Trish Bertuzzi | Author of The Sales Development Playbook and Founder of The Bridge Group
Below, is the full transcript from Bloobirds’ webinar with Trish Bertuzzi. Keep reading or check out the full video here.
Toni: Thank you everybody for joining us today. And of course, thank you to Trish for joining us. For me, it’s an honor to have you here. We have talked a little bit before. I told her that I was a huge fan. She’s the well-know author of bestseller Sales Development Playbook, as well as the founder of the Bridge Group. But let’s have you introduce yourself… it will be better than what I did.
Trish: I think you did a great job! I am the author of the Sales Development Playbook and the founder of The Bridge Group, which is a services business focused on B2B technology companies, framing services around sales development or revenue generation.
Toni: I had just been sharing my history with this book. I bought this book a few years ago. For me, it served as a reference book for finding and setting up strategy and team that would move the company that I was working at during that time from 20 employees to 150 in only a year and a half. And I can tell you that the growth engine of the company was the business development team, and that team was created under the guidance of the book. So for me, it’s quite a pleasure to have you here.
Trish: If two months ago you had asked me, I would have still said that it’s 150% relevant. But now, that’s probably why your audience is here… to talk about what is our knack.
Toni: However, I think that our foundations are still there.
Trish: Oh yea! Without a doubt! Foundations of hiring and recruiting, and strategy and processing…
Toni: I think there are some tactics that I agree with, but the most inspirational aspect is still there, that is, how to think about frameworks in a way that helps you mentally to understand sales.
Trish: Well, thank you.
Toni: Haha. Well, let’s dive in. As this is a webinar, we have a series of questions here to ask you. The first one is in connection with the current situation [COVID-19 pandemic and lockdowns]. We are facing two challenges in sales development. The first one is the crisis in and of itself, which is making it harder to close sales. We were not used to remote working in sales. While other teams like marketing and product are doing well, this is definitely a new dynamic. In business development, we liked to share information on a daily basis and there was overall good energy. So in your opinion, what insights can you offer us to help maintain these good vibes while remote working?
Trish: Well, you can’t compare apples with oranges, right? A lot of it becomes a self-motivation situation. However, I do think that many companies can support their people. We wrote a post about how to support your remote workforce on blog.bridgegroup.com. One of the ways you can support the workforce is to help them find the right environment. If your SDRs have roommates or they are hunched over their laptops on the couch, that is not sustainable.
What we’re saying to our clients now is to offer a home office stipend that allows them to create a more comfortable space. The stipend does not need to be spent on a 500-dollar stand-up desk, but it could be used instead to buy a monitor that attaches to the employee’s laptop or a noise-canceling microphone. What can we do for our teams to help them stay healthy and sane while they are working from home? And that stipend would go along. We would highly recommend that.
Offer your SDRs a home office stipend that allows them to create a more comfortable space – being hunched over a laptop on the couch isn’t sustainable.Trish Bertuzzi
Toni: This is a good recommendation. I totally understand what you are speaking about.
Trish: It doesn’t have to be perfect, but a company that offers a stipend will eventually reap the rewards.
Toni: Now, what advice would you provide concerning the dynamics. What ways could we maintain morale among team members despite the current situation? Although we still do the all-hands at the end of the week, I find that now it is not enough. So what would you recommend?
Trish: Everybody could be using Zoom. Another option is to do an all hands on deck early in the morning or late in the day. You can check in more with the team to see what’s working and what’s not. I think now is the time for front-line managers to ask hard questions like “how are you feeling?” or “how is your morale?”. It is not negative to say or hear that I’m stressed or exhausted.
Trish: On the contrary, these are personal questions that can help front-line managers to gauge and make sure employees are ok. Now, if you’re an executive and you are not reading the emails or replies that your employees are sending… then you are missing out on opportunities for empathy, credibility, and find solutions.
Do an all hands on deck early in the morning or late in the day. You can check in more with the SDR team to see what’s working and what’s not.Trish Bertuzzi
Toni: I totally agree. One of the things that we have changed is having our employees talk more. For example, tell us something that boosts your spirits so that we can understand you better, and perhaps others can take advantage of such information. It is just so important to be empathetic and give a listen to every person’s thoughts.
Toni: Now, in my experience, business development and prospecting are the growth engine of the companies that I have been in. And, I always have the same question: is business development a department? Or does it belong to marketing? To sales? Or, should it be its own department? What are your thoughts on the matter?
Trish: I have been saying this forever, but I don’t where it reports. Here are the requirements: have it report to someone who has the bandwidth, expertise, and passion to run it. Marketing, so be it. Sales, so be it. ..the rest doesn’t matter.
Toni: So, find the right person to lead them, right?
Trish: Yup. That’s my theory and I’m totally sticking with it.
Toni: What is your opinion about SDR compensation? What scenarios should we compensate SDRs? What’s the success formula? This is a bit generic, but I’d like to know what variables you would take into account.
Trish: Now or a month ago?
Toni: Let’s stick with the current situation.
Trish: Ok, so here is what we have to think about: are we selling to a MAI, that is, a massively affected industry? If you are selling to a MAI, you have to think or come to the reality that the numbers from 6 weeks ago will no longer be. Those people are not going to be buying. So if my clients are selling to a MAI, there’s one word we’re going to give you–and that is pivot! Pivot! You need to look at your customers and determine who are the successful customers in other industries. Understand how they are using our technology or whatever your solution is, and let’s pivot our marketing and sales team to go after those less-impacted industries in the short term.
Trish: Let’s use our sales development teams to do research and figure out what verticals to target that haven’t been before, and aim our energy towards that. That’s not a compensation plan that is based on the number of meetings, qualified opportunities, or closed ones. Now’s the time to think is where I get the biggest bang for my buck? Think outside of the box and build the comp plan that rewards them for executing that way.
Let’s use our sales development teams to do research and figure out what verticals to target that haven’t been before, and aim our energy towards that.Trish Bertuzzi
Toni: I totally agree. Now it’s about flexibility, and the sales development teams are the best tool for understanding the market. In the end, it’s the only way to understand the market, as they proactively talk to the market themselves. This is a great source of knowledge. The other question that I have is determining the right balance between automation and high conversion rates and precise approaches?
Trish: Only now, if you’re still sending out your automated email sequences from 3 weeks ago, then you are tone-deaf. I can tell you who I would never buy from again, and here are some B2C examples: Nordstroms. Nordstroms is a high-end department store in the United States, and I get bombarded with emails from them. Rothy’s is another example. They have not pivoted their messaging, and they’re showing no empathy. Just marketing messaging. So, this is the time to think about your branding.
Trish: Here’s an excellent example of a brand that has thought about its messaging. Jetblue is an airline company that got rid of specific fees, working to accommodate the customer as much as possible. The part that I think is interesting is that they stopped their automated email sequences except those for special deals. Their COO has published 2-3 videos about 10 minutes long, articulating what, why, how they face the situation, and how these actions will impact the customer. All of this makes the difference.
Toni: This brings me to the next point. Messaging is everything. It must be relevant. It must resonate.
Trish: Realistically, if you’re still asking your SDRs to go out and set the same number of meetings as they were two month ago, really? We have data on our blog that shows that meeting setting is off by a minimum 24%, and that’s not even in the massively affected industries. So, we have to use our resources. Is now the time to populate the database? Having people researching potential new products and solutions? So we have to be creative.
Trish: Well, here’s another point I’d like to make…a little mini-rant. So, an SDR might make a 45,000-dollar base and a 30K in variable income. That variable income, unless you’re doing something creative, will diminish. Meanwhile, a sales rep sitting right beside is making a 70,000-dollar base, and yes, their variable might be another 70K, but they’re not going to make that number either. So, where’s the 30k difference between base pay, your SDRs, and AEs? I am seeing people getting at SDR teams because AE teams are not hitting their numbers without taking into account all of the factors that impact who is doing what and why.
Trish: So I’m on a mission to get people not to punish those amongst us. And I’m not saying this in a way to denigrate what the SDRs do, because no one loves them more than I do, but they are like the waitresses who depended on tips for a living, and now business has closed. We need to think about how to utilize these resources and pay them the value that they can bring in this new economy.
Toni: I agree. And don’t you think that precisely now is a good moment to start conversations and create the revenue for the next quarter, despite the uncertainty and unpredictability that exist currently? At Bloobirds, we are pushing business development harder than sales, and try to promote this idea of generating the revenue of tomorrow. We think it’s the right moment to get the right messaging out there.
Trish: … and the right metrics…. the right process… it’s time for a pivot. That’s my new favorite word. I must say it a hundred times per day.
Toni: I agree. It makes me think that we have to reconsider [proactively] target market, compensation, messaging, tactics… in order to change the whole strategy.
Trish: Yup, that’s it.
Toni: When is it a good time to have full-cycle sales individuals?
Trish: I think you have to look at who you’re selling to. If you’re selling into the SME space and you are selling to the owner of the business, inserting an SDR into the process may be elongating the sales cycle. It’s hard enough to get to that person, but then on top of that, set up a meeting and then say, “oh! Can we set a meeting?” And you have to wait. As opposed to the full-cycle sales individuals, you get to the person, and you can launch the sales process right there. It depends on what you’re trying to accomplish and how busy your AEs are.
Toni: To me, it makes sense to divide these two functions in every scenario. If business is based on new business, then it makes sense that there will be a relationship between revenue and number of opportunities. So why do you think that there are some industries that don’t have this type of scheme?
Trish: I don’t know. But I can’t intelligently answer that question for you.
Toni: So a question that I have from one of the attendees: when is the right time to promote an SDR? You never want to miss out on a good SDR but a potentially future good AE?
Trish: So it depends. Whoever wants this more extensively, I’m going to send you to our blog. We’re data-driven, and we actually wrote about this before the whole pandemic happened. First of all, it’s not a matter of tenure. Not everyone is going to have the skills to be moved to an AE. So, you have to have a way to test them and see if they are capable of completing AE tasks that do not form part of those SDR responsibilities. But it’s a two-sided coin. What very few companies have is a program that takes SDR off the phones and gives them skills so that they can learn how to become an AE. That’s stage two of onboarding. There’s a failure rate of 65% when SDRs move to AE because they were not ready.
There’s a failure rate of 65% when SDRs move to AE because they were not ready.Trish Bertuzzi
Toni: I have the final question here. Is an SDR a profession? Or is it a pathway to becoming a good sales individual with lots of commission and flashy career?
Trish: I think it’s already a profession. You see Vice President of Sales Development, some of whom report to CEOs now. If you’re an SDR and you are only doing inbound, is that a long-term career path? One of the things we did was research how people progressed monetarily in their careers, and I will tell you it is going from SME to mid-market, and then to learning how to qualify the enterprise. There is that type of career path. The same thing holds true for solutions. The more complex the solution you sell, the higher you’re going to get paid as an SDR, etc.
Toni: Ok great. I completely agree. Thank you very much. It has been a huge pleasure to talk with you, and I hope it’s not the last time.
Trish: Thank you. Please everyone be stay safe and sane, and do take care.
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