Driving Productivity Across Sales Development

Last week Daniel Barber, Director of Sales Development & Operations at ToutApp, and I spoke on the panel at AA-ISP’s Silicon Valley Chapter meeting. The topic of discussion was on the relationship between sales executives and their top performing Sales Development Rep (SDR) or Inside Sales Rep (ISR).

The panel primarily focused on the structures, processes and outcomes designed by the sales executives and how their top rep executes on those processes to achieve and exceed their goals.

All three companies on the panel represented a wide spectrum of strategies, technologies stacks, activity metrics and quotas. There’s no perfect formula for running an SDR or Inside Sales team but collaboration among these teams is valuable to understanding how teams find success. Below I’ll touch on some areas of discussion and explain how the SDR team at ToutApp operates.

Outcome Focus: Daniel has structured ToutApp’s SDR team to be focused on outcomes rather than activities. Rather than high volume outreach we direct our team toward personalization at scale.

Tools: We’ve invested in several tools across our Sales Development team to make us successful, but we also use free tools and apps as well. With our tools in place, the entire SDR team is able to focus on productive prospecting and social selling.

Purchased by ToutApp:

o   Salesforce

o   LinkedIn Sales Navigator

o   Mattermark

o   InsightSquared

Free Apps:

o   TweetDeck

o   Buffer

o   CharlieApp

o   Rapportive

o   Followr

Structure of my day:

Early morning:

  •   Trigger events
  •   Load valuable content into Buffer

Morning:

  •   Prioritize follow-up with most engaged prospects via ToutApp

Afternoon:

  • Salesforce tasks

Later afternoon:

  • Structure my next day by planning an outreach strategy

Preparing for conversations: We try to reduce the amount of touches it takes to produce an opportunity and rely heavily on a consistent feed of trigger events to inform our conversations.

  •  Trigger Events
  • LinkedIn Navigator: saved searches and account/lead updates
  • Subscribe to CrunchBase Daily for funding announcements and acquisitions
  • Twitter
  • SEC filings
  • CrunchBase and VentureBeat for companies news and updates

What makes an SDR team successful?

With more access to sales analytics, technology is helping align sales management and sales reps. While there’s no a secret sauce for running an SDR team, we are noticing a demand for collaboration among sales development leaders.  Let’s continue to share best practices and success stories in this new era of Sales Development. Tweet at me @NicoletteToutIt

 

Don’t Send Emails on Behalf of Sales

Email marketing has been around for years and is an efficient way to keep in contact with customers, prospects and event booth visitors. In turn, its effectiveness is on the rise. It may be due to Mailchimp’s brand popularity via Serial (but we’re not mad). But taken either way – email marketing is here to stay.

Email marketing is great for Marketing. But, it has no place in Sales. That’s right, I said it: email Marketing is not for Sales.

Know Your Audience

No one wants to see a marketing email disguised as a sales email. If you want to send a sales email, send a sales email. Not a marketing email.

Here’s a great marketing email that I got the other day after signing up for Mint:

It’s great. But would the same email work for sales?

Probably not.

The audience isn’t right. I’m in sales and this is clearly a marketing email. Just send me a sales email already.

What’s a Sales Email?

It’s simple and informal. There’s no fuss to it and it’s really not all the fancy. It’s a simple text-based email – maybe there’s an image or a GIF – but that’s it.

Think about the emails you actually read (and respond to). They’re probably from your friends, co-workers and boss. And what do they have in common? They’re probably written in a conversational and specific tone. Want to catch-up with a friend – you write an catch-up email. Want feedback on a email from your boss – forward the email to your boss and ask for feedback.

Sales is simple. So, keep things simple.

But, Sales Can Learn from Marketing

Marketing shouldn’t be sending out emails on behalf of sales. But, that doesn’t mean sales can’t take pointers from marketing – we’re all on the same team.

Scroll back up to the email I got from Mint. Look at the headline – “Start living better today” – it’s a good one. And there’s an immediate call to action (I need to start living better TODAY). These marketing tactics are applicable now more than ever for sales emails.

Today’s email recipients get an exponential number of emails a day – cut through the saturation by writing catchy headlines, short emails and always have a call to action.

If your sales emails don’t have the above – what’s to keep the recipient from moving forward?

Don’t Get Me Wrong

Email marketing is the future, but it’s the future for marketing – and not Sales. But, that doesn’t mean we can’t learn a thing or two from our colleagues in marketing and in their processes.

Namely Uses ToutApp for Hyper Growth

Imagine a world where all your HR needs are rolled into one easy to use platform. Luckily, Namely fulfills that need and is building the future of HR. Their full suite of HR tools include a modern HRIS, payroll, benefits, performance management and more.

Chris Flores, Manager of Inside Sales, and his team of sales reps use ToutApp everyday to reach their sales goals and stay productive.

“The first time someone is exposed to something like ToutApp, it blows their mind. If everyone is using technology like ToutApp, we’re going to get better as salespeople, as professionals. And, at the end of the day, the entire company can grow from it and we just get better and better.”

Learn from Chris and his team in our latest video case study:

The Key is Company Culture (And Why It Matters)

Work isn’t easy. It should be a challenging and rewarding experience all at the same time. But what makes it all worthwhile is your company’s culture. Culture sustains and breathes life into every employee – and it’s one of the top reasons an employees joins and stays on your team.

We here at ToutApp highly value and covet our company culture. We’ve adopted the #iclosedeals mantra and have applied it to every role at the company. Yes, every role. I’m the company’s storyteller – but with every piece of content, tweet or product write up – I’m closing a deal. For an Engineer, every time he deploys a new feature or writes new lines of code into the database – he’s closing a deal. #weclosedeals at ToutApp.

So what does a sustainable company culture mean to the evolving roles within sales and marketing? And why does it all matter?

A Common Purpose

Sales and marketing share a common purpose in their respective roles at the company – they want to bring in new customers and add to the company’s revenue. It’s the leadership’s responsibility to make that crystal clear for every new hire from day one. If everyone has a common core understanding of their purpose, it leads to a collaborative environment across teams and the entire company.

Employees, no matter department, want to know that what they’re doing is making true impact and adding value to their company. They want to feel valued for their work and contributions.

Training and Competency Check

The words “work training” for any employee have the connotation of being boring and dreadful. A three-hour long training session in the middle day on a Tuesday? No thank you. But, if it’s already ingrained in your company culture to have collaborative and effective trainings – employees will flock to these meetings as a chance to top off their skill levels and check up on their product competency.

For sales and marketing, a cross-training session is step one in aligning the the two teams and bridging the vast divide between them. So, leadership team – don’t be afraid of scheduling those long meetings – in the end they matter and lead to high productivity for all parties involved.

Two-Way Communication

Communication is the key to happiness. Sales happiness, customer happiness or engineering happiness. An open, two-way communication channel between sales reps to managers, sales reps to marketing, managers to leadership and even employees to leadership – it’s important.

Employees should look forward to walking through your company’s office doors in the morning. While the work that do during the day should be challenging, company communication should not be. An open culture of communication leads to happy employees that are more willing to break the mold, be more productive and are more likely to go above and beyond.

Growth Path

As we’ve discussed in length the importance of instilling a common purpose for all employees, an efficient training method and keeping an open channel of communication – all of this is great and needs to lead somewhere. Employees want to know that when they join a team, there’s a potential for growth.

Make it a priority. If you’ve got an entry-level Market Development Representative who is fresh out of college – let them know of the opportunities that lay ahead for them, should they succeed in their role. If you’ve just hired your first Marketing Coordinator, ask them early on what they’re interested in and align their goals with their future.

In Conclusion

As your company continues to grow, don’t lose track your identity. Company culture is more important than you think. Develop a culture that will never stop evolving together as a team.

Don Draper is One of the Best Closers

One of the best salesmen in recent history is rarely seen without his classic and impeccably tailored American suit, a white button-down dress shirt, a pocket square and long trench coat. He’s often heralded as a creative genius and his official title is a Creative Director at an Advertising Agency. Don’t be fooled though – he’s got grit, a razor-sharp insatiable desire to win deals, an incredible sales acumen and the tenacity to take action with any prospect.

Albeit fictional (and technically an Ad Man) – Don Draper has the makings to be one of the best salesmen.

This upcoming Sunday marks the end of an era. We’re closing the books on the 60s, the entire Mad Men gang and Don Draper himself. Before we send off Don & the Gang, let’s recap the five best pitches, speeches and moments that proves that Don Draper is one of the greatest salesman in history.

1. You Are the Product: Mad Men Rules


Watch show creator, Matthew Weiner, and the cast of Mad Men talk about the voice and allure of Don Draper.

2. Don Selling “The Carousel” to Kodak

Mad Men – Selling “The Carousel” to Kodak from Miko Photo on Vimeo.

Quite possibly one of the best moments in TV history. After Don’s emotionally stirring pitch, the Kodak execs are left speechless and awestruck.

3. Don Draper & Lucky Strike

Much of Season 1 revolved around the Lucky Strike account – in his final pitch of “it’s toasted,” Don finally wins them over.

4. Draper, Sterling and Dow Chemical

Imagine if every salesperson said that above line to their clients – think about how that would change the sales world.

5. Don Draper & Life … Cereal

In this episode, we see Don’s life pre-Ad Man. In his previous life, Don was a fur salesmen and a relentless follower of one particular client: Roger Sterling.

—-

When Don pitches a concept, much like a sales pitch, he does it in person. He’s wearing that perfectly tailored suit, his hair is neat and he’s usually standing–giving him the leverage of authority while talking to his clients. In the 1960s, this is how the advertising and sales world functioned. Today, there’s less of the whole business-lunch-handshake song and dance.

Even though we’re no longer living in the Draper era of sharp suits, the core of the sales industry is still the same. It doesn’t matter what you’re doing, there’s always an aspect of selling to it.

We’ll miss you Don.

Release Notes: Increased Speed Platform-Wide

This week, we’re excited to update you on recent improvements made to ToutApp. We’ve drastically improved the load times for pages throughout our existing infrastructure. These sweeping changes across our platform were made to enhance our product and ensure a seamless Tout experience.

You should notice faster performance in the following areas:

  • Loading the compose window in Salesforce (by using the “Email with Tout” button)
  • The “Suggest Meeting Time” functionality in Gmail using the Calendar Button
  • Previewing group emails
  • Setting reminders
  • Loading content via the “Link to File” or “Content” buttons
  • When ringing the Gong
Every new release of ToutApp includes improvements to our infrastructure and overall performance. As new features and bug fixes get rolled out, we’ll let you know, here.

What I’ve Learned From Being in Sales

We’ve built a culture of salespeople here at ToutApp, where every employee contributes in some way to closing a deal. The bottom line is everyone is selling something.

Back in January was the season of SKOs. Endless potential was the mission our team set for themselves at our Sales Kickoff. With this theme, I believe anyone can sell or close a deal.

What makes someone great at selling?

Be Fearless and Direct

If you want a deal to close this month, ask for what you want. Don’t be afraid. For me, fear was the biggest barrier I had to break through.

My big ah-ha moment was the last day of the month and I had to ask a decision maker, “Can we get this signed today?” The answer I got was a “yes.”

When I started applying a “Be Fearless” mentality to my sales process, I cut through the unknown clutter faster and closed more deals. My advice: start asking for what you want, whether it is an introduction to a decision maker or a straightforward “Is there any reason why you won’t move forward this month?”

Get Scrappy

One of my biggest learnings was do what it takes to close the deal. When I was on a two-person sales team, our resources were limited. So, we did it ourselves. Need a competitive comparison? We created one. Need a sales deck? We created one.

Don’t just wait for the resources to come to you or go through the motions. Scrappiness is where you start thinking outside of the box or your comfort zone.

Think Proactively

As soon as you’re flying through the sales process with ease on your way to a close, ask yourself or a teammate “What am I missing here?” Be a little paranoid.

Don’t drive yourself crazy, just because you’re going through the sales process and doing all the right things–there’s always room for the unknown. For example, what’s going to happen when your decision maker goes cold turkey on you and completely dark?

I heard a quote recently, “process is your purpose, you have to have a process.” The process sets you up for success and keeps you on track. The scrappiness is everything in between the lines. For any sales team, no matter the size (from one-person to a hundred, etc.), you need to have a solid process, but you also need to be scrappy.

Do it for the Customer

Salespeople are motivated by different things. I love the feeling of a win, but the greatest part is bringing a team onboard and knowing ToutApp is going to add tremendous value to their sales team.

My advice: Don’t get wrapped up in an end number. Focus on the customer. Do I know their business, true goals, priorities, the politics and the people? The sales process isn’t a one-way street with you speeding forward. It has to be a two-way street where you and the customer are moving forward, together, with a destination (to close) in mind.

In Conclusion

In the last month our company raised $15M in Series B funding led by Andreessen Horowitz, our sales team rang the gong daily and our Customer Success team closed renewals to contribute our 150% renewal rate.

Whether you’re the top performing AE feeling stuck in a deal, an SDR on your 17th call trying to book a meeting, a Customer Success Manager working on a renewal or a recent graduate just starting a career selling something – be fearless and direct, get scrappy, think proactively and do it for the customer.

MINDBODY Brings Wellness to the Masses with Tout

MINDBODY is the leading global provider of cloud-based health, wellness and beauty software with a team of 225+ sales reps. Across Sales Development, Account Executive, Managers and Operations–the entire sales team at MINDBODY previously had a gap in productivity and limited visibility on audience engagement.

“Before Tout, we sent blind emails and hoped they were opened. Now, we have full visibility so that we can actively manage the 2,500 leads in our funnel at any given time,” said Andy Stollmeyer, Sales Operations Manager.

Learn how the entire sales team at MINDBODY uses Tout to get deeper visibility and manage their large volume of leads.

How ToutApp Helps Me Help Others

At ToutApp, the Happiness Team is working hard to create an unparalleled customer experience. After a team decides to adopt ToutApp, we as Customer Success Managers are looped in to make sure they are successful. As CSMs, our goal is to help sales teams optimize, create more efficiency, inspire creativity and boost connection in their day to day. We want every customer to get more out of our platform, and more out of themselves. Here’s how we do it:

5 ToutApp Hacks I Take for Granted

Calendar Sync

CSM’s here at ToutApp are responsible for the success of every team that joins. From offering trainings and on-site visits, to hopping on calls to discuss renewals, our calendars can get crazy.

Often, I am juggling 80+ accounts and it can be hard to gain control of the my calendar.

Customer: Do you have time next Wednesday to teach me the 5X5 method?

Me: Let me see…

When trying to find a time that will work for a training call or even an internal sync, the calendar feature in Tout keeps me from goofing up.

  • Calendar sync functionality allows me to pull in times I am free for trainings, support calls, quarterly reviews and even internal brainstorms with just a few clicks. Calendar sync helps by cutting back on all the back and forth and preventing me from double booking myself saving me minutes off every email.

Email Templates

A big part of being a CSM at ToutApp is knowing how our customers are doing with adoption and ensuring each team is getting the most out of the platform. Instead of simply looking at the % of actively users, we go above and beyond by truly understanding how our customers are selling and where we can help. I’d much rather spend my time talking to teams and learning about their company goals than getting stuck doing anything monotonous. Templates help me focus on what’s important.

Just today I used a template to send resources after a training call, for a reply to direct someone to utilize our knowledge base and I even used one to close an upsell.

  • Templates are an amazing way to pull in baseline messaging so that I can spend my energy in more productive ways, like learning more about my team’s specific sales cycles, workflows, and needs. All I have to add is the personalization. Templates for NPS surveys, templates for training resources, templates for renewal notices, templates for check-ins – I can’t imagine starting every email from scratch anymore.

Group Emailing

Now, the only thing we love more than meeting our customers face to face, is meeting our customers face to face at a HAPPY HOUR. And while they are always a blast, they don’t happen without some coordination and planning.

How do I invite my team’s to celebrate with us without spending hours writing emails? How do I reach out and notify all of my account in a personalized friendly way? Group Emails. Drop mic.

  • Sending group emails through ToutApp allows me to send personalized message to individuals in my key accounts in a matter of minutes. Whether I am sending a follow-up after a training call or sending a personal invite to one of our infamous happy hours, group emails save me hours of time.

Reminders

There is a lot to do post-sales to keep the magic alive. From making sure teams are setup properly, trained, to the eventual renewal, it can be difficult to stay organized. As most CSMs will probably say, being proactive with accounts makes all the difference.

Staying five steps ahead can be tough but guess what, ToutApp helps me here too.

  • Reminders help me ensure nothing falls through the cracks. Setting myself reminders post training to follow up with teams in a week or two has been been invaluable. Reminders to reach out to renewals a couple months in advance and reminders to send ToutApp swag and “I Close Deals” shirts to our kickass customers help me level up my CSM game. Plus, nothing is more satisfying then checking that little box and seeing my productivity soar.

Live Feed

The Live Feed is not just for sales. CSMs at ToutApp benefit from knowing when someone has engaged with our emails for many of the same reasons as sales reps do. We’re just as hooked as our fellow colleagues.

Not only do I see my reminders in one place but I am notified when my own team rings the gong and updated in real time when someone closes a deal. Let the fireworks ignite!

  • Having insight into which resource emails my recipients have opened and which guides they have clicked through tells me who is engaged and who needs some extra nudging. In addition, when trying to get a renewal signed off persistence can be key. The Live Feed helps me time my follow ups to get the right person at just the right time.

I could keep going with these ToutApp pro-tips but I don’t want to give all my secrets away. After all, in my opinion, closing deals requires some science, some art, a dash of magic and a Happiness Officer waiting on the other side. But don’t fret, this is not the end.

If you want to learn more you can check out our Knowledge Base and level up your own Tout game. If you want to know how your CSM team can use ToutApp, talk to one of our Account Executives and if you have any questions, were just a click away! Write in and we’ll respond, it might even be me!

And as always, Happy Touting.

P.S

If you love ToutApp and want to work with a kickass team, we’re hiring! More on how to join the fun here!

Humans of Tout: From Life Guard to Happiness Officer with April Reynolds

“We don’t have a conference room large enough to hold forty plus people. But, since we’re in a sports arena, we’ve got a few microphones that you could use,” said Phil with a slight smile.

The Sleep Train Arena on One Sports Parkway is not your average on-site training location. It’s the home of the National Basketball Association’s Sacramento Kings and a sales team of forty reps.

At the Arena, basketball players practice their slam dunks, coaches strategize plays and maneuvers and fans fill the seats and cheer on the home team. But, today isn’t about basketball. Today is about customer success.

The walk from her Russian Hill apartment, down through Chinatown and into her office in the Financial District usually takes 34 minutes. This morning however, at 6am, it takes 25 minutes. Every morning, April Reynolds walks the same path to work. But this morning, she’s up extra early and ready to tackle the most nerve-wracking part of her job–an on-site training.

Upon arrival at the office, Jennifer Nordine, an Account Executive and colleague at ToutApp, was waiting for April in a car. On the hour and a half trek north from San Francisco to Sacramento, the two talked training strategy and devised a game plan to address specific pain points that the Sacramento Kings’ sales team had surfaced prior to the training.

Though this wasn’t her first training or even first on-site training, April was still nervous. She was about to train forty people. All 80 eyes and 80 ears would descend upon her. She had never conducted such a large on-site, in-person or online training before. But, she’s been building up and training for this moment for most of her life.

April is a third generation educator. Her grandfather and grandmother were educators and their daughter, April’s mother, was an elementary school teacher for many years before becoming a Principal. April is an educator in the modern sense of the word and has been one since girlhood.

Growing up in Santa Cruz, naturally, summers were spent poolside. April’s first job was at the Simpkins Family Swim Center as one of their summer lifeguards. At fifteen, April thought that this was the most glamorous job out there–she got to hang out poolside all day, all summer long.

April’s responsibilities ranged from keeping swimmers safe, securing the 50 meter pool and teaching everyone from newborns, children, teens and adults how to swim. After a handful of summers at the pool, April got promoted to Head Guard where she supervised a team of lifeguards and conducted trainings on how to teach swimming lessons. There, while almost fully submerged in water, April discovered her calling–she loved teaching people new skills and was addicted to helping people succeed.

As much as she loved the pool and swimming, after nine summers, April realized that she was outgrowing the pool. It was time to move on and discover new opportunities.

After thinking of where she could best apply her passion for training and learning, she made a list of top companies she’d love to work for. Apple, the computer technology company, was at the top of her list. The application and interview process to work at an Apple retail store was incredibly competitive. April’s experience in training and talking to customers edged her in front of the competition.

At Apple, April was a Specialist and taught customers how to setup, use and troubleshoot their products. No matter the situation, from a customer who wants to buy a new laptop to a customer that’s alarmingly near nervous breakdown due to a computer snafu, April greets every scenario with warmth and ease. No problem is too small or big for her to handle. April learned sales,  critical skills in customer escalation and technical troubleshooting. Within a year, April was promoted to being an in-house employee trainer for Apple’s retail locations around Silicon Valley.

The immediate challenge of her new role was conducting employee trainings. The truth is, many training programs aren’t fun. People don’t want to sit in a room all day and learn out of a binder. April developed her own spin on training.

As an in-house Apple employee trainer, your day-to-day consists of talking to new employees, running demos and acting out various scenarios. She played music during her trainings and got people out of their seats and mingling with each other. Her enthusiasm for technology and Apple gave her a credible voice with her trainees.

Within six months, April was promoted to an Expert. She went back on the retail floor, but knew her opportunities at Apple were limited. So, much like leaving her comfort zone of the pool, she left Apple and decided to create her own adventure where she’d be challenged everyday.

She found it in being a Happiness Officer at ToutApp.

“Alright, let’s get started. It’s training day!” said April earnestly. She was still nervous.

She looked at the DJ microphone that was plopped right on a half-cubicle desk where she’d sit and conduct her training. She couldn’t help but laugh and go with it.

A second later, she enthusiastically added, “Who’s ready to start touting emails and closing deals? Let’s get Touting.”

And with that, April’s nerves dimmed down and she eased into what she’s best at–training sessions. She was in good company and had the support of her colleague, Jen, and the instrumental support of Phil Horn, VP of Ticket Sales & Service for the Kings.

With the forty sales reps at their desks, and April’s soothing and cheerful voice flowing out of their overhead speakers, the training session had officially begun. As the ToutApp platform was projected onto the TV monitors surrounding the perimeter of the office, the reps got to follow along and explore Tout in real-time on their own computers.

April puts her heart into every training. When people are fresh to Tout, April facilitates their path to understanding of the platform. It’s an inexplicable feeling of excitement and gratification for her.

It seems as though her whole life has been in training roles, from being Head Guard at the pool to working the retail floor at Apple, to now as a Happiness Officer. In each role, April got to help people and build their foundation for success.

And even if, before success, there are bumps along the way, April deals with them in stride. The role of being customer-facing and the point of contact for platform hiccups is tough. It’s challenging, but the rewards of seeing a customer’s success makes up for it all.

At the end of the one-hour training session, the energy in the Kings’ salesroom floor was incredibly high. Each rep was pumped and ready to start touting emails. And for April, not only did she feel successful in her training–she felt a real connection to the forty fellow tout-ers in the room.

Success achieved.

April training the Sacramento Kings.