Salespeople are becoming mini-marketers

Think about the daily challenges that a salesperson faces – whether it’s a difficult call, a hard to find prospect, a fierce competitor within your space or an uninterested party. It’s tough out there. Often, a salesperson is juggling more than one challenge at a time. So, how do you combat the daily sales war?

Content Marketing.

We’ve talked extensively about aligning sales and marketing and how the alignment can fuse a stronger bond between the two teams and transform your organization into a well-oiled machine.

But, I’m in sales – why is content marketing important to me?

Well, here are the facts: content marketing has the opportunity to do and be anything. It’s marketing and it’s sales. It’s what you make of it. 79% of CMOs think content is the future of marketing. As marketing evolves, it only makes sense that the sales world evolves alongside it. It’s not a trend, it’s a movement and the movement is this: salespeople are becoming mini-marketers.

Here’s how to evolve and adapt the movement:

Create a Meaningful 5×5 Campaign

Content marketing has become critical for modern marketers in increasing web traffic, generating leads and driving pipeline and revenue into your sales funnel. Wait a minute, I want all those things for my sales process – how can I jump onboard?

It’s time to integrate an effective contact strategy called the 5×5 method that combines all the efforts of a content marketing campaign with your sales savviness.

As the name defines, the campaign consists of five tactical steps of contact that are pre-planned and at a invariable cadence:

  1. Introduce yourself
  2. Provide value
  3. Offer help
  4. Engage for feedback
  5. “The ask”

Each stage of the campaign offers a unique perspective and tailored messaging to the daily challenges that each prospect may face. Your audience reacts to content that builds trust. Content that is human, personable and relevant all help in building trust between you and your prospect. With a meaningful 5×5 campaign, it’s the only way to stop top of mind and build trust.

Create, Engage and Iterate

Once you’ve got a few campaigns under your belt, don’t just stop there. Even if you’ve got an incredibly engaging email templates and are leaning on company-branded content – that doesn’t mean you set it and forget it. Don’t forget to look at engagement data and iterate your campaigns.

Think about it: is your plan of attack for every sales call the same or do you iterate and mix things up based on your specific prospect and their needs? (I hope your answer is yes).

In a report conducted by Sirius Decisions, it defines content as “all information components produced by marketing to communicate ideas and transfer knowledge to buyer and seller audiences [and] plays a critical role in driving demand.”

So, to drive demand – you need to create compelling campaigns, engage with your prospects and company-branded content and iterate on your entire process.

5×5 & Social Selling

Let’s talk about distribution. Email is great. It’s the standard for a great 5×5 campaign. But, what else is out there?

The advent of social selling and connecting via social will do wonders for your 5×5 campaign. If anything, you can look at social selling as your 5×5 method 2.0. If email has got you in a rut – try applying the 5 steps in a 5×5 campaign into your social selling tactics.

Often, the steps required to move content across channels is complex. With conceptualizing and executing a pre-planned and disciplined campaign is the key to being truly effective.

Get Started

So, whether you’re going to start crushing leads via email campaigns of social selling campaigns – don’t hesitate and start right now. Remember, salespeople, don’t be afraid in becoming mini-marketers.

How to Effectively Use Engagement Data to Accelerate Your Sales Process

Engagement is more than a buzzword. When a customer engages with your product, platform, blog, tweet, Facebook post, LinkedIn update or email – it means that you have their attention. And, as we all know, attention is fleeting.

Your product has to be good enough for them stay.

Your content has to be informative enough for them to keep reading.

Your sales call has to be appealing enough for them to continuing listening.

To say the least, engagement data is extremely important. It helps us, whether you’re in sales or marketing, understand how active and interested a customer is with you.

As a modern salesperson, you want to be everywhere your customer is. Being active on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook is your opportunity to be exactly where you customer is at any given time. It’s a place where you can join the conversation and contribute in a meaningful way.

LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook all provide insights into your engagement data–don’t let that Analytics tab go idle, you need to look at the data provide and use it to your advantage.

LinkedIn

Your first step in understanding LinkedIn’s engagement data is to engage. Before you share the most engaging content with your network, you have to dig around and identify what that content is.

Look at which LinkedIn posts have the most likes and comments and analyze what are the key points in each piece of content and apply that synthesis to your content creation approach. The secret sauce to effectively using LinkedIn engagement data is to look at the data, analyze it and curate your content, comments and likes to what works.

Twitter

Twitter is a great place to find potential customers and converse with an audience in real-time. Twitter’s analytics tools does all the heavy lifting and synthesizes your engagement data for you (which can be found on your Analytics tab). Twitter defines engagement as “the number of times a user has interacted with a tweet” — whether it’s a RT, favorite, #hashtag, follow or reply.

Understanding Twitter’s engagement data is a no-brainer. The higher the number = the more engagement. So, what do you do with that data? Analyze the types of tweets and content that’s covering the widest audience net and curate your Twitter feed to reflect that. You can even drill down more in-depthly into the tweets by clicking “View Tweet details” for more information.

Facebook

In the B2C world, Facebook is known to be the place to get and share information. It’s where individuals go to share about their day, ask for advice and receive pertinent information. It only makes sense that B2B companies move into the platform and share their voice and emerge as the new thought leaders.

Your company’s Facebook page should be findable and credible as a incredibly useful repository of information. When engaging with your customers, the number one rule is to provide valuable content. If you keep a persistent flow of content that your customers want to read, they’ll keep coming back for me. In turn, you’ll gain a credible voice amongst your customers.

Adjust and Repeat

Don’t be afraid to mix content up. Don’t be afraid of A/B testing with tweets. Share different types of content. And even once you’ve figured out what’s working–don’t forget to adjust and repeat the process.

Pose a different question and respond to questions. The process of integrating the analysis of engagement data takes time. But once fully integrated into your workflow, your social effectiveness will grow exponentially.

Mobilize Your Millennials in Social Selling & Content Sharing

Social media is everywhere. It has permeated every part of a company, from HR, Customer Support, Marketing, Corporate Communications, Engineering and Sales. Social selling is here and it’s hard to ignore.

Social selling is the practice of salespeople using social channels to connect with prospects, customers and industry thought leaders to surface content articles of interest, build a personal brand and generate leads. It enables salespeople to position themselves as credible and emerging thought leaders.

We’ve talked about social selling before and we’ve stressed the importance of deciding on your target audience early on in the game. Why? In a 2013 study, it stated that 1 in 4 people will use social media in 2013. It’s 2015 now, and that estimate has gone up. Which means, that’s a lot of people for one salesperson to engage with.

What Does Social Selling Mean for Your Sales Process?

There’s a lot of talk about Millennials and how they’re changing the future. For anyone born from the years 1980 – 2000, they’re a Millennials. And as of today, many millennials are coming to an age where they’re entering the workforce, making buying decisions, they’re your company’s target audience and they’re employees at your company.

In a Goldman Sachs report titled Millennials Coming of Age, it states, “they’re also the first generation of digital natives, and their affinity for technology helps shape how they shop. They are used to instant access to price comparisons, product information and peer reviews.”

How Can You Adapt to the Changing Times?

You don’t have to be a millennial to be a social seller. No matter the median age of your sales team, it’s never too late to mobilize your troops. Social selling isn’t just a trend for your sales team. It should be a company-wide practice that bridges the divide between sales and marketing.

“Given their fluency and comfort with technology, Millennials have more of a positive view of how technology is affecting their lives than any other generation. More than 74% feel that new technology makes their lives easier.” Nielsen Consumer Report, Millennials: Technology = Social Connection

If Millennials lean on technology to make their lives easier, it’s only natural that this fluency translates into their professional lives. Think about it: if individual salespeople are actively listening, engaging and connecting with customers and prospects through social channels–it’s a no brainer for them to leverage company branded, marketing generated content.

Here are the most effective channels for social selling:

LinkedIn

Everyone is on LinkedIn. LinkedIn is the medium when it comes to having meaningful conversations with other professionals. In a report conducted by the Content Marketing Institute, it states, “94% of B2B marketers use LinkedIn to distribute content, making it the social media platform used most often (they also say it’s the most effective social media platform).”

As a social sharing best practice on LinkedIn, turn your titles into questions as a way to spark engaging conversations when posted in LinkedIn Groups or your own updates.

Twitter

In sales, timing is everything. With Twitter, it poses one simple question: “What’s happening?”

Twitter is all about people and ideas in real-time (expressed in 140 characters or less). Success in sales requires knowing when the timing is right to engage. Twitter can help with that.

Every tweet is an active idea. Every RT or @mention is an act of direct engagement. Those are the rules of Twitter, it also happens to be the rules of social sharing and social selling via Twitter. So, arm your Twitter folks with links to blogs, videos and pictures in their arsenal to sell to the 288 million Twitter users.

Facebook

Facebook has over 1.24 billion users and drives roughly 25% of online traffic through a never-ending stream of updates on your News Feed. The platform is a powerful and complex force, that when used correctly, it can reach over a billion people. What other distribution platform can tout those kinds of numbers?

Start with defining your strategies for engagement, content and conversion. Ask yourself what types of headlines and updates resonate with Facebook users that is different than LinkedIn or Twitter. How are you going to promote and facilitate conversations within Facebook?

The Rules of Social Content & Social Selling

The rules are simple:

Listen

Engage

Connect

The sales world (and the world, generally) has changed. There are 77 million Millennials in the United States and they make up 24% of the country’s population. It’s already common knowledge that today’s buyer is more informed than ever. They don’t need to depend on a sales rep to give them information. So, how do we reach prospects? We reach them by being proactive and social. It’s time to take to mobilize them and empower them with resonating marketing content and social selling tactics.

Top 4 Content Metrics You Should Track & Why

86% of B2B companies use Content Marketing.

80% of Marketing generated content goes unused by sales.

64% of teams that use social selling hit quota compared to 49% that don’t.

What’s the point?

With blogs, social selling, podcasts, newsletters and video series–how do you keep track of what’s resonating with your customers and how do you avoid content fatigue?

Simply, there are tons of content metrics that you can track. A few of those metrics serve vanity purposes, while other metrics serve an actual purpose. So, how do you know which metrics to track? In a webinar for content marketers, Jay Baer, a Marketing Speaker and Business Strategist, boiled down the long list of metrics into just four. Here they are:

1. Consumption Metric

Question Answered: How many people viewed this piece of content?

The word consumption means the reception of information, and as a content metric, it’s an indicator of how valuable your content is to your audience. Was the title of a blog post worthy of a click? Was a video worthy of a view? Was a whitepaper worthy of a download?

This consumption metric directly tells you how worthy a piece of content is to a reader.

Sales Benefit: In understanding what your audience reads and deems worthy of their time–this information can then be used to inform your talking points and prospecting emails.

Marketing Benefit: Traffic to that specific type of content and a clear indicator of what your audience actually cares about. If your audience reads a lot of customer stories, but not a lot of top 10 pieces–it helps you shape your editorial calendar.

How to do better: Create content that is relevant, compelling and overall interesting for your audience.

2. Sharing Metric

Question Answered: Did this piece of content resonate enough for a someone to share it?

Closely related to the consumption metric is the sharing metric. Once your audience has deemed your content is worthy of their click or view, the next step in content worth is if they share a piece of content. Was your piece of content effective and valuable enough for a reader to hit RT, Like or comment?

Sales Benefit: As more and more B2B buyers are looking to social channels, customer testimonials and independent research before talking to sales, they’re becoming a more informed buyer. It’s up to sales to understand the sharing metric and use it to their advantage. Capitalize on the sharing metric to get the upper hand in social selling and thought leadership.

Marketing Benefit: In line with the consumption metric, the sharing metric is a barometer for marketing to fine tune their editorial calendar for content that’s shareable and socially engaging.

How to do better: Make it dead simple for readers to share your content. If blog posts are your main form of content, make sure each post as a Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Pocket, Buffer, etc. button.

3. Lead Generation Metric

Question Answered: How often did a piece of content result in a lead?

In an ideal world every piece of content would convert the reader into a lead, then that lead would turn into a closed deal. However, the world is not like that. Instead, your company can track the lead generation metric through gating (the reader must complete a signup form) before reading, watching or downloading content.

Sales Benefit: With each completed signup form, the lead gets collected and transferred into your pool of inbound leads. Your inbound team can then qualify the leads and thereafter conduct the appropriate process.

Marketing Benefit: Alongside seeing the immediate impact on a specific eBook, webinar, video or whitepaper, you’ll be able to see the cost per lead and instantly see a return on your piece of content.

How to do better: Try out gated content on a segmented number of pieces of content and try ungated for the other portion. Then, compare and contrast the quality and quantity of leads collected.

4. Sales Metric

Question Answered: Did we get a return on investment with this piece of content?

Sales and marketing need to be in sync on this school of thought: if a piece of content doesn’t help close a deal, don’t do it. The sales metric sums up your company’s ultimate goal of growing your business. Remember, that in order to track a sales metric, your pieces of content have to be something that’s trackable.

How do you do this? By taking extensive notes on what types of content a prospect consumed, shared and acquired through lead generation before closing a deal.

Sales Benefit: After doing this a few times, common behaviors and best practices will begin to surface and you can use them to your advantage in your next deal.

Marketing Benefit: By tracking the sales metric, you can then determine actual ROI on a specific piece of content and funnel more resources into curating the type of content that closes deals.

How to do better: Take stock of your company’s content library and phase out the pieces of content that aren’t working and replenish the library with metric-validated content.

Metrics Answer Questions

With those four key metrics in mind and paramount questions answered, it’s a no-brainer to get behind it. The only mistake you can make is not using your company’s own content metrics to your selling and marketing advantage.

Header Image designed by Freepik.

5 Ways to Prevent SDR Burnout

Every SDR knows the feeling. It’s getting towards the end of the month, your quota is hanging over your head, and frustration can start to kick in. SDR Burnout is kicking in. Here are the top five tips on how to avoid it:

Celebrate Small Wins

You’re in a slump. Maybe you had a great week previously, but with no change to your normal outreach it feels like your emails and calls this week are being tossed into the black abyss. While booking a meeting is the end goal, it’s important to count the small successes that occur along the way.

  • Did a prospect finally open a fourth or fifth email of yours after never having viewed one of your earlier ones? Sweet!
  • Did you get a “no,” but they gave you the name of someone else who might be closer to the decision maker? Awesome! You’re a small step closer to your meeting.

When you place value on the small successes during the day, it’s much easier to break up the slump feeling,  giving you more confidence on the phone and drive in your email outreach.

Capitalize on Prospecting Momentum

After settling into the SDR role, it’s easy to get accustomed to a normal cadence of outreach.  As an example:

Day 1 – Call, Send Email

Day 3 – No voicemail, Send Email

Day 7 – Call, Send Email

And so on…

If you have a territory of 100+ accounts, it’s easy to forget the fact that these are actual people behind the Salesforce tasks. If a prospect is viewing your email and clicking on a piece of content you sent them, give them a call or send a follow up! Don’t stick to your cadence just because you’ve found it to be the best way to cover your territory. Momentum is important to capitalize on, and it’s easy for a prospect that may be interested one day to lose interest or priority the next.

Actively Build Team Culture

While the SDR manager is tasked with building the most successful SDR team possible, it’s up to the actual SDRs to build that team element into the culture. Our entire Tout SDR team hangs out outside of work – Tahoe trips, bar nights, concerts, and soon to be Stagecoach. Because we all bought into the team element, not only are we more successful (as we share tips and best practices across the group), but we have more fun! It makes it much easier to deflect the inevitable rejection when you’re surrounded by a supportive group of people that are in the trenches with you (shout out Vince, Nicolette, and Belinda).

Don’t Take Rejection Personally

This one is said all the time, but it’s super important and worth repeating. Remember that when a prospect says “no,” they aren’t saying no to you personally, they are saying no to the product, the company or any other number of things.

I think one of the greatest factors in SDR burnout is that people can’t handle the rejection aspect. I read about a team that uses the number rejections as one of their performance metrics for new SDRs. While we don’t use that at Tout, it’s a pretty novel idea as it stops making rejection personal for newer members of the team.

Have fun with your prospecting outreach

At least once a day, I hear one of our SDRs laughing about a new template they just made or a response they came up with. There is plenty of room in prospecting to inject humor, and if done tastefully, it can be really effective. If you’re bored with the messaging you’re sending out, change it up! Check out Giphy for some awesome images to add to your emails, and let us know if you’ve found some great ones!

5 Types of Content Your Sales Team Needs to Ask of Marketing

If we know that there are more than 27 billion pieces of content shared per day, and 20% of marketing generated content actually used by sales–what does that mean for the state of marketing collateral?

It means that sales and marketing need to work as a united team and strategically determine what types of collateral makes sense for their company.

Marketing doesn’t want to create content just for content’s sake. Each piece of content needs to fill a specific and strategic business need. In order to do that, there needs to be a consistent and constructive feedback loop between sales and marketing.

Here are 5 types of content your marketing team can create to help your sales team in any sales scenario:

1. Blog Posts

Goal: Provide thought leadership and industry insights on the market and solutions.

2. Case Studies

Goal: Testimonials, decision making and best practices from the point-of-view of your customer.

3. Presentations and Webinars

Goal: Challenge the status quo in your industry and surface questions about processes.

4. eBooks

Goal: Showcase your company’s expertise in a particular subject that’s backed by research, data and analytical insights.

5. Videos

Goal: Reach your audience through video sharing that can evoke credibility, confidence, trust and curiosity.

Now what?

It’s important to note that prioritization is key when it comes to creating content. Much like rolling out a new product feature, you have to prioritize what will make the highest impact first and what can wait a bit longer. Remember, there are only 86,400 seconds in a day and you can’t so everything on your to-do list.

Once you’ve created your prioritized and created your content, it’s time to gather data on what types of content works for your company. More on this next week!

For now, armed with those five types of content, your sales team will be able to cut through the content noise and convert prospects into paying customers.

Lead Nurturing Takes Both Sales and Marketing

In one corner you’ve got Sales and in the other you’ve got Marketing.

That’s the simplest way to describe the disconnect between sales and marketing. But, alignment between sales and marketing is one of the largest customer and revenue growth opportunities out there for companies. Why aren’t we capitalizing on that opportunity?

One way to solve for this crucial problem is for both teams to collaborate and determine just when a lead is a sales-ready lead. Not all customer’s are ready to purchase, and it’s the job of both sales and marketing to nurture those customers into a sales-ready lead.

What is Lead Nurturing?

According to The Ultimate Revenue Engine Maximizing Results Through Inside Sales & Marketing Automation Jon Miller states, “there is a big gap between when a lead first engages with your company and when they are sales ready. Lead nurturing is the process of closing that gap; it’s the process of building relationships with qualified prospects that aren’t ready to buy with the goal of earning their business.”

Until you see buying signals (such as a view on your Pricing Page), you have to nurture and develop a relationship with your lead and continually be top-of-mind in their Inbox.

These early stage buyers don’t want content about your product. Doing this will only overwhelm them and leave a sour taste in their mouth. Instead, warm up to them. Early stage buyers are more interested in general thought leadership and tangible industry specific information.

Let’s take Bob, for example, he’s a VP of Sales at a mid-size B2B Software company. He’s not necessarily on the market for any new tools, but is interested in what’s out there. Don’t send him an email about your product.

Instead, introduce yourself and attach and industry specific article such as “B2B Sales Crystal Ball: Thought Leaders Weigh on the Biggest Trends of 2015” which he’ll find useful in his role. You’ve provided instant value and should continue in the nurturing process.

How Can Marketing Help in Lead Nurturing?

For salespeople, leaning on marketing to source and resurface the most appropriate information, articles, eBooks, whitepapers and webinars is an incredible advantage.

Kyle Poretto, SDR Manager at NewsCred, has his Sales Development team create a calendar for keeping top-of-the-mind touch with prospects that is shared between his team and marketing. Creating a lead nurturing calendar between sales and marketing helps to remind everyone involved on the flow of the campaign and each team’s responsibilities.

It’s the job of both sales and marketing to get onboard with this calendar and work together to create or curate content for every part of the lead nurturing cycle.

Why Do You Need to Get it Right?

Lead nurturing is not a non linear series of five, six or seven emails that pummels your customer with information about your product. Lead nurturing needs to be structured and accommodating to your dynamic customer base.

The lead nurturing cycle is a pre-sales cycle. And, it’s about the customer and solving their problems.

According to the Aberdeen Group, a provider of fact-based business intelligence research, “lead nurturing is, in its simplest sense, is a way to automate relevant communications with buyers in order to drive conversions through every stage of the buyer’s journey.”

Sales and marketing needs to get lead nurturing process right so everyone can work smarter, together. In a study conducted by the Aberdeen Group, it highlighted that of the companies that have adopted a lead nurturing program, many of them gained a competitive advantage within their industry:

What About Measurement?

Effective lead nurturing gives companies that utilize it a competitive advantage for both sales and marketing. But, as important it is to have relate content within a nurturing campaign, it’s equally important to measure the overall effectiveness of the campaign itself.

Measure for View Rates

This number indicates how many times a recipient opened and read an email within the lead nurturing campaign.

Measure for Conversion Rates

The percentage of recipients that, through the lead nurturing campaign connected with the received content and converted into a paying customer.

Measure for Time for Conversion

Ask yourself: does this length of the lead nurturing campaign sufficient and effective? This metric is defined as the time it takes for a lead to become a paying customer.

Measure for Cost

The moment of truth: was the work worth the cost. Here’s the ROI metric for both sales and marketing in acquiring a new customer.

Lead Nurturing is for Closers

When sales and marketing work together, as a unified team, during the lead nurturing cycle we can dramatically improve cross-team productivity, the entire sales process and company growth.

How SDRs Can Team with Marketing to Close the Gap and Prospect Better

There’s been a long-standing debate ever since the emergence of the Sales Development role and that is, whether or not SDRs should be apart of the marketing team or the sales team. It’s a heated debate and both sides bring great points but it’s certainly not as simple as looking at the title of Sales Development Representative and calling it a day. It’s more complicated than that.

From a marketing standpoint, there’s no denying that SDRs have several responsibilities that would fall under the marketing function. Take email campaigns for example. Both demand generation software and sales applications like Tout are essentially working towards the same goal-turning a Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL) into a Sales Qualified Lead (SQL).  It’s the exact same function, just executed in a much different way.

That being said, if you were to ask me what the job of the SDR is, I would say: the SDR role is bridging the gap between sales and marketing.

It’s not often that you’ll hear an SDR manager admit that working for a company with a very strong marketing department is hard, but it is-and I’ll tell you why. Because when the marketing department is strong, they create a ton of MQLs and this creates a pseudo-hybrid role that balances inbound vs outbound. At the enterprises level, this can create dilemmas such as:

  • Of all these leads, where is the best place to start?
  • How do I passively manage the lower-quality MQLs?
  • What tasks can I offload to ensure I’m focusing purely on high-priority MQLs and my target outbound list?

When you’re underwater in MQLs it’s time to take a look at your processes in place for the SDRs.

My theme has been two fold:

Offload as much low-value work possible

The first step was offloading low-value and time consuming tasks like lead and online research. I found a service that solved this problem for us called Prospecting Zen. Training sales assistants can be difficult. Instead, tools like Prospecting Zen trains sales assistants to do those time consuming tasks such as finding emails, phone numbers, good prospects within their target accounts, etc.

If you calculate how much time your team spends on finding prospects and guessing email addresses—it’s a no brainer to implement a third-party to help in the process.

Centralize Everything

The second thing I did was centralize all the communication between sales and marketing. What I noticed is there are so many mediums we can communicate through now that it creates a huge gap in communication. It actually became so bad at one point my SDRs seemed to work independently of one another, using different tactics, leveraging different pieces of marketing during their campaigns, and some would be successful and others would fail miserably.  I needed to ensure we were all the same page with marketing so I did one of two things….

1. Created a marketing calendar for SDRs

This was huge for us. Now we can pull up a calendar that’s designated for SDRs that will tell us,

Monday:

Reminder: Should have sent at least two notes to follow up event last week

Thursday:

Focus on webinar outreach. Click here for an awesome template

This calendar is perfectly aligned with marketing department. They actually have access to it and can edit it!  So if they want to add a webinar date or a major marketing push, they can. This information is crucial for success because SDRs all need to easily be able to identify their lowest hanging fruit. This is done with a mix of demand generation scoring, to surface the warmed leads, and the proper alignment of sales and marketing.

2. Creating a daily “flow” that aligns with marketing

What does this mean? Well, since SDRs often struggle with prioritization because this is one of their first sales jobs, they need a lot of direction. The SDR manager’s job is to come up with the most optimal way to have their SDRs spend their day. Managers should be leveraging data to make smart decisions based on historical performance of the company and the industry, but it can be difficult to do when you’re lacking data but Tout has also helped us with optimization tremendously.

What we’ve done is layout our SDRs day in separate views within our CRM. So they have a view where they hunt for the best leads, which is the “MQL Leads” view.

Some sample views would be:

MQLs

Working MQLs

Top Targets

Cold Call Lists

We will designate times to work through these views and even setting up time for a cold call hour when, after sifting through their overdue tasks, and the views above- they smile and dial.

This practice has been successful for our team at NewsCred.

Kyle Poretto is an SDR Manager at NewsCred, a leading content marketing platform that pairs cutting-edge software with top-notch content.  For more information about Kyle at NewsCred, please contact him at kyleporetto@gmail.com.

4 Ways to Decode the Hidden Sales Cycle

In The Challenger Sale, it states that 57% of the buyer’s decision is complete before a customer even talks to sales. Today’s customer has an upper hand in the sales process. Gone are the days when a customer would pick up the phone and talk to sales. With the information age in full effect, today’s buyer is a sophisticated and well-informed decision maker with a choice.

With a massive amount of information at their fingertips, before the customer even embarks on your sales cycle, they go through the hidden sales cycle first.

Customers are conducting their own independent research and are forming their own purchase decisions before talking to sales. As a company, you need to make sure that potential customers find you during their initial research process.

I’m talking about leveraging your content as a selling tool to debunk the hidden sales cycle.

Here’s the know-how:

  1. Know Your Ideal Customer Profile

Not to sound like a broken record, but knowing your ideal customer profile is a tried-and-true practice in effectively selling and understanding your customer.

  1. Connect Buyers and Sellers Through Social Channels

Whether it’s having an active voice on Twitter, LinkedIn and even Facebook — social selling is the best way to connect and interact with prospects. It’s a great way to conduct lead nurturing in a scalable way.

  1. Develop Thought Provoking Content

Content marketing is important. It’s one of the most accessible ways to personalize content and convert prospects into customers. It’s up to your company to curate resonating and useful content that ranges from blog posts, case studies, videos and customer testimonials.

  1. Enlist a Proactive Sales Team

Don’t wait around for prospects and leads to come to you. If you don’t have one already, think about starting an Sales Development team that focuses on outbound prospecting and bring the leads into your pipeline.

Part 2: What I’ve learned from 1000 interviews

In Part One, we discussed why people are the heart of every successful organization. Treating hiring like demand generation and applying rigor to the process sets the foundation for Part Two.

Now we’ll explore why you should develop an Ideal Candidate Profile and how your Hiring Rubric will guide the right decisions. But before we dig in, I’d like to share another underlying trait of successful candidates:

Art & Science

Why are we so focused on whether sales is an art or a science? Perhaps sales was once an artform, but, at any rate, it has evolved into a nexus of the qualitative and the quantitative. To the sales industry at large: move on, and embrace it.

Bottom line: Candidates who understand the art of communication and the science of technology are your next hyper-performers.

Ideal Candidate Profile (ICP)

New customers come from the actions of past customers.

– Eric Ries

In Recruiting, we can apply the same technique and the characteristics begin to become statistically significant after your first few hires (applying the 100 Rule from Part One).

Understand your hyper-performers – look for trends, similar experiences, and any commonalities that emerge:

  • University background
  • Internship experience
  • International travel
  • Extra-curricular activities
  • Technical skills
  • Past failure
  • Prior employer

In working with Sales teams across a broad spectrum of industries, I often hear unique characteristics that hiring managers look for in their candidates (eg. exclusively baseball players, specific colleges, only those with door-to-door experience).

My advice, test your assumptions with more than one individual. Basing performance on a small sample skews your perspective.

Emotional IQ Spectrum

Self awareness is shaped by experience.

That’s the hard thing about hard things—there is no formula for dealing with them

– Ben Horowitz

Knowing and identifying one’s failures is the first step to self-improvement. Using your ICP, dig deep into how a candidate’s experiences shaped their level of self awareness.

This process involves three crucial steps:

  1. Form a foundation of empathy through sharing your own challenging experience
  2. Tap into an experience from the candidate that evokes a level of sincerity (e.g. their move cross-country, their backpacking trip around South East Asia, the short stint on the resume that was probably a learning experience)
  3. Listen – body language tells a story, so make sure it’s the right one.

This process is only possible if you meet the candidate in-person. Self awareness is exposed at higher levels when you can share eye contact and really connect with the individual. In my experience, emotional intelligence is the difference between an average performer and your future VP of Sales.

Kick-ass Checklist for Hiring Sales Talent

Every hiring manager should ask themselves: what’s foundational and what’s coachable? This simple question will lead to the formation of a hiring rubric for required and coachable skills and core attributes.

I assess four core attributes, each with critical components:

Failure

Sales is hard, and as Steli Efti illustrates, we need to look for candidates who can embrace rejection:

When forming your Ideal Candidate Profile, spend time looking for the right data points but include opportunities to uncover how an individual addressed a position of failure.

Proceed with caution if a candidate has taken the easy bus through life 1) gained entry into school through relatives 2) landed a post-college job with family or 3) works for a friends’ company not because he believes in the work or the mission, but because he secured a “gravy” role.

Attention to detail

Based on my experience, there are two types of people in this area 1) those who take an extra 15 seconds to read over an email before clicking send and 2) those who don’t.

  1. Layer the interview process with exercises (preferably written) to evaluate their ability in this area (e.g. sales prospecting email, customer feedback request, objection handling)
  2. Look out for a well-crafted “thank you email” – they mean the difference

Prospecting Sample Email to LuluLemon’s former VP Digital Marketing

Work ethic

Athletes will often train their entire lives to one day participate in the Olympics. Similarly, candidates who are passionate embrace the 6AM alarm clock to invest time in their future.

  1. Interview in the morning (before 9AM) to gauge grit (learning Andrew Riesenfeld)
  2. Evaluate candidate’s extracurricular activities – community projects, sports, college internships
  3. Have they helped their peers or collaborated with others?

Critical thinking

The evolution of inside sales has just shifted the delivery and noise, with executives often now receiving 500+ emails per day – candidates who think beyond the proverbial door bell and look for the unlatched window will be infinitely more successful.

  1. What’s the most creative approach you’ve taken to engage a future customer?
  2. How do you teach your future customers – what channels do you use?
  3. When do you walk away from a dead opportunity?

Why these three? Based on my experience, these three are foundational and not coachable. Candidates that are passionate about their future, invest time into refining their message, understand the value of time, and strive to look for the path less travelled.

The Road Doesn’t End Here

We’ve explored why passion is a good gauge of performance, learned how hyper-performers will impact your team, delved into the basics of interviewing 101, created a framework for an Ideal Candidate Profile, and formed a checklist for success.

For those in hiring roles, take ownership. Leave resource allocation to Human Resources, and invest in talent to create future leaders. Conversely, if you’re going for that hot job: focus on the details, share your experiences, and develop a relationship with the hiring manager.