3 Reasons Why Sales Development Compensation is Key to Your Revenue

Last year, Buffer introduced its concept of “Open Salaries” in a blog post with a full list of employees, their role, start date and salary. That action sparked a ton of conversation around numbers and competitive compensation.

For us in Sales, we know a lot about numbers—the old adage that Sales is a numbers game exists for a reason. We’re constantly surrounded by numbers: quota, deal size, salary and OTE (compensation). While not every company is jumping on board with Buffer’s “Open Salaries” concept, it does bring up a question for us in Sales—how important is compensation to Sales and in particular for newer roles like Sales Development?

Why the emphasis on Sales Development? According to research firm TOPO, “Sales Development is one of the most important processes an organization can build to deliver a seamless, efficient revenue machine.” A quick Google searches shows that there’s not much out there in terms of what SDR compensation looks like. The closest thing we could find was a Quora question, “How are SDR bonus plans typically constructed?” But what about a full compensation plan that encompasses total compensation?

The Bridge Group put together an SDR Compensation Calculator and a slew of eBooks on SDR compensation and Inside Sales compensation, but we want to take the conversation further and dive into why competitive compensation is more than just a number.

1. Compensation Impacts Company Revenue

For a relatively new role like an SDR, where there aren’t a lot of data points around compensation—it’s difficult to know where to set your company’s benchmarks. Or, if you’re an SDR candidate, to know what’s the right ballpark for your compensation.

Pro-Tip: Create a compensation plan that fits your business and revenue goals.

A common mistake that CEOs and Sales leaders make is they simply overlook compensation and try to find one that best fits their budget at the time. Compensation plans should adhere to revenue goals, but that doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t align with potential performance—which directly impacts company revenue.

2. Compensation Ensures an Increase in Qualified Leads  

Attracting and retaining top talent, whether it’s an SDR or an SDR Manager, it’s no cakewalk. The key to maintaining a high-performing Sales Development team relies on competitive compensation for the entire team.

Think about the activities that an SDR is tasked with: setting appointments and generating pipeline with qualified leads. SDRs have the daunting task of emailing, calling and reaching out via social media to prospects with no pre-established relationship. An SDR has to break down the “no” response and ultimately get a “yes” for a meeting. So, paying SDRs competitively is paramount. The way that SDRs conduct themselves and achieve outbound prospecting outcomes is often a reflection of the company’s compensation plan.

If a total compensation is too low, SDRs aren’t intrinsically motivated to set appointments with qualified leads or to exceed their quota. If compensation is to high, it creates a question environment that often leads to disengaged reps.

3. The Key Elements to Every SDR Compensation Plan

We’ve discussed why a competitive compensation plan is important for SDRs, it’s time to break down the key elements of a competitive compensation plan:

  • Base Salary: What an SDR will make just by walking through the door
  • Commission Rate: A moving variable that fluctuates monthly, based on performance of outbound prospecting activities
  • Accelerators: Incentivizes reps to exceed their quota and earn more commission (i.e. uncapped commission)
  • Ramp Rep Time: It’s important to keep goals aligned and realistic with a rep’s ramp time.

Conclusion

Whether you’re hiring or a job seeker, if you want the upper hand against your competition and an optimal compensation—you have to approach compensation strategically. While not every company might not be as transparent about salary as Buffer, it’s important for companies and job seekers to have benchmarks for SDR compensation.

For more information on building Sales Development teams, download our eBook The Definitive Guide to Building an SDR Team.

Product Launch Round Up: Sales Campaigns 1.1 is Here

It’s hard to believe that it’s been two weeks since the launch of Sales Campaigns! Sales Campaigns is a series of emails, calls, InMail and custom tasks that allows you to translate your Sales Playbook into an easy to execute workflow.

We’ve been busy bees since launch, quickly iterating and incorporating feedback from you. I am happy to share with you the six most requested features that we added to Sales Campaigns today. The big theme has been enhanced scheduling options to ensure that your emails hit your prospect’s inbox when they are most likely to engage, boosting your team’s success.

Without further ado, here’s the product round-up for Sales Campaigns 1.1 and how to take advantage of these changes:

1. Ability to choose delivery time of each scheduled email step

Campaign_ScheduleEmail

2. Ability to schedule emails by time zone

Campaign_Timezone

3. Ability to bulk reschedule scheduled emails

Campaign_BulkSchedule

4. Ability to edit Campaign name

Campaign_ChangeName

5. Ability to add non-alphanumeric characters to task names

Campaign_Task

6. Ability to see the length of a Campaign in list view

Campaign_Length

That’s all for this week folks! If you are a ToutApp enterprise customer, you can start taking advantage of these updates today.

Not an enterprise customer? Upgrade your account by contacting Sales today to gain access to Sales Campaigns.

The 4 Must Know Email Pro-Tips For Every Prospecting Email

There are 108.7+ billion emails sent and received per day. Some of which were sent by you and will end up in your busy prospect’s inbox. So, how do you cut through the noise and engage with your prospect? For starters, think about what your prospect can do with your email: they can read it, forward it, mark it as important, read it then mark it as unread or they can outright delete it.

In our last post, we wrote about the differences between inbound and outbound prospecting Sales Campaigns and highlighted best practices for each outreach strategy. Today, we’re going to expand on the topic and provide best practices for email subject lines and email message, so your outreach emails will always get read (and not thrown in the trash bin).

Pro-Tip #1: Always Have a Quality Subject Line

It’s time to seize your prospect’s attention and hyper-personalize your emails—starting with the subject line. Too often we get emails like “ABC Company + XYZ Company, Let’s Connect.” No one wants those kinds of emails and no prospect is going to engage with an email with that subject line.

Instead, keep these statistics in the back of your mind when writing subject lines:

    • SendGrid analyzed 18 million emails and found that three word subject lines yield the highest engagement at 21% (SendGrid). Remember, most people scan their emails rather than reading every word—so keep it short.
    • Oracle analyzed 200+ million emails and concluded that the best performing emails include the recipient’s name in the subject line (Oracle).
    • Avoid using sales or overused words, links and #hashtags because they trigger spam filters and/or those emails end up in the trash bin (Mailchimp).

Pro-Tip #2: Don’t Skimp on Your Email Message

After filling out the “to” field and writing your informative three word subject line, the next step is to provide concise and informative content within the body of your email. Remember, just because a prospect opened your email, it doesn’t mean you’ve won the game.

Your email message should be three things: short, informative and personalized to the said email recipient. You’ve done a lot of research, wrote an engaging email subject line—don’t let that hard work go to waste. So, what does your email body have to have to get some form of engagement beyond an open?

Three Easy Steps to Get a First Response From a Prospect

  1. Focus on the email recipient: Let the prospect know that you’ve done your homework on them, their company and industry. This shows that you’re someone that can provide value and not just a sales pitch.
  2. Ask yourself, “Am I Providing Value?”: Doug Landis, VP of Sales Productivity at Box wrote, “I believe at our core we all really enjoy helping other people.” Before hitting Tout It, question whether your email is providing value and truly helping the recipient.  
  3. Make it short, sweet and simple to read: Your prospects are busy and walls of text emails are intimidating and difficult to read. Instead, cut it down to size.

Pro-Tip #3: What if There’s Radio Silence?

If you don’t get a response right away, keep it cool. On average, people get upwards of 75 emails per day—give your prospect some breathing room to sift through their inbox, read their email, digest the content that you’ve sent them and thoroughly think of a response to your email.

Even though people are more connected than ever, they’re also busier than ever too. So give your prospect some time to get to your email. For more tips on outreach cadence, refer back to our Sales Campaigns best practices post.

Pro-Tip #4: Don’t Rule Out Mobile

Mobile email is eating desktop email for lunch. As we mentioned, people are more connected than ever. According to the Pew Research Center, 64% of American adults now own a smartphone of some kind. So, when writing your subject line and email body, consider optimizing your entire email for mobile.

Think about how your subject line and first few words of your email is going to read on mobile. Most people will skim through their emails and decide, based on that messaging alone, to either read or delete the email. As more and more people read their emails on their phones, roughly 85% of them are using an iOS device, you have to tailor to their mobile needs.

Conclusion

So, what have we learned and what can we do to cut through the noise? Our prospects are busier than ever and get a ton of emails. To play in this game, we need to do better. Before sending out your next email, but yourself in their shoes and imagine what it’s like to be on their end. Would you open a generic email from someone you cannot immediately identify? Chances are, probably not—unless it was really worthwhile.

We need to personalize our subject lines and email content to each prospects in order to have a fighting chance in getting any response. Now that you’re equipped for the top four email pro-tips, go forth and strategically tout those emails.

Why Your Organization Should Focus on Upsells and Cross-Sells

If we apply the 80/20 rule SaaS Sales logic, it means that 80% of your company’s future revenue comes from just 20% of your customers. Sure, the breakdown percentages will vary based on your own company’s metrics and revenue—but for many companies, the old saying rings true.

As sales methodologies evolve with an increased emphasis on sales productivity and Social Selling, sales leaders should consider the evolution as growth, rather than a reason to panic. With this change, it means that sales teams are becoming more responsive to their modern buyer. So, does this mean new requirements for scaling organizations? Yes, it requires a focus on existing customers and a refinement of their sales process to include upsells and cross-sells.

What are Upsells and Cross-Sells?

Upselling can refer to increasing the quantity of the product being purchased before closing the deal or swapping out the original product with a higher-end product. Cross-selling, on the other hand, refers to adding one or more related products as part of the initial deal. According to Business 2 Community, “both of these methods are extremely helpful because each enables improving the deal’s sales value without significantly incurring additional costs in the process.”

Upsells, Cross-Sells and the Sales Funnel

According to Forbes, “when it comes to growing their startups, many entrepreneurs are so focused on gaining new clients and customers that they fail to effectively address the need to retain those they already have.” Again, here’s where the 80/20 rule comes into the fold.

As prospects are entering the funnel later and with more product awareness, intent and knowledge—your company cannot afford to sit idle. While Marketing is hyper-focused on increasing the Top of Funnel, Sales and Customer Success should focus their efforts further down in the funnel with engaged buyers and existing customers.

The bottom line is this: by focusing on upsells and cross-sells, your company’s potential revenue will increase. More specifically, we’ve narrowed down the list of what will be impacted just by incorporating upsells and cross-sells into your sales process.

#1 Increased Revenue

Sales is no longer about getting the customer to sign the DocuSign and washing your hands clean. Instead, Sales is about helping buyers through their journey and maintaining that consultative relationship once the deal has closed. As deal cycles grow longer and more complex, it’s a Salesperson’s job to connect, engage and inquire if there’s a potential for more revenue than the initial deal. For example, if your product is a Social Media Management tool for aimed at marketers, you should inquire whether or not your prospect’s Sales team would be a fit for the tool for their Social Selling efforts.

For the Salesperson, the deal doesn’t end once the deal has closed. To be a successful, quota hitting Salesperson, you have to think about how to increase revenue beyond the initial deal. According to Marketing Metrics, “the probability of selling to a new prospect is 5% – 20%, whereas the probability of selling to an existing customer is 60% – 70%.”

The truth is this: without focusing on upsells and cross-sells, companies are at risk of leaving money on the table.

#2 Increased Customer Lifetime Value

The Customer Success team will play a huge part in both upsells and cross-sells, as a customer’s success after they purchase your product will gain momentum and will eventually make a huge impact on your company’s recurring revenue.

To increase revenue through cross-sells, companies have to improve a customer’s time to value with the product. Meaning, the faster a customer can gain value from your company’s product, the faster the customer can achieve their business goals, and the faster your company has an upsell or cross-sell opportunity.

The second approach to cross-sells is analyzing a customer’s growth over time. For Customer Success Managers (CSMs), when they’re on calls with customers—it’s important to ask if the team is hiring, taking on more business and staying in the loop on company news. This level of engagement proves to customers that your company is invested in the partnership. Once a CSM has gathered enough information, they can go in for the cross-sell and see where their company’s product fits with other arms of the organization.

Through cross-sells, companies are able to generate more Monthly Recurring Revenue (MRR) and Customer Lifetime Value (LTV), without increasing their Cost of Acquiring a Customer (CAC).

#3 Increased Alignment Beyond Sales

For upsells and cross-sells to happen, there needs to be a true partnership between Account Executives and Customer Success Managers. Cross-sell activity alone requires a lot of planning and strategy based on the individual customer. It requires a coordinated approach where both sides drive towards new opportunities as quickly as possible. It all starts with a common goal and seamless handoff between Account Executives and CSMs once the deal has closed.

Having said that, when Sales and Customer Success work together towards upsells and cross-sells, that alignment goes beyond the two revenue generating teams. This alignment can reach every department from Support, Marketing to Engineering.

Marketing should be the source of valuable content, customer testimonials, ROI calculators, etc. that both Sales and Customer Success can send to their prospects and customer during the upsell and cross-sell opportunities. Your Customer Support team needs to be present when prospects and customers have questions and feedback, which will then get answered and funneled back into the Engineering team for product consideration in the future.

At the end of the day, upsells and cross-sells isn’t just a Sales and Customer Success initiative, but it should be a company-wide focus (because revenue is on the line).

Conclusion

The benefits of upsells and cross-sells doesn’t end with your company’s revenue numbers. A well-executed practice of upsells and cross-sells improves the customer experience as well as it ensures that customers are always choosing the right product for their team and workflow. So, let’s stop leaving money on the table and configure your sales and post-Sales process to include upsells and cross-sells.

How to Create a Sales Campaign for Inbound and Outbound Prospecting

The average person checks their inbox about 77 times per day, or 373 times per day if you’re on the higher end of the spectrum. Those statistics are just around checking your email, let alone how many emails a person will receive in a single day. Either way, that’s a lot of email. We as Salespeople need a strategy to cut through the noise and connect with our prospects and opportunities in a productive way.

The answer is simple: we need to focus on hyper-personalization through creating multi-channel outreach campaigns that extends beyond just emails.

With our launch of Sales Campaigns, you’ll be able to translate your inbound and outbound prospecting Sales Playbook into an easy to execute workflow. A Sales Campaign is an effective and simple way for your prospecting reps to create multi-channel outreach campaigns with different touches depending on their inbound and outbound roles.

When reps create a Sales Campaign, they can send an email, write an InMail, set a reminder to call a prospect, and create a custom task (such as reaching out on Twitter). Since inbound and outbound leads are in different phases of their buyer’s cycle, we’re outlining different Sales Campaigns strategies to reach both of them effectively.

Creating a Sales Campaign for Inbound Leads

Your company’s inbound leads come in as inquiries from marketing efforts, the internet, ads and word of mouth. When these inquiries come knocking on your door, it’s an inbound reps’ job to qualify the lead and turn them into a sales qualified opportunity. The best way to keep consistent contact with these leads is to create a Sales Campaign that drives towards conversion.

Before diving into creating an inbound Sales Campaign, be sure to contrast the inbound lead with your company’s definition of a sales qualified lead (SQL). By doing this first, it ensures that there’s no wasted effort in working the lead if it doesn’t meet the SQL definition. With that squared away, we’re providing a guideline for an intermediate type of Sales Campaign (be sure to make the appropriate adjustments based on your campaign analytics):

Inbound Sales Campaign: Call + Emails + Social*   
Step 1: Email, LVM – 5 minutes SLA – Day 1
Step 2: Email, LVM – Day 2
Step 3: Email, LVM – Day 3
Step 4: Email, Call, Social – Day 4 (LinkedIn request: add short personalized note, don’t mention product yet – (Art of a LinkedIn Invite)
Step 5: Send LinkedIn InMail – Day 6 (How I Get 50% Return on InMail)
Step 6: Email, LVM – Day 7
Step 7: Email, LVM – Day 14
Step 8: Email, LVM – Day 21
Step 9: Email – Day 30 – 45
*Adding a Social task to a campaign can be an intermediate step, for more campaigns basics, keep steps limited to Calls and Emails.

This works as an inbound Sales Campaign because there’s a consistent cadence of outreach within the first four days after the initial inquiry. Remember, inbound leads are those that are already interested in investing in products—so it’s smart to schedule your outreach when they’re actively looking for new products.

Creating a Sales Campaign for Outbound Leads

For every scaling company, outbound prospecting is the way to generate highly sales qualified leads in crucial target territories. Outbound leads differ from inbound leads in that reps are contacting prospects without a warm introduction or existing interest. With that, the touches with an outbound Sales Campaign are different.

Pro-Tip: Outbound reps, like Sales Development Reps, should work off their list of named accounts to ensure that they spend time on sales qualified leads.

When creating an outbound Sales Campaign, hyper-personalized messaging is paramount. Rather than throwing generic messaging together, first send a personalized email and continue this personalization throughout the campaign like the following:

Outbound Sales Campaign: Call + Email + Social* 
Step 1: Email, Call – Day 1
Step 2: Insert Custom Task (Email) & LVM & Social (LinkedIn Request) – Day 3
Step 3: Insert Custom Task (Email) & LVM – Day 10
Step 4: Insert Call & InMail – Day 14
Step 5: Insert Custom Task (Email) & LVM – Day 21
Step 6: Insert Custom Task (Email) & LVM – Day 30
Step 7: Insert Custom Task (Email) & LVM – Day 45
Step 8: New Thread – Day 55
*Adding a Social task to a campaign can be an intermediate step, for more campaigns basics, keep steps limited to Calls and Emails.

Keep in mind that with an outbound Sales Campaign, prospects have no prior knowledge of your company. So, the Sales Campaign should balance persistence and thoughtfulness through research, sharing relevant content and being human in every step of the campaign. People like to buy from people they like, not robo-mailers and hard sellers—so don’t create a Sales Campaign that enables that.

Tips for Building Your Campaign

When sending out a campaign, whether it’s inbound or outbound, there are a few things to consider:

  • Most campaigns only run for a limited time, so be sure to motivate your reps to think strategically and efficiently about the messaging for each step in a campaign.
  • Today’s buyers want more content. Salespeople need to share relevant and useful content in every touch, which you can track via Tout.
  • Do something different to show that you’re more than just another Salesperson trying to say your pitch. Create a custom task during your Sales campaign that’s creative and engaging for the recipient.

We built Sales Campaigns to empower the modern Salesperson to be more human and work more efficiently. Remember, the work doesn’t end once you create and send out the first campaign. The goal of every Sales Campaign is to listen and respond to what prospects are saying based on the messaging.

Stay tuned for next week’s post on email subject line and content best practices for your Sales Campaigns.

Finally, Big Data Comes to Sales

For years Big Data has been the secret weapon for marketers seeking to hyper-target their messaging and call to actions to their buyer. Meanwhile, Salespeople have long relied on their powers of persuasion and the art of Sales to get the deal done. That approach has simply lost its charm on modern buyers. As data becomes more accessible for companies, no matter the size, it reduces business costs by improving a reps focus throughout the sales cycle, improving the customer experience and driving alignment across an entire organization.

What is Big Data?

Big Data is not a buzzword. Rather, it’s an opportunity to analyze a large volume of data around every person, company and industry and give us a better understanding of our buyers. In the a16z Podcast “Big Data Goes Really Big,” host Michael Copeland stated, “Big Data is evolving. It’s moving from the sole domain of the high priests of data science to something that practically every organization, big and small, and every group within that organization can gets its hands on.”

So, if we know that we should get our hands on Big Data, how do we actually get it and how is it going to help us?

What is the Big Deal?

As we mentioned before, marketers have been relying on Big Data for years to help them understand their target audience. All those targeted inbound leads came from somewhere. Hint: marketers analyzed data so they can create hyper-personalized campaigns to individual personas. We in Sales need to care about Big Data because as we evolve into becoming mini-marketers and focusing on hyper-targeting our prospects—we’re going to need all that data.

Big Data comes in two flavors: structured and unstructured. We’re going to need both in our Sales Journey.

Structured data is pretty standard, it’s your database of names, company, emails, roles, etc. All this information is relatively easy to find and even easier to compile into a spreadsheet. Unstructured data, on the other hand, is tricky. This includes anything and everything from email content, social media posts, videos, blog posts, digital photos, etc. That mixture of structured and unstructured data is what matters to us in Sales because it gives us a better understanding of our buyer, which leads to more business.

Where do we Start?

One of the biggest issues with Big Data today is that not everyone has access to it. In the past there was on IT guy who had all the power, you submit a report request, IT would run the report, an analyst would synthesize the information and finally you’d get a complete report—only you had to wait six to nine months for it.

In the a16z podcast, Copeland called for the “democratization of Big Data” and what that means is we can’t make decisions fast enough because the data pull is too slow. Instead, we need to give everyone access to data in order to make immediate decisions, which has huge implications for your business.

Think about it: if 70% of the buyer’s journey happens before they talk to Sales, if we had access to who our customer is, what’s their profile, what are the buying, etc.—we’ll be able to engage and connect in a more meaningful way.

Big Data shouldn’t be siloed to only Sales Operations and Marketing, but it must come to Sales in order to grow your bottom line. Salespeople must collect, track and analyze all buyer signals and leverage that intelligence to target high-value prospects and cross sell into new arms of organizations.

What Will be the Outcome?

With the addition of Big Data, it will expand sales intelligence and a Salesperson’s ability to connect and engage with prospects by getting a full understanding of them. Much like Social Selling, unstructured data must be leveraged during the sales process because buyers ultimately want to buy from people they like and have a connection with. Therefore, the need to compile and analyze unstructured data. With access to Big Data, Salespeople can learn how to hyper-target their outreach messaging and discovery calls to every opportunity in their pipeline.

Sales Cannot Afford to be Jack of All Trades

Over the past few decades the structure of sales organizations have remained unchanged. That was up until recently. Now, as sales organizations are embarking on a change from field to inside sales—Sales leaders must realize that Sales cannot afford to be Jack of All Trades anymore.

This year, we’re predicting an organizational change in Sales teams from Jack of All Trades to Masters of One. Salespeople simply cannot do it all anymore. Studies show that 33% of a sales rep’s time is spent on actually selling. That’s only ⅓ of their time. The rest of their time is spent on data entry and tasks that impact the sales cycle, but doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re focused on the deal at hand. Not convinced that reps need to focus and be Masters of One? Here’s a short-list of the top Sales problems:

  • 70% of the buyer’s journey happens before they talk to Sales. Read: Buyers no longer depend on Sales to inform their decision as much as in the past
  • Sales is unable to connect with buyers earlier on in the journey because they’re focused on non-selling activities
  • Sales has too much to do with too little time to do it all
  • Quota realization continues to go down, and that’s worrisome for your sales revenue goals

As buyers become more sophisticated and the sales cycle becomes more complex as more stakeholders are involved—something needs to change. It worked in the past, these Jack of All Trades reps that did everything from updating Salesforce, outbound prospecting, running discovery calls and closing deals. But, the buyer and sales cycle have evolved. It’s time Salespeople evolve as well and focus on being Masters of One.

Master of Segmentation

Here’s the new sales strategy: segment your sales team, twice. The first arm of segmentation should be between your closers and prospectors or Account Executives (AEs) and Sales Development Representatives (SDRs). Though both roles are essential to the business, the context switching between closing and prospecting is taxing on the rep, lowers productivity and is a leading factor in the 70% stat from above.

If reps are dividing their time between two separate threads of the sales cycle—they’re unable to merely focus, specialize and thrive on being a master at either closing or prospecting. It’s kind of like playing basketball for a few hours and then playing baseball for few hours next. A professional sports player would never do that, so why should your sales team? Instead, give your team the focus and segmentation that they deserve.

The second arm of segmentation is around territory planning and processes. When sales leaders are drawing their market segments, they should also think about segmenting both their AE and SDR teams into the appropriate markets. Meaning having specialized reps in Enterprise, Mid-Market and Small Business. With this hyper-segmentation, it allows your reps to give the appropriate amount of strategy and attention to every customer.

Master of the AE-SDR Handoff

With the emergence of segmentation between closing and prospecting roles, that doesn’t mean that there should be a gap between the two parts of the Sales team. Companies still have to bridge the gap between the roles and get them to collaborate with one another, because your revenue goals depend on it.

Meaning, when an SDR prospects into a company and then books a meeting for an AE, there should be a transfer of knowledge along with the Salesforce opportunity. Everything that an SDR has learned about their prospect should be relayed to the AE, so they can both work together and move the prospect through the buyer’s journey. This transfer of knowledge helps reps create highly-personalized outreach to prospects and creates a connection and foundational partnership with the prospect.

Your organization can take the AE-SDR handoff one step further by pairing AEs with SDRs. It’s sort of like a 1:1 sales process. The SDR prospects into a company, and instead of a round robin handoff to an AE, that opportunity goes straight to the AE that they’re paired with. The advantages to a process like this means a greater bond between the two segments of your sales team and a streamlined process where reps are hyper-focused and incentivized for peak performance.

Master of the Collaboration Beyond the Sales Floor

The change in the Sales team doesn’t end at the AE-SDR handoff, but it extends beyond the sales floor. Sales needs to turn into a full-collaboration machine that extends to all arms of the organization from Customer Success, Support, Marketing, Engineering, Product and Business Operations.  

As the sales process gets more complex, Sales is going to need to partner with all departments in order to move deals forward. Sales needs Customer Success on the post-Sales side. Sales needs Support to help prospects out during their product trial. Sales needs alignment with Marketing to provide relevant content throughout the buyer’s journey. To foster collaboration beyond the sales floor, here’s are four steps to follow:

  • Hire or train your Sales team to be collaborators within and outside of the sales floor
  • Make time for the work that matters
  • Invest in tools that improve collaboration and productivity across an organization
  • Don’t be afraid to have transparent meetings

Conclusion

The days of Sales working in vacuum are over. For Sales to have a future, we need to collaborate with all arms of the company to scalable growth. The future of Sales isn’t a Jack of All Trades, instead it’s a Master of One.

The Car Salesman Model is Dead

In the heyday of car sales, buyers depended on car salesmen to steer them into purchasing the right car for their needs. At times, that steering was an in-your-face, hard sell that led buyers to distrust every car salesman on the lot, but buyers would eventually drive with a new car because their options were limited. While this approach may have been lucrative and successful in decades past, it no longer works. It’s 2016 and we need to kill the car salesman approach to selling.

With 70% of the buyer’s journey happening before buyers talk to Sales, the in-your-face, hard sell approach isn’t going to help anyone. As buyers continue to redefine the sales process and how they think about software, we as Salespeople need to redefine how we approach the new buyer’s journey.

Let’s take a moment to pause and think about how we sell. Are we still holding onto the car salesman model? Or have we evolved and are more consultative in our approach? To make it in Sales today, you have to be the latter. Why? Think about it: 70% of the buyer’s journey happens before they talk to Sales–that leaves only 30% of the journey for Salespeople to actually sell.

Buyers today are simply different. Step one in redefining our focus begins with taking a closer look at the buyer’s journey and aligning how we sell with it.

Map Content to the Buyer’s Journey (Even Before We’re Involved)

The first step in killing the car salesman approach is to work on earning back a buyer’s trust. Buyers want a softer touch sale and want to view a Salesperson as a knowledgeable consultant that’s there to aide them along their journey rather than aggressively push them through it.

The first order is to map content to the buyer’s journey and that content mapping needs to start pre-sales funnel. So, before buyers are even aware of their need for a tool–Marketing should produce valuable content that plants the seed for you as a credible source in the future buyer’s journey. Once a buyer realizes that they need a tool, studies show that 72% of them will turn to Google and begin a general search to explore their options. This is called the research phase or the starting point of the buyer’s journey–this is where it’s paramount for Salespeople to authentically share content via #SocialSelling, for Marketing to produce thought leadership and by no means invoke any of the traits of a car salesman.

Mapping content to the pre-buyer’s journey is a crucial point in creating awareness for your company, it’s equally important to carry that thread throughout the lifecycle of the journey from SQL, SLA, opportunity, closed-won, evangelism, etc. Buyers are moving en masse to research their options before and throughout their journey–it only makes sense that your company should have content that addresses every stage.

Let’s take Middle of the Funnel for example, what kind of content should be inserted at this stage? Well, buyers are typically engaged and interested in industry best practices and content that contains customer testimonials that are hyper-relevant to their company and role.

Make Solving Your Buyers Problems Your Objective

With 80% of buyers typically knowing exactly what they want before they contact Sales, it’s even more important to have immediate and relevant interactions with buyers at every turn of their journey. To do that, Salespeople need to make solving their buyers problems their #1 objective.

Much like mapping content to each stage in the buyer’s journey, another change that Sales needs to adopt is molding their sales pitch and story to solving a buyer’s pain points or problems. In the car salesman days, the pitch was simple: a buyer needed a car and it was the salesman’s job to sell them a car–no matter what. That approach doesn’t work anymore. A Salesperson is no longer just a person in Sales. Instead, a Salesperson today needs to be a great listener, an empathizer and a problem solver for their buyers. So, the first step in solving a buyer’s problem involves asking probing questions that get to the core of why a buyer is looking a tool. Just by asking questions, listening and strategizing on how to answer it–Salespeople are going to connect with buyers and ultimately turn into paying customers.

Pro-Tip: Prior to asking probing questions, remember to conduct thorough research on your prospect, their industry, their personal interests, competitors, etc. so you can get the full story and tailor your messaging appropriately.

In short, Salespeople need to earn the trust of buyers and adapt their pitch story to every buyer in their sales funnel–because every buyer is different. 91% of buyers say they have higher expectations of Salespeople now than two years ago. To combat that, Salespeople need to adopt a training role and share best practices, relevant content and present a story that truly solves a buyer’s problems.

Personalize Your Outreach Messaging

Good sales is communication with contextualized and personalized messaging throughout the entire sales process–right when buyers need it. The #1 way to connect with buyers is to appeal to them specifically and authentically. Through the rise of Social Selling, Salespeople now have a viable channel to share content, learn about buyers and connect with them–all before starting the sales process.

Much like how buyers have more information available to them than ever, it’s reciprocal for Salespeople too. Buyers are on LinkedIn, Twitter, Quora, Reddit, groups, sales communities, etc and are sharing more and more information about themselves socially. It’s now our job as Salespeople to collect and digest all that information and let it inform our outreach messaging.

Sales is no longer about pushing cars off the dealership lot. Sales is now about having great conversations, building trust and creating true partnership between the buyer and seller. The only way to accomplish all of that is to personalize your messaging. Take the extra two minutes to tailor your messaging to every buyer and scratch at the fact that 70% of the buyer’s journey is done before they talk to Sales. If you really want to make an impact (and meet your quota), you have to personalize your messaging.

Don’t sweat it though, personalizing your messaging doesn’t have to be tiresome. Take ten minutes and research your buyer on LinkedIn, Twitter, their company website, etc. and find something relevant that you can speak to. For example, maybe you two went to the same college–write about that. Sales is about making connections, so find a connection and use it your messaging.

The Car Sales Model is Dead

Even though people are still buying cars, the car salesman model is dying for actual car salesman too. According to a Wall Street Journal article titled Say Goodbye to the Car Salesman, “a car salesman used to spend long days on his feet. Now he’s becoming like everyone else–stuck most days in a chair in front of a computer screen.” So, if actual car salesmen are moving away from their once lucrative model–it’s time we all move away from it too.

From $15M to Being an SDR: The Top 10 Blog Posts of 2015

This past year on the ToutApp blog, we’ve authored a lot of content. From 130 blog posts, 3 books, 5 case studies and a YouTube channel worth of videos–it’s been quite a year for us. That’s a lot of content. To help you dig through the most popular content of the year, we’ve compiled a top 10 list of everything you need to read and discover something new that you might’ve missed in 2015.

1. ToutApp Raises $15 Million to Build Sales Software for Closers

In March we announced our Series B round of funding led by Andreessen Horowitz and Sigma West, Founder Collective, Launch Fund and 500 Startups participating as well. The investment came on the heels of a tremendous 2014 and set us up for further success in 2015. With our Series B, we were able to grow our team from 25 employees to over 65, and grew our operations across Sales, Marketing, Customer Success, Engineering and Business Operations.

2. How to Write 5 Kick Ass Emails to Irresistible to Delete

Of the 200 emails decision makers get per day – how many do you think he or she deletes before reading more than the subject line and teaser? Probably a lot. If you want busy decision makers to pay attention and ultimately sign your DocuSigns, read this blog post to learn how to rise above the noise and get your emails read.

3. Part 1: What I’ve Learned from 1,000 Interviews

As a sales leader, hiring is your #1 priority. In the span of two years, Daniel Barber, our Senior Director of Pipeline, has interviewed roughly 1,000 sales candidates and has hired less than 50. In this blog post, Daniel shares his insights on why he only hired 5% of the candidates he interviewed and shares his go-to recruiting methods.

4. Why is Sales Productivity Such a Huge Deal?

Did you know that on average sales leaders spend nearly $20K/year/rep to improve sales productivity? And in addition to that yearly spend, Salespeople only spend 33% of their day on actual selling while the rest of their time is spent on manual data entry. In short, sales productivity is a huge deal. To solve for this, we need to shift our mindset and you should read this blog post to learn how.

5. Introducing Prospect Builder

Prospect lists are every B2B company’s lifeline. However, establishing an effective process to collect leads in your target market is, at times, harder than brain surgery. There needs to be an easier way to find and reach your target audience. Last month we released our answer to this huge problem: Prospect Builder – a better way to supercharge your pipeline with the right people.

6. Don’t Send Emails on Behalf of Sales

Often times Marketing will send emails on behalf of Sales. And we think that’s a huge disservice to the entire sales process. No one wants a sales email that’s disguised as a marketing email. So, if you’re in Marketing–don’t send marketing emails on behalf of Sales. Instead, send a real email, we beg you.

7. The 5 Books Every SDR Manager or Aspiring SDR Manager Should Read (or Read Again)

Every year I make a New Year’s Resolution to read more. And every year I start off strong and as the year chugs along my desire to read falls flat. Let’s rectify that situation in 2016. We talked to a handful of cutting-edge SDR Managers and asked them what’s on their must-read list and we compiled it in this listicle.

8. ToutApp’s New Digs: We’ve Taken Over 16,000 sq. ft at Salesforce’s One California

In addition to our Series B funding, 2015 brought us to our new ToutApp HQ on the 29th Floor at Salesforce’s One California in San Francisco. We’ll let this office tour video do all the talking for us:

9. Introducing Tout Connect – An API That Brings Tout Features Into the Tools You’re Already Using

In order to make the best sales platform, we knew we needed to bring Tout data and functionality to every tool in a Salesperson’s stack. In March we released Tout Connect, an API integration that instantly adds tracking, templates and analytics to any CRM, lead platform or customer success platform.

10. ToutApp Hero: Mike Fidler, 426 Days as an SDR

2015 was the rise of the SDR and as more and more sales teams segment between prospectors and closers, we took the opportunity to profile Mike Fidler, a rising SDR at GuideSpark and took a closer look at his day-to-day. For an in-depth look on how Mike juggles emails and dialing 100+ calls/day, check out his ToutApp Hero profile.

That’s a wrap on content for 2015. Thanks again for making it such a great year in content for us. We look forward to churning out even more rich content for you in 2016. Get your RSS feeds ready.

6 Must Have Tools for Effective Social Selling

There are a lot of tools out there that are designed to help in your Social Selling efforts. Of all the tools available, we’ve hand-picked the most effective ones that directly align with our Framework for Social Selling and fully integrates Social Selling into any sales stack.  

LinkedIn

A rep’s LinkedIn profile should reflect their professional brand and shouldn’t be left as just their digital resume. Successful social sellers use their LinkedIn profile as a powerful tool that builds their credibility with prospects, customers and colleagues.

What makes LinkedIn the ultimate Social Selling tool is its built-in capability to find the right people and act as portal to connect and build those relationships. People don’t want to be sold to; instead, they wanted to be advised on a direction, and LinkedIn does just that.

Koka Sexton wrote an article titled “What’s Your LinkedIn Connection Philosophy?” and gave the following advice for using LinkedIn as a Social Selling tool:

“There’s no right or wrong way. In Sales, you should connect with a wide range of people in different roles and industries to get a larger perspective.”

And he offered this pro-tip: Come up with your LinkedIn connection strategy, put it in your profile and live by it.

Sales Navigator

LinkedIn is about optimizing a sales reps’ abilities to connect with more people than they know face-to-face. In Sales, opportunities exist everywhere, but the hard part is figuring out the right time to reach out. LinkedIn Sales Navigator is a tool that allows reps to recognize opportunities (based on role, experience, industry, etc) and create warm introductions that jump-start relationship building.

For more information about the Social Selling benefits of LinkedIn’s Sales Navigator, check out  their website.

Twitter

For prospecting, Twitter is the tool that allows reps to curate a list of Twitter users (prospects and customers) and organize them in a private or public setting. These curated lists can be organized by industry, prospects, stage in the funnel, etc — and are a centralized place where sales reps can read the tweets of those on the list.

By setting up lists, sales reps are able to jump in and out of conversations, and are given context for any type of engagement. Think of these highly engaged conversations as nurturing 2.0; and reps should take the time to keep the conversations on topic, personalized and elicit responses from the other end.

With sales productivity at an all-time low of 33%, managers and reps are always on the hunt for a streamlined tool that centralizes all their social information. Fortunately, there are tools like TweetDeck and Tweetbot that give reps a bird’s-eye-view on what’s happening across their home feed, notifications, hashtags and lists all in one place. Instead of clicking through different pages on Twitter.com, reps can browse through multiple columns and sort through everything from #prospecting to #socialselling to notifications.

tweetdeck

Photo Courtesy of TweetDeck

Buffer

Social media automation tools, such as Buffer, make it easy for reps to share and schedule content on LinkedIn and Twitter. Scheduling content, allows reps to block off time on their calendars to load insightful content onto their social feeds — so they can go back to closing deals and reading the content shared by their prospects.

bufferapp

Photo Courtesy of Buffer

Buffer makes scheduling posts and content easy by dragging and dropping articles, infographics and videos into social feeds. While Buffer distributes the queued content, on the backend it provides analytics, so reps can see which pieces of content worked best with their network.

Hootsuite

Much like Buffer, Hootsuite is an all-in-one social media management tool to schedule content, engage with your audiences and measure activity. Hootsuite even has a Social Selling solution that helps reps identify and engage with the right prospects through their platform.

dashboard

Dashboard photo courtesy of Hootsuite

In addition, Hootsuite has free courses in social media through its Podium program of six online courses designed to teach students about:

  • Social media strategy to support business goals
  • Generating compelling content
  • Growing their network and personal brand

ToutApp

With a powerful suite of tracking, template and analytics that allows reps to follow up in a highly personalized way, it brings Social Selling back into the fold of traditional sales.

Tracking

Once you’ve built that relationship with a prospect, it’s time to go in for “The Ask” via email. With Tout Tracking, never send a blind email again.

Templates

Successful sales teams and reps have Tout templates for every sales scenario that zero in on the most effective messaging.

Analytics

Sales is a numbers game and Tout Analytics allows your organization to rely on data and insights to accelerate the sales process.

Sales Beat

Alignment between Sales and Marketing is crucial, Sales Beat allows the two teams to cross-share content, updates and messaging.

What Are Your Must Have Tools?

Again, this list a sweet and short list of our six must have tools that we rely on for Social Selling. We’re sure you have your must have tools as well and we’d love to hear from you in the comments section below. In the meantime, get acquainted with the tools above and jumpstart your Social Selling today.