11 Key Insights from the Boston Sales Hacker 2014 Conference

Editor’s Note: Max Altschuler sums up some of the key findings from the info-packed Boston Sales Hacker 2014 Conference. If you’re located in the Western US, check out the San Francisco Sales Hacker Conference on November 6th.

Insight #1: From Building Your Influence Pyramid by Chris Lynch, Partner at Atlas Venture, @Lynch_BigData

“Salespeople can struggle with getting referrals because they don’t keep in touch with their past clients. It’s not always about selling. It’s about ensuring that you’re providing value. The best way to get referrals is to go back to old customers with value such as job opportunities, referrals for their businesses, market information that they find valuable, etc. By keeping the relationship fresh, you’ll give yourself a reason to contact your network.”

Insight #2: FromHow Datanyze Bootstrapped to $1M ARR with Just 1 Engineer and 4 Salespeople by Ilya Semin, Founder and CEO of Datanyze, @ISemin

“We’ve used a data-driven approach to learn how to send great outbound emails by refining our emails to find out what emails had the best response rate.

We eat our own dogfood: If your product is designed to help others to sell, you should be using your product also.

We try to respond to customers within 15 seconds of them communicating with us. Why 15 seconds? We’ve found that prospects move quickly and their attention can be easily diverted. We want to communicate with folks quickly.”

Insight #3: FromHubspot’s Science to Building a Scalable Sales Team by Mark Roberge, CRO of Hubspot, @MarkRoberge

“We’ve aggregated the traits of our sales hires against their sales performance and performed a regression analysis to determine the traits for our top salespeople. The top 5 traits: coachability, curiousness, intelligence, work ethic and prior success.

We’ve scaled our sales team through teaching a common sales methodology. We use exams and certifications to measure quality and consistency coming out of training. Our sales reps may have different strengths and skills, but they’ll come out of our sales training program with a common set of skills and one unified sales methodology.

One great content generation hack you should employ at your company: put your sales leaders, marketing leaders, engineering leaders in front of journalists once-a-week for an hour to do content marketing for you.”

Insight #4: From “Your Customers Are Your Best Sales Channel by Emmanuelle Skala, VP of Sales at Influitive, @ElleSkala

“Stats suggest that 67% of the sales process already happens before your customers speak with you, so you’d better learn how to get your customers to sell for you. Use the DCE model – Delight, Connect, Educate.”

Insight #5: From “Getting Around Gatekeepers: The Key to Unlocking the Mystery” by Jeff Hoffman, Founder & CEO of MJ Hoffman & Associates, @MJHoffman

“Official executive assistants (EAs) play a huge role within a company, and they work closely with the execs we want to communicate to. We hurt our ability to sell to EA’s when we try to get around this person by acting like we have trust when we haven’t earned it. We also need to understand that the EA is valid proxy for their executive. If you sell effectively to an EA, they’ll let your information pass through to the executive that they support.

When you deal with “volunteer” gatekeepers, go “broad” in the organization, try to aim higher within the organization first. Don’t call an inbound lead first – call someone 2 or 3 times higher in the organization.”

Insight #6: From “All’s Fair in Love & Sales: How to Hack the Sales and Marketing Relationship by Cece Bazar and Blake Harris of OpenView Venture Partners, @HowBazar and @BHarris

“Improving the sales and marketing relationship boils down to communication. Often, the VP of Sales and VP of Marketing come up with two different definitions of the truth when it comes to leads. Create a “one version of the truth” dashboard that is constructed by one person in the company.

A little bit of healthy tension between sales and marketing is normal. But you are the Mom and Dad of revenue, so be in close proximity to each other.”

Insight #7: From “Prospecting & Understanding the Outbound Index by Peter Gracey, Founder & CEO of Quota Factory, @Peter_Gracey

“Create your own Outbound Index. Use it, and monitor it, to figure out the types of technologies you should purchase to improve your effectiveness.

Insight #8: FromEverything You Need to Know to Master Sales Development by Kyle Porter, Founder & CEO at SalesLoft, @KylePorter

“Hiring sales development reps (SDRs) is a priority for our team. We treat them on equal footing with our sales and marketing teams, and they report up to our CEO. Look for reps who can punch above their weight class and have an entrepreneurial attitude. Also look for people that would classify themselves as being the top 1% of being positive, supportive, and self-starting.”

Insight #9: FromWhat Sales Teams Must Focus On to Scale to Nine Figures by Mike McGuinness, SVP of Global Sales at SmartBear, @MrMcGu

“Make sure you have a farm system for your team. When you grow your team, your hiring process for lower level managers must be repeatable. Hire people at appropriate cost-levels so you can scale based on performance. Scale requires simplicity; limit the number of variations in your company. Keep an eye on performance ratios that can spell trouble down the road.”

Insight #10: FromHow ToutApp Grows High Performing Reps From Scratchby Tawheed Kader, Founder & CEO at ToutApp, @Tawheed

“Experienced reps can sell. But cannot necessarily build. Inexperienced reps can’t necessarily sell. But they can build. We’ve had success hiring 10X-ers, provide a steady progression into a selling role, and following an iterative process of learning and building a selling system.”

Insight #11: From “Top 10 Qualities of Great Sales Managers by Matt Bellows, Founder & CEO at Yesware, @MBellows

““Rich” or “successful” is not one of the top 10 qualities of great sales managers, because part getting rich or being successful is having good luck. To improve your sales management skills, target three things that you want to improve and come up with a plan for improvement. For example, to improve your communication, follow-up via email within 24 hours to everyone who emails you.”

There you have it – 11 insights from our amazing panel of SaaS leaders. Be sure to check out the rest of the conference sessions on Sales Hacker.

 

Building Your Influence Pyramid

*Editors Note: Live updates from the Sales Hacker Conference Boston are brought to you by PipelineDeals. PipelineDeals is sales and CRM software trusted by thousands of companies to increase sales. Follow us @pipelinedeals.

This session is titled Building Your Influence Pyramid by Chris Lynch, Partner at Atlas Venture

Be the Man! Sales begins and ends with salespeople. As a salesperson, you cannot control all parts of a company or the product. With that in mind, I encourage all salespeople to focus on the one thing that they can completely control ­– themselves.

How can you make one customer turn into 100 customers?

You have to focus on referrals, past clients, current clients, and finally on future clients. Whenever I begin to sell a new product, I focus on cultivating/redeveloping relationships with prior companies or people that I have sold to. These relationships are incredibly important to me. Customers continue to buy from me because they know that I’m going to turn my company inside-out in order to make them satisfied.

Look for referrals

In addition to selling to prior customers, I focus on cultivating referrals. Referrers can be one of the best sources of new business for your company.These people can serve as a reference point and validation for your future clients. When your customer engages on your behalf and verifies the value, you can shorten your sales cycle and multiply the lifetime value of ecosystem that you’ve cultivated.

Build Your Network

Often times, salespeople struggle with getting referrals because they don’t keep in touch with their past clients. It’s not always about selling. It’s about ensuring that you’re providing value. The best way to get referrals is to go back to old customers with value like: job opportunities, referrals for their businesses, market information that they find valuable, etc. By keeping the relationship fresh, you’ll give yourself a reason to contact your network.

Remember: There is one word which may serve as a rule of practice for all one’s life. Reciprocity. People don’t like to be sold, they like to buy.

5 metrics for scaling your team

  1. Lead Generation
  2. Conversion
  3. Activity Ratios
  4. Pipeline Flow
  5. Sales Trajectory

In summary: sell yourself to sell your product or service, identify your customer ecosystem, and build a lasting network.

 

What Sales Teams Must Focus On to Scale to Nine Figures

*Editors Note: Live updates from the Sales Hacker Conference Boston are brought to you by PipelineDeals. PipelineDeals is sales and CRM software trusted by thousands of companies to increase sales. Follow us @pipelinedeals.

This session is titled What Sales Teams Must Focus On to Scale to Nine Figures by Mike McGuinness, SVP of Global Sales at SmartBear

Today I’m going to highlight some questions to consider as you begin to scale. Before you talk about scaling, you have to assume that the following three things are already met.

  • The Product Works
  • The Market Exists
  • Your Sales Model Works

If these three things do not already exist for your company, you are not ready to scale yet. So what are the things to consider when you’re beginning to scale.

The Second Lieutenant

This is the first level manager in your organization. Who is this person, how were they chosen, and what skills do they have? You need to make sure that you’re focusing on the qualities of this first managerial leader at your company. This person should have the ability to coach your lower level reps, and your hiring process for these lower level managers must be repeatable.

Moneyball

How can you hire people at a cost-level that you can handle so that you can scale? I call this playing “moneyball” in the market. One way to hire people at a cost-level you can handle is through having incentive packages well aligned to your scaling goals.

What’s your farm system?

There are organizations that have great farm systems, and you can create a great one at your company. With that being said, your BDR program is not your farm system.

Why do “A” developmental players want to join your team?

Make sure that you understand why these developmental players want to join your team. They may be mission driven, career driven, or have a strong desire to make money with a growing company. If they only want to join you because of money, your sales team is going to struggle. Invest in your sales team by building up your teams skills and building their careers.

Henry Ford Had it Right

Limit the number of variations that you have in your company. You can’t customize everything for everyone on your team. The worst mistake that I see company’s make is that they pander to early high performers too much.

In a young company, your territory is either growing or shrinking.

If your territory is growing, that’s bad news. Your territory should be geographically getting smaller because you’re getting more prospects in a given area of marketplace. If your territory is determined by a specific vertical or market segment, look for this to get smaller as well.

Scale requires simplicity.

The world is a big place and there are lots of opportunities in the developed and developing world. As you grow and scale your team, you are going to begin to grow globally. I generally recommend that companies try to focus on the developed world first cause their sales process is similar to the sales process in the US. I have a 90/10 rule to decide where to grow (e.g. focus on selling in countries whose sales processes are 90% the same as the US). More developing countries may have vastly different sales processes and you’ll have to tailor your processes to meet these areas.

Canaries & Ratios

As you start to scale your company, you need pay close attention to proverbial “canaries in the coal mine” that could spell trouble for your company. These could include the following:

  • $$$ per Quota/Month
  • Reps Per Manager
  • Reps Per BDR
  • Reps Per SE
  • Reps Per CAM
  • CAMs per Channel Mgr
  • Reps per Sales Ops
  • Commission Stack $$$

As these begin to change, you need to do research to identify what is causing the change so that you can pivot in the appropriate way.

How To Grow High Performing Reps From Scratch

*Editors Note: Live updates from the Sales Hacker Conference Boston are brought to you by PipelineDeals. PipelineDeals is sales and CRM software trusted by thousands of companies to increase sales. Follow us @pipelinedeals.

This session is titled How To Grow High Performing Reps From Scratch by Tawheed Kader, Founder & CEO at ToutApp

I come from an engineering background. When I began building ToutApp, I thought that I needed to hire an experienced rep. This didn’t work well for us though for a few reasons, including:

  • They had lots of baggage
  • Need a support system
  • Need a playbook
  • Can sell. But cannot necessarily build

On the other hand, there are perils from hiring inexperienced reps as well, including:

  • Millennials
  • Need a Support System
  • Need a Playbook
  • Can’t necessarily sell. But can build.

We’ve had a lot of success growing people with no sales experience. We focus on hiring people who have the following:

  • Don’t necessarily focus on sales experiences.
  • Focus on hiring 10X-ers.
  • Have a steady progression into a selling role.
  • Follow an iterative process of learning and building a selling system.

No Prior Experience Required

When I hired our first rep that brought in Dropbox, Box, Atlassian, and some of our biggest customers, she told me that she didn’t want to be in sales.

Find the 10X-ers

We look for 10X-ers to join our team. A 10X-er shorthand for the qualities and temperament we see from our top sales reps. During the hiring process, we’ll review a prospective hire’s LinkedIn profile and conduct background research. During the interview process itself, we look focus on six attributes that characterize our 10X-ers.

The attributes that we look for include:

  1. Culture – Incredibly important and company specific.
  2. Skills & Abilities – Do you have these?
  3. Affinity – you have to love what you do.
  4. Experience – consider what experience is necessary for the role. VP of sales needs sales experience, a new sales rep doesn’t need sales experience.
  5. Sparkle – Some people call this grit. It’s what binds you together with your team.
  6. Clock Speed – When you’re talking with them at a quick pace, can they keep up with you and learn fast?

Some common characteristics that we see from our highest performing reps include:

  1. They had responsibility at a very early age. One of our best reps helped out their parent’s pizza chain after school.
  2. Is incredibly mission driven.
    1. Millennials don’t want tasks. They want a mission they can believe in.
    2. If your vision matters, then your salespeople will do what it takes to make a sale.
  3. Understands the difference between tasks, objectives and goals.
  4. Creative and systems level thinkers.
    1. You need people who solve a class of problems, not just one problem.
    2. If you can hire people who are system level thinkers, imagine what you can do.

Have a steady progression into a selling role.

Our sales reps grow into their roles as salespeople. Sales reps begin in a reactive role and are focused on helping customers and prospects. Next, we’ll have our salespeople work on being more proactive and helpful. Lastly, our salespeople learn how to proactively reach out to prospects and close deals.

In other organizations, this type of structure would be structured as follows:

  • Customer Success – reactive help
  • MDRs – proactive help
  • Closers – consultative sales and closing

In our experience, by the time someone has progressed through all steps in a selling role, they’ll be a super rep.

 

Everything You Need to Know to Master Sales Development

*Editors Note: Live updates from the Sales Hacker Conference Boston are brought to you by PipelineDeals. PipelineDeals is sales and CRM software trusted by thousands of companies to increase sales. Follow us @pipelinedeals.

This session is titled Everything You Need to Know to Master Sales Development by Kyle Porter, Founder & CEO at SalesLoft

At SalesLoft, we’ve bootstrapped our company to $3 million ARR this year and we’re growing our team fast. One of the key ingredients to our growth is how we treat our sales development reps (SDRs). Below are the good and bad things that teams do when they’re building their SDR teams.

  1. Prioritization
  2. Hiring
  3. Training and On-boarding
  4. Process
  5. Compensation

Prioritization (Bad)

  • Treat sales development like lower class citizens
  • No time or budget allocated to SDR team.

Prioritization (Good)

  • SDRs are considered equal class.
  • SDR team is visible to CEO and executives.
  • Time and money is budgeted to the SDR team.

We make sure that people know that SDR is a priority for our team. We treat them on equal footing with our sales and marketing teams, and they report up to our CEO.

Hiring (Bad)

  • Hire anyone and believe they will fit in with the team.
  • Do not focus on culture.
  • Make exceptions just to fill seats.

I see this all the time. Companies will hire a person right out of college that isn’t a good fit for their company and doesn’t have the right qualities. Hiring alignment is critical.

Hiring (Good)

  • Culture as a top priority.
  • Hire top 1% of individuals in their field.
  • Hire reps who can punch above their weight class and have an entrepreneurial attitude.

We’ve listed out the top qualities that we’re looking for with our hires, and we’ll ask people questions that are relevant to these categories.

I believe that culture is the only sustainable competitive advantage you can have as a business. We look for people who are positive, supportive, and are self-starting. We’re looking for people that would classify themselves as being the top 1% of being positive, supportive, and self-starting.

Training & On-Boarding (Bad)

  • Hire reps and let them know what to do.
  • Ride along training

Training & On-Boarding (Good)

  • 1 on 1’s for one hour every week
  • Team environment
  • Defined playbook for quick ramp-up time
  • Significant phone call role play

If you email me, I’ll give you SalesLoft’s playbook for success for new reps. Whenever a new rep starts, I’ll give them my cell phone number and have them call me. I’ll coach our new SDR’s.

Process (Bad)

  • Massive list buys
  • Spam blasts
  • Overloading transactional emails in marketing automation software
  • Reps with too many prospects

In the IT industry, there is massive turnover. Most email marketing lists that SDR ‘s work for really suck. Also, marketing automation systems often use transactional email systems to send out emails. These get market as Spam, Promotions, etc., and have terrible open and CTR.

Process (Good)

  • Find contacts from professional profiles
  • Use manageable chunks of prospecting each day.
  • Develop a rhythm and cadence.
    • This is going to be specific to your customer and industry.
    • Build a rhythm and cadence around your market.
  • Manage based on specific metrics.
    • Make sure everyone knows the KPIs.

LinkedIn is better than most. 27 out of 27 of our employees have accurate LinkedIn profiles. 3 out of 27 have accurate Data.com profiles. We recommend using LinkedIn to obtain accurate contact information.

Compensation (Bad)

  • Copied some other team’s compensation package.
  • Compensation packages are opaque.

Compensation (Good)

  • Pay reps based on metrics that are super applicable to them. For SDR’s this is demos completed.
  • Test and find the best compensation plan for your team.
  • Be transparent with new hires.

Top 10 Qualities of Great Sales Managers

*Editors Note: Live updates from the Sales Hacker Conference Boston are brought to you by PipelineDeals. PipelineDeals is sales and CRM software trusted by thousands of companies to increase sales. Follow us @pipelinedeals.

This session is titled Top 10 Qualities of Great Sales Managers by Matt Bellows, Founder & CEO at Yesware

Ironically, I’m not a great sales manager. The New York Times recently wrote an article about my struggles to manage sales for Yesware and serve as my company’s CEO. With that being said, I’ve been lucky to be able to work with and for some great sales managers. I’ve learned a lot about what makes a good sales manager, and I’m confidant now that I’ve identified the 10 qualities of great sales managers.

I believe that “People don’t quit companies, they quit managers.” With that being said, below are the 10 qualities that I look for in my sales managers:

  1. Confident
    1. Confidence comes from understanding your strengths and weaknesses
    2. Goes to bed thinking, “what can I do to help my team reach their potential?” They put other people first.
  2. Brave
    1. They tackle the big, challenging problems that the company is facing.
    2. They confront issues and have difficult conversations with members of the team.
  3. Ambitious
    1. Another way of putting this is that that you’re hungry.
    2. Be driving, but remember…
  4. Curious
    1. Great sales managers are great listeners. They are sponges, as opposed to rocks.
    2. They actively engage with the people that they speak to.
  5. Optimistic
    1. This doesn’t mean that they’re always smiling and they’re always chipper. It means that you’re not defeated by life’s circumstances.
    2. Alternatively, you’re not “swept away” by success either.
    3. You know how to keep an even keel in times of great struggle and success.
  6. Funny
    1. Sales managers are a little quirky and can be a little weird.
    2. They help bring humor into situations and allow humor to be in the workplace.
  7. A Little scary
    1. Most people understand when they’ve done something wrong. You don’t have to pile on in situations.
    2. It’s important to have an “edge” that is rarely seen. Don’t pile on.
  8. Serious
    1. As an adult, you’re at work for most of your waking hours. Don’t just mail it in.
    2. You have so many opportunities to be “alive” at work and that time is precious. Take it seriously.
  9. Loyal
    1. Never give up on your team. Fight to the end for your team, your prospects, and your companies.
    2. The best start-ups that actually succeed are successful because they don’t give up on their idea. They keep fighting.
  10. Consistent
    1. Be steady, even when it is boring.
    2. Sales Managers need to be there the next sale, the next quarter, the next meeting.

Notice that you don’t see “rich” or “successful” on this list. I don’t put those things on our list because getting rich or being successful is also, in part, a factor of having good luck.

As a sales manager or as a salesperson, consider how you would score yourself from a scale of 1 to 10. Target three things that you want to improve on and come up with a plan for improving in those three areas.

For example, imagine that you score yourself low on consistency and you want to improve your communication. One plan that you could set for yourself is to follow-up via email within 24 hours to everyone who emails you.

Hubspot’s Science to Building a Scalable Sales Team

*Editors Note: Live updates from the Sales Hacker Conference Boston are brought to you by PipelineDeals. PipelineDeals is sales and CRM software trusted by thousands of companies to increase sales. Follow us @pipelinedeals.

This session is titled Hubspot’s Science to Building a Scalable Sales Team by Mark Roberge, CRO of Hubspot

My mission when I started at Hubspot was to create predictable, scalable revenue growth. To create predictable and scaleable revenue:

  1. Hire Great Salespeople
  2. Train Your Sales People in the Same Way
  3. Understand how the sales process has changed
  4. Hold your salespeople responsible for the process

#1 – Hire Great Salespeople

I’m often asked what I look for when I hire a new salesperson. I’ve found that the ideal sales hiring formula is different for every company but the process is the same.

At Hubspot, we’ve engineered a process for hiring new salespeople that includes subjective and objective traits. At first, I looked at different traits like Internet Marketing Experience, Intelligence, Drive, and many other traits. I measured people when they got hired, and continued to monitor that person’s performance through their time at Hubspot. Later, I aggregated these traits against their sales performance and performed a regression analysis to determine the traits for our top salespeople.

At Hubspot, the top traits we look for are:

  1. Coach-ability
  2. Curiosity
  3. Intelligence
  4. Work ethic
  5. Prior success.

We continue to assess these traits during the onboarding process and we’ll let folks go if it becomes clear that they are not a good fit.

#2 Train your sales people in the same way.

A “ride-along” training strategy is neither scalable nor predictable. Most top performing sales people succeed in their own unique way, and they all get better in their own way. You can’t just have a new salesperson sit next to another salesperson and expect them to learn.

To illustrate – early on with Hubspot, I hired two sales reps with vastly different strengths. One woman had an amazing ability to connect with customers. Her selling ability was a little weak, but our leads connected with her and she sold a lot of business. The other salesman was great at completing activities. He was a great multitasker and was incredibly efficient. If I would have paired these two salespeople together for “ride-along” training, they would not have learned from each other or been successful.

We’ve scaled our sales team through teaching a common sales methodology that includes:

  1. Buyer Journey
    1. Build out and understand the buyer journey
  2. Sales Process
    1. Understand and align your training with the buyer journey to maximize their chances of success.
  3. Qualifying Matrix
    1. Cheatsheet for your sales people to understand how to qualify leads

We use exams and certifications to measure quality and consistency coming out of training. Our sales reps may have different strengths and skills, but they’ll come out of our sales training program with a common set of skills and one unified sales methodology.

#3 – The Sales Process Is Changing

How do you buy? Cold call? Cold Email? Google?

Inbound marketing now defines modern lead generation. Leads are drawn to companies from blogs, SEO, and social media. The best way to draw people to you is via streams of content that are relevant to your industry. I believe that journalists hold the keys to the future of demand generation. In fact, one of our early hires at Hubspot was a journalist from the New York Times.

One great content generation hack you should employ at your company: put your sales leaders, marketing leaders, engineering leaders in front of journalists once-a-week for an hour to do content marketing for you. This meeting should generate 1 ebook, 4 blog posts, 8 facebook posts, 16 tweets. Create a call-to-action associated with each step in your content calendar that draws customers towards you and is designed to generate leads.

#4 Hold Your salespeople responsible for the sales process

Coaching: Golf vs. Sales

Most coaches try to get you to fix absolutely every problem that their reps have. The best coaches see all the problems and personalize their coaching to focus on the 1 or 2 different things that will make the biggest impact on their salespeople. They use “metrics-driven sales coaching” to diagnose the skill deficiency and build a coaching plan.

Your Customers Are Your Best Sales Channel

*Editors Note: Live updates from the Sales Hacker Conference Boston are brought to you by PipelineDeals. PipelineDeals is sales and CRM software trusted by thousands of companies to increase sales. Follow us @pipelinedeals.

This session is titled Your Customers Are Your Best Sales Channel by Emmanuelle Skala, VP of Sales at Influitive

As a salesperson, there is nothing better than when you hear a customer tell you that they were referred to you. Why is that? Referrals are more likely to buy from you. At Influitive, the core of our customer-base comes from referrals and we believe that referrals are central to the growth of our business.

Why is this important for you? Reality Check! Buyers are in control. Stats suggest that 67% of the sales process already happens before your customers speak with you. I think that we need to embrace the new reality that a lot of the sales process is out of our hands. Instead, learn how to get your customers to sell for you.

In software, buyers look at G2 Crowd, App exchange, Trust Radius, blogs, etc. to figure out who they should be looking at. Geoffrey Moore, who wrote Crossing the Chasm calls the act of obtaining referrals “advocate enlistment.” It’s one of the core elements of any successful sales process and is critical to efficient growth, but for many companies this is the slowest gear in their arsenal.

Surround Selling

At Influitive, we call our sales process “surround selling.” At its’ core, our process is centered on a culture of advocacy supported by three high-level concepts: to Delight, Connect, and Educate:

  • Delight
    • The Best Sales Experience
      • You want to have a sales process that delights people. This creates repeat sales.
    • Gifts
      • Offer something relevant to their business.
      • Could be relevant to their personal tastes as well (e.g. parenting book for a new parent, etc.).
    • The Best Post-Sales Experience
      • Focus on having a great handoff between sales and post-sales customer experience.
    • Connect
      • Build your network – connect with your customers
        • Social selling is important.
        • Get on LinkedIn, Twitter. Communicate and review different products.
        • Build your network by adding your existing customers.
      • Build your personal brand – get advocates to review YOU
        • Make sure that people are recommending you on LinkedIn and Twitter.
      • Be a matchmaker with your prospects & customers
        • If you know people in your network that can help one another, help to make the connection.
        • Be a matchmaker, not just a LinkedIn stalker.
      • Educate
        • Reviews
          • Make sure that your customers are doing reviews for you.
        • Blogs, Forums, Social
          • Be present on blogs, forums and social presence in areas that are related to your organization and what they do.
          • One example – you can connect others to valuable conversations that are happening in the social space.
        • Rethink references
          • We use references strategically at the beginning of the process.
          • Tackle objections and move prospects through your pipeline.

Here are 3 Referral hacks you can use to obtain more referrals:

  1. Ask Champions & Customers to refer you.
    1. If they say they’re not interested, then ask relevant follow-ups.
    2. Ask for referrals to other companies in the same city, or previous organizations they’ve worked for. If your customer is based in Atlanta, ask for referrals to other organizations in Atlanta that you’re targeting.
    3. Don’t assume that “no” is the end of the conversation. Find ways to continue to engage and support them in order to get a referral.
  2. Honeymoon Period – Check-in with people 30 to 60 days after the sale, and go for a referral then. Make sure to connect with your prospects while they’re your strongest advocates.
  3. Search Your Customers Connections – LinkedIn has great features to search amongst connections. Use that information to ask for specific referrals.

One last suggestion – make it fun, easy and rewarding to refer your company.

 

Prospecting & Understanding the Outbound Index

*Editors Note: Live updates from the Sales Hacker Conference Boston are brought to you by PipelineDeals. PipelineDeals is sales and CRM software trusted by thousands of companies to increase sales. Follow us @pipelinedeals.

This session is titled Prospecting & Understanding the Outbound Index by Peter Gracey, Founder & CEO of Quota Factory

At the start of any given quarter, I believe that a SDR (sales development rep) needs to have at least 1000 different accounts that they’re working at any given point. The Outbound Index is the end of quarter number that you can expect to be added to your pipeline from your outbound sales process.

There are a lot of different factors that go into the end-of-quarter number, or Outbound Index. The three main things that we look at are:

  1. Reach Rate – the % of outbound that actually nets a meaningful conversation. The operative word here is “meaningful.” Only flag decision maker and influencer conversations. I think that this is the ultimate SDR stat to determine if your training is worth it. Goal should be 35% reach rate.
  2. Pass Rate - the % of conversations that are qualified and passed to sales. To have this in place, you need to define and adhere to qualification standards. Why should you track this? It’s another key SDR KPI and it holds sales rep accountable. Goal should be 12% pass rate.
  3. Pipe Rate – the % of passed opportunities that reach your pipeline. There must be a meaningful next step for sales in your pipeline. Usually the first stage of your sales pipeline tracking and this will help you determine your outbound ROI. Goal is a 70% pipe rate.

Here’s a real life example from my company in Q4 of last year:

  • Our reach rate was up 4.5% to 40.17%
  • Our pass rate was down a full 1% to 11.22%
  • Our pipe rate was up 4% at 73.4%
  • Overall index 33 (e.g. from 1000 accounts, 33 reached my pipeline).
  • Great news, right? Maybe not…

What this data told us was that:

  1. Our conversations went up huge. Our database was accurate and this was a good thing.
  2. Pass Rate went down 1%. This meant that our database wasn’t well targeted and this means we’re not talking to the right people.
  3. With the pipe rate up, we know that the demand is still there but the landscape has changed.

What did we do with this information:

  1. Increased contacts per company number to four per account we were targeting. In other words, we know that there are more people who “think” they’re the decision maker so we doubled the number of people in a company that we were talking to.
  2. Adjusted our outbound call plan to accommodate the increase in contacts. We needed to shift our expectations in terms of what we can expect from our SDRs based off of this increase in account contacts.
  3. Prepared our clients for a dip in Q1 leads while we cast a wider net. This was difficult, but we knew we needed to work more broadly within the organizations that we were prospecting in order to improve results for our clients.

Thus far, in Q2 of 2014 we’ve maintained our reach rate, and improved our pass rate and pipe rate. This means that we’ve improved our overall index to 35 and that we’re adding two more people into our clients pipelines. This is roughly $200,000 more ARR into our clients pipelines.

Takeaways:

  • Track your index so that you can run a better shop
  • Interpret the data in your own way
  • Doing something is better than nothing when it comes to trying to improve your KPI.
  • Help your team understand why your index is the way that it is.

One suggested hacks: use your index to target the types of technologies you should purchase to improve your Outbound Index. Figure out what your “Wasted Technology Fund” is.

 

How Datanyze Bootstrapped to $1M ARR with Just 1 Engineer and 4 Salespeople

*Editors Note: Live updates from the Sales Hacker Conference Boston are brought to you by PipelineDeals. PipelineDeals is sales and CRM software trusted by thousands of companies to increase sales. Follow us @pipelinedeals.

This session is titled How Datanyze Bootstrapped to $1M ARR with Just 1 Engineer and 4 Salespeople by Ilya Semin, Founder and CEO of Datanyze

Where did the idea for Datanyze come from?

  • Most salespeople try to find a “good” prospect by purchasing lists or prospecting.
  • They then add this info into their CRM
  • Datanyze is designed to help you to know when a prospect is ready to buy.

Why did Datanyze bootstrapped?

The narrative out there is that it is really easy to raise money, so why didn’t we just raise money? There are a lot of benefits to bootstrapping your company, including:

  • Limited resources make you work hard and smart, and not just throw money at a problem.
  • The only thing that matters is getting to product/market fit, and bootstrapping forces you to focus on that.
  • You have to prove that you can win customers and demonstrate there is a market for your product.

We now have some investors, including Google Ventures and Marc Cuban’s VC firm.

When I was getting started with sales at Datanyze, we focused on doing three things really well:

  1. Send Great Outbound Emails
  2. Email at the Right TIme
  3. Convey Passion

I didn’t have any previous experience with sales and it took me outside my comfort zone. I used a data driven approach to improve my odds. At each step in my process, would use data to evaluate my approach to improve my future sales.

1 – Send Great Outbound Emails – When I first began with outbound sales, my email approach was to: ask for advice, treat my contacts as experts, encorporate their advice into future planning. One of my early successful emails was to Ben Sardella at KISSMetrics. KISSMetrics became my first customer, and Ben is now one of the co-founders of Datanyze. I refined my emails through time as I found out what emails had the best response rate, and worked on improving my emails through a data driven approach.

2 – Email at the right time – Additionally, when it comes to email, timing is everything. I analyzed what times had the best response rate for my emails and focused on sending emails at those times. The best time to send emails to your prospects may differ depending upon their organization or their role within the company. Figure out the best times for your marketplace and your prospects.

3 – Lastly, I was very passionate about my product. If you are not passionate about your product, your prospect won’t be either. Although I am no longer the head of sales at my company and my background is in computer science, I am confident that I can sell our product better than anyone else. I love talking about and showing people how Datanyze can help them grow.

Some additional things that I learned while bootstrapping and growing Datanyze:

Your Customer is your #1 priority

Being responsive to your customers is the best way to make them happy. Work to understand their needs and treat your customers as your best resource for getting future sales. Salespeople move from one job to another quickly, so make

Invest in processes and find the right tools

Our first 5 hires were:

  • Engineer/CEO
  • VP of Sales
  • Inbound Rep
  • Outbound Rep
  • SDR

Find the right tools:

1 – Dogfood, we use our own product to sell! If your product is designed to help others to sell, you should be using your product too.

2 – Yesware – this is a great tool to help you email better. Our SDR, and sales rep use Yesware multiple times a day.

3 – Hipchat – we try to respond to customers within 15 seconds of them communicating with us. Why 15 seconds? We’ve found that prospects move quickly and their attention can be easily diverted. We want to communicate with folks quickly.

 

 

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