Sales and marketing efforts rarely grow at the exact same pace. In some instances, marketing comes first and the sales team figures out, "Alright, what do we do with these new leads?"
Other times, outbound sales comes first and marketing tries to keep up by generating new content.
In both scenarios, sales and marketing tend to operate in separate silos and their efforts aren't always aligned.
In our recent webinar, we wanted to showcase a revenue leader who has built a high-functioning BDR Team through strategic, in-sync efforts between his sales and marketing teams. The name that immediately came to mind was our client Jason Torgler (Chief Revenue Officer at A-Lign). We dug into Jason's experience generating pipeline and growing revenue. As a result, here are 11 best practices from our conversation (you can also watch the whole webinar here).
1. Marketing: The Importance of Thought Leadership Content
A-Lign has an extremely effective marketing engine, generating 400-500 Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs) and 200 Sales Qualified Leads (SQLs) per month.
So, how does A-Lign bring them in?
Jason mentioned Paid Search/Google pay-per-click, SEO, webinars on LinkedIn, trade shows (pre-COVID), and referrals. But one area that's been on the rise recently, in terms of its effectiveness, is leads coming in via Thought Leadership content.
What this means - Prospects want to be informed before entering the buyer's arena. A-Lign's marketing team creates content with best practices and insights to provide value and create trust early on with potential prospects.
Note - Picking the right keywords and topics for these articles is important to boost your SEO rank and get in front of the right buyers.
2. Strategic Outreach: Bucket Your Leads
With all these leads coming in, the natural instinct in sales is to build a list and start hitting the phones. Strike while the iron's hot.
While this type of hustle and follow-up is important, it's worth taking the time to bucket out your leads. Why? Because each prospect is different in terms of who they are, their familiarity with your company, and where they're at in the buyer's journey. You'll also want to factor in what time of year do they normally make these types of decisions? Honing in with the right campaign at the right time generates higher quality opportunities with a greater chance of closing.
3. BDR Strategy: Converting MQLs to SQLs
The buying cold lists, brute force, "dial for dollars" approach to sales outreach is becoming less and less effective for BDR teams.
Instead, what's been most prosperous for the BDR team at A-Lign is to follow-up with their MQLs.
Here's what this looks like in action.
- Each month A-Lign has 400-500 MQLs. These are people checking out the website, reading a blog post, interacting in some way with their content marketing.
- The BDR team sorts through, qualifies, and reaches out to these leads
- The 400-500 MQLs become 200 SQLs. The BDR's role is to move these leads down the funnel, to a meeting
After working the MQLs, the next best area for BDRs to address are the "recycled" former leads. These prospects might have taken a meeting in 2019. Went to a webinar in 2020. Filled out a form somewhere on the website 9 months ago. It's important to make sure none of these former leads slip through the cracks. It's possible the only reason they didn't buy before was related to budget or timing. Checking in at the right time is crucial here.
Creating a defined MQL to SQL system at the top of your sales and marketing funnel ensures your BDRs are spending the bulk of their time on warmer leads, which results in a higher ROI out of your marketing efforts.
4. Personalized Outreach is Key
Good BDR teams have a sales playbook, good scripting, a strong training program, and ongoing coaching from their sales managers.
Great BDR teams have all of the above + the ability and trust in their reps to personalize the outreach. Especially in today's landscape when BDRs not only have access to a company website, but they can also go on LinkedIn and research each individual person. Read their profile. Interact with some of their LinkedIn posts. The information is out there to make more engaging, personalized intros via phone or email.
Now, it is worth mentioning, 83% of meetings are still set over the phone, but this personalized outreach and interaction via email and LinkedIn are ways to warm up the lead heading into the call.
Another good point from Jason: When you call someone you spoke to a year ago, remember, they're busy, they might not remember the conversation at all. Taking a second to offer a recap (we talked about this and this problem, these two people from your team were involved, you decided this) goes a long way with your prospects and they'll appreciate this level of research, listening, and attention to detail.
Tying this Back to Content Marketing / What this looks like in Action - Take this blog post for example, it's largely about building a BDR team. If one of our sales professionals researched a company and found out they were currently recruiting for BDRs, instead of diving right into an email pitch (Hi, this is Chris at Sales Empowerment Group, we help companies grow by recruiting, training, and managing BDRs on their behalf...) they can, instead, write something like this:
I noticed on LinkedIn that you're hiring for BDRs. That's great! We recently sat down with a Chief Revenue Officer who was in a similar spot two years ago. He shared what worked for him including Top 3 Skills to look for in a BDR, tech tools for your BDRs, and how to setup the performance tracking to determine ROI of your hires. Thought you would find these helpful as you build out your team.
PS Also noticed you went to Ohio State (Go Buckeyes!) Hoping Justin Fields works out for my Bears this year!
Next time you reach out, you have a much better starting point with the prospect and improve the odds of booking a meeting.
5. Importance of Tech Enablement for your BDR Team
Couple examples of helpful Tech Enablement tools for BDR teams include Salesloft, Outreach, and High Velocity (from Salesforce).
These tech tools are important because you can setup a specific cadence to your campaigns and automate your workflows. On the individual rep level, BDRs see their daily task list and this keeps them on track in a way that's nearly impossible to do manually. These dashboards are also important for seeing how many calls and emails they need to make to be on track for the day/week. Keeps track of meetings set and meetings held too. Holds everyone accountable.
Category worth tracking - Jason called this outcome the "Permission to Follow Ups." These are prospects who say, "Hey, I'm interested, but can you call me back in October?" This counts as a stepping stone in the funnel and, by tracking it, you make sure these leads don't fall off the radar a few months later.
With all of this data, leadership can look back and run the numbers. "Alright, on average, BDRs take this long to ramp up. They set this many meetings and this many prospects show up to the meeting. From there, we have an X percent close rate." This type of analysis more accurately determines the ROI of your BDR hires and helps enormously when you're planning to hire more BDRs and figuring out what the set budget/compensation model should be.
6. Define Your Process Before Investing in Tech
The value of technology tools is to increase your speed and scale up something that's already working.
But without a set process in place, there's nothing for the technology to enhance. Which makes it hard to know if the tech was worth the investment.
It's good to establish some sort of lead scoring first. Create a scoreboard in your CRM. For example, a prospect registers for a webinar, that's worth 20 points. Downloads an e-book: 10 points. At 10 points, they're considered an MQL. And then you have a set process in place for discovery, the roadmap for how the BDR determines if this MQL qualifies as an SQL.
Once a system like this is in place, now you're ready for some additional tech to speed things up. Automate these different pieces so you can move faster.
Note: If you're feeling a little dizzy after that paragraph about lead scoring, MQLs, SQLs, if all of that terminology is brand new for your team, don't fret at all. Tons of B2B companies are in this same exact spot. Our team can help you work through these aspects of the sales/marketing funnel and get a defined process up and running. And then help you with the tech and tools. You can book a meeting with a member of our team here.
7. Top Three Skills to Look for When Hiring a BDR
Here are the top three skills Jason looks for when hiring a new BDR:
The Person Wants to Build a Career in Sales, Not just Dabble in the Field - To be fair, most people don't have their careers totally mapped out at 22-26-years-old, but a lot of successful BDRs picture some type of long-term career in sales. There's a certain "hunter" mentality needed in this role. If the person comes into the role unsure if they're interested in sales vs. marketing vs. customer service, they may have a harder time ramping up and finding the intrinsic motivation to handle the daily grind.
Intelligence - Ability to learn the role, the sales playbook, CRM, but also pickup on trends and make strategic adjustments to their outreach.
Organizational skills - This is one of the most underrated attributes in a BDR, and it's becoming more important as the role integrates with various technologies and tools. Keeping track of your daily task list, staying on top of leads who said call me back in three months, and overseeing various email campaigns is no joke and an unorganized rep can find themselves quickly overwhelmed in the modern BDR landscape.
8. Outsourced Model for BDR Team Increased Speed to Results
Defining these two approaches real quick:
In-house model - The traditional model for building a BDR team. Your organization handles the recruiting, training, and managing of all the new BDRs.
SEG Outsourced model - SEG recruits, trains, and manages the BDRs on your behalf. This approach operates like the "Farm System" in Majors vs. Minor League baseball; after 3-12+ months, companies move certain BDRs up to the "Big Leagues."
For Jason, once he knew how many BDRs he wanted to add, the choice to use SEG was all about speed to results. He was able to put his vision in place much faster than building everything in-house.
9. BDR as Sales Team's "Farm System"
Passion for the industry. Desire to grow a sales career. Intelligence and organizational skills.
These characteristics make for a great BDR/SDR, but they also serve as the foundation for success in future roles like Account Executive or other quota carrying roles. Sticking with the Farm System analogy, the long-term goal with a BDR is to see them grow through the ranks and become a top performing All-Star on your sales team. Building a great BDR engine allows you to promote from within and reduce your hiring risks since you're promoting someone who has already proven success, shown their work ethic, and developed industry/company knowledge.
10. Develop a System for Performance Tracking
Jason's advice on performance tracking: Build a model that tracks everything from activity to end results.
You measure this based on what's worked before. So, looking at your successful BDRs: How many meetings does it take to land an opportunity? How many calls/emails to land a meeting? How many calls/emails per day are needed to hit this mark? Keep working backwards and use these numbers as your benchmarks.
This level of performance tracking takes the guesswork and emotion out of your evaluations. Decisions are made by clear data rather than, "I think this strategy is working," or, "I think this BDR is having a great quarter."
11. When to Promote a BDR
We talked about the BDR Team as a "Farm System" and how it's a great proving ground for future promotions within your sales department.
Which leads us to our final question of this blog post: How do you know when it's time to promote a BDR?
Here's a look at the approach Jason uses with his team:
Everybody goes through the same program - No exceptions. Each BDR has the same opportunity and knows what metrics they're shooting for to be promoted.
Success in role - Hitting their targets for at least three months. This qualifies them for consideration.
Present their Performance - The BDR presents their performance to date to the leadership team.
Transparent Feedback - At the end of the promotion process, give feedback on who you selected and why. Take the emotion out of it, make everything as straightforward as possible so everyone on the team knows where they stand and views the process as a fair evaluation. With this level of fairness and transparency, you'll find your reps even more motivated to chase after their further career goals within your organization.
Whew! We covered a lot of ground in this blog and, just as a reminder, you can watch the full webinar here (although, if you made it this far, we'd say reading this blog almost counts as watching the whole event!) There were a lot of different aspects covered here, but if you'd like to focus in on one area or a couple different areas related to sales, marketing, and/or building a BDR team, we'd love to hear from you. You can reach us here to schedule a conversation.