Meet Desirée! She’s been a cornerstone of our team ever since she joined Bandalier - now that she’s earned the position of Associate Sales Manager, we wanted to reflect on her journey.
Des is a force to be reckoned with. Once she sets her mind to a task, she always finds a way to accomplish it. “If you really want something, you need to find a way to make it happen. Look for your own leads, build your own lists … don’t whine about having bad prospects if you aren’t doing anything to fix it. If you want to win, you'll find a way. Excuses are just a way out.”
Her drive for success is contagious. Simply hearing her on a call is enough to motivate new reps - the effect is even stronger if you ask for help. Whether you ran into a rude prospect or botched a booking, you can always ask Des where it went wrong. With her wealth of sales experience and no-nonsense attitude, she can quickly pinpoint your misstep - and help you learn from the experience. It’s a great demonstration of Bandalier’s focus on kaizen!
Congratulations are due to Des on her recent promotion. We’re excited to watch her grow into her new role as a team leader! If you want to work with Desiree and driven young professionals like her, head over to our website to learn more about our current opportunities.
We’ve spoken in the past about Selling During COVID-19. As our team works hard at home, we’ve found one thing makes a big difference in our call outcomes: empathy.
Selling with empathy simply makes sense. After all, no one likes a pushy salesperson at the best of times. Empathizing with prospects has always been a key portion of Bandalier’s sales process, but our classic questions weren’t doing the trick. Far from it, in fact - standard rapport-building questions like “How is your day going?” elicited highly negative responses shortly after the start of the pandemic. Our teams realized that it was time to ask better questions.
In a stellar bout of A/B tests, each team prepared new questions and tracked the responses they received. After two weeks of testing, Zach Gaskill’s team emerged with a clear winner: “How are you holding up?”. It’s a simple, casual question that leaves plenty of room for creative responses - both from our reps and their prospects. Our simple rephrasing acknowledged the challenges that we were all coping with. Asking folks “how they were holding up” received positive responses up to 70% of the time. Prospects opened up about their experiences working from home, and our reps did the same. Call times lengthened and results improved.
Empathetic listening has been key to Bandalier’s success over the past few months. By focusing on the prospect’s need for social interaction, our reps were able to hold better conversations. As we continue to adapt to the idea of a new normal, our best questions change - but our commitment to selling with empathy hasn’t.
Author: Abagael Rudock
Bandalier - Inside Sales Associate
We’re proud to introduce Connor Riley. As his one-year anniversary approaches, we took a few minutes to talk about his experiences at Bandalier.
Connor has always been a hard worker. Before joining Bandalier as an inside sales associate, he worked as a promoter, field marketer, photographer, bartender, caterer, and golf club retailer. “I used to hold six different positions at once … Bandalier has given me a great opportunity to hone all of the skills I picked up along the way.” After completing his sales training, Connor quickly produced amazing results for some of our toughest clients.
If he isn’t busy crushing it on sales calls, Connor’s helping his team. He’ll answer any question with a smile, whether you need help with call techniques or just want to know which local watering hole is the best. When a dozen employees needed professional headshots, Connor volunteered to put his photography and editing skills to use.
“It’s been amazing to see Bandalier grow and adapt. I had the opportunity to work with multiple clients at the same time, and it really showed me how unique each program is.” From staffing to software (SaaS), he’s sold it all! For more information on how you can work with Connor and the rest of our amazing outsourced inside sales team, check out our careers page and apply now!
As a word, 'outsourcing' doesn't have a great connotation. Though 'do your best and outsource the rest' has followers among some management gurus, decades of lessons from outsourced manufacturing have taught many businesspeople to think of outsourcing as being synonymous with poor quality and a lack of control. No surprise, then, that when we talk to prospects about Bandalier's managed service offerings, we're often met with questions about our ability to deliver quality relative to an in-house team.
But we're firm believers in the idea that, when done right, outsourced inside sales programs can not only be cheaper than in-house setups (which isn't surprising to most people) but can also deliver better results (which is). Here are three reasons why:
1) Analytics and Benchmarking. There's a reason we add program benchmarks to our analytics dashboards. As a general rule, the ability to compare dozens of different programs against each other affords us insights into what's working and what isn't that are simply much harder to generate internally.
Think of it this way: if you were teaching your first child to ride a bicycle for the first time, you'd likely be able to identify errors or mistakes after a short while watching them and comparing the way they ride a bike to the way you do. But if you had years of experience coaching dozens of people on bike riding, you'd likely be able to surface those insights much more quickly, since you've seen the same mistakes made and the same tactics work dozens of times.
The same principle applies to B2B sales outsourcing: the more inside sales people you see, the more role plays you perform, the more channels you've used in different contexts, and the more leads you've generated, the quicker you are to course correct. It's what allows our programs to get better, faster. It's worth noting that the advent of new technology over the last decade has actually made this advantage more pronounced: tools like Outreach and Sisense allow us to ingest thousands of cross-program data points that help inform our decision making.
2) Training and Development. One of the core reasons companies work with us is that we've built out an entry-level SDR curriculum. Building training for entry-level sales people - and then actually doing the work of training them - takes time. It isn't like, say, hiring a software engineer with years of experience in a particular programming language and putting them to work building your new widget. Though some sales training is undoubtedly specific to the product being sold, most of it involves psychological underpinnings and tactical approaches that are common to most forms of inside sales.
For that reason, it generally makes sense not to reinvent the wheel and instead partner with an outsourced sales company that has training modules built out, and whose training practices have been refined over time. Moreover, in doing so, you receive the ongoing benefit of continuing training, role plays, and management for your reps, something that is routinely overlooked, particularly in early-stage start-ups.
3) Outside Insights. Qualitative feedback is one of the more under-appreciated upshots of any well-designed sales as a service program. Imagine hiring someone to call 100 people a day and get feedback for you on your product offering. Now imagine those 100 people also happen to be people who represent your ideal customers. That is effectively part of what you get with outsourced inside sales teams.Of course, you could also get that feedback from an internal team performing the same activity.
But there's a reason many companies hire outside firms to perform market research for them. When the folks performing outreach are not in your product development meetings, don't have the same tunnel vision that is inevitable with any member of an in-house team, and have the added context of having performed the same type of outreach for other products, the insights they are able to surface are often of a different (and more informative) nature. It's no wonder why our clients are always telling us the prospect feedback they get is among the most important value-adds of their Bandalier teams.
Bandalier is proud to be #binghamtonstrong! Last week, a handful of our team members took a break from their inside sales efforts to lend a hand in the community. With masks, gloves, and garbage bags in hand, our team members joined the community effort to clean up Recreation Park in downtown Binghamton last Thursday. We believe in the strength of our local community, and we're excited to keep giving back in the coming months!
The organization "Clean Up and Bring Hope to Binghamton" coordinated this event, and gathered over 200 local volunteers to do their part in tidying up the park. If you'd like to join in the next clean-up, they're hosting another event at 11 a.m. on June 27th, at Martin Luther King Jr. Promenade in downtown Binghamton.
We've been (pleasantly!) surprised by the amount of demand we've seen for our U.S.-based outsourced inside sales teams from foreign SaaS companies looking to penetrate the U.S. market.
This case study describes how we connected CrankWheel, a Reykjavik-based software company that has built an innovative video collaboration tool for sales teams, with Lydia, a super talented Binghamton, NY-based inside sales associate.
There's an analogy (probably not original) we like to refer to with our new inside sales associates in training.
"Think of yourself as a doctor: a doctor doesn't prescribe a surgical operation to somebody who needs an Advil. Part of your job as the doctor is to figure out what the person needs and then prescribe medication accordingly."
Of course, being a salesperson is a little different than this. Usually, you've only got one 'medication' to sell (that is, whatever your product happens to be), rather than having a toolbox of medications and procedures at your disposal. But the point remains the same: it's stupid to prescribe surgery to someone who needs Advil. And if all you have is Advil, you're better off (and will sleep better at night) finding someone who needs it vs. prescribing it to the wrong person.
This has become particularly relevant in a trying couple of months, when folks (rightfully) have priorities that don't always align with taking sales calls. Pushy salespeople are always a little annoying - they are particularly annoying in a time of crisis.
How do we mitigate this? Bandalier's training program for new members of our outsourced inside sales team has always placed a heavy emphasis on open-ended questions (that is, questions designed to get prospects talking rather than eliciting a 'yes' or 'no' answer). A doctor could ask you whether you are experiencing a specific symptom ('do you have a stomach ache?'); alternatively, they could ask an open-ended question ('what symptoms are you experiencing?') that allows them to identify issues they wouldn't otherwise have guessed. And if there happen not to be issues we can fix, well, we're better off moving on to the next prospect.
A similar process applies in the rapport building process of our outbound calls - particularly in this period. Asking better questions in this context means reframing 'how are you?' (how is anyone right now?) into a question more appropriate for this period ('how've you been holding up?'). These are subtle differences, but important ones: one hints at a rep going through the motions, the other suggests an awareness of the current situation.
Ask Better Questions has become a mantra at Bandalier. If your question suggests that you genuinely care, that your intention is to help rather than purely to promote, and that you are actively listening, you're more likely to get to a definitive answer quickly. As an inside sales rep, that's a goal worth striving for.
We spend a lot of time analyzing our interview process for outsourced inside sales roles. Every candidate goes through multiple sets of behavioral interviews, which are graded according to a strict rubric and routinely assessed for correlation to team member performance in our 'sales as a service' programs.
One of our earliest team members noticed that - like many employers - we'd asked him towards the end of his interview if he had any questions for us. When he got the offer to join our team, he had a suggestion regarding the interview process he'd just been through.
"I was thinking...do you all score out the quality of candidate's questions?"
At the time, we didn't. But we knew even at the time that two qualities most predictive of strong SDRs in our organization were natural curiosity (after all, asking good, open-ended questions is a key part of the job) and enthusiasm for the position. Hypothetically, an individual who asks high-quality questions in the interview is more likely to have both traits.
Over the interim two year period, we introduced a grading mechanism for questions asked in our interview process that rewards candidates who ask well thought-out, non-logistical questions (for any candidates reading this - yes, this is a dead giveaway!). In our last review of our interview's statistics, we found that the 'questions question' has become one of the single most predictive areas of our interview process. Candidates who ask higher-quality questions (that is, questions that aren't purely logistical and are indicative of a natural curiosity about the role) tend to perform significantly better in our inside sales positions. Go figure.
We took some time to interview one of our part timers, Mallory Fowler. Mallory's been hard at work these last few months achieving some awesome results on a SaaS sales outsourcing campaign.
Through her story about a (very) early attempt at a flower business, we learned that Mallory's motivation to achieve amazing results has been a lifelong quality. We look for traits like these in our interview process for inside sales roles.
"I have always had a passion for talking to people. Starting from the age of five, I used to have this flower/plant shop in front of my house. I lived in a rural area, and I would convince random people in their cars to buy my flowers. Even though I was five, so I was cute and people wanted to buy my flowers, I still had that passion and that motivation to literally run up to cars on my street and ask them if they wanted to buy my flowers and sometimes convince them to pay crazy amounts for random flowers I dug up out of my yard. I still love being able to talk to people and explain why this option, for any future client or my current clients, is the best, because I truly believe it. I like to talk through it and understand exactly what you mean as a future client, or what people who might be future prospects want, and translating that into the sales funnel."
Particularly in times of crisis, building empathy with prospects and finding innovative ways to connect with them is critical.
Video outreach (that is, sending personalized or templated videos via e-mail or social media to prospective customers) has become increasingly prolific, powered by tools like Vidyard, BombBomb, and Linkedin video. There are clear reasons to like this approach: it allows inside sales reps to replicate the feeling of an in-person interaction and stand out from a crowded field of other salespeople competing for prospects' attention (provided prospects aren't already saturated with videos). The downsizes, of course, are the amount of time needed to film videos relative to sending out personalized e-mails or increasing dials.
We've run tests on video outreach over the last few weeks for our own sales outreach, where we pitch our outsourced inside sales teams. We've used both Vidyard e-mails and Linkedin video messages, testing outreach to decision makers at SaaS companies throughout the U.S. Our results show a 3-4x improvement in reply rates to personalized videos in e-mails and Linkedin messages vs. personalized e-mails (that is, a templated outreach e-mail that includes a sentence or two personalized to the prospect). Roughly half of the incremental responses were 'positive' replies (that is, affirming interest in our offering), vs. the remaining half which simply thanked us for sending the videos. In our case, the videos generally take about 2-3 minutes to prepare and send, versus 30 seconds - 1 minute to personalize an e-mail.
In short, the question of whether the incremental minute or two to send a video is justified by the increased reply rate depends largely on the % of positive replies you get (mostly a function of the level of need in the market) and annual contract value (ACV) of your product. There are instances where the incremental replies you get from video outreach come from folks who do not have a need for your product, or where the product you are selling is simply not expensive enough to warrant such a time-consuming form of outreach. However, in most cases where outbound sales is productive as a channel, our belief is that the trade-off is worthwhile.
Some great tips on video outreach from the JB Sales team on a webinar here.