If you follow our blog, you know that we love to collect data as we test new techniques during our outreach. As part of our company’s commitment to kaizen, each of our team members runs a monthly A/B test as they work to improve their call techniques. This week, we wanted to highlight a particularly successful A/B test from one of our new outsourced sales team members!
Romilly Robertson joined our team at the start of the summer. Once they had finished their Bandalier Bootcamp, they hit the phones hard. Unfortunately, they weren’t successful at the start - it was nearly impossible to reach decision makers. After their first few weeks of outreach, Romilly and their team started to re-examine their script. While the team was looking for areas to improve, Romilly decided to start from the top.
We’ve written about the importance of asking better questions in the past. Romilly took that advice and ran with it! Throughout the month of August, they alternated between two different opening questions while speaking with gate-keepers. One was generally related to the client’s offerings (option A), while the other was highly specific (option B). Over time, it became clear that the more specific question delivered better results. When asking their general question, they reached a decision-maker on less than 25% of calls, and had gate-keepers end the call on nearly 25% of their attempts. Once they started asking their specific question, Romilly reached a decision-maker on more than 50% of their calls! As a result, they were able to schedule more meetings for their client.
Not only did the results of Romilly’s outreach improve, but their team’s efficiency did, too! By asking a better opening question, Romilly was able to reach decision makers more quickly, as were their teammates!
“I was able to save a minute or two one each call, depending on how much the gate-keeper had to say. Even though I was the only one testing these questions, it helped the whole team save time, since they were able to ask better, more specific questions during their calls after I shared my results.”
While a minute per call doesn’t sound like much time, it adds up over the course of the week. Romilly saves nearly an hour each day by asking better questions; over the course of the week, that’s almost five hours saved! The number only goes up once you consider the impacts for Romilly’s teammates.
Romily’s A/B test is a perfect example of how our team always looks for opportunities to meaningfully improve their outreach. In addition, these tests tend to provide valuable insights to our client’s overall b2b sales outsourcing efforts. If you’d like to hear more about Romilly’s work in particular, you can connect with them on LinkedIn. For more information about Bandalier and how you can work with our team of stellar sales reps, head on over to our website!
Abagael Rudock - Inside Sales Associate at Bandalier
Now that our New Leaders have had some time to grow into their roles, we wanted to take some time to reflect on their experiences with Bandalier. As a company, we’ve recently been discussing what factors make our team members so successful. For a simple indicator, everyone took the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) quiz! With this quiz, your responses are scaled based on four key personality indicators:
There are a total of 16 different results that you can get from the quiz! While most folks assume that you have to be extroverted to work in sales, that isn’t truly the case. It’s true that the majority of our team are extroverts, but nearly one-third of us are introverts! We decided to follow up with our newest leaders, to ask how they feel their personality types influenced their success at Bandalier.
Desirée Deninis - ESFJ
If you read our feature on Desiree, you’ll remember that she’s one of our toughest sales reps. As a sensitive extrovert, Des has a sixth sense for steering conversations in the direction she needs them to go, and she won’t hesitate to assert herself during calls. She’s always happy to help when you need it, but she’ll be honest when you’ve made mistakes, too. Her success and determination spreads throughout the team, even while we’re working remotely!
“I’m a huge people person - I love building relationships, inside and outside of work. It helps tremendously, from building rapport with prospects to building relationships with our clients. Likeability also plays a huge role in sales, so my upbeat and energetic personality can help people gravitate towards me. But I never pretend to be someone that I’m not, and that’s definitely helped me succeed.”
Zach Keck - ENFP
An intuitive extrovert, Zach loves to talk with new people! But he can also sense when something is left unsaid. He’s one of the first team members to ask questions, and he knows how to direct those questions to reach the heart of the matter at hand. When we asked Zach how his personality type influenced his work, here’s what he had to say:
“Being an extrovert definitely helps with sales and client relationships. A lot of my job is asking clients good questions, understanding what their goals are and how we can help them. Some people think that you have to talk to make a sale, but listening actually helps close more deals.”
Lydia Stewart - ISFJ
Lydia is one of our legendary introverts! Her listening skills make her easy to talk to, and most folks don’t realize how much they’ve said until she starts asking them questions. Lydia loves to pair people with products that will work for them. Whether it’s a caller looking for software or a colleague looking for advice, she’ll be there to listen and make suggestions!
“My personality type is empathetic with good listening skills. During calls, that means that my prospects get a chance to speak and I get a chance to listen. As a manager, it makes me warm and approachable, which makes it easier for my team to talk to me. I also like working behind the scenes, making sure things are running smoothly and that my team has all of the tools that they need to succeed.”
Nick Viviano - ENTP
Like Zach, Nick is an intuitive extrovert. As is true for many of our team members, he’s always been a people person and loves meeting new folks as part of his daily routine. Nick is always thinking about the next question he can ask, and how it will help direct the conversation. Whether he’s chatting with a client or coaching one of his team members, Nick will always have a clarifying question to make sure everyone is on the same page. We asked Nick how his personality influenced his leadership style, and here’s what he said:
“I can talk to anyone and keep the conversation going, which is especially helpful with cold-calling. It also translates into my role, since I can talk to my reps and help coach them regardless of their personality. It’s a huge part of what’s made me successful here.”
Mia Horwath - ESTJ
While stereotypes may suggest that everyone who works with data is an introvert, Mia proves that it isn’t true! She initially joined our team as a sales rep, but quickly realized that she wanted to improve a different skill set. With her experience on calls, Mia has a personal understanding of what reps want and need from her team of sales ops associates. She always delivers results for her reps, and she’s unflinchingly honest about the time and effort it will take to do so.
Abagael Rudock - Inside Sales Associate at Bandalier
When you work with early-stage companies, you learn quickly that flexibility is key. Ideal customer profiles, pitches, and even overall company strategy changes quickly - and vendors need to, also. Though our primary focus on most campaigns is appointment setting / top-of-funnel SDR work, we’ve had to adjust our focus for several clients. Fortunately, our kaizen culture, which prioritizes autonomy and creativity, helps us adapt quickly when necessary.
In that vein, lots of prospective clients want to know just how flexible our outsourced inside sales teams can be: put another way, are we just cold calling robots, or can our team members adjust to different needs as they pop up? Below are three examples of how our teams have adapted.
Outbound e-mail is a critical part of our inside sales strategy, comprising nearly 50% of outbound activities (calls, e-mail, social media touches) across Bandalier’s outsourced inside sales teams. One core element of any outbound e-mail playbook is deliverability: that is, ensuring that e-mails to prospects actually land in their inbox.
Internet Service Providers (ISPs) spend a tremendous amount of time building algorithms that differentiate transactional e-mails (that is, e-mails you might send to friends or colleagues) from what they define as spam (unwanted e-mail that doesn’t belong in inboxes). So if you’re going to send out a lot of e-mails to prospects as part of a B2B inside sales effort, it’s worth taking the time to ensure that your e-mails get treated properly by recipient servers and don’t wind up in a spam folder. Open rates on sales and marketing e-mails vary from 10% to as high as 80% or more - that variance leads to some very different conversion funnels.
Bandalier routinely runs outbound e-mail campaigns on our own behalf that achieve 60%+ open rates, and clients often want to know how. Below are some of the methods we use.
1) Plain text, short and to the point. E-mails that look like marketing will get treated by recipient servers as promotions or spam. All of our outbound e-mails use a plain text approach that mirrors that kind of e-mail you might send to an acquaintance. Sending e-mails with pictures or marketing content built in may seem creative, but it is a surefire way to decrease open rates right off the bat.
2) Subject line optimization. We see variance of 10-20% in open rates based purely on the e-mail subject line used. One of our favorites for our own outreach is also the simplest: <<Prospect Company Name>> // Bandalier. But effective subject lines vary widely based on the personas, industries, and geographies you’re targeting, so it’s critical to continually test new subject lines and see what’s working best. There are tons of tools that can help you do this - here are a few to choose from.
3) Good prospect lists. Sending e-mails to old or incorrect e-mails will increase your ‘bounce rate’, which is one number recipient servers use to evaluate whether your e-mails are spam. Tools like Zerobounce can help you ensure the list you’re using is clean.
4) Using subdomains or alternative domains. It’s usually not a great idea to send very large volumes of outbound sales e-mails from a primary domain (for example, ‘bandalier.co'), because you run the risk of spoiling it both for future campaigns and even for your regular transactional e-mails (imagine having your regular correspondence with customers sent to spam, for instance). Subdomains and alternative domains are two mechanisms we use to improve deliverability on our outbound sales e-mails and mitigate any harm that might be done to our primary domain (bandalier.co). A sub-domain is something like sales.bandalier.co: it is connected to the primary domain, but includes an extra marker to differentiate it. The advantage of using subdomains is that they benefit from the reputation of their parent domains, but cannot impact them.
Here’s an example: let’s say we’ve been using bandalier.co for two years to send routine e-mails to clients and co-workers, and now want to launch a outbound sales campaign. By setting up a domain like sales.bandalier.co, we benefit from the e-mail reputation of our primary bandalier.co domain, but if folks start marking our new outbound sales e-mails as ‘spam’, we do not risk our transactional e-mails (that is, those routine e-mails we’ve been sending all along) also going to spam.
An alternative domain is something like bandaliersales.co that has no connection to our primary domain. The advantage of a domain like this is that if the primary domain is not performing well (maybe someone on your team sent a bunch of e-mails that bounced, or you’ve spoiled the domain through mass outreach in the past), you have the opportunity to start over with no further impact to the primary domain. However, if you go this route, it’s important to take some time to ‘warm up’ the domain.
5) Following other e-mail best practices. E-mail deliverability is a bit of a black box, but there are a few other widely accepted practices you can follow to maximize your ‘reputation’ to recipient servers. Increment your e-mail sending volume gradually - don’t go from sending 50 emails in one week to 1500 the next. Try to space your email sends (that is, don’t send 1500 outbound sales emails in the same minute on Friday afternoon). Finally, make sure your SPF and DKIM settings are properly established.
As part of our annual birthday celebration, we give one of our employees the Bandalier Kaizen Award. The award celebrates the person who has best exemplified our company’s commitment to slow, steady improvement through minute changes. This year, our winner was Alex Boucard! We took a little time to catch up with him and talk about how he’s embraced kaizen since starting at Bandalier as an outsourced inside sales rep.
Alex started his career in the hospitality industry. His personability earned him a lot of recommendations to pursue a career in sales, but he rarely saw the opportunity. At the time, Alex felt like he was “living life in the passenger seat,” with little guidance on how he could continue progressing. After a chance meeting on a normal workday, he was referred to Bandalier. He joined our team in July of 2019, and hasn’t stopped striving to improve since then.
After being introduced to the idea of kaizen during his sales training, Alex fully embraced the concept. It became the motto not just for his professional life, but his personal one. He started looking for small improvements that he could make at every turn, from changing his diet and exercise habits to improving his finances.
“I’m always trying to do a little better. Whether it’s making five more calls than I did last week, or testing out a new opener, I’m always doing something to keep improving.”
Even amidst the uncertainty of COVID-19, Alex continued searching for ways to improve himself. He took advantage of his extra time to start a YouTube channel on personal finance, documenting his journey toward financial independence to “create a blueprint for success.” Alex credits his experiences at Bandalier as part of his inspiration to share his journey and passions.
“Bandalier is a great place to go if you have goals but aren’t quite sure how to reach them … the environment sets people up to achieve. You’re given the opportunity to rise to the occasion with the tools you need to achieve your goals. Plus, most folks have a side-hustle or a set of aspirations that they bring along to Bandalier. Being around folks who are ready to compete and improve helps everyone do better. I love the sense of camaraderie we have here.”
We’re delighted to work with driven young entrepreneurs like Alex! If you’d like to see his advice on personal finance, check out his Youtube channel Alex_Hussles. You can also connect with him (and the rest of the Bandalier team!) on LinkedIn.
Abagael Rudock - Inside Sales Associate at Bandalier
If you follow us on social media, you probably heard that Bandalier recently celebrated our third anniversary! After all the fun of our socially distanced birthday bash, we wanted to reflect on our journey as a company.
Bandalier began in July of 2017 with our CEO and founder, Jeremy Ruch, working alone in a small office suite in the Southern Tier Incubator. He found spectacular salespeople in and around Binghamton, and quickly connected them with sales opportunities in major cities.
Once he got the ball rolling, it didn’t stop. In less than a year, Bandalier had outgrown its initial office space. In June of 2018, we held our ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate our new space in the Incubator’s High Bay. By the time of our first anniversary in July 2018, Bandalier had a team of thirteen people! We celebrated at Cole Park, and our current head of office, Matt Scanlon, won our first ever kaizen award, which celebrates a team member who exemplifies our core value of kaizen.
Over the course of the next year, our team more than doubled. By the time we were celebrating our second anniversary, our team had grown to thirty-seven people in total. Courtney Simmons, one of our ASMs, won the kaizen award for the year!
Throughout the fall of 2019, our client base was expanding, and our clients were looking for more help with a diverse array of outreach. At the start of 2020, we were thinking about how we could work to expand our outsourced inside sales offerings and connect our clients with a larger pool of talented individuals.
In March of 2020, our plans had to change. As COVID hit New York in full force, our team had to adapt to remote work and the new normal of daily life. We were fortunate to have a creative, compassionate team working together to keep things moving, and produced two great initiatives early on. As part of the Corona Companions project, our team members volunteered to connect with folks who were feeling the impacts of isolation. During the same period, we launched our Talent as a Service program, which allows our clients to choose sales reps and launch programs within the course of just a few days. Thanks to these two launches, we were making more connections than ever, in spite of our social distance.
That brings us up to the present day! With a team of forty-eight employees working remotely, it can be hard for us to all catch up. Fortunately, we had the chance to safely assemble our team for our recent birthday celebration at Cole Park. (We also held a digital event for the folks who couldn’t make it in person.) Alex Boucard won our 2020 kaizen award, and will be taking a well-earned weekend getaway to celebrate.
We’re excited to keep growing!
Abagael Rudock - Inside Sales Representative at Bandalier
A recent review from a long-time client highlights some of the features that make our outsourced inside sales teams such a great addition to growing tech companies. Among other things, clients often focus on our teams' quality ("their team brought a level of expertise and professionalism that increased our trajectory"), strategy ("they dedicated people, processes, and expertise to help us strategize how to do cold prospecting as a channel") and communication ("their people are very attentive, and they’re amazing at that. We communicated through phone calls, Zoom, and Slack.").
Reviews like this help reinforce why our U.S.-based sales teams play such a pivotal role in helping tech companies get their inside sales efforts off the ground. We're proud to play a small part in helping them grow.
Bandalier is pleased to introduce Ed Porter! Ed recently joined our advisory board to help us navigate our recent growth, and we wanted to take some time to talk about his journey.
Ed got his start in the outsourced contact center space during college. His experience was very much “sink or swim”, with little by way of training or guidance offered by his managers. After graduating, Ed focused on his education and professional development, building up his leadership skills in his free time. His hard work paid off and he quickly rose into a leadership position. By the time he was 26, he was overseeing more than a thousand employees across multiple locations.
Ed quickly realized that a “people first management philosophy” was key to his team’s success. Rather than embrace the closed-door policy of his past managers, Ed took the time to build relationships with his employees and coach them towards success. His teams continually delivered stellar results, and over the course of 20 years, helped shift a software company’s revenue from direct to channel, built an inside sales organization from the ground up amassing over $40 million in recurring revenue, and helped lead an organization to acquisition as the Chief Revenue Officer. Currently, he helps organizations as a fractional Chief Revenue Officer align marketing, sales, and customer success to help drive strategic growth.
“A lot of folks think about training and development as something that’s given, not taken. I think of salespeople more like athletes. You don’t just play when you’re required - you do other little things to build up your chances for success. Athletes go for runs, do stretches, lift weights; salespeople read, study, and share their education outside of the workplace.”
With decades of sales experience and education under his belt, Ed sought out more opportunities to share his passion for professional education. He found it with the American Association of Inside Sales Professionals (AA-ISP). Ed initially discovered the AA-ISP while building up his own knowledge base, and opted to give back to the community by re-founding the Columbus chapter to support and connect local salespeople. Thanks to Ed’s efforts to build amazing content and bring in amazing speakers, they won “Chapter of the Year” several times. Ed also received awards from his peers for Excellence in Execution and Executive of the Year. Five years after kickstarting the chapter, Ed still leads it.
“The AA-ISP is a wonderful association. I’m glad to be a part of it, and I always will be.”
Ed’s dedication to professional improvement doesn’t stop with general education. Throughout his career, he noticed the gender disparity within the sales field, especially when it came to leadership positions. When Lauren Bailey, of Factor8 and the Phoenix chapter of the AA-ISP, founded #GirlsClub to help women excel in the sales profession, Ed joined the program as a mentor. Over the last three seasons of the program, Ed has worked with protegees to guide them toward success. Thanks to Lauren’s leadership and the efforts of mentors like Ed, this year’s program includes 400 people from 13 different countries!
With so much experience under his belt, Ed decided it was time to go solo, and offer his expertise as an independent business consultant. He wanted to share his success with as many teams as he could - and with Bandalier’s focus on internal training, he knew it would be a good fit. Ed has known of our company for a long time. He met Jeremy before our Binghamton location was established, and the two re-connected with the advent of our Talent as a Service program.
“The community that Jeremy is building is phenomenal. There’s evidence that these communities exist and thrive. There’s only one question - how can we differentiate value?”
We’re looking forward to finding out! We’re excited to continue growing with Ed. If you want to hear about Bandalier’s growth, you can follow us here and on social media. If you want to be part of our growing outsourced inside sales team, head over to our website to apply!
If you’re interested in connecting with Ed, the AA-ISP, or the Girls’ Club, you can visit their websites and LinkedIn pages to learn more.
There are many qualities that are key for a great outsourced inside sales team. For example, many would agree the success of a sales team can be determined by how its members assess, evaluate and improve their own performance. It’s a fickle thing though. As a sales rep, finding your groove with prospects is not easy; and learning to constantly adapt and evolve is what ultimately makes the difference. At Bandalier, we foster this behavior using the Japanese principle of kaizen. A literal translation of kaizen would equate to “continuous improvement”, however, kaizen can often take on many forms. A common practice that is imperative for continuous improvement in Bandalier life and client satisfaction is A/B testing.
What exactly is A/B testing? Whether it’s making that initial cold call, attempting to follow up through email, or scrubbing data prior to outreach there is never one single strategy that will stick across the board. No matter how good your work is, it is largely circumstantial. You need to account for how your outreaches will be perceived across different industries (Engineering vs. Insurance), different points of contact (CFO vs. Office Manager), and even the personality of the prospect regardless of their business affiliation (introvert/extrovert). Thus, by taking your status quo strategy (A) and challenging its effectiveness with a slightly different approach (B) you’re proactively and continuously improving, leaving no stone unturned. Think about it this way, would you use the same exact words and phrasing for every single job interview in your life? No, of course not. Your strategy will not only evolve according to your mistakes but it will reposition itself to coincide with factors that will ensure the best competitive advantage. Being able to report these A/B test findings to clients not only benefits your sales results, but helps them strategize on a higher level as well!
Using this technique with marketing and sales outreach through email means the world. Not to say that A/B testing your cold calling strategy isn’t just as important. However, you arguably have more opportunities to act on the fly, improvise and steer the conversation when you have a prospect talking to you directly. In other words, however little it may be, you have some semblance of the prospect’s attention as long as they pick up the phone. Whereas that initial introduction over email is almost like the end all be all. If your subject line doesn’t catch their eye or the body is too long, that’s it. Message deleted, they might not even read past the first two words. While you still have the ability to follow up, your chances of a successful close slowly diminish with each attempt after the initial outreach. Which is why you’ll want to take every advantage and don’t be afraid to experiment. Take for example the current socio-economic climate. The effects of COVID-19 are universal and ripe for unique personalizations that will apply everywhere because what’s happening to one prospect is happening to every single one. Case and point why A/B testing your subject line and email bodies will noticeably bring your competitive advantage to new heights.
So A/B testing your emails seems like a powerful tool; but realistically there’s only so much one sales rep can do to reinvent their strategies. Here’s the thing though, part of what makes inside sales so effective is a team environment. By continuously improving your own strategies you are consequently discovering new insights that your teammates may very well have not thought of. At Bandalier, we are constantly sharing our successes and failures with each other all in favor of fostering the power of sales as a service. These methods and ideas are old news to anybody who is experienced in sales. However, by employing them each a little bit everyday, it really makes a huge difference. So next time you’re about to press send, take the extra minute and challenge that subject line, that body paragraph and most importantly, yourself.
Jacob Zall - Sales Operations Associate at Bandalier
We’re wrapping up our series on our new leaders by talking about someone who works a bit more behind the scenes. We’re pleased to introduce our Sales Ops Team Lead, Mia Horwath!
Mia joined our team a little more than a year ago, and we’ve been amazed with her work ethic since the beginning! As a student majoring in Economics at Binghamton University, she’s almost always working on something - and is graduating a year early because of it. In spite of her heavy course load, she’s been a consistently amazing member of the Bandalier team.
“I’m trying to build up my work experience early … I’ve always wanted to be part of the full-time work force, and this position has been a great opportunity while I’m in school.”
When Mia first joined our team, she was one of our sales reps, interested in learning firsthand about how people decide to spend their time and money. After a few months of building up her phone skills, Mia realized that she wanted to pursue a different type of opportunity with us and keep expanding her skillset. She moved to our sales operations team, helping build lists of leads for our reps and supporting our sales’ reps outreach efforts with cold, hard data. Mia credits her early experience on the phones with her success as a sales ops associate.
“Having insight on what sales reps do and go through while cold-calling helps me help them. I know the quirks of Outreach and how difficult calls can be, plus the detriments that a bad lead list can be. Having experience as a sales rep really helped me understand some of their pain points.”
Mia credits Bandalier’s flexibility with her success internally. Making the transition from a sales rep to a sales ops associate to a sales ops team lead wasn’t easy, but she had our team’s full support along the way. We’re proud to have Mia on the team, and we’re looking forward to seeing how she continues to grow - both in her current role and beyond it. Congratulations again to Mia on her new position!
If you want to work with driven young leaders like Des, Zach, Lydia, Nick, and Mia, we’d love to chat with you! To learn more about Bandalier, visit us at our website.
Abagael Rudock - Inside Sales Representative at Bandalier