If you’ve been following our blog, you probably remember reading about Laura Gordon from our article on Junior Program Managers back in April. Now that she’s advanced into the full Program Manager role, we wanted to reflect on her experience.
I’ve had the pleasure of working alongside Laura as part of Lydia's pod, and have got the chance to witness her skills as a leader firsthand. One of Laura’s attributes that makes her an effective leader is her ability to boost the team’s morale. From leading call reviews and offering insightful feedback to making our daily meetings more enjoyable and inspirational, she is a leader that’s had a great impact on our reps in a short period of time.
Maria Heitmann, a rep that works directly with Laura on her team, described to us exactly how she’s seen Laura grow as a leader since becoming her Junior Program Manager back in April:
When I joined her team, Abby was still in charge, and it was actually a seamless transition to Laura. She makes sure that we’re constantly improving and always doing a great job. She started taking charge in our meetings and it didn’t feel like a culture shock at all, she took the reins at her own pace and all of us felt comfortable with it.
We also had the chance to catch up with Laura following her promotion, and she’s looking forward to her future as a Program Manager:
I’m definitely busier now than I was before, but it’s a lot more structured. It’s exciting to have these opportunities with new clients to keep doing what I love, and I’m excited to build a better understanding of our systems and dig deeper into the technical side of things here!
Congratulations again to Laura on her new role! We’re excited to keep growing with her as a manager.
Brenden Gorman - Inside Sales Associate at Bandalier
There’s a moment in a recent Make it Happen Mondays episode that got us thinking. In John Barrows’ interview with Marc Roberge (well worth a listen), a discussion about the future of sales turned to sales development representatives (SDRs) and hiring. They spend a bit of time discussing what they term ‘the inappropriate copy and paste’ - among other things, companies hiring SDRs solely because that’s what they see other successful companies doing.
“I’ve seen so many reps who are the top rep at this company and then join (this new company) and they’re the worst rep,” Marc says. “Well, it’s because there’s no universal answer to the right rep for that job. It depends who you’re selling to and what you’re selling and what stage you’re at and what stage the category is at, and all these things.”
This presents an interesting question for us at Bandalier, where we make it our business to ‘isolate the attitudes and aptitudes that wind up being predictive of a successful career in sales roles.’ At first glance, the challenge John and Marc articulate presents a foundational issue in our business model. After all, if the archetype for every inside sales rep differs based on industry / persona / sales cycle, how in the world are we supposed to isolate across these?
Indeed, over four years in business, it’s certainly been a constant that different clients have different needs when it comes to our teams. As Marc describes, there are instances where the strongest team member on one client winds up less successful when they move on to a new engagement - and vice versa.
That said, four years into collecting data from thousands of phone screens, in-person interviews, and ‘Zoom’ interviews, we have found some constants across virtually all inside sales roles that form the bedrock of our interviewing algorithm. We calibrate our process every 6-12 months based on performance data from our inside sales teams.
Based on these calibrations, the ‘three constants’ we currently isolate for in our interview process for any sales-related role are resilience, coachability, and baseline communication skills. None of this is fixed, of course - as we collect more data, we might find some of the client-specific qualities are universal enough to warrant inclusion on our ‘constants’. With that in mind, here are the three we’ve found so far:
Resilience: What we’re effectively isolating for here is how likely a team member is, having been shut down X number of times per day, to make the incremental cold call or e-mail follow-up. Some folks simply get crushed by the amount of rejection that is inherent to virtually any sales role; and while there are certainly some sales roles that involve more rejection than others, we haven’t come across any that don’t involve the need for at least a healthy dose of resilience.
Coachability: One of the wonderful things about sales is that because of how trackable most activities are (e-mails can be reviewed, calls can be recorded), it’s extremely easy to give and receive feedback. And because sales is a naturally human function, it is critical to not just to receive feedback well but to actively solicit it from folks with different personalities - irrespective of the specific sales role you’re in. Interestingly, we find that many folks who are extremely resilient (or ‘stubborn’) struggle with taking feedback, and vice versa. We’re looking for the rare individual who excels in both categories.
Communication skills: We always caveat this category by mentioning that thus far it seems to be the least important / predictive of our three constants. We track both verbal and written communication skills throughout the interview. While most of this can be taught in Bandalier University, there are limits: folks who have difficulty holding conversations or have significant difficulty with written communication often struggle in our roles, even with lots of training. We test for a ‘baseline’ of communication skills that can be built on as folks progress through their sales careers.
The three constants form a baseline of what’s necessary for success in inside sales role, but they aren’t sufficient. Once folks pass our initial interviews, they go through a ‘client match’ process run by our recruiting team. This process is designed to isolate for the types of dependencies Marc spoke about - though we’ve found all clients need team members who excel in the three categories above, different clients need different types of experience, industry background, and rep demeanor, among other things. Through our onboarding process, we pinpoint the ‘additional qualities’ clients need and then do our best to match them with a team member who fits the bill.
Jeremy Ruch - Founder and CEO
This week, we wanted to write a fond farewell to one of our team members who works a bit more behind the scenes. James Boedicker has been a cornerstone of our Client Delivery team, and we wanted to take a few minutes to reflect on his experiences before he moves on to another opportunity.
James joined our team in April of 2019. At the time, he was pursuing a career in marketing. When he joined our team, his goal was to build out his skill set and get closer to his dream role in tech marketing.
“I was chatting with a mentor about the field, and they mentioned that marketing is tough to get into without previous client-facing experience. Marketing and sales go hand-in-hand, so I wanted to try it out. I learned a lot about sales from the Bandalier team - especially about how hard it can be."
After getting a good taste of sales, James wanted to explore other parts of Bandalier. He reached out to Anton, our head of Client Delivery, about exploring a new role. In October of 2019, James joined Anton’s team. James leveraged his previous experience in customer service to excel in the role, and over time, worked with more and more of our clients to deliver data and insights from our team. Here’s how he described his favorite parts of the role:
“It’s super gratifying to see a campaign succeed, knowing that it’s the culmination of work with our internal team and client. Seeing success spin up after a ramp is inspiring because it shows how collaboration can boost success. I love talking with people and helping make sure that everyone is on the same path towards the goal.”
On top of running client meetings and helping program managers pin down the obstacles that their reps are running into, James has been a key member of our marketing team. Have you read a blog post in the last year and a half? James posted it! He’s been our marketing coordinator, making sure that all of our social media profiles stay up to date and helping the team come up with new topics to write about and share.
James has been an integral part of our team over the last few years, and we’re sad to see him go - but we’re looking forward to seeing where his future adventures take him!
Abagael Rudock - Jr. Program Manager
This week, we wanted to take some time to highlight our Junior Director of Programs, Courtney Simmons!
Courtney joined Bandalier in November of 2018, and has been absolutely crushing it ever since. Having spent years working in the hospitality industry, Courtney has a naturally outgoing and vibrant personality that quickly translated to sales. A career in sales isn’t actually what brought her to Bandalier, though - she told us:
"I actually had a friend that told me about Bandalier, and the thing that attracted me was actually the company culture."
Since joining us as a rep, Courtney has been one of our most determined and impressive performers. If you’ve checked out our blog before, you’re probably familiar with the principle of kaizen - and Courtney’s been one of our most impressive examples of it. When she first started, she was making cold calls all day for her client, and then decided to get more creative with her outreach, taking advantage of LinkedIn and uniquely crafting personalized videos for prospects.
It didn’t take long for Bandalier to recognize her potential as a leader, as she soon found herself leading a team of four reps. That small team quickly grew into a larger team, and Courtney became one of our Program Managers. She now finds herself in the position of Junior Director of Programs, and works diligently with each Program Manager to ensure the success of each program and to keep results coming!
Courtney attributes her success with Bandalier from lessons she’s learned in her previous roles in the hospitality industry and from her managers here:
"I learned a lot of customer service skills from bartending and serving, and those jobs really taught me how to read people. I also learned a lot from my managers here. They gave me a lot of help and I had some great guidance along the way."
We’re excited to see Courtney keep flourishing in her latest role. If you’d like to know more about Bandalier or have an interest in joining our growing team of young professionals, head over to our website!
Brenden Gorman - Inside Sales Associate at Bandalier
Building rapport with your prospects is key to a successful sales call. But it can be tough to make yourself likeable through a cold call - here are some tips from our team.
Choose questions carefully.
If you’ve been following our blog, you know that our team is always trying to ask better questions. Rapport building starts when the call does, and asking a good opening question helps conversations go more smoothly.
We’ve moved away from classic questions like “How are you?” and “How’s your day going?”. Instead, our team practices selling with empathy, asking folks “How ya been?”. The informal phrasing implies a sense of familiarity, and piques the prospect’s curiosity.
Throughout the conversation, our team members balance features and benefits with a mix of open-ended questions and close-ended questions. The balance of the two depends on how the conversation is going - in a lot of situations, if folks haven’t opened up yet, open-ended questions can help keep the conversation running. If they’re happy to talk, close-ended questions can help diagnose pain points and illuminate them.
Asking good questions doesn’t do much if you can’t build on the answers you get. This is a common piece of feedback for new reps - folks tend to focus on delivering the information they have prepared, rather than looping around to it as the conversation veers into that topic. Nothing throws off a conversation more than getting a one-word acknowledgement after a lengthy answer.
Our team uses the “Three A’s” of active listening to have better conversations:
Find common interests
There’s a lot of ways to find common ground with someone. In some cases, you’ll see something intriguing and easy to mention on their social media pages before calling. In other cases, something will pop up during the conversation that’s pleasant to chat about. With our team working from home, that tends to be the sound of pets in the background. (And sometimes in the foreground during team Zoom meetings!) In some cases, it can be talking about the weather, or simply empathizing if the person you’re calling is having a tough day.
At the end of the day - and the end of the call - most folks buy based on emotion, not on logic. In order to drive results, the best thing our team can do is quickly build a relationship with the prospect. We’ll keep asking better questions and share the tips here!
If you’re a skilled communicator with a knack for asking great questions and quickly building relationships, we’d love to have you on the team - apply by following this link.
Abagael Rudock - Junior Program Manager at Bandalier