We wanted to take a moment to celebrate someone who usually works behind the scenes at Bandalier - we’re pleased to introduce our Director of People, Dr. Caroline Millen!
Caroline joined our team at the beginning of 2020. We spent months looking for the perfect person to help direct our team as it grew, and Caroline was a perfect fit! After beginning her professional career in higher education, she was ready to make a change. She wanted to engage with her community in new ways, and knew that she could do so with Bandalier.
She made a big splash within Bandalier the moment she started. If you read our recent post on personality types, you’ll know that we all took the MBTI survey earlier this year - Caroline spearheaded that project in order to understand our team more thoroughly. Once she understood the composition of our existing team, she started looking for ways to keep improving our talent pool. As part of that project, she updated and streamlined our interview and hiring process to improve the experience both for our prospective employees and the leaders who were interviewing them.
Caroline’s greatest achievement is undoubtedly her work on our Talent as a Service program. In early March, while juggling the move to remote work and the needs of our team, Caroline was working on this initiative with a tiny team. With Talent as a Service, candidates can choose to be featured on our portal to be matched with new clients. This way, new programs can be up and running in as little as two weeks!
“It was born at the perfect time: we had an abundance of talented candidates looking for work as the pandemic began, and as new clients joined and existing clients expanded, we had plenty of excellent choices.”
Not only was she helping us improve by launching TaaS, but she had another, more personal project in the works: her doctoral dissertation. Caroline examined resilience and teaching essential leadership skills via virtual instruction, leveraging her past experience in higher education.
“As a special educator, I’m especially passionate about accessibility. Whether that’s ensuring all students have access to high quality education or ensuring all talented individuals have access to exciting job opportunities, that’s where I tend to focus my work. The Talent as a Service portal does just that: current students, recent graduates, entry-level professionals and experienced salespeople can highlight their unique and diverse abilities and match with exciting entrepreneurs and startup companies.”
We couldn’t be more proud to have Dr. Millen as our Director of People! If you’d like to learn more from her, you can connect with her on Instagram @carolinedmillen, or on LinkedIn @carolinedmillen. If you’re interested in joining our team, please visit our website and apply today!
Abagael Rudock - Inside Sales Associate at Bandalier
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