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.
B2B sales isn't easy - no matter what you're selling. But staffing agencies in particular have the challenge of differentiating themselves to prospective buyers in an extremely competitive space.
We're proud of our work with Employment Solutions, a national recruiting agency that has generated over $170 million in revenue. For over a decade, Employment Solutions has distinguished itself through a unique, collaborative approach to professional staffing.
In this newly released case study, learn more about our work helping a local institution grow even faster.
At Bandalier, we have a healthy mix of both established professionals and local university students that are seeking to gain professional sales experience while they finish their education. We've found that each of our employees has an interesting story of how they initially got involved with Bandalier and how they evolve throughout their experience with us. We took some time to interview one of our part timers, Priyana Kale, to get some perspective on her experience with not only Bandalier, but how she's managed her school life as well.
"When I first started at Bandalier, I was struggling to continue on the marketing track I was on in business school. I was lost as to what I would like to study and what career path I would choose, as I was not enjoying any of my courses nor succeeding in them. Changing schools was a frightening prospect for me because I knew many students in the school who secured job opportunities upon graduation and, considering I'm interested in business, it made sense that I was enrolled in business school.
One day, mid-November, I decided to withdraw from the semester and wondered if Bandalier would be able to let me work, temporarily, for a few more hours. My team leader was not only accommodating of my request but he spoke with me about my academic situation.
I told him that I was considering giving an English major a chance, considering my favorite classes in elementary and high school were always related to the field, but I was worried about what I would be able to do with my diploma after graduation. He shared his experiences as an English major and reassured me that I can market the degree for various fields and that I am not limited in my career trajectory by what major I choose, but I am limited by my inability to enjoy my coursework.
Now, after a semester of English courses, I am excelling academically. I have also discovered my love for writing poetry and was recommended to apply for the English honors program. Without the support of my team leader, despite it not being Bandalier related, I wouldn't be where I am today academically. This experience has also showed me that when you work at Bandalier, you are valued far more than what you can numerically achieve as part of an outsourced inside sales team. Your fellow team members want you to succeed in all areas of life, which is a priceless workplace experience as a college student."
Later this month, we'll be debuting a project that's been in the works at Bandalier for months.
For the last two and half years, growing technology clients have been making use of our managed inside sales teams, which come with an entire sales operations department to help build targeted lists, a dedicated outsourced inside sales team that we build to perform outreach via phone, e-mail, and social media, and a client delivery infrastructure to help review and analyze results via our real-time dashboard. It's an awesome fit for companies looking to build an infrastructure for inside sales, and we've received some great feedback.
Our next service offering - which we're dubbing 'talent as a service' - is targeted to companies that have a sales strategy built out and need great talent to execute it. This service will allow companies to onboard and deploy vetted, trained remote U.S.-based inside sales and customer experience talent themselves; all within 24 hours. Bandalier clients will be able to access dozens of profiles of customer-facing candidates, schedule interviews, and onboard remote candidates directly onto their teams.
Some features of our 'talent as a service' candidates:
Our vision for Bandalier has always been to connect growing companies with customer-facing talent situated in small towns and cities throughout the country. Our new service line is an important step in reducing the friction involved with identifying, training, and onboarding that talent.
Participants in our talent as a service beta will have first access to talent on our platform. If you're interested, we want to talk to you! Schedule an intro call here.
We get asked this question a lot, and we were happy to see this pop up as a topic on a Modern Sales Pros thread recently. When SaaS companies consider whether or not to build an outsourced inside sales team, they want to know whether or not they'll get bang for their buck. It's easy enough to run an LTV:CAC ratio, and there's lots of great information available about the specific points at which sales development teams begin to become profitable (tl;dr: usually somewhere between $5 - 15K ASP, depending on who you ask). But often lost in the conversation are the nuances of company strategy.
Here's an excerpt of our response:
"What sometimes gets lost in this conversation is that company strategy matters a lot.
As an example, we've seen several clients build a traditional SDR program for deal sizes below $10,000. In some cases that may be because their investors are pushing them to prove out growth / demand for the product (even if unprofitable or just breakeven at first), in others it's because they feel they need to get folks onto the platform before they move upmarket, and there are still other cases where they plan to upsell with other products down the road. Similarly, what works and is profitable for a SaaS company with gross margins of 80% might not work for a services business with 40% gross margins.
Finally, the ROI on SDRs is extremely sensitive to highly variable numbers like decision maker reach rate, appointment scheduled rate, and conversion rate: all of which we've found vary tremendously (and much more than many folks initially realize) by industry.
When folks are looking to build out the case for an SDR model, our advice is usually to find some way to have one person on the team spend a couple of days acting as an SDR to get the basic math in place (that is to say, spend a couple of days cold calling). You won't necessarily have the math to calculate cost of acquisition, but you'll have some basic inputs (DM reach rate, demo scheduled rate) that shrink the margin of error around your assumptions. And because you'll probably get better over time, your estimates will likely be conservative."
We receive a lot of questions about outbound prospecting in the period of COVID-19. “Is it actually possible to sell anything in a period like this?”. Our answer - as is so often the case - is that it depends. As an example, here are our standard metrics for one program in the month. This analysis compares the period following stay-at-home orders being issued in most areas (March 13th onward) against the previous month.
On this program, we’ve found decision makers slightly harder to reach via phone in this period, but much more responsive to follow-up e-mails. It’s possible this is related to a dramatic increase in the number of people working from home. For this particular program, we’re targeting a lot of individual business owners running their own book of business, and while we’re not always able to connect with them at the right time or keep them on the phone, asynchronous communication seems to be working better during this period.
Here’s another program we’ve been working through COVID-19.
The overall impact of COVID-19 was much stronger on this campaign - but not in the way we’d anticipated. Here, we’re targeting decision makers located in manufacturing facilities. While at first we saw a dip in connect rates, over time office lines started to be routed to decision makers at home, where they were much easier to get a hold of - and to pitch. Potentially because the total of number of phone calls they’re handling has reduced, we’ve had an easier time getting in touch.
When we look at our global performance during COVID-19, we’re finding individual outliers - both positive and negative - driving a lot of the numbers. Seemingly minor changes to personas being targeted or channels used matter a lot. For one client, as an example, targeting decision makers in a slightly more junior position within the organization has had a measurable impact on results within a few weeks.
So long as there are decision makers to be targeted and organizations have needs, sales isn’t going anywhere. We’ll be encouraging our teams to lead with empathy and think outside the box to generate results for our clients.
For a brand new salesperson, hearing the words “call review” can be incredibly daunting; listening to your own recorded voice can be quite cringeworthy let alone having teammates listen. But, it’s important to realize that call reviews are essential to being successful in sales.
Two major benefits we see when our inside reps participate in calls reviews are that they get the opportunity to build morale within their team, and become comfortable with giving and receiving feedback. As a result, reps become more comfortable with one another, and tend to give more honest feedback. Call reviews provide an outlet for team bonding and open conversation, and Bandalier's unique model of outsourced inside sales enables us to support cross-client call reviews.
An uptick in confidence is another huge benefit of call reviews. When reps first get started in sales, making a call can be intimidating. We see across the board that the more call reviews a rep participates in, the more confidence they build. Getting accustomed to hearing their own voice, and receiving both positive and negative feedback can be a massive boost for their confidence, and enable them to outgrow those initial pre-call nerves.
This honest feedback provides transparency in its most raw form. Let’s say a sales rep makes a call that they thought was great, but didn’t land them what what they wanted, whether it be scheduling a meeting or just getting some information. They play it at a call review, and receive feedback from their team members that isn’t as positive as they thought it’d be. This may seem extremely disheartening, but it’s actually the exact opposite. Having someone else listen to their calls can give them insight that they never would’ve realized on their own, and vice versa. Emma, a part-time senior sales associate at Bandalier, said that “call reviews are important because they’re a good opportunity to see different perspectives on the same type of client. I learn a lot not only by receiving feedback on my calls but being able to listen to my peers!”
Lastly, call reviews supply reps with new and fresh ideas. After a while of making calls, one may get bored of the same intro, the same pitch etc., and it is obvious to whoever is on the other end of the phone if they seem unengaged. That’s where call reviews can really be useful. Listening to others’ calls can give reps ideas of new techniques or scripting changes to implement, and get them excited about trying it out. When whomever is on the other end of the phone line can hear that excitement and energy, it helps pique their interest.
Weekly call reviews have become a cornerstone of Bandalier’s kaizen culture. We’re such big believers in their value that in the last few months, we’ve begun asking clients to join, so that they can provide their perspective, too. Like any other true growth opportunity, call reviews may be a little uncomfortable at first, but provide massive dividends down the road to everyone who participates.
Grace Schelp - Inside Sales Associate at Bandalier
Persistence in Inside Sales: Number of outbound calls/emails it takes to move a prospect down the sales funnel
Grit is a key characteristic we select for at Bandalier. Our team members are used to getting many 'nos' before getting to a 'yes' - and having to reach out to prospects multiple times before getting any answer at all.
A recent internal study of tens of thousands of prospects in our system revealed the number of 'touches' an average prospect receives before committing to a sales appointment with a client. Our inside sales teams use a multi-channel approach to pique prospect interest, including outbound calls, e-mails, and social media touches (usually via Linkedin). For the purposes of this study, we looked at the average number of calls and e-mails a prospect that moved forward to the next stage in the sales funnel (usually an appointment with a client) received from a Bandalier sales rep.
As you can see, on average it takes Bandalier inside sales reps 4.9 calls and 2.0 emails (or 7 touches total) to successfully reach the prospect and get them to commit to the next steps. It's worth noting that this is just to get to the next step in our process. Closed deals require many more touches.
We use these data points, which vary substantially by client and industry, to help inform our multi-touch sequences and the number of prospects we add to each cadence - and to remind our team members never to give up.
James Boedicker - Client Delivery Associate at Bandalier