Many companies have values that consist of important but fairly generic buzzwords: 'ethics', 'integrity', and 'teamwork' are some of the common suspects. To be clear, there’s nothing wrong with these - they just don’t do much to differentiate a company from any one of the myriad of other corporate entities that (purport to) care about the same things.
When the team sat down to determine the values that would define the way we approach work at Bandalier, we were determined to find a set of values for which we were willing to sacrifice. We settled on one core principle: kaizen.
Kaizen, a Japanese word meaning “continuous improvement”, is a principle that originates in manufacturing. Continuous improvement was introduced in World War II when U.S. factories, newly repurposed for wartime, needed to find creative ways to improve efficiency. Instead of wholesale changes that would take a lot of time and capital to implement, they looked for small tweaks that could help eliminate waste.
Assembly line employees, used to focusing exclusively on execution, were now encouraged to ‘stop the line’ if they had a suggestion that could improve the efficiency of the overall process. The new principle proved so successful that American business advisors introduced it to newly reborn Japanese auto factories after the war, where it was christened “kaizen.”
Like traditional manufacturing organizations, many outsourcing companies have been focused for decades almost exclusively either on execution or top-down innovation. Call centers, for instance, are notorious for emphasizing “total dials” or “talk time” at the expense of employee-driven innovation that can help improve efficiency.
By contrast, at Bandalier, we’ve placed our Kaizen value system at the core of everything we do, from recruiting new employees to executing outbound campaigns. Our interviews are designed to select for “innovators”, or folks who think critically about processes they are executing and methods of improving their team's performance. And once our team members are onboarded, they are asked to come to biweekly team meetings with a “kaizen”, or a suggestion for a process improvement that can save the company time or money. Successful kaizens thus far have included a new process for scripting calls as well as a new framework for setting company goals.
We believe “the new American workplace” will prioritize long-term efficiency over short-term output. For more on kaizen in practice, check out this clip from Top Gear. We’d love to hear your thoughts!
Wow, what a great event! We are honored to have had such a great turn out to our First Friday event on June 1st. The event featured some of Binghamton’s top artists, who set up shop at our HQ in the Koffman Southern Tier Incubator. Biggest thanks to our team. Check out the video and pictures below and stay tuned for our next event!
On April 6th, the Bandalier team took to the beautiful streets of downtown Binghamton to enjoy "Big Art." The team got to experience some of the city’s best talent; exhibits included fine art, American Indian arts, student work, music, fine dining and even architectural tours. The First Friday Art Walk is sponsored by The Gorgeous Washington Street Association and has been around since 2004 to highlight the area’s blossoming art community.
Bandalier will be participating in the June 1st First Friday Art Walk from 6-9PM. We will be hosting a variety of local artists who will be showcasing their talents at the Bandalier headquarters. The exhibit will feature work from Patti Loves Bing, Emily Jabalon, Alla Boldina, David Diabolik and many other local artists.
If you are located in the Binghamton area and would like to participate in the event please email, email@example.com
Meet the head of Bandalier’s Binghamton office
Originally from Connecticut, Matt moved to Binghamton, NY at the age of 5. He joins us from Modern Marketing Concepts, where he started as an inside sales representative and grew into a Sales Director position overseeing a sales floor of 20 sales managers and over 200 sales representatives. In Matt’s last role as Director of Multichannel Execution, he managed a team of designers, copywriters and creatives along with the sales floor. He was responsible for all sales and marketing channels, including launching new initiatives with video, digital, email and inbound lead generation. Last November, Matt joined Bandalier to lead its Binghamton office.
Tell us about a day in your life.
“The primary things I’m doing right now involve recruiting which takes a huge chunk of time working through resumes, phone screenings and in person interviews. I’ve been working with new hires to take them through the sales training process as well as ensuring that client deliverables are met. Finally, I am also doing some direct work for our clients.”
Why did you get into sales?
“I was introduced to sales as a member of the customer service team at Jim’s Formal Wear. We would make outbound sales calls to sell packages to independently owned bridal shops and compete with David’s Bridal. There were 10 different centers in the company; I loved the work and especially loved doing sales. When a position opened up at the company for territory representative, I applied.”
What is the best selling experience you have had?
“One of my favorite experiences was working with Jim’s Formal Wear on a campaign with these marketing and online presence packages because I convinced an entire company to sign up for these accounts. Another great experience was only a couple years ago at my previous employer where I convinced a client to incorporate personalized videos into their e-mail campaigns. I showed the manager a cheap version and he ended up loving the concept and incorporating it into their outreach."
What is something that you taught yourself recently?
“I don’t know if this what I taught myself or what I have learned but Bandalier’s process for personalizing emails is a really interesting way to bolster response rates. I haven’t used this technique before. This process of combining a pre-set template with a personalization has been very interesting to learn.”
Describe a time that someone successfully sold something to you.
“I was an iPhone guy and a representative at the Verizon store recently sold me on an Android. He really sold me on it just by being so honest and excited. He couldn’t even articulate why he loved it. He kept saying ‘It’s just an amazing phone’ and ‘I can’t even pick one thing’. He was just so excited because he was so proud to be an owner of the phone.”
What is your favorite way to grab someone on a call?
“I would say using a referral statement. Just grabbing someone's name at the company is one of my sneaky ways to get their attention. Complementary statements go a long way as well. It makes it sound like we have reached out to them for a specific reason.”
What has been your favorite thing to sell?
“Bandalier itself. The fact that we are helping grow startups using knowledge that they wouldn’t normally have access to makes it really easy to sell. These startups are really good at a specific thing but they don’t have the knowledge or expertise on how to grow their sales and that is where Bandalier comes in. We’re helping those startups that have the perfect product at the perfect time.”
What motivates you?
“A sense of accomplishment. When I work on things, even on my own time, it is so motivating to feel a sense of accomplishment.”
What is the quote you live by?
“We had a lunch recently with some clients and we talked about whether we were the kinds of people that loved to win or hated to lose. This quote came across my LinkedIn feed and I felt it was super relevant. ‘My goal is not to be better than anyone else, but to be better than I used to be’ - Wayne Dyer"
What makes you excited about Bandalier?
“I think the opportunity to build a company from the ground up. I’ve always liked growing people in professional development, to be able to give some of our employees traits from sales training that help them in their everyday life, even if they don’t end up staying with the company.”
Looking forward 5 years from now, where do you see yourself?
“Hopefully, running Bandalier as a huge organization, with functions that extend beyond just customer service and sales. I would love to have an office in another college town using talented employees to get work done for tech companies."
There’s a scene in Moneyball that we refer to when we’re interviewing candidates for our sales roles.
Billy Beane, the data-driven General Manager of the Oakland Athletics baseball team, is sitting at a table surrounded by lots of old-school baseball scouts. The scouts are talking about players applying the same heuristics they’d been using for years.
“He’s an athlete - big, fast, talented.”
“A lot of pop coming off the bat.”
Billy’s exasperation in this scene matches ours with the all-too-typical sales hiring process. Despite the opportunity to collect vast amounts of data on performance, leading sales organizations still rely on old-school heuristics to hire their teams.
“He’s got a great voice.”
“Went to a terrific school.”
At Bandalier, we’re taking a new approach. Similar to baseball, the volume of performance metrics available in sales is almost infinite. We want to isolate the attitudes and aptitudes that wind up being predictive of a successful career in sales roles. Our experience thus far has been that while some of these traits are obvious, others are much harder to glean and require very methodical questioning. Over time, we are collecting the data to support or discount hypotheses - about behaviors indicative of natural grit, the value of past experience, and how best to assess responsiveness to feedback, among other traits - and adjusting our approach as we learn.
Our belief is that by utilizing an analytical hiring approach, we can unlock talent in places many customer-facing organizations would never think to hire and with people they wouldn’t otherwise have had access to. And in doing so, we’ll build a new American workplace that is characterized by more meritocratic and thoughtful hiring.
For more on analytical hiring in sales, check out Mark Roberge's Sales Acceleration Formula.
Entrepreneurship requires a healthy dose of optimism, but the national mood is grim. A vibrant start-up scene exists on the coasts, but hasn’t done enough to uplift the rest of the country.
Fueled by the hunch that our country’s talent is currently underutilized, our mission is to build a new American workplace. Technology and big data are often viewed as job-killers. We want to use them to enable remote work, more meritocratic hiring, better training, and stronger feedback loops for employees.
We have started with customer service and sales. It is incredibly difficult to recruit, train and develop customer-facing talent. As a result, leading organizations in major tech hubs see annual churn rates of up to 30% in these roles. We hire selectively for motivated, gifted communicators, and weaponize them with the training they’ll need to build lucrative, fulfilling careers in tech. By working with Bandalier, clients gain access to carefully selected and highly-trained customer experience or sales development representatives (their “farm system”, as we’re calling it).
Bandalier’s first talent center is in Binghamton, New York. Long ago, the area around Binghamton was a manufacturing hub and the home of multi-national firms like IBM. Folks called it “the Valley of Opportunity”. But in recent decades the area has fallen victim to the forces of globalization, and in the process Binghamton lost its economic lifeblood and nearly half of its peak population. We’ve set out to reverse the tide.
We are only a few months old, and we’re just getting started. As we embark on our journey, we’ll share some thoughts here.