Episode #5: "The Hottest Job in Sales Right Now," with Trish Bertuzzi

Hosts: Tim Clarke & Kevin Micalizzi

Buyers are more connected — with information and with their teams — than ever before. It seems like there's always another question to answer, or person to please, before a deal is done. So sellers are more busy than ever, with far less time to enter the role of sales development. Join the conversation with Trish Bertuzzi, President and Chief Strategist at The Bridge Group and author of The Sales Development Playbook, as she discusses the hottest job in sales right now.

Read the article that inspired the conversation: “The Hottest Job in Sales Right Now

Tim Clarke: Thank you for joining the "Quotable Podcast." Today we're joined by a very special guest, Trish Bertuzzi. Trish is the President and Chief Strategist at the Bridge Group, and author of a great book "The Sales Development Playbook." Now today we're talking about something that's really important, the hottest job in sales right now. Welcome, Trish.

Trish Bertuzzi: Thank you. Glad to be here.

Tim: I'm Tim Clarke, product marketing director at Salesforce. I'm joined today by our guest host Kevin Micalizzi, product marketing senior manager here at Salesforce, and executive producer of the Quotable Podcast program.

Kevin: Thanks Tim.

Tim: Trish For people that may not be familiar with yourself, or the work that the Bridge Group do, maybe you could just give a bit more of an introduction as to where you specialize.

Trish: The Bridge Group is a firm I founded in 1998. We are focused primarily, though not exclusively, on the B2B technology space. What we help companies do is truly unleash the power of inside sales. Whether that's for pipeline generation or for revenue.

Tim: Thank you. You wrote a great piece on Quotable. You actually have a couple of pieces. But that one that we're really going to focus on today is "The Hottest Job in Sales Right Now."

Towards the beginning of it, you talk about these two major waves colliding. Could you bring into life a little bit and just explain to some of our listeners what you're seeing out there in the market.

Trish: Yeah, absolutely. The first wave we're seeing is this massive growth in the number of ideas, options and solutions that are available to your prospects. Literally, our prospects and buyers are under siege.

They're drowning in a sea of "Could do." On the whole inbound marketing strategy, the content marketing strategy. The notion that every single seller is now a thought leader is just inundating buyers with too much information.

In response, they've started to develop a bias for the status quo. It just seems safer to stick with the way things are. To be successful today, it really requires cutting through the spam candidate of emails and content, and rising above the white noise of half-hearted prospecting.

The companies that win are those that are willing to reach out, stand out, point out flaws in that status quo thinking because your prospects need to know that your only concern is how you can help them build a better business. Selling isn't interruption or trickery. It is, at its heart, about service. That's the first wave.

The second wave plays into the concerns that people are starting to have about the number in diversity of the people that are now involved in the purchasing decision. There's no longer a single buyer. Now it's more of a buying unit. It's quickly morphing into a buying battalion depending on how strategic your solution might be.

It's getting more and more difficult to say, "Who's the decision maker, who's an influencer, and who's a user," because all sales processes are now requiring dozens of yeses and can be in jeopardy when they run into the face of just one no.

Those two waves colliding has created a situation where our sellers are so busy talking to those buying battalions and educating their buyers on why they should move off the status quo, that they really don't have time to prospect anymore and turn the role of sales development.

Tim: Trish, how is sales development solving for this problem?

Trish: It's all about focus. We know that our sellers are crazy busy. They are dealing with the new reality. We know that our buyers are crazy busy. Having a dedicated role that's super laser focused on the top of the funnel and is built for doing nothing but generating new pipeline, that just makes sense.

Those who focus or those who win, and to get that focused on that one activity, it's just a great way to ensure that you make your revenue goals. There's a saying, "A big pipeline cures all ills." That's true. The more pipeline, the less you have to worry about making your numbers. Those who focus are those who win. Sales development, it's super focused.

Tim: Trish, when you talk about that focus, and then in the article you talk about aligning the entire organization towards more pipeline, more revenue, more new customers, do you have any tips for any of the listeners. Where would they start in terms of re-aligning or using sales development to align the organization?

Trish: That's a great question, Tim. Where you start is by targeting your market. Every buyer and every potential account that you want to do business with doesn't necessarily have the same value. You have to figure out, "If I'm going to invest in sales development, I'm going to invest in this resource. I need to point them at the target. What does our market look like? What are our high-probability accounts? What are our less-probable accounts?

You just start to really take that bulls-eye and narrow it in and you point sales development at the middle of the bulls-eye. You can't just spray-and-pray. It's not about smiling and dialing. It's not about buying lists and pounding the phones. All of those things are in the past.

Now it's about taking a really focused approach to how you're going to go engage with your buyers. That all starts with buyer segmentation or customer segmentation. Focus on your ideal customer profile.

Kevin: Trish, I know some folks most likely confuse this with what we'd call outbound call centers or telemarketers. I know the focus is entirely different. What would you say are some of the things our sales managers listening in need to be doing to really shift that focus and make sure they're going after the right targets?

Trish: The function itself, in some way, shape, or form has been around for over 30 years. It used to be telemarketing. It used to fall under inside sales. It falls under a lot of different labels from a terminology perspective, but what I think is different now is that sales leaders understand that getting to engagement is the hardest part of the sales process.

I actually think that is absolutely true. I feel like anybody can close a deal once it's qualified and your buyer's engaged. You just have to ask all the hard questions, but rising above that white noise and actually engaging with people -- the right people at the right time and the right accounts -- that's really hard to do.

Sales development is no longer about just calling people up and pushing them towards a demo or pushing them towards a meeting. It's actually the first step in the engagement process. You know how important a first date is to a long-term relationship? Think about sales development as the first date that you're having with your buyer.

That's how important it is. You get that one chance to make that impression and get that person to like you and want to learn more about you. That's the best analogy I can think of for sales development.

Tim: Clearly we have a whole variety of different organizations that listen to these podcasts and you're working for Salesforce -- many people are probably familiar with how we run our inside sales teams and sales development. There's another great post on Quotable on that.

But perhaps really startups or smaller businesses who have limited resources and they're looking at where they allocate their resources -- do you have any tips for them on the best ways of allocating their resources to ensure that they're still doing the right prospecting and building the pipeline?

Trish: Anyone who has to think about allocating resources because they're resource-constrained has to get more focused than the rest of the world, who's sort of evolved past that. If I was a startup CEO right now, where I would be spending my resources would be in really trying to figure out...theoretically I think I'm selling to companies in the manufacturing vertical with 20 different product lines and revenues over $50 million.

That's my hypothesis. I'm a startup. I haven't vetted that yet. What I would use sales development for is to test that. Let me go engage with that market and see if my message resonates with them. While I'm engaging with them I would be testing different messages.

I would testing different buyer types within each organization to see, "Where am I selling in this organization? Am I selling to the plant manager? Am I selling to the CFO? Am I selling to the vice president of sales?"

There is so much a startup has to learn about where to focus their resources that I think at the beginning, sales development can be used for that research, can be used for that AB testing to collect all that great information that only happens when you have a lot of conversations with a lot of different potential buyers.

Kevin: Trish, in talking about shifting the focus, I think we're really looking at it in terms of a total change in thinking of the modern B2B buying process. I know you talk about this in your sales development playbook. What I absolutely...five step framework for shifting that thinking you call it the 5 Whys. Would you mind sharing that with our listeners?

Trish: Sure, I'd be happy to. When you think about the modern buying process, the first thing you have to embrace is that it's not about us as the sellers, it's all about them as the buyers. Although we all say that we understand that, we all talk about the buyers' journey, in actuality most of our sales processes is about us trying to get someone to do something we want them to do.

When I wanted to share with the readers, "How do you think about that buyers' journey in a really simplistic way," we created a framework based off of AIDA which has been around forever, Attention Interest Desire Action. It was used to talk about advertising.

We took a spin on that and we said, "OK. We're gonna talk about the buyers' journey as the 5 Whys. Why listen, Why care, Why change, Why you, and Why now." That's what the buyers really are thinking about, "Why should I listen to you, why should I care about you, why should I change the status quo, why should I pick you now that you have convinced me to change it, and why should I do it now?"

Simplistically, when you think about sales development or your entire sales process, you can say, "OK, there's a "before" and then the "after" for the prospect." In why listen before your prospect was crazy busy but if you did your job, now you've got them curious. Your sales stage might be you get to take an introductory meeting.

After that, to get them to say why care, "OK, now they're curious, they've had the meeting, now they're really interested, let's get them to a discovery call." Then, it goes through the entire process with sales development mostly focused on why listen, why care and your sales team focused on the change, the you, the now. It's a framework to think about how your buyers think and what resources and techniques you have to apply against each of the 5 Whys.

Tim: Trish, some of the conversations I've seen on LinkedIn, and you've commented on some of these as well, is this recurring thing people say cold calling is dead. We've also seen Joe Rowley online and offline and clearly, I think, there's a massive role for sales development to try to use all the different mediums that are available to them, not just the phone but also email, also social. We'd just love to get your thoughts on this as well.

Trish: I think you have to communicate with your buyers in a way that's comfortable for them, and their comfort level is something you have to play with. When we work with clients or even when we talk to people about tactics in the book, it's all about phone, web, and social. You have a lot of different ways to communicate with people and if you take a blended approach, you're going to figure out which way people respond to you.

It's not necessarily respond to you based on a buyer type, it's more respond to you on a personal level like, "I am a phone person. I like when people call me to talk to me, I don't wanna be pen pals with anyone. Don't keep sending me emails that aren't interesting and have no value and then, three days later I get the bump, which is another email demanding to know why I didn't respond to the original email, and then three days after that, I get another bump..."

It's like you have to figure out what works for the individuals that you're trying to engage with, and the only way you can do that is if you mix up your cadence and mix up your media. That's what we ask people to do to be successful.


Kevin: You said for many companies, the sales development reps are the first line of human contact with prospects. When hiring someone into the sales development team, what type of individual should we be looking for and what do you see as the career path for that kind of role?

Trish: First of all, let me just set expectations and say it is the hardest role to hire for right now of any other in sales, because demand far outstrips supply. We just published our 2016 SDR metrics and compensation report and hiring experience has plummeted, plummeted. We are hiring people first job of out college for this role right now.

You have to be prepared for that. You have to be prepared to deliver to this person who's going to be your buyer's first communication with your business. You'd better be ready to tell them what to say, why to say it, what impact it has on your buyer.

They'd better know your buyers' challenges, how they're addressing them. You need to have these people be fully immersed in your buyers' world and how you help them build a better business before you put them on the phone, because you don't want them a-stumbling and a-bumbling to make that first day impression, something that says to the buyer, "Not interested, no value here for me."


Tim: Go on. Sorry, Kevin. Go Trish.

Trish: Kevin, I just want to make sure I did in fact answer your question.

Kevin: You did, you did. Thank you.

Trish: I'd like to give everyone a little tip when they're interviewing though. I call it the 40-second interview. When you're going to interview someone for an SDR role, the first interview, obviously, takes place on the phone because it's a phone-based role.

The first two questions I want you to ask them is "What do you know about me and what do you know about my business?" If they don't answer both of those questions flawlessly, interview over in 40 seconds, because if they didn't prep for this incredibly important communication with you, their potential boss, they're not going to prep when they go to talk to your buyers.

It's the 40 second interview, it will save you pain, effort, and agony in the long run. I highly recommend it.

Tim: Thank you. I know, Trish, you...some of the...carried out and you talked about metrics there, so maybe you could just expand a little bit there if organizations are either ramping up their sales development function or perhaps already have a well-established function, what are some of the key metrics that you think they should really be using to track their success?

Kevin: Actually, I'm going to interrupt for a second. Tim, can you repeat the question? You pixelated a little bit in the middle of it, you digitized a little.

Tim: Sure. Is that better now?

Kevin: It seems to be.

Tim: [laughs] Trish, you've mentioned that The Bridge Group has recently conducted another survey where you focused on sales development and pulled out some great metrics and statistics. For organizations that are either building their sales development function or already have a well-established sales development function, what are some of the key metrics you'd recommend that they really track in order to ensure the success of that function?

Trish: It used to be that everybody tracked activity, in the olden days, which was probably like two years ago. Right? It would be everyone tracking activity, how many phone calls did I make, or did my team make, how many emails did they send. Just totally tactical metrics.

Those have fallen by the wayside, thank goodness. What we've found instead is that companies that get it are now tracking conversion rates.

They're tracking how many touches do we need to make to our buyer or potential buyer before they engage in a meaningful conversation with us. It really doesn't matter what those touches are, phone, web, social media, it really doesn't matter. But how many times do I have to outreach to someone before they engage.

In the research we just published, which is free, by the way, says that new number is now 9 to 12. That includes everything from voice mail, email, dropping a view on LinkedIn, engaging on social if the buyer is there. 9 to 12 is the new norm.

That all goes back to what we talked about before, and that we're inundating these people with information and content and just too much information. To rise above that noise, you have to reach out to them more often than we've ever had to do in the past.

Kevin: Trish, I know it never happens, but if we happen to have sales leaders on the call here, actually, let me start that one again.

Trish, I know it never happens, but if we happen to have sales leaders listening in who are in organizations that resist change, what do you recommend they do now to position their sales organizations to win?

Trish: First of all, if you're a sales leader that resists change, why are you in sales? Maybe go get a job, go get a different role. I mean, come on, sales is all about change. It's changing at the speed of light.

Let me see if I can reframe the question a different way. If I was talking to a sales leader who gets that they need to change, but maybe their senior management team is resistant to it, what I would say is, this is a sure fire way to engage with more buyers, to have more conversations and to make that top of the funnel more robust.

I said it before and I'll say it again. Pipeline cures all ills. There's not a sales leader on the face of the planet who doesn't embrace that as a known fact.

Is it an investment to start a sales development team? Absolutely. You're going to invest time, effort, money, resources, but will it pay off for you in the long run? My answer is probably yes, but you'll never know unless you try, so why not try.

Tim: Trish, we're nearly coming up on time here. We'd love if you could just kind of summarize some of these key points that you want to leave with some of our listeners. Also, if you could let them know where they could download the reset report that you referenced.

Trish: The key points are, sales development isn't about loading lists and pounding the phones anymore. It's a strategic approach to engaging with your target market in a way that is more meaningful to them and will reap more benefits to you.

The strategy you select to do so can be varied, but it's all about picking the right one that makes sense for your market, and then going and executing flawlessly. Like everything else, it's all in the execution, so execute flawlessly.

Lots of detail in the book, "The Sales Development Playbook," available on Amazon. We publish a ton of research on not only sales development, but inside sales and inside sales for SaaS on our website, www.bridgegroupinc.com.

On the Resources page, there's a ton of research. We offer it to you as a way to improve the effectiveness of the community and I hope you enjoy it and find it helpful.

Tim: Thank you very much, Trish, for joining us today. I'm sure that many people listening to this will get value and obviously, reading your article as well. Yeah, thank you very much, Trish.

Trish: My pleasure.

Kevin: Actually, Tim, can you repeat that one last time? There was this weird little ping halfway through what you said.

Tim: Oh, strange. Sure.

Thank you very much, Trish, for joining us today and sharing some of your great insights. Thanks, Kevin, for co-hosting. I look forward to speaking to you both again soon.

Trish: Thank you.

Kevin: Thanks, Trish. Thanks, Tim.

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