We recently caught up with the CEO of The Bridge Group and author of The Sales Development Playbook Trish Bertuzzi. During our conversation, Trish shared her thoughts around building a successful sales development team, meaningful sales metrics, 2017 sales trends and much more.
Q: Your book, the Sales Development Playbook, is all about building a successful sales development team and strategy. What do you think is the biggest misconception when it comes to sales development today?
A: That it’s easy. It has never, in the history of sales, been harder to get to engagement or arouse curiosity with our buyers than it is right now. Mainly because we have inundated them with white noise. All they get is horrible voicemails, template emails, content that is crap – we have buried them and they’re done with it. That’s why sales development has become such a critical function, because you need someone who’s focused on doing nothing but getting to engagement with your potential buyers.
Q: What is your advice for finding and identifying great sales development reps?
A: There’s a whole section in the book about hiring, recruiting and retaining. You have to be the prettiest girl at the dance now days to hire the best people. It’s not just all about the money anymore. You have to have as well a thought-through process for recruiting and hiring as you do for your sales and marketing efforts. It’s not just slap dash anymore. It’s not just, let’s put it on a job board and go through resumes and we get what we get. You really need to think through your strategy because that candidate that you’re talking to is probably talking to 3 or 4 other companies as well. So some of the things that we talk about in the book are how to use Glassdoor, how to build an Instagram strategy, how to use your team’s LinkedIn networks effectively, etc. You really have to be creative, and that’s really the only way you’re going to get the best players these days.
Q: There are so many solutions on the market that claim to increase rep productivity. Reps can sometimes wind up being forced to use too many tools, which actually hinders their performance rather than helping it. What’s your advice for evaluating all of these solutions and choosing the ones that will make the most impact on your organization?
A: It’s funny because reps aren’t clamoring for automation – their managers are getting sold automation. There is a difference. Before you do anything else, make sure you have a process that is amazing, repeatable and scalable. Once your process is amazing, and your message is amazing, you want to make sure it’s fully supported in your CRM. That’s your first automation tool. When I hear about people buying all these bells and whistles and complaining that their CRM is a nightmare to use, it’s like, what are you doing? Fix your CRM before you do anything else!
So once you understand what your team’s impediments to productivity are, then you can look at automation to fix those impediments. Everybody’s buying software to see who’s opening their emails. Woohoo – what difference does it make? Does it change your behavior? No, it’s a nice to have, not a need to have. There are bigger things that make your teams more productive. I’ll tell you one that’s not sexy: great data. Before I bought any tool other than a CRM, I would spend money on data. Great data is the number one productivity tool on the face of the planet. Number two? A dialer. If you’re not using a dialer, what are you doing? If your people are still touching phones, what are you even thinking about? And then all the rest of it just follows.
Q: Account based selling seems to be the hot topic of the year. What are your thoughts on this trend and how can sales teams effectively put it into practice?
A: I actually call it Account Based Revenue. Everybody’s talking about account based marketing, account based sales development, account based everything. It’s not everything, it’s one thing, and the one thing is revenue. Where people are going awry is they’re confusing account centric selling with account based selling. What they’re doing is going, “Okay, I’m going to move to account based. I’m going to put a box around this set of accounts and then I’m going to execute my old demand gen strategies against it.” Or, “I’m going to have my SDRs call multiple people in the account.”
Well, no shit Sherlock, you should have been doing that since the 80s! That’s just good outbound, that’s not an account based strategy. I think people are confused. Account based selling is something totally different. It’s sales and marketing alignment like we’ve never seen it before. It is well-thought out strategies that tell a different story, a bigger story, at the account level and diffuse different strategies to get to engagement.
Q: Account based selling aside, what are some other trends you foresee taking hold and potentially having a major impact on sales development in 2017?
A: I think we just have to continue to get smarter and stop boring our buyers. I get emails every day like, “Hey, I sent you an email yesterday and you didn’t respond, so here it is again.” I’m like, really? Now I hate you twice. Or, “Who in your organization should I talk to about your strategy?” You just emailed the CEO – who do you think?
So I just think we need to continue to get smarter, and more personalized. Maybe take a breath and think things through.
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