“You never get a second chance to make a first impression,” Will Rogers famously said. This statement rings very true for sales development representatives (SDRs) in any industry, as these are the individuals who are on the front lines, and making the first contact with prospective customers.
Here at Cloudinary, I head a team of eight SDRs, who are responsible for creating the first impression potential customers have of our company’s brand. In just the first 10 months of 2017, our team of outbound SDRs have been responsible for sending more than 67,000 personalized emails and making more than 15,000 calls.
We know that generally, for SDRs, the fail rate can be extremely high. In research released in August, The Bridge Group found that 26 percent of SDRs who take on an account executive (AE) role fail, and the shorter the SDR tenure, the higher the failure rate. The post-promotion failure rate for SDRs with 11 or fewer months experience was 55 percent.
Our goal is to ensure that our SDRs succeed, grow and are high-performing professionals who can effectively reach new customers and build interested, qualified leads for our sales team. The first step to that is providing them with the support they need to get quickly up-to-speed on our offerings, and contributing to the team.
Ramp-up time is at the forefront of the conversation about how to drive better results from SDR teams and reduce their personal fail rates. We have found that proper training, familiarity with the product and a robust set of tools plays a vital role in achieving this goal.
To that end, we employ several tools that we believe help our SDRs quickly get up to speed, understand key selling points and objections that prospects may have, and improve their ability to personalize outbound messages. Here are the top five we employ on a daily basis:
SalesLoft – This platform provides us with all the features we need to manage our sales process, and can be used by everyone within our organization – from SDRs to account executives. SalesLoft enables cadence scheduling; provides an email engine; integrates with Salesforce, Gmail and Outlook; and offers advanced analytics. With SalesLoft, we’ve been able to increase the amount of meetings we book each month by 20 percent and, through daily reminders, ensures we don’t forget to follow up with prospects. We also can record all SDR calls to provide additional coaching or share them with others as examples of effective calls. SalesLoft also supports email campaigns, enabling us to do A/B testing about messaging that resonates with our audience.
Gong.io – This tool records, transcribes and analyzes sales calls and demonstrations we do with our prospects. We have our new SDRs listen to these calls to they can hear how the product is described, learn more about the technical details and gain visibility into these interactions with potential customers. With Gong.io as a training tool, our SDRs are better equipped to answer questions, know how our product will address the needs a company may have and counter any objections they may have.
ZoomInfo – This powerful database offers detailed information on prospects, based on industry, location, company size, company revenue, job title, job function and other categories. It also provides access to direct dial phone numbers, email addresses and other means of reaching individuals, which enables our SDRs to reach the best possible contact within an organization.
LinkedIn Sales Navigator – This tool is another one that is valuable for targeting the right people and companies, and personalizing outreach. Our SDRs can look at the LinkedIn profiles to understand prospects’ backgrounds, experience, current job responsibilities and connections, so that they can tailor outreach to address potential pain points or opportunities of which the customer could take advantage. LinkedIn Sales Navigator also enables our SDRs to keep track of personnel changes at prospect organizations, and reach and engage with new individuals joining those companies.
Datanyze – This tool provides real-time insights based on a company’s technology choices, so it’s very valuable for use since we’re a more technically oriented company. With Datanyze, we can examine the websites of our prospective customers and learn more about the tools, including content delivery networks (CDNs) and content management systems (CMS), they’re using and integrations they’ve done. These insights enable our SDRs to talk specifically about how Cloudinary can work with, or enhance, their existing technology and make our solution more enticing to address their needs.
What you may notice about these tools we use is that they all map back to developing savvy SDRs who can leverage human connections and deliver personalized messages to prospects. These tools have dramatically improved the time it takes for our new SDRs to ramp up. Since implementing them, we’ve reduced the ramp-up time from three months to just two.
While these five tools may be the most effective ones, there are a number of others we use on a regular basis, including:
- Alexa – A suite of intuitive analytics products from Amazon that we use to determine how much traffic the site receives each month. For example, a low Alexa indicates potential high dollar customers
- Chili Piper – An intelligent calendar solution for teams that enables us to spend less time scheduling meetings with prospects. With it we can align calendars of our sales engineers, account executives andprospects, which helps us reduce the amount of time spent booking meetings by 50 percent
- Ambition – An employee productivity platform that helps us increase daily rep activity by 20 percent. With it, we can create games among the team, adding some healthy competitiveness. We have several TVs in the office displaying team goals and daily/monthly activities. There we recognize top performers across the sales floor, and constantly update leaders for the top meetings booked for the day or month
We also find that these tools also help our SDRs be more productive. While many organizations hire a large number for SDRs, knowing that there could be a high turnover, we believe giving our SDRs the tools and training from day one result in higher job satisfaction, and enable them to be more productive from the start.