Using this as an Opportunity to Rebuild the Team - John Barrows at SaaSGrowthLive
Hey everybody, what's going on, this is John Barrows with JB sales, and really excited to be here with SaaS growth live 2020. A lot of great presenters, here a lot of great topics, the topic that I want to chime into right now is with where we are with covid 19, and how I think this is a great opportunity for all of us to kind of reset and focus on what's important and also take the opportunity to kind of look at our sales process, our structure, and our approach and and retool it right. Because I think a lot of us do what we're supposed to do we kind of fill or we follow what a lot of other companies are doing for success, but that doesn't necessarily mean it's for our success. And by the way I'm the benefactor of a lot of this you know, I do sales training salesforce is one of my biggest customers, and salesforce you know a lot of companies come to me and they say hey we need training you train salesforce we want you to train our team as well, and so come on in and I sit back and ask them okay well what do you need training for what are you looking for well we know you train salesforce so we just want the same stuff, and after I peel back the layers they really don't need my training they actually need more foundational stuff as far as building out their structure or some consulting before the training can have an impact. And the same thing with for instance predictable revenue right that book that was you know now about 20 years old for crying out loud, isis the model that so many SaaS companies built their entire organization off which is the segmentation of roles right, which is you got the inbound SDRs, then you got the outbound people making cold calls, and then you get the AEs and they start you know very small business, smb mid market enterprise, and they go up from there.
And look that is great I've always said that's fantastic from an internal standpoint like to how to build your sales team right, because for us as organizations it helps us scale, we can bring in low-cost resources kind of beat them up a little bit see if they can make it through the gauntlet, get them out there pitch and stuff and then grow our own sales team right, our AEs, because it's really expensive to get you know mid-level mid to senior level AEs and bring them on board especially if they're not the right fit right. You have to wait six to twelve months and usually spend a lot of money, whereas an SDR kid coming out of school you can get a get them on the cheap right, and build it. And look and when I say reassessing where we are right now that model works really well for us but one is it doesn't exactly work well for the customer, it's not exactly a customer-centric approach right, because nobody wants to be handed off five times before they talk to somebody that actually knows what they're talking about. The other problem, the other issue is is it's not always the right fit for everybody right. So that SDR model is fantastic you know the ones let's just break it down into reps who make cold calls to set up meetings and then AEs who take those meetings and run from there. In a growth economy it really does work because it's a cost of sale, the SDR and the BDR group is a cost of sale they don't close they're not directly tied to closing business now we can all make the arguments that yes because of what they did that closes, but let's just call it what it is, it's a cost center okay, because they don't close business, but the added benefit of that in a growth economy is your bill, again you're building your own sales organization.
Now in a down economy what we're seeing right now is pretty concerning is that a lot of organizations are looking at it and saying what value am I getting out of this group right, because previously in a growth economy VPs of sales had a lot of autonomy. The CFO didn't really inspect their numbers or the conversion ratios as much as they are doing now. But in a down economy the CFO is looking at everything, and if the VP of sales hasn't really been looking at the metrics and truly understanding the true value, not only the hard value, but the soft and additional value that the SDR team is creating for the organization, they're having a hard time justifying why they should keep that team, and so what we're seeing unfortunately right now is a lot of companies make short term decisions and and fire their SDR teams and then asking their AEs now who haven't prospected in a long time to now prospect. Now hey you've got to find your own business at this point, and that's bad for everybody right because with that type of environment most people have gotten used to the leads coming in. Snd look I can argue all day long that AEs who have gotten lazy don't really deserve the the the leads and all that other stuff, and they should have to go out and fight for their own business, but we can't do that to a lot of a large portion of the population out there who have just been grown up in this approach.
So I think we as is going back to the theme of this presentation, I think it's important for us to re-look at the value and what and how we leverage SDRs, and what the teams look like how they interact together, what the sales process needs for from a customer standpoint not from our standpoint. And I think it's just a like I said a good opportunity to take a look at this right now. And and a couple of ways that we're looking at this and trying to shift things out, I always thought that the SDR/BDR model was on its way out as we know it today because technology was taking over a lot of the stuff that SDRs and BDRs were doing right, we got the sales cadence tools like the sales lofts and the outreaches and those type of things where a lot of reps are out there just taking marketing templates, putting them into those cadences and pressing and play. And they're no different than marketing right um they're no different than operations if you will if that's going to be the case. So with that I was watching that group start to get eroded because of technology, and I thought it was going to you know maybe the course of 10 years and if you think about the manufacturing industry, you know there was there was a time where a lot of people were on that that manufacturing line and they were punching widgets and they were like no I'm the best widget maker out there, no way a computer can do what I can do right. And then all of a sudden they can do, so we're teaching the machines right now to do our jobs and a lot of those administrative tasks and those automated things, they're going to get they're going to replace what sales reps are doing.
Now covid comes in and punches us all square in the mouth and you're seeing a lot of people struggle with this right because they haven't really been looking at sales as a profession, they have been just going through the motions. And so I think we need to reset and look at how can we structure things in a way that that really leverages the resources that we have and puts us in the best position to scale moving forward. So with with BDRs and SDRs, there's an opportunity there I’ve always thought they were going to move more under marketing and operations than they were to go through sales, but I think that is now a growth path that we should look at to have somebody come in from school who's freshly out of you know, freshly out of school pretty cheap resource, put them in kind of that AE role but is more focused on the tools and research and the insights and the analytics and driving this marketing operations engine that is going to feed account based marketing which is where everything's going especially for mid market and enterprise companies, and then go back to full cycle sales right. So there's now going to be, you know I'm seeing more and more of this of full cycle sales reps who are taking those leads from marketing and SDRs and BDRs and running full sales cycle, as opposed to going through qualified by an SDR, flip it over to an AE, qualify again basically uh then bring an SE in and qualify again there right. So this model creates this pod of the AE with an SE and account based marketing and a team to support that client engagement if you will.
And so as we transition to that some ways to look at getting more value out of your SDR and your BDR group for instance is is to kind of flip the approach, and I think we can get a ton of value out of them in a bunch of different ways. One is is that in the growth economy the top down approach usually makes a ton of sense right, you go after the c-suite you know VP or above, you tie into some corporate initiatives, you make a message that tells them how you can help them get there you have some conversations maybe down here but you're ultimately backed up there, and the executive makes a decision that they want because they have the vision of where they want to go right. And sometimes those executives can make what are considered unpopular decisions, in the sense that I can make a decision even though everybody else is not bought in, I as an executive kind of see where things are going I have a vision, I have insights that the rest of the organization doesn't so that's why I'm making this decision and ultimately it'll pan out right. But in a down economy that's not the way it works, people are not willing to make unpopular decisions and so right now the bottom-up approach is something that is is worth considering, and when I say bottom-up approach, I mean really understanding what the client's needs are right from the ground floor but from their people not ours. Because we do a ton of guessing in sales right, we hopefully it's educated guessing in the sense that we go on somebody's website we do a little bit of research right, we fire off an email says hey I saw this thing happen a lot of people call them triggers right we saw this trigger happen right you open up a new office, you launched a new product, and then we make a connection to that saying hey because that happens our solution actually supports that so here's a solution we'd love to talk to you. Same thing with personas right we have these battle cards of personas and Sally she's a CIO and she takes you know she likes innovation, and so we make some assumptions about what Sally's priorities are when we reach out to them. But again these are assumptions, I think we should stop guessing these days and start asking the people who really know. And that's two-fold and this is where the SDR team and the BDR team can come in handy.
One is to ask the people who are in that company who are on the ground floor right, about what their real issues are, and so what we're doing is we're we're relaxing a little bit of the SDR quota on getting you know tier one meetings with executive levels or above and saying yes we still need that obviously, but also we need you to go and start to do some groundwork here, gather some intel. Because the three benefits right now especially with where we are the three things everybody's looking for right, revenue obviously, then the second one is is meetings that are going to lead to revenue so meetings with people who can make decisions and that, but the third is insights, real insights into what's happening in the marketplace what's happening with their business and those type of things. And this is what the SDRs are trained for, and so we're you know very tactically i have one SDR and one BDR on my team so I have some flexibility, I don't have a you know a whole group of either but what's happening is James is the SDR and Morgan is the AE. James is actually pairing up, they're pairing up, and and one week at the beginning of the week they're working on what's the one account we really want to get into, what's that one tier one account. And what happens is during that week James goes out and calls 10 to 20 of or like connects with 10 to 20 of their individual users right, so in our case it would be sales reps and figures out some give get so we can get them on the phone and offer something of value, but also get some intel from them. So he's having these conversations and as he's doing this he's he's collecting data about what their challenges are, what their needs are, really from from their perspective and also doing research on their 10k annual reports and those type of things as well.
And then at the end of the week Morgan and James are collaborating and say okay what did we learn what do we learn are the real issues in this business from the people who said it, and then the following week, Morgan takes that information and goes after the executive suite and says hey we've been talking to 10, 15, 20 of your employees, and we've been hearing that their main challenges are x y and z, is that something you know and by the way we have a solution for that is something worth having a conversation. Well then what happens with that approach is the executive then turns back to the people that you know on the ground floor and says hey is this something you all really need is this something that that'll help make you you know do your jobs better whatever that is and the feedback is yes, now all of a sudden it's an easier decision for that executive to make right, so it's a more popular decision. And we could do this you know there's a huge trend right now in design thinking, where design thinking as it relates to sales, you know design thinking is usually product oriented; like Apple for instance, Apple just doesn't come with up with a product and then push it out to the market and say hey we're smarter than you, you should try this, Apple watch is the way we work right. And so and they build products around how we interact with stuff and that's why for instance the iPad is so intuitive, because as soon as you pick that thing up, you know exactly what to do with it.
And so if we apply design thinking to sales and really start understanding what the businesses needs are all about based on our experience with that product or with those people, we can have a much more compelling argument or conversation with the executives that will resonate right. So that's one way that we can shift a little bit about what the SDR does on a day-to-day basis to gain us insights. The other is just product knowledge in general, I mean I'm you know i'm the CEO of my own little company here, I mean we're only seven people, but I got to imagine you know if I was a CEO of a larger organization, I want to know what's happening on the floor right like how are people using my product what's the feedback on it, especially now right because we need to reset a lot of stuff based on what happened over the past six months here. We got to reset what our offering is all about where it at where it adds value now and where it doesn’t, what our messaging should look like, and all that stuff. And guess what - we have an organization right now that can do that type of intel they are taught to reach out to people and gather insights, so if I'm an executive, I’m unleashing my SDR team not only on prospects, but I'm also unleashing them on existing accounts right. To do surveys and gain insights about how they're using it and what they like and what they don't like and what message would resonate and those type of things right so there's another area that we can leverage this resource that we have in front of us. And then the third area that I think that we should be focusing on kind of makes that transition which is listening to our customers right. Again there's a group of people we again we guess on what the good messaging is going to be, we guess on what we think is going to make an impact. Let's start talking to our customers about that right and doing it in a very sales and customer success oriented way where you know depending on how many personas you go after right we go after VPs of sales, CROs and VP's of enablement; and what we're doing is we're getting people to we're getting our existing customers like three or four VPs of sales for instance we're getting them on a zoom call like this, and I as the as the sales leader if you will here at JB sales, I’m asking them questions about how's your decision-making process changed, you know what are your new priorities these days, what's been going on inside the organization that we're not privy to right. All this intel and then letting my team actually ask them questions as well and oh by the way we're coming up with some messaging here for your persona in your industry would this resonate? Are these good questions to ask somebody like you those type of things right. So now we have a bunch of different ways outside of just getting qualified meetings to turn to revenue, we have a bunch of different ways that we can gain insights into what's happening in our business with our customers and with our prospects that we can and should then use to translate to our new messaging, our offering and how we adjust it, and attracting and having really good conversations or value-oriented conversations with our customers.
And so that's really the main part of I wanted to share with you today which is just use this as an opportunity to kind of refocus on what's important right now which in my opinion is quality over quantity all day long. But also maybe restructure your team slightly to focus on the new world that we're all living in at this point and doing some things that that help our teams put our teams in a position to be successful but also get results from them in a different way. So hopefully that helped I hope you enjoy the rest of the conversations over at SaaS growth live 2020. I know you're in for a great treat with a bunch of the other presenters out there that I know really really well and hopefully you got some insights out of this one if you do have any questions at all about something that I can help with, please reach out to me at email@example.com, and also we have our new on-demand platform that has all of our stuff in video format, so programs like filling the funnel driving a close and all the same training that we give to companies like salesforce, linkedin box, dropbox, slack, and google, it's all on that platform so it's on demand.jbarrows.com all right so thank you so much, have a great day everybody, make it happen.