I’ve decided to do things a little differently in this blog.
Here’s todays’ time again so you know when I started this and off we go.
I started on Saturday reading this book by Aaron Ross called ‘Predictable Sales Revenue’.
It discusses the journey of taking Salesforce to over $100 million in ARR through an outbound sales process.
It was written in 2013 and many people consider it to be something of a SaaS doctrine when it comes to growth.
It’s a 5 hour audiobook and I’m around 2 hours into it and it’s blown my mind.
So – what I thought I would do is basically Nick Aaron’s insights and meld them with some of my own to put together an ultimate guide.
So – let’s get into it:
Why not just inbound sales?
Well – I have 3 inbound sales reps working on our leads that come in through our two websites and here is the problem:
It’s just bloody inconsistent.
I can’t say or know exactly how many leads are going to come in on any given day.
It all depends upon (for us) – referrals, google rankings and the like, alongside seasonality
E.g as I write this it’s December 14th – but that doesn’t mean that business has stopped – it just means less people on Google are searching for SEO/Sales services.
This is not to mention the reality that you can’t control the quality of what comes in via Google.
It’s random and depends upon who is searching using Google, and often time (in fact most of the time) is spent from my best sales people establishing who the tyre kickers are.
This is no good for my business or their time.
Furthermore, you oftentime end up taking on projects that aren’t really an ideal fit for you.
Lord knows the amount of times we’ve been flexible/bent our approach because the money is right and so we’ve taken on jobs which we can do – but don’t really represent ideal clients in any way shape or form.
It’s been fun in that you do take on complex projects a lot of the time – but it also it an anathema to systematised growth
For all of these reasons – inbound sales is NOT the way to scale.
This is without a doubt the biggest mistake I’ve made over the last year in trying to grow the business – relying (or wishing to rely) upon inbound sales via Google.
So how does outbound sales work
Again, to be clear, outbound sales is NOT running ads on Google (although I have as of several days ago launched retargeting to try and grow the number of inbound leads).
This is again because you can’t determine who is coming to your website (unless you’ve directly sent them there).
However, with outbound sales – it’s a different kettle of fish.
You can determine the level of activity.
You can determine the accounts to go after.
You can determine the people to go after.
And with all of this in mind, you can also determine your company’s altitude based upon the types of companies you choose to hunt and to try and close.
A good simple example would be my buddy Ross.
He has a corporate client (let’s pretend it’s Pizza Hut) – and they are paying him £10,000 a month.
£10,000 a month!!!
I’ve never had a client paying that much, and the only way I can really find a client with that kind of budget (and to find another 4 after I’ve found the first one – is to go after them).
So when it comes to landing ‘big fish’….
The only way to do it is to have an outbound sales team.
Ironically – I learnt this from Udit Goenka. We were not even talking about my company Pearl Lemon – but rather discussing what is the best way to grow a SaaS company.
Udit recommended this book as it’s considered the ‘bible’ of growing a Saas platform and so here I am 2 hours into it – motivated to write about it.
Beginning the Outbound Journey
So I’ve decided as of October – that I would begin this outbound sales journey by hiring Jude McDaid to help me on this journey of growth.
He’s a great guy who is around 27, is from Northern Ireland, is based in London, has an event sales background and was looking for a new challenge.
We’re now a few months into our engagement and whilst nothing has come in, in the way of sales – I’ve realised so many things that I’m doing wrong.
Things that have come all as a consequence of reading some of this book.
The books that I’ve read to date have all focussed upon the individual’s sales skills which is fantastic.
In this space I feel like I’ve got a much much better handle of things.
2 hours into listening to this audible however – and I see that this is the space that many people lack.
In a way it’s a surprise that Grant Cardone, Zig Ziglar, Jim Pancero, Jordan Belfort (maybe they do and I’ve not seen it) – do NOT talk about how to systematically grow a sales organisation.
I’ve got Udit to thank for bringing into my life a book that’s causing me to totally relook at how I’m doing things.
As much as inbound is brilliant and it works well – outbound is the superior way to grow an organisation.
This is what 2021 will be dedicated to.
Don’t hire a ‘sales guy’
If you – like me – hired a sales guy – than well you’ve already got it wrong.
I’ve done this innumerable times now and realise how little I know about building an outbound sales team.
Let’s take some learnings from the book now (because everything above are my insights – now times for Aaron).
The challenge with hiring one sales person – is actually there are two buckets of activities that need doing that are totally different from one another.
The primary activity needed to grow something in its initial stages is outreach.
And the way to do this – is basically through cold email.
If you bring in a sales guy – you’ll need to understand we’re talking now about two distinct skill sets
Lead generation is basically the art of sending 50-100 emails per day.
That involves several steps:
Identifying the target audience (this should happen amongst the sales leaders within your organization), identifying how easily accessible relevant data is and then commencing data mining/collection.
You can scrape lists, buy lists from various sources or build manually. Then you need to clean the data up, verify the data and then build it into an automation.
This is not withstanding setting up the cold email(?) campaigns, loading in the copy, making the copy ready, building alternative versions, launching, monitoring, adjusting and the like.
There’s also the technical part of the process which entails domain setup, account creation, warming up an email account lest you just keep hitting spam.
Hiring a BDR (business development representative) is what is ideal for a role like this. This is someone dedicated to outbound prospecting to generate leads.
The core activity and metric this person should be measured by is sending out 100 emails per day and generating 5-15 responses per day from qualified prospects.
That’s it, and nothing else.
BDR’s pass leads onto an Inside Sales Manager – I even nicked an image I found here:
So as you can see here – it’s the sales team that demonstrates there are up to 5 people involved in the process.
And this is all in the management of one prospect/client!
Inside Sales Vs SDR/BDRs’
This distinction is important and definitely worth making.
An Inside Sales person works remotely and does demo’s over the phone according to a Google definition – but I think in this instance – and that’s how I interpret it also – is that inside sales are those leads who have gone through initial qualification and now are part of your pipeline.
The SDR (sales development representative) inbound who filters internal leads and determines who are qualified and who are not can also often be your commission driven sales rep (we’ll come to commission soon).
This same person (depending upon the volume of leads that come in) can be the same person.
At Pearl Lemon we have an SDR that is first machine driven via contact us forms, multiple steps required to book in – which generally leads to a higher quality of lead.
Then our actual SDR steps in who will sort those further still to kick them up to our inside sales rep who will then begin very well qualified discussions.
Business Development Representatives have a much harder time and role. They’re running all outbound activities.
Although on balance whether it’s harder is debatable because here’s the important misnomer to address:
You can cold call, but you don’t need to