Sales Strategy: How Tinderbox’s BDR Program is Generating 60 New Customers a Month

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Adam Becker details sales strategies for new customer acquisition

Is your sales organization bringing in a steady stream of new customers? In this episode, I interview Adam Becker from Tinderbox. Adam is the Director of Sales for Tinderbox and his role is making sure that the sales and lead generation teams are productive.

Tinderbox is a SaaS company focused on the sales productivity space. Specifically, they work with the documents sales teams are using on a day-to-day basis. This interview describes how Tinderbox uses a sales driven organization to add 50-60 new deals per month with the average deal size of $12-15K annually.

Tinderbox has a somewhat unique issue in that their customers don’t even know they have a problem until they get an education. Want to know the exact process they are going through to get their prospects attention?

You’ll not only learn that, but also learn in painstaking detail:

  • How they are finding people for their team
  • How they are training their team
  • How they are providing lists to their sales team
  • How they are compensating them
  • How the call structure works
  • How many touches it takes to get a prospect to be interested

If you are looking for insight into how to build a BDR program this interview is going to give you a ton of it.

Listen now and you’ll hear Adam  and I talk about:

  • (01:00)  Introductions
  • (05:10)  What is a use case for Tinderbox?
  • (11:30)  How many customers do you get each month?
  • (12:47)  Please describe the sales strategies you use to get new customers.
  • (15:30)  What are some of the more innovative ways you are building your brand?
  • (17:30)  How did you build your BDR team?
  • (19:45)  What were some mistakes you made with hiring?
  • (21:17)  How did you compensate the BDR team?
  • (24:40)  How did you ensure they were calling the right prospects?
  • (27:30)  How do you get the list for the BDRs to call?
  • (31:30)  How do you get the attention of their prospects?
  • (37:30)  What do the call scripts look like and how often do they change?
  • (38:30)  How are you collecting data on the effectiveness of your outbound marketing?
  • (40:00)  How do you train your BDRs?

Resources

More About This Episode

The Bright Ideas podcast is the podcast for business owners and marketers who want to discover how to use online marketing and sales automation tactics to massively grow their business.

It’s designed to help marketing agencies and small business owners discover which online marketing strategies are working most effectively today – all from the mouths of expert entrepreneurs who are already making it big.

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Transcript

Trent:
Hey there bright idea hunters welcome back to episode number 170 of the Bright Ideas podcast. I am your host Trent Dyrsmid and this is the podcast where we help marketers and entrepreneurs to discover ways to use digital marketing and marketing automation to dramatically increase the growth of their business. And who doesn’t want that?

If you’re a marketer and you are looking for proven tactics and strategies as opposed to say untested theories that will help you to increase traffic, conversions and profits well my friends you are in the right place. So that is a big promise, right? How do I make good on that promise?

Well I bring on proven experts who achieved remarkable results and then I get them to share with you and with me the exact strategies and tactics that they used to achieve those particular results and this episode is no different. My guest on this episode is a fellow by the name of Adam Becker, he is the director of sales for a company that I met when I was at SalesForce.com’s annual conference called Dreamforce and the company that Adam is with is called Tinderbox.

They make sales automation software that will help sales reps to increase productivity with trackable data driven sales documents in the cloud and if that doesn’t make any sense to you, when you listen to the interview we are going to talk about a specific use case so you can get a better understanding of what their software does. As well, I’ve also imbedded an explainer video of theirs into the episode so just head on over to the blog post at Brightideas.co/170.

Then you’ll be able to get to that. This episode is not about Tinderbox and it is not about their software. What it is about is how they have used a sales driven organization to add for a young company that hasn’t raised a whole lot of money to add fifty to sixty new customers per month with an average deal size of $12,000 to $15,000 on an annual basis per customer so they get pretty darn good results.

And in this particular episode we are going to go through in pain staking detail the exact process that they are using to get the attention of their prospects. Now keep in mind their stuff, nobody is really looking for this stuff per say. People, as you’ll hear Adam say in the interview, people don’t know that they have a problem with the documents that they are sharing; the document optimization. And I am probably using the wrong terminology.

Suffice to say their customer don’t really know they have a problem until they gain an understanding through some education and then they go, “Oh, aha.” As an example Tinderbox just recently signed SalesForce.com as a customer of theirs so you got to think SalesForce is not going to be signing up unless they see a huge potential in using the software. In this interview we are going to talk about their BDR program.

We are going to talk about how they are finding people, how they are training them, how they are giving them lists, how they are compensating them, how the call structure works, how many touches it takes to get a prospect to be interested, and again as I mentioned, painstaking detail. So if you are looking for insight into how to build a BDR program this interview is going to give you a ton of it.

So before we get to introduce Adam just a very quick message, if you’d like to know more about inbound marketing and you would like to get access to some free resources because obviously inbound marketing can be a terrific lead generator if done properly head over to GrooveDigitalMarketing.com/resources where you will find a library of ebooks as well as the archives to webinars that we have done.

So with that said please join me in welcoming Adam to the show.

Hey Adam, welcome to the show.

Adam:
Thanks for having me today Trent.

Trent:
Yeah, no problem it is a pleasure to have you on. I am very much looking forward to having you share the story of how Tinderbox is growing so quickly. Before we get into that of course, most of the folks here in my audience might not know who Tinderbox is and they probably don’t know who you are so let’s start with that. Who are you and what do you do?

Adam:
Absolutely, so my role here at Tinderbox is the director of sales. I head up overseeing and making sure that our sales teams are productive pieces of society here as well as our lead generation team. Tinderbox, for those of you who don’t know, as a whole is a software as a service organization really focused on the sales productivity space.

Where we fit into sales productivity, because it is such a big space, is surrounding the documents the sales reps are utilizing on a day to day basis.

So helping to control the content that marketers are putting out there for sales reps and giving sales people the insight into what is happening with their documents whether it be a presentation or a proposal or a contract; all those different document types across the sales process.

Trent:
Alright, so that people and me really understand what these is, let’s use a use case. Let’s say I am a SalesForce user, I am a rep, I work for this software company. I got to sell their stuff. I am talking to customers and they are like, “Hey that sounds sort of interesting. Send me something.”

Adam:
Yeah exactly, and it is a very typical kind of conversation that every individual, whether they are buying or selling software has had, right? You’re looking to communicate very specifically with those individuals. So what Tinderbox does is helps you take data, any data that we may know about that prospect or that customer at that given point in time and generate the right document for that individual using that data and making sure that it is presented in an elegant fashion.

One of the things we have really learned in building this software, and actually my background is from a small company called Exact Target that got acquired by SalesForce.com last year for about $2 billion. Marketers, if they have taught sales people anything it is utilizing data to make the relevant message on the right person can be very, very effective.

As though when someone request, “Hey give me some more information,” we are now able with the click of a button to leverage data to be able to generate that document specifically for them, whether it is a pdf or an online version or even a presentation in a number of seconds using content that is relative for them.

Trent:
So normally in interviews we really don’t talk as much about what my guests companies do but you have peaked my curiosity so, the thing is I am the host of the show so I get to ask anything I want [laughing]. It sounds kind of too good to be true, like you are magic box is going to whip up some super duper document that is going to be just perfect for the client [laughing], how does that work?

Adam:
It comes down to everything I think. In the marketers world it is only as good as the data that you have, right? That is true for our solution as well, if we don’t know anything about the person we are communicating with then it is going to be that one message to every person and hope something sticks, right?

The base requirement for making this useful (why in the world would you buy software if it not useful right?) is having data to be able to support it and that is why we find that the partnership with SalesForce is so important because people should be – especially from the marketing perspective – starting to collect as much data as we can as early as we possibly can for each of our prospects that we are working with.

Trent:
Okay, that makes sense but I am still digging. Can you think of a specific example that you can share with us?

Adam:
For utilizing Tinderbox?

Trent:
Yeah.

Adam:
Yeah absolutely, so I’ll just use our sales as an example. That is what I tend to do, we eat our own dog food, drink our own champagne, whatever the idiom is supposed to be using nowadays. The way we actually do business is we sell a number of different products.

We sell across multiple markets, whether it is SMB, mid market or enterprise and depending on the size of the company, if we are selling to an enterprise customer oftentimes we are speaking differently to that individual about the different value props that we as a company bring to them that would be drastically different than a SMB where maybe you are speaking to an owner, sales head and the sales person all at the same time right.

So what we do in our SalesForce environment is we configure the size of the opportunity, essentially the number of seats basically we are going to be selling. We specify the industry that we are selling into. And we also specify obviously which product lines we are pitching or that we are selling.

Just by utilizing those three different data elements alone, now all of a sudden we are producing a document that is built for the right individual. So if it is a VP level at an enterprise company we are speaking much more to how do we control content, how do we make sure that enterprise is upholding its brand and things like that.

We also then know because of industry which use cases we are going to be working best for this company as well; so automatically generating the right use cases; having some of the elements that are needed in order to do this is the data to be able to support it and then the content, so the actual use cases with their case studies to be able to present to the customer.

Then lastly with the product lines, we are not kind of rattling off, here is all of the different kind of products we have under the umbrella, we are just providing them pure specifically what you asked about. “Here is what I believe is going to be a good fit for you.” And then again taking a page out of the marketers playbook, being brief, our customers and customers everywhere, consumers everywhere, B2B and B2C are more informed when they are coming into the sales process.

We need to make sure that we are treating them with that type of respect. They should understand what it is we do is we make sure we are not wasting their time and giving them everything under the sun. We want to make a very direct relevant message to them so. That is how we do it. And those are true for our proposals, our presentations , everything.

We’ll use those pieces of data and start tailoring the message specifically for those individuals and then use data on the backside to make sure that we are understanding what is actually being consumed and we can get a little bit smarter and a little bit better and optimize that process the next time around.

Trent:
Alright, thanks for sharing that with me and folks just so you know this is not going to be a Tinderbox commercial.
The rest of the interview we are going to talk about how they are actually growing their company, what’s working for them in sales and so forth. But I wanted to kind of scratch my own itch so thank you for giving me permission to do that. Adam, is there any type of explainer video or anything that I can imbed in the post that is going to be for this interview?

Adam:
Absolutely, yeah. We have a quick promo video that is really well done; it gives you an example of little bit of the problems we are solving out there in the world today.

Trent:
Okay, would you make a note to please make sure that you send me a link to that video so that I can have my team put it in the post?

Adam:
Sure will.

Trent:
Alright, how old is the company?

Adam:
We’ve been around for a little over four and a half years now coming up on five years.

Trent:
Okay and are you guys venture backed?

Adam:
We are venture backed, yes.

Trent:
Were you venture backed from day one?

Adam:
We did a friends and family round but most recently we did a round that was headed by Alice Ventures, kind of a Mid West firm here. We are based out of Indianapolis so like the Mid West and that has been our most recent round.

Trent:
Okay, and how much did you raise?

Adam:
It is out there in public, right around $3 million.

Trent:
In the pre interview that we did you told me that you were getting around 50 to 60 new customers per month and each of those customers is a 50 to 60 seat deal so that is worth around $12,000 to $15,000 dollars of annual revenue for you correct?

Adam:
That is correct yeah.

Trent:
That is pretty darn good. I want to share with the audience what you guys are doing. Because I am sure there is a lot of companies out there, there are a lot of other SaaS companies in particular who would look at those results and go, “Yeah, we need to be doing that.”

So let’s unpack it. Describe to me how you guys accomplished that result.

Adam:
Yeah, so it has definitely been a lot of trial and error, right? We have been working at this from day one being a very sales minded organization and I think that is actually one of the nice distinctions to make and I am out of the gate here. I learned this from my days over at Exact Target, a really good example of a highly successful software company. But they did not consider themselves a software company. They view themselves as a sales organization and that is exactly as I view it here as well.

We may produce software but at the end of the day we are a sales organization and we need to be treating our customers as such. So we have really been focused on how do we grow sales, how do we continue to achieve year over year, month over month growth and achieve that for our customer so we’ve done that with a lot of traditional ways and I think with some newer ways as well of putting humans to work.

Trent:
Okay, so let’s talk about the traditional ways first and then we’ll get into some of the newer ways. So what are you doing?

Adam:
Yeah, as far as the growth of the organization, we are working very much as a startup, we are a startup company. We are only about 50 to 55 individuals at this point in time. So we have to be very flexible and very nimble. From the traditional aspects of getting deals in the door we have a marketing organization here and we are using all the different aspects we can to get our brand out there in this early market as a startup.

So whether that is advertising, whether that is emails, whether it is going to trade shows. We’ve really played the game out there and for a startup it’s really number one, getting our brand noticed and how to make sure people can start relating when I hear of document generation or when I hear of sales productivity, how do I get people to start thinking about, “Hey, I know a company for that, it is Tinderbox.”

For the first three to four years of our company’s growth it has really been around how do we get our brand know to the mainstream.

Trent:
And you mentioned some newer ways?

Adam:
Yeah and I think really one of the nice ways we’ve been going about getting our brand out there because people aren’t coming to our website or coming to us or at least traditionally they were not with this problem. We are working in a very early market. People don’t really sit down and say, “Hey I wish my proposals were more optimized.” We had to really broadcast our message and help people understand that there is a lot better way to do business out there.

So working this early market we found that some of those traditional methods of traditional methods of marketing that were driving inbound leads simply were not working.

We need to actually put voices out on the street and focus more on outbound. So we developed, through the help of many different people out there, what we call a BDR program which is nothing special I suppose out there other than a call center. But the way that we are enabling these people to be able to go out and make very high quality calls.

Making sure that we are speaking very good messaging out there and that we are delivering a lot of good content, I think, is a really important way to do it. And even more then that the way that we are measuring on the back side.

So developing this BDR program is really about finding individual who are passionate about what they are doing and getting the message out there powered by marketing.

Trent:
So there is a lot of details in there and it would be unusual for me not to ask a whole lot more questions so here we go.

Adam:
Love it [laughing].

Trent:
So let’s start with call center. Did you decide to contract with a call center? Did you build your own team of people?

Adam:
Yeah, we built our own team of people and it happened very organically. The way that it actually started was trying to understand (and this goes back to when we were like ten people or so) and we realized that we needed to start farming some more opportunities for our sales reps. We had about three sales reps at the time. So we said, “Let’s hire some younger people, some individuals that we can train very rapidly but will eventually end up becoming sales people.”

So it is almost a sales gig that we are offering out to individuals but to learn our environment and learn our business.
We had them basically be on the phone and start dialing every single day. Being able to train them how to talk value is pretty straight forward, we can do so in a couple of days. After they are doing that for nine or ten months then all of a sudden they have all that value played down and are ready to become a sales member as well and be able to close business, demo the software and execute a lot of contracts as well.

Trent:
How did you find those people?

Adam:
I think two different ways, and the first way, this is not a glamorous job, right? No one goes to college and say, “I want to go call people for 24 hours a day.” So we are finding kids directly out of college who have a passion for to be in a sales organization; specifically a sales organization in the tech world. They should be fairly tech savvy.

We are lucky enough to be headquartered in Indianapolis were we have a lot of great schools that we can go out and find a lot of these young kids that want to get into the tech business. There is a little bit of a startup community here in Indianapolis, we are able to attract a lot of those type of individuals who are aspiring sales people and get them into the market quickly and make them an effective part of the business.

The other way is identifying people that’s started their career and said, “Nope, I’m not in the right place. I really want to do something different.” Maybe they have some experience but not in the right industry or not in the right field. So what we’ll do, we’ll throw them through our BDR program that helps them understand and train very rapidly; get them on the phone so they are producing essentially calls or opportunities within the first week versus a couple of months training process.

Trent:
And when the BDR program was launched, how many people did you put on the team?

Adam:
When we launched it we started with classes. I think one of the things you are going to ask me is what did we do wrong, [laughing] you always do a whole bunch of things really, really wrong to begin with and so one of the things we did wrong at the beginning of this program was we tried hiring one person here and then waited a week or two and then hired another person. What we found was that we needed to hire in classes.

So every individual had someone to rely on and we also had someone to benchmark them against. So we always hire people in classes and we generally do so in three for whatever reason. Our first class was a group of three individuals and that is where we started.

Trent:
So of those three, what happened to them?

Adam:
All three are now actually on our sales team. When we set this program up we helped them to understand that, yeah this in not a fantastic job necessarily on a day to day basis but there is endpoint in sight and it is a very measured way and so we sat down and said, “Hey you are going to be doing this for nine months. At the end of that nine month schedule given that you hit a couple of metrics you will automatically be promoted into a sales rep producing part of our business.

All three of them have then graduated and actually we’ve found – when we graduated them we hired some people on from our sales team and benchmarked those two individuals together and I suppose unsurprisingly the individual who came through our BDR program were outperforming more quickly and with better quality deals from really the first day.

Trent:
Two things, compensation and then I want to talk about the difference between being BDR and someone on your sales team. How did you compensate the BDR people?

Adam:
Our compensation plan here for our BDR team is obviously salaried but there is definitely commission associated with it. Their goals at the end of the day is all around generating opportunities that are saleable. There’s commission around generating opportunities in general and that will get some activity measures going so the more they essentially qualify and generate the more money they get.

But then there is also a aspect to our comp plan that ensures that these have to be quality, they have to go all the way to closed one status so they also do get a piece of the business that they qualified or they found and passed over. They also do get a piece of their closed one deal.

Trent:
How much was the salaries?

Adam:
They range everywhere in between the $30,000 to $40,000 range.

Trent:
And if they hit their numbers what could their total comp be?

Adam:
We try to set up comp to be around a 50/50 split. 50% should be salary and 50% should be a very well achieving over a hundred percent achieving type of individual within any given role within a sales organization.

Trent:
Okay, so $60,000 to $70,000 a year if they are hitting their numbers?

Adam:
Yeah, and overproducing, that is correct.

Trent:
So when they make the transition from BDR to sales team do they not have to cold call anymore?

Adam:
That would be the worst thing possibly in the world, no they absolutely have to cold call and the really big benefit of this method is when you are teaching these people through this program, you are not only teaching them how to speak about value. You are teaching them that ,”Hey I come in and I set aside Tuesday mornings or Monday afternoons to do my cold calling.” So we are also engraining a good work ethic when it comes to doing this cold calling.

They are bringing that over and we find that they are generating now all of a sudden instead of passing it over to someone else they get a cold call and keep the deals that they are finding so the incentive is there even more so to continue what they’re doing.

Trent:
How does their compensation plan change when they make the transition?

Adam:
They get bumps on salary and commission structures obviously change where percentages of deals that they take down go up as well.

Trent:
And so how much does the salary go up and what does the total income look like if they hit their numbers?

Adam:
The salaries go up in a variety of ranges depending upon where in the organization and into the country they are selling into as well as the type of experience they’ve had coming into the organization but they’ll go up a good measure but we like to see our top sales people here, when we are factoring in both commission and salary, to be in the six figure range.

Trent:
So number one rep in the company, what can that person make?

Adam:
I’d like to see them raking between $100,000 and $150,000 a year. That is for right now and obviously I would like to see them making more and more as itching to grow and grow our market as well.

Trent:
Absolutely, larger deals equals larger commissions.

Adam:
Why not?

Trent:
Absolutely, okay so we very quickly have shotgunned our way through what you have done in terms of outbound but we haven’t really talked about the training aspect. Maybe we should talk about that a little bit and also the list, who they are calling because obviously that is pretty important. Let’s go with the list first. How did you make sure that they were calling the right people because you kind of referenced that earlier in the conversation?

Adam:
Yeah, and this is again one of those places where I think we failed pretty well in the beginning which is the fact that we can call essentially anyone in the world that is a B2B organization. Any of those people that have a sales team doing business through that sales team tend to be decent prospects for us.

So the world is our oyster and we really didn’t give too much guidance because we didn’t really know a whole bunch of where our best success was going to start coming from in the early days.

So we were like, “Hey go find someone and have a good job doing it, that way” [laughing] surprise, surprise that did not work out terribly well for us. One of the core foundations of this BDR team actually before we even launched it was putting together all the analytics that we were going to be capturing so that we can make this a smarter program over time.

So being able to identify different campaigns we are going to run; being able to identify which targets we are going after, who in those targets like specificly roles we are going after so we can start measuring a lot of the successes. Over time, and we tend to do this during each hiring class, we take a look, a snapshot in time which is about every month or every other month because we do hiring now.

We’ll take a look at what was working over this last quarter or what wasn’t and how do we eliminate what wasn’t doing well and how do we increase what is doing well. So throughout time what we found is working with our marketing organization more, and really this is a role that sits very nicely between marketing and sales. We are starting to identify we need be calling into VPs of marketing, VP’s of sales ops for organizations that have adopted this type of software previously.

SalesForce customers tend to be really, really good and essentially over the last two years of this program we have really narrowed down scope between the entire world; now we have teams broken up into regions, so we have individuals focused on West, East and Central and then in each one of those we have primary focuses for industry as well as target customers or we call them whales; big customers out there that we are going to be hunting for probably some time that they are focusing on their list with.

Trent:
And how do you actually get the list? Let’s say you’ve picked a region, you’ve picked an industry, here’s this class, they are going to focus on that but you still need a list of people to call. Where do you get it from?

Adam:
Yep so we’ve done two different ways, so first off we do attend a lot of tradeshows and like I mentioned people who have adopted software like us in the past are really our primary target so we’ll go around to a lot of these industry tradeshows whether it is SalesForce or Microsoft, you name it. Throwing a party, having registrations come through is always a great way to get blanket lists without necessarily needing to spend too many dollars for a booth.

So throwing parties we found a good way to organically grab a bunch of names and contacts in a specific demographic. We’ve also trained through a number of tools our reps of how to go out there and just start identifying it, so using LinkedIn, joining in LinkedIn user groups and getting involved in their region. It is actually surprisingly easy just to call people up and start getting the right name.

We focus more on getting to the right company and then figure out who within that company is better going down so rather than having machines of here pick up the phone and dial this number we try to teach them how to navigate the company itself to find the right person on their own.

Trent:
Okay, so the LinkedIn one, I want to make sure that we cover that one adequately. So they go on LinkedIn, they find relevant groups that you think would be likely to be populated by people who would be a good for fit for the criteria that you have defined. You then say to the BDR, “Start calling the people that are in that group?” Is it literally that black and white?

Adam:
Yeah, it is not that far out of reality. We’ll lay out usually, “Hey, here’s they demographics.” And we teach them how to go and navigate LinkedIn or Google or whatever search engine and we just lay it out for them. That is usually about half of their job is really doing that research and who to call next.

Trent:
You can spend a ridiculous amount of time looking for contact information. Which can be quite unproductive, are there any tips that you got on how to speed that up?

Adam:
I’m an old school type of guy and I don’t mind calling people and we found that it is faster to go and dial the number on the front desk or main website and just asking someone versus spending three or four minutes of navigating through a website or doing people’s searches. It is a little bit of brute force I suppose but it is not horrible.

Just pick up the phone and ask.

Trent:
Doesn’t Data.com which is owned by SalesForce; part of their value proposition is to say we have all of this information already. Can’t you just pay for a Data.com subscription and plug it right into SalesForce?

Adam:
We do, they do and we do, yes. We are Data.com customers as well and there is never one right why by the way to do any of this stuff. It is very much a menu of different options that they have. So yeah we use Data.com, sometimes those numbers work and are great and they find the right person that way. Sometimes they have to navigate through on their own.

We give them all those tools at their disposal to be able to find that however they mean to.

Trent:
Okay, so they make that first call in. Is that first call typically their trying to get hold of the VP?

Adam:
Yeah, so typically we found for what we consider to be our Propose software or Propose solution which is all around the proposal side of our business. We are talking to VP of sales and VP of operations. Our value props fit very well with their initiatives which are generally saving sales reps times and selling more.

Trent:
These VP of sales, of course no else is trying to call them and get their attention so it must be really easy to get them on the phone right [laughing]?

Adam:
[Laughing] No it is a singe, I can’t believe no one is doing this though.

Trent:
How do you do it?

Adam:
I don’t think there is anything magical about it, it is understanding who they are and calling them but calling for a purpose. We do, and obviously I am director of sales over here so get these on a daily basis. Number of emails in my inbox, number of calls but there is stats out there that show that most salespeople will give up after two calls or two attempts and something like 80% of salespeople will give up after that.

So what we set up is a marketing controlled campaign that actually does eight point touch system where it is all kind of pre built for them and what they will do is set through a track and they’ll make a call. If no one answers then they’ll click a button within SalesForce and it automatically generates one of our documents that get sent out through email and lands in their inbox.

That document that we are sending out is tailored for their industry and their size of business talking about us.
And they essentially repeat that process three additional different times to get it to a total of eight touch points. Through that we started finding a lot of success actually around these third to fourth touch point in that time is where you see the biggest drop off of success.

So after eight times we’ve seen based on our data that success tends to go down dramatically after that; it is probably worth going out and finding someone new after that.

Trent:
Okay, so I’m the BDR. I’ve got John who I want to call, I am going to call him the first time, he doesn’t answer so an email goes out. I got to call him a second time, he either answers or returns my call. If not an email goes out or whatever. So I have to call him three times?

Adam:
Four total times and then follow up four total times.

Trent:
So four calls, four emails?

Adam:
Yeah, that is right and then a lot of people do what we call shameless last attempt email as well which is more personal, “Hey apparently I am bugging you,” type of thing. Dial one or push one if you don’t want to talk to me ever again, which is one of our better producing replies as well.

Trent:
So when they are doing the four calls, how often does the person actually answer the phone versus them leaving a voicemail and getting the call back?

Adam:
Yeah, about one out of every 40 I believe is our numbers right now, somewhere in that realm.

Trent:
So one out of every 40 people actually answer the phone when the thing is ringing?

Adam:
Yeah, [laughing].

Trent:
Wow, [laughing] and how do you keep these BDRs motivated?

Adam:
We do a lot of internal contests and we do have actually a really, really fun work environment so I think it is partially making sure the people are competitive with one another and know that there is an awful lot of failure.
It is kind of what both startups talk to you a lot about is that failure does bread success further down the line.

To them this is a fun environment, there is a lot of different things, different methods we are trying at all times so we are doing a lot of testing.

At the end of the day these BDRs all aspire to be part of the sales team so they know this is a short period of time and a lot of them are millennials and managing millennials is probably a segment and a half by itself. But the millenials are very short or they tend to be (I don’t want to make broad statements here) but they tend to be wanting to move on very, very rapidly and by giving them, “Hey this is a nine month program, at the end of these nine months you can enter into a new position,” gives them a light at the end of the tunnel from the very beginning.

Trent:
What is that noise [laughing] [humming noise]?

Adam:
I believe they are doing construction on the floor above us, it is fantastic.

Trent:
Oh perfect alright. Okay so when the prospect does actually reply, because obviously they do otherwise you guys wouldn’t be landing 50 to 60 deals a month, do they typically call back or do they typically email back and so really if it is the second one all of the calls that your rep made where really just kind of an extra way of getting their attention?

Adam:
Yeah, that is what it all is, very, very rarely does anyone actually call back. Either you catch them on the phone when they least expect it or they are going to email you back. We do get a number of call backs from time to time but most cases what they are doing is they are getting an email back saying, “Actually this is of interest to me, let’s set up a time to talk.”

Using some of the analytics we use both Pardot her from a tool perspective that we use Pardot so we can tell that they are opening any of our emails and then our software that we are consuming ourselves is also telling us whether they are looking at different pages of the documentation we are sending over; which pages they are actually looking at. So we use a lot of those alerts and a lot of those pieces of data to follow up at the most effective time with them.

Trent:
What does the communication actually look like? Let’s talk about the phone calls for a minute, they are leaving messages 99% of the time, what does the script look like? Is it different for each call or is it more or less the same?

Adam:
It is more or less the same thing but we do change up the calls scripts very, very often so we run campaigns that tend to be somewhere between three to four weeks and each one of those new campaigns we try something different. Our example, actually we just shifted from saying “sales automation software” to saying “sales productivity software.”

From a very high level perception I am not sure if it makes any difference right now we are still doing a lot of the work to get the data but we’ll change some of the wording to make sure that we are affecting the right type of results.

So we’ll change it up from industry to industry, we’ll change it up from campaign to campaign and then we’ll also tie in products company we’ll also try putting different products into different people’s hands and see if we can find the right result in that mix.

Trent:
Getting the data is obviously critical to the iterative process of improvement. So by using SalesForce, is that what is giving you all the analytics on what is working in terms of these because you mentioned you go from campaign to campaign and you tweak little things. You got to have good data to know; did the tweak do any good or not. How are you getting the good data?

Adam:
The data starts with the marketers, Saleforce, fantastic tool and it is a great product to be able to run all these reports at. We view them, I think what a lot of people do is as a really, really nice place, the CRM is a nice place to store a lot of these data so you can understand trends; so you can understand what is working and what is not.

The data for us starts being collected from as early on in the process as we can. So before anyone makes any calls whatsoever the contact information is loaded up. So if we are providing a list through our marketing team, whether that is through the events through other methods we provide them a list within SalesForce, load them up as leads so we start understanding industry and who am I targeting and size of company and all that’s done prior to making that first call.

We want to make sure that they are high quality calls not just a shotgun approach. We start there and then the BDRs themselves will provide a lot more data throughout their process so their end goal is to qualify an opportunity and that requires about eight different pieces of data that we have to capture.

Things like are they using a CRM tool? Are they using any other types of organizational tools, how is their relationship with marketing? Those type of questions need to be answered and they are putting all that data back into SalesForce that helps drive more relative communications down the road throughout the rest of the sales cycle.

Trent:
Okay, are you familiar with a tool called Built With?

Adam:
Built With? I am not.

Trent:
BuiltWith.com, it allows you to see what technologies are being used by companies so you mentioned earlier on that it was helpful or that people using SalesForce.com would be great people for you to call.

I am pretty sure that if you use Built With you can – you have to get a subscription of course – you can say, “Give me a list of people that meets this criteria and they’re using SalesForce.com or their using Hubspot because most times there is some snippet of JavaScript somewhere in the website for whatever technologies you are using and
Built With sniffs that stuff out.

Adam:
Yeah, I am actually testing it right now on our own. That is actually cool, it does work. Yeah, it does, I put in our own website and it can see that we are using Pardot, we are using a couple of other things. That is really cool.

Trent:
Yeah, so you’re not using it yet but maybe you will be [laughing].

Adam:
Yeah no kidding, I am actually sending this over to the guy that heads up our BDR team.

Trent:
What about training, Adam, I don’t think we talked a whole lot about training. So you bring these people in in a class of three, you have a curriculum of some kind?

Adam:
Of some kind, let’s put it on that side so being a startup I not only get to manage the sales team, I also get to play trainer for the most part. Over time we have gotten better and better at training so we do have actual curriculum and as I mentioned, the BDRs coming in they tend to be either new to the workforce or new to our industry. We train them first to just understand what is it that we actually do.

That is usually the most difficult part. And then we train them how to use the product. We actually do that with them. Being a company that can actually use its own tool during day to day life makes it far, far easier to train so we do have a kind of lucky over here because to use our technology you have to actually understand what the role is to call and then send out people some documentation.

People tend to get it pretty quickly. By the end of the first week we also put a deadline out there, the first Friday they are here there is a call time that they are actually getting on the phones and making calls throughout the day on the first Friday that they are here. It is a measured training that really gives them a lot of information we have. Heads from all over the company that come in and talk to them and have a lot of real world shadowing that happens through most of the week as well.

Trent:
The size of the BDR team at any one point in time would be how many people?

Adam:
Today it is right around ten people, we hope to grow over the next year to about double that size.

Trent:
Okay, that was one of the things that I learned when I read Marc Benniof’s book, Behind the Cloud (and it is a very interesting book if you haven’t read it) but his conclusion was if you want to grow sales, grow the sales force. More calls equals more sales, imagine that.

Adam:
Yep, and that is what we have definitely adopted, that mentality. We are about a 50 person company and about 25 of those individuals are directly in the sales organization and another half of the remainder are focused on supporting the sales organization.

Trent:
Yep, makes a lot of sense. Is there anything else Adam? I know in the pre interview or just before we started this call, you are launching a new product and I did want to give you an opportunity to very briefly speak about that because you have been so helpful with providing helpful content, now you can give a little commercial if you like.

Adam:
Yeah, we have been talking about our product quite a bit though. Thanks for that, we are launching a new product called Tinderbox Pitch which is really around generating the right presentation using data from whatever CRM that you have today, so if anyone out there is interested please stop by our website which is www.gettinderbox.com and come check it out.

Trent:
Alright, Adam thank you so very much for making some time to come on and chat with me about your BDR program. I am absolutely thrilled to hear that it is working as well as it is and obviously you guys… 50 to 60 new customers a month, with that deal size that has got to translate into some pretty good growth and so I hope the other folks listening to this have listened to that and go, “Maybe I should try and do what they’re doing.”

Adam:
Yeah, absolutely, keep watching us here and hopefully over the next couple of years we’ll walk the big stage.

Trent:
Absolutely, okay Adam take care and have a wonderful day.

Adam:
Thanks Trent.

Trent:
Trent:
Alright to get to the shownotes for this episode go to BrightIdeas.co/170 and if you enjoyed this episode and would love to have other people listen to it I would love it if you’d go to BrightIdeas.co/love where there is a pre populated tweet awaiting the click of your mouse or if you really want to do me a solid just head over to iTunes and leave a four or five star rating along with some comments, that would absolutely be wonderful.

If you are looking to increase your knowledge with inbound marketing there is a free library for you over at GrooveDigitalMarketing.com/resources.

So that is it for this episode, I am your host Trent Dyrsmid, thank you so very much for tuning in. I look forward to having you back for another one soon, take care, bye-by

About Adam Becker

Director of Sales. Prior to TinderBox, Adam thrived at Indianapolis-based ExactTarget. Starting in 2006, he saw the company grow from 80 to 1300+ employees. At ExactTarget he started on the marketing team, optimizing the lead flow process, then migrated to the sales team serving several years as a market development manager and as a team lead. Most recently he acted as a Strategic Channel Development Manager overseeing the success of ExactTarget’s top partners in the central region.

Becker graduated from Taylor University in 2004 with degrees in Design, Physics, and Business Management.

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