In these weekly articles that I will write beyond giving you a step-by-step manual (which we provide in our blog at hellomrlead.com) I would like to share my mistakes or lessons learned and reflections that I have come to by way of observation.
3 years ago when I started Hellomrlead, I thought that with a sales development representative, some good texts and a couple of tools I could deliver valuable meetings to my first clients…
I was creating a structure that from my point of view I would want to consume as a sales person. I would love nothing more than to spend all day jumping from meeting to meeting and end the day preparing business proposals and following up.
I guess that’s how all businesses start… But as the months went by I perfected the method. The value of services can be appreciated in many ways no doubt, but one of them is money, the price someone is willing to pay for something you offer.
I quickly realized that selling meetings at 85€ could not be a business, something profitable, even more so when my clients requested that the meetings be qualified.
Here came the first iteration. What do we call quality lead and how do we measure it. There are multiple methods but we chose BANT (budget / authority / need / time) and to each possible answer to the questions related to find out in the «discovery call» that information we put a score, and thus was born the «traffic light» or lead scoring of Hellomrlead.
We were able to give an objective value to something that until then had a subjective value for us.
It all depends…
The next big challenge with our clients was to size the market, because how are we going to know if 10 meetings per month are too many or too few or if 200€ per meeting is a lot of money or not enough if we don’t know how big is the market we are targeting… Let me give you an example:
A company sells a video analytics system for the hotel sector, oriented to hotel receptions. Its potential buyer is the company’s CIO and Guest Experience Manager in Spain. How many hotel chains are there in Spain? How many CIOs and Guest Experience Managers can I find on LinkedIn At this turning point Bill Aulet and his book Disciplined Entrepreneur was our salvation. He explains with complete clarity and step by step what he considers the first of the 21 steps a successful manager must take before launching his product…. TAM (total addressable market) / SAM (served available market) / SOM (Serviceable Obtainable Market)
With these three concepts we could together with our client establish the size of the market. Now if the client asked for 400 meetings in the period of a year we could measure if it was an outrage or reasonable and then create monthly forecasts considering the peaks and valleys of the sector (for example in this case the hotelier who does not buy any of this between April and September) or of the market (Spain stops from July to September).
To recap, in a strategic / tactical vision we already had a way to measure the market and assess the opportunities in a totally objective way, measuring the TAM / SAM / SOM of the customer and evaluating the leads with a scoring method based on the BANT.
It was the turn of the DBs. Every successful commercial action starts with a flawless and perfect database. I don’t just mean that the emails are valid, that the positions or people are up to date, but to do precision fishing and not trawling. I did my first months trawling… but I learned that it resulted in 3 big items:
I lost campaign days. An email in an outbound process, in order not to spam the account and the domain, must adhere to a daily sending volume that usually ranges between 50 and 150 emails per day. When you do «trolling» the databases contain everything and then you are simply wasting time. It is not the same to make a database of all national sectors oriented to people who have some HR function than to build a database of only HR compensation and benefits managers in national companies. This was my case with a company that sold a subscription for employees to access gyms.
It was wearing down the brand and vetoing you in the company. It is clear that you can send 8 people from the same department emails and see who answers you first, but what happens most likely behind the curtain is that they sit in the same area, they «forward» your emails and clearly see your strategy and then there is a very high probability that one of them will answer you «randomly» and tell you that they are not interested. They see that there has been no personalization whatsoever, that you have been «fishing for trawlers”.
Let’s do the math
Inefficient failure to meet the desired objectives. Generally, either because we outsource or because we do it internally, we always have a target in mind for the number of desired meetings per month. This is a chain of consequences and we saw it clearly… If the DB is not ultra-debugged you send in a month approximately 600 emails of which you have an open rate of less than 40%, and on that percentage only 10% of them are answered (response rate) and only 20% are positive. If we do quick numbers… that’s approximately 5 positive meetings.
But what happens when 100% of your DB, even if it is smaller, is a target? Well, you have, as we do now, open rates higher than 50% and response rates higher than 25%.
As my friend and partner, Caio Barbosa, says, there is a lot of «vanity KPI» in the open and response rates, but what really matters is… how many positive responses have you obtained that will lead to an action in the future?
At this stage we discover, clearly, that «less is more». And that brings us to the next point… what weight in the success of a commercial action via email has the BBDD with respect to the copy? Well, 50%.
Copywriting is not something that you will do in passing
The quality of the BBDD you use is as important as the subject you choose in the email, the body of the message and/or messages is a sequence.
There is a lot of talk about the psychology of copy, the importance of the B2B copywriter, and I am already a fervent believer in this, in Hellomrlead we took a year to incorporate our first copywriter. Nadia Bobkova, born in Russia, trilingual as far as I know, and whom I’ve been tormenting with excels and metrics. Together we have learned the key metrics for A/B testing of subject lines, messages and so on. Today we measure weekly and take measurements every 7 days. In the end, when you have an objective framed in a time horizon (in our case the sword of Damocles is monthly) that sets the guideline of how often you have to evaluate the results of your KPIs.
We even have a checklist in excel with everything that a copy must contain to be «good». The more empirical you become, the easier it is to find room for improvement. Segregating the process step by step and measuring those «micro-conversions».
Science over talent
Concluding this block I will tell you what:
- Currently the prospect DBs for each Hellomrlead campaign for these reasons are no more than 300 prospects, segmented not only by country, but by industry and position.
- We analyze in each position and industry which Value Added Proposition and Unique Sales Proposition our client brings to that «person» to guarantee those positive response rates we are looking for.
- Our email automation provider provides us with benchmark metrics by industry and function to have comparable frameworks and in the campaign management panel itself allows us to categorize each response obtained by an NPS code (smiley face).
As you can see, once again science prevails over art and emotional talent. No doubt we deal with people, but there are hundreds or thousands of them and behind that are the patterns of behavior and response and that is what I think we should never forget.
SDR and Inside Sales KPIs
Our third and last block in this article on the importance of measuring in the B2B sales process is dedicated to our other great heroes, the Sales Development Representative and the Inside Sales.
I have to say that my job description or job definition of an inside sales may differ from the image you have, so I will explain what an inside sales person does at Hellomrlead….. In our company we have 3 channels of contact with potential prospects of our customers… Phone, Email and LinkedIn.
Our clients allow us to automate certain sequences of messages with a copy and databases even more careful than email, if possible, since we work with their own LinkedIn.
Operating with caution
Our inside sales take care of that «garden», responding one by one to those messages, creating conversation and taking those opportunities to the point we need… a scheduled business meeting.
To achieve the final objective …. we have to pay a sales navigator, a LinkedIn automation tool, prepare DBs coordinated with the ones we are already running by email because nobody wants to receive simultaneously an impact from the same person, and of course invest hours in the sequence of messages that will be used in LinkedIn, in addition to the hours of the inside sales to answer and report that activity in the corresponding CRM …
Here, apart from what we all use in the company, from the accountant to a server …. which is a task manager and a time tracker, we start to measure in an excel:
- Invitation acceptance rate
- Response rate to sequences
- Number of interactions
- Leads obtained with LinkedIN origin
In order to contrast these metrics… versus the time (money) invested, we could calculate the return and evaluate if this means of contact was not only efficient but also effective for our client’s objectives…
We discovered that in some cases it represented 20% of the meetings obtained, a relevant percentage that defined the investment ceiling in hours that we could dedicate, taking into account that an inside sales does not finish the job, since the final qualification depends on the SDR.
The final step
And finally we reached the end of the journey of these measured and optimized processes… The Sales Development Representative. One of the most «expensive» positions in terms of responsibility and talent required without a doubt. Our challenge with this area has always been to be able to make projections and forecasts of leads delivered by SDR. We have studied Aaron Ross and his Predictable Revenue, and many other books such as Predictable Forecasting… and again they all conclude in the same thing to measure in order to be more efficient and effective…
The two biggest mistakes
- Our SDRs in the first year did too much and called too little. Reporting in an excel once a week, looking for alternative phone numbers, looking for public data of the prospect to fill in the BANT, reporting in the CRM…
- We did not know what proportion of time spent on the call achieved the set result (2 leads delivered per day). We set a target but did not define the path to success.
But all that changed when we started to exploit the metrics of our VoIP solution, yes, the first thing you should all stop doing is to work with a conventional mobile line… and use one of the many VoIP solutions such as AirCall or Vozelia or VozTelecom…
We acquired a VoIP solution integrated with our CRM so that all call activity was recorded in the «deal» or «opportunity» and we had metrics of call hours, number of effective calls and consequently… indicators of which hours were the most effective for example… and which SDR had the best performance of Effective Call to Lead Delivered.
Today an SDR at Hellomrlead spends more than 50% of his time calling, he has limited his tasks to reporting in the CRM and passing on the meetings obtained day by day to the customer. Keeping his focus as much as possible on the tasks that become his area.
Not to underestimate, but to enrich
All this that I have explained today does not mean that selling is only a matter of numbers, nor that the people who make up your sales teams do not matter… only their metrics. What it does mean is that to avoid frustration in my team when a company objective is not met, such as delivering the desired meetings to a client… it is necessary to unravel the whole process, measure each advance and understand which variable makes the result of this «micro-conversion» change… And without these clear metrics, today I am not able to tell a client whether or not I will be able to deliver the meetings he wants in exchange for the money we have agreed on…
I hope you found it enriching….