In these articles that I plan on writing weekly apart from 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 and reflections that I have come to via observation.
3 years ago when I started Hellomrlead, I thought that with a sales development representative, some decent texts and a couple of tools I could deliver valuable leads to my first clients.
So I created a structure that from my point of view I would like to have behind my back being a commercial which I am. There’s nothing I would like more than to spend all day jumping from meeting to meeting and ending the day preparing business proposals and follow-up.
I suppose that’s how all businesses start… But as the months went by, I refined the method. The value of services can be appreciated in many ways without a doubt, but one of them is money, the price someone is willing to pay for something you offer.
The first steps
I quickly realized that selling scheduled meetings for €85 could not be a good business plan, something profitable, especially when my clients requested that the meetings were qualified.
Here came the first iteration. What do we call a qualified lead and how do we measure it? There are multiple methods, but we chose BANT (budget / authority / need / time) and to every possible answer that the questions related to finding out in the «discovery call» had, we put a score on that information, and so the «traffic light» or lead scoring system was born in Hellomrlead.
We managed to give an objective measure to something that until then had a subjective value for us.
It all depends on…
The next big challenge we faced with our clients was to scale the market, because, how are we going to know if 10 meetings a month are many or few or if €200 per meeting is a lot of money if we don’t know how big is the market we are targeting. I’ll give you an example:
A company sells an analytical video system for hotel receptions. Its potential buyer is the CIO of the company and the person in charge of Guest Experience 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 to be the first of the 21 steps that 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 establish the size of the market together with our client. Now if the client asked for 400 meetings in the period of a year we could measure whether it was outrageous or reasonable and then create monthly forecasts considering the peaks and low seasons of the sector (for the case described, the hotelier would not buy anything between April and September) or the market (Spanish markets completely stop functioning from July to September).
Summing up, in a strategic / tactical vision we already had a way of measuring the market and assessing opportunities in a completely objective way, measuring the client’s TAM / SAM / SOM and evaluating leads with a scoring method based on BANT.
It was the turn of the databases. All successful commercial actions begin with a perfect and reliable database. I am not just talking about the emails being valid, the job positions or contact numbers being up to date, but about precise fishing and not trawling. I did my trawling for the first few months … but I learned that this had as a consequence: I lost campaign days.
An email marketing is an outbound process so in order to not jeopardize the account and the domain reputation it must adhere to a daily delivery volume that usually ranges from 50 to 150 emails per day. When you do «trawling» the database contains too much contacts and you are simply wasting time. It is not the same to make a list of all sectors at the national level oriented to people who have some HR function as it is to create a list of only directors of the benefits and compensation area inside HR companies of national scope. This was the case with a client that was selling a gym subscription as a benefit for employees.
You can wear down the brand and get banned. It is clear that you can send emails to 8 people from the same department and see who replies you first, but what most likely happens behind the scenes is that they sit in the same room, «forward» your emails to each other 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 customization, that what you have done is a «trawling».
Let’s do some numbers
Due to inefficiency, the desired objectives are not fulfilled. Generally it is why the companies tend to outsource this process or why if they do it internally they always set a goal of the number of desired meetings per month. This is a chain of consequences and we saw it clearly … If the database is not ultra-refined, approximately 600 emails are sent in a month, of which you have an open rate of less than 40%, and of that number only 10% would answer, with 4 out if 5 saying “no”. If we do quick numbers … that’s about 5 possible meetings.
But what happens when 100% of your BBDD, even a minor one, is targeted? Well, you have, as we do now, open rates of over 50% and response rates of over 25%.
There is, as my friend and partner Caio Barbosa says, open and response rates are «vanity KPI» but what really matters is … how many positive responses have you got that will lead to action in the future?
At this stage we clearly discover that «less is more». And that brings us to the next point … what weight does the BBDD have in comparison to a copy? Well, about 50%.
Copywriting’s not something you can do on the go
The quality of the database that you use is equally as important as the subject you choose for the email and the body of your message or messages if it’s a sequence.
There is a lot of talk about copy psychology, the importance of the B2B copywriter, and I am already a fervent believer in this, it took Hellomrlead a year to get to hire our first copywriter. Nadia Bobkova, born in Russia, trilingual as far as I know, and whom I have martyred with excels and metrics. Together we have learned the key metrics for A / B testing of subjects, messages and more. As of today we measure all the indicators weekly. In the end when you have a goal framed in a time horizon (in our case the Damocles sword is monthly) that sets the tone for how often you have to evaluate your progress.
We even have an excel checklist with everything a copy must contain to be «good». The more empirical you become, the easier it is to find the margin for improvement. Segregating the process step by step and measuring those «micro-improvements».
Science over talent
Concluding this article I will tell you what:
- Currently the databases used foreach Hellomrlead campaign are not larger than 300 prospects. And are segmented not only by country, but by industry and position.
- We analyze the Added Value Proposition and Unique Sales Proposition for each position and industry that our client contributes. This allows us to guarantee those positive response rates that we seek.
- Our email automation tool provides us with benchmark metrics by sector and job position to have comparable frameworks. While the campaign management panel itself allows us to categorize each response obtained using a NPS code (happy or sad faces).
As you see again, science rises and prevails over art and emotional talent. We certainly deal with people, but there are hundreds or thousands of them and behind that are the behaviour and response patterns and that is what I think we should never forget.
SDR and Inside Sales KPIs
Our third and final block in this article is dedicated to our other great heroes, the Sales Development Representative and 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 am going to explain what an inside sales department does in Hellomrlead.
In our company we have 3 channels of contact with the potential prospects of our clients: Telephone, Email and LinkedIN.
Our clients allow us to automate certain sequences of messages with a copy and some databases even more carefully chosen than those of email if possible, since we operate with their own LinkedIn accounts.
Our inside sales take care of that «grounds», responding one by one to the messages received, creating conversation and bringing those opportunities to the point that we need – a scheduled business meeting.
To achieve the final goal we have to pay for a sales navigator, a LinkedIn automation tool, prepare coordinated databases with which we execute by email because nobody wants to simultaneously receive an impact from the same person via all channels, and of course invest hours in the sequence of messages that will be used on LinkedIn, in addition to the hours dedicated by the inside sales to answer and report that activity in the corresponding CRM.
Here, apart from the task manager and a time tracker software that we all use in the company, from the accountant to a server, we started to measure in an excel the following:
- Invitations acceptance
- Response rate (to the sequences initiated)
- Number of interactions
- Leads Obtained with LinkedIn origin
Comparing these metrics with the time (money) invested we could calculate the return and evaluate if that means of contact was effective for our client’s goals.
We discovered that in some cases up to 20% of the meetings obtained had that origin. Which is a relevant percentage that defined the ceiling of hours that we could dedicate. Or course we had to take into account that an inside sales does not finish the job, since the final qualification depends on the SDR.
The ultimate step
And finally we come to the end of the journey of those measured and optimized processes … the Sales Developement Representative.
One of the most «expensive» positions due to their responsibility and required talent, without a doubt. Our challenge with this department 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 as many other books such as Predictable Forecasting… And again they all agree on the same thing: measure to be more efficient and effective.
The two biggest mistakes we made
- On their first year our SDRs prepared too much and called too little. Report in excel once a week, look for alternative phones, look for public data of the prospect to fill in the BANT, report in the CRM… All sorts of things.
- We did not know what proportion of time dedicated to the call would help to achieve the desired result (2 leads delivered by day). We set the goal but we did not draw a path.
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 work with a traditional mobile line. Use one of the many VoIP solutions such as AirCall or Vozelia o VozTelecom.
So we acquired VoIP solution integrated with our CRM so that all calling activity would be registered in the «deal» or «opportunity». Thus we would have metrics of call hours, number of effective calls and consequently … indicators. Which hours were the most effective, for example, or what SDR had the best performance of Effective Call to Lead Delivered.
Today an SDR at Hellomrlead spends more than 50% of their time calling. And they have limited other tasks – to report to the CRM and pass the leads obtained day to day to the client. Keeping their focus as much as possible on the tasks that give a return.
All this written above does not mean that selling is only a matter of numbers. Nor that the people in your sales teams do not matter… just their metrics. What it means is that there will be the frustration of your team because of not meeting the company goals such as delivering the desired leads to a client. So in order to avoid that you have to break the entire process into small parts, measure the progress of each one and understand what variable makes the result of that «micro-improvement» change. And that without these clear metrics today I would not be able to tell a client if in exchange for their money I will be able to deliver the meetings he wants or not…
I hope you have made your conclusions.