Marylou: You’re in this business, you represent a product, you are out there talking to people and you’re first hand, there’s got to be some tough challenges that you see over and over again that you can solve, right?
Mark: I think that Daniel’s probably right on on a couple of fronts. Number one thing that we see when we get engaged with a new customer using our product is they tend to have a spray and pray mindset or status quo way of the way they have been doing things.
Marylou: Is there just not an awareness around it? I mean now granted, you are working with executives mostly, correct? Or leadership level?
Marylou: Yeah, I’m across the board but I just had a conversation yesterday with someone who said I’ve got all these leads and I’ve got this nut and I’m not sure how to get there. My first thing was how are those leads segmented? What is the value of those leads? Do you have that information? He had never really thought of it that way.
Mark: Nope, I think too that a lot of times what leaders forget is that they have all this experience and all these years potentially of understanding of their market and their offering and their competition and all the other contextual element of their go to market. When these green armed sales development reps come on board, they’re just so not contextually in tune with all the things that are gonna come at them or all the things that are gonna be working against them. They try to be successful and developing an appointment, a new engagement for one of their downstream field reps. I think what is important is that you bring out a new green arm, you have to either bake into the training process or you have to bake into the orientation process.
Someone built a team to transfer much of the contextual information about a market that you are asking them to go jump into and prospect because too often it’s like, “Here’s your list, here’s your phone, here’s your Sales Force log in, good luck.” This is one thing that we continually see is I would call it more on the lower end, companies that are probably in the smaller to medium size range that haven’t really thought about this is a proactive, deliberate strategy. They almost look at sales development and dedicating prospect team as more of a tactic and I guess would encourage everybody to do a timeout. Let’s think about this from a more of a strategy.
The fact that we’re literally kind of re-engineering our revenue supply chain here, we really should be thinking about how the arm, our upstream prospectors with a, the right information, knowledge about the market we’re asking them to go attack, and then b, giving them, because most of them do not have the years of experience in terms of prospecting, giving them orientation and training, the right technique to use in today’s very disruptive B2B sales/buyer engagement model.
My biggest thing that I would say is I kind of agree with Daniel at [00:04:36], you’re thinking about this by just hiring people and equipping them with the right data and the right tools and technology and letting them figure it out on their own. That’s a bad approach. You really do need to count some of your budget towards upfront planning, training, coaching, and mentoring. The number one thing that we see over and over again is these SDRs put into these roles, they just simply do not have any contextual understanding of the market place that they’re being asked to go prospect.
Marylou: The biggest thing that I see still, and I don’t understand why this it still happening, but it’s the leveraging of the people, of process, and of technology into a cohesive ecosystem that’s constantly going through continuous improvement.
Mark: Yeah, I think that’s right. The one thing that we’ve built into our platform that we used very vigorously as an outsource provider back in the day when we did this as an outsourced service was this concept of discrete account and contact intelligent attribute, knowing full well that each engagement more often than not just buys me a nugget of net new information. That doesn’t necessarily buy me the appointment or opportunity.
That’s the other planning piece is to be thinking about what are those pieces of discrete account intelligence that will make the difference, maybe not today in the conversation that I’m about to have, but will make the difference in terms of how I approach my addressable territory next month or next quarter or even next six months or next year. That’s another area where we spend a lot of time with our net new customers and just getting them to think about if you knew the answers to these questions, how would that change the way that you position or style or even communicate with this prospect? A lot of people never really thought about it, don’t know how to think about it in that context. They think about it, well, I’m going to go get the basics. And then on the fly, I’m gonna hopefully ask the right question and figure out what to do next.
Marylou: Then be it.
Mark: Yeah, we advocate towards maybe a little bit more data driven mindset and strategy in terms of not everybody is ready to buy when you’re ready to sell. A lot of this lead to timing issue and to the extent that I can acquire intelligence about what’s going on or what the lay of the land is in that account. I can use that to my advantage at a different time.
Marylou: Exactly. Tell us a little bit about where you’re from and introduce yourself formally to the audience so that we know what you’re working on, what your company is all about and what problems you hope to solve for our clients and customers.
Mark: I grew up in a small town in Iowa and have an appreciation for entrepreneurism from my father who was a local entrepreneur who started a couple different businesses in my little hometown in helpless Iowa. Because there wasn’t a lot of daycare, I ended up at a very young age riding around on his coat tail and learned a lot about how to interact with people, how to sell, I watched him sell to business people and farmers products and services. I got a great understanding of entrepreneurism and selling at a very young age.
I’ve probably been into initial soiree with a big enterprise software company in Minneapolis, St. Paul at the time called Washing Software. Basically, I did just about every job you could imagine from customer support to my final tour of duty there was vice president of product marketing and industry marketing. My job was to help to sort out who we’re gonna go sell to, what we’re gonna sell them, what problems do they have that we are uniquely qualified to solve, and then build all the go to market messaging, product direction, and requirements and build enablement tools to actually help our field sales force be successful in winning. That was fun!
We grew that company to a point where it went through an exit via initial public offering. That gave a bunch of us in that company a chance to do a lot of other fun things. Oppsource is actually three former [00:10:24] software exec which took all of our knowledge not only of that journey but a couple other startups and exits after that. We applied it to building a company that’s focused on helping B2B organizations modernized their sales engagement.
That’s kind of a rhetorical statement but it gives us a broad enough vision and a broad enough mission that we can kind of roll all the destructive things that are happening to not only us as consumers but us as disruptive consumers that come into the workplace every day and change the way that we behave and interact with our suppliers and our customers. We’re just trying to develop very purpose built software that helps primarily B2B organizations with complex sales models change the way that they are being forced to engage with their addressable market and prospect. We’re outfitting today’s dedicated sales development prospector with a suite of tools and an automation that effectively allows them to do somewhere between two to four times as much output in terms of engaging conversations with identified prospects, that is what they would have been able to do with their off the rack CRM tool and their excel spreadsheet that they’re typically given as their primarily enabling technology.
Marylou: Wow, tell us how that forex comes about? Is that a typical result or is that something that you work towards over a period of time?
Mark: It’s something that you work towards over a period of time but I will tell you that there are immediate paybacks in the context of the three things that we really push and focus on. First one is organizing the SDR’s day. Many times, we see the excel spreadsheet being used as the crutch for them organizing their list of contacts that they’re going to try to cruise through and either email or phone call. Well, you know as well as I, Marylou, that it takes on average anywhere between, depending on what level and what type of organization your prospect, you can take between 8 and literally we’ve got examples of 20 plus times attempts before we even get somebody to react to it.
Trying to organize that kind of an attempt or touch plan in an excel spreadsheet or Google Docs or Google sheet, that just becomes untenable. The net result is if you look at what most SDRs are able to accomplish given those traditional tool sets, they might be touching a unique prospect contact on average, maybe ½ to two and a half times. When you look at the requirements that the average engaging conversation requires somewhere around 9 to 10 attempts, they’re literally walking over a lot of opportunity and it’s primarily because they have no way to organize their day in terms of who to touch next and what touch am I on. Our platform, we call it Pursuit Pro, it actually organizes their day around those multiple touches throughout a touch plan which can stand days or even weeks, depending on the type of touch plan workload.
The second thing that we do is we try to help them intercept the prospects at moment of intro. We kind of coined that term many, many years ago before it became popular. The reality is that when a business to business person touches a piece of digital content, whatever that is, a video, an online demo, white paper, anything. The half-life of that interest is literally 30 minutes max. We literally work with tight immigration with the likes of Marketo, Eloqua, HubSpot to tie in those digital content interaction so that they get queued to the very path of an SDR’s pursuit list as a red alert moment of interest opportunity. As they’re working through their day and their touch plans, these moments of interest come at them and they get literally split to the top of their list and they’re color coded red. They know that their next best opportunity just got prioritized to the top of their list as a moment of interest.
Marylou: I like that, that’s nice because I envisioned, I have a friend who does a speech on this topic of sequencing and cadencing in rhythms and he likens the SDR touch sequences to plate spinning. It’s your first plate done, you go to your second plate and spin those. By the time you get to the 10th one, the first one is already slowed down or dead and you have to go back and figure out that one. The thought of moving the touches from column to column to column in excel, and I have clients who still do that, by the way, because they have not been given approval to have any type of application or software added to their stack or their tool set or tool kit. It’s crazy when you think about it. The fact that you can bubble up to the top the meaningful conversations is huge because that’s where we spend our time. It’s those 20% or whatever the number is of the list that’s gonna give us the 80% of our results. We don’t wanna waste our time, we don’t wanna waste the prospect’s time either. This whole concept that SDRs still feeling like they’re intruding, this gives them a reason to call, a reason to have a conversation, and gets them closer to their numbers faster with more authenticity and personalization around the conversation.
Mark: That’s right. Those timing that intersection to the prospect in a very fleeting moment of interest around that topic. If you can get to them quick enough, their brain is already wired for the topic you want to speak to them about. Chances are, in today’s world where it’s a very nomadic workforce, it’s much harder to connect, catch them at their desk.. Some of the techniques that we enabled for that moment of interest outreach are automated local president’s dialing. Not only do I know when they just touch digital content but I’m gonna execute a clip to dial a phone call that’s going to be executed with the local president’s I.D. Those two things together increase my odds of actually connecting with that particular stranger anywhere between 9 to 15 times what it would be if I just happen to call that lead next week using my 800 outbound phone number.
Marylou: Yeah, there is a lot of study on that, the local area code.
Mark: Those are kind of tools that we compete in, those are kind of green seed things that you have to be able to offer up but we’d like to believe that we do it in a way that is more in tune with the work flow that fills development reps naturally find themselves. We get that kind of feedback from our users all the time, “Wow, this thing is actually designed for the way I work.” Our only response to that is, “Well, we did build it around a outsourced sales development team that literally made hundreds of thousands of outbound attempts over the course of seven years so we do know a thing about how people typically work and act.” We incubated the product of our own laboratory if you wanna think of it that way. We didn’t kind of dream this up in the back, we actually built it around a large group, a scaling group of sales development reps that were doing this type of work everyday, day in and day out.
Marylou: What types of clients do you feel can benefit most from this type of service and product that you have?
Mark: Primarily, the ones that have a complicated high value offering that have a much more multifaceted buying journey that they’re up against. Some of the features and things that we have built into it help me deal with and shortcut access to multiple players in an account. On top of that, the automation which is the third aspect of what we do, is we automate a lot of the delivery of the email touches for the SDR. Instead of them having to hand craft every email, there are a lot of emails in multi touch touch plan that can be personalized but can also be automated in terms of delivery. That’s for use of an SDR to focus and concentrate on number one their moments of interest and their best next touches in their touch plan. Instead of having to spend a lot of cycles writing handcrafted emails, even if they’re doing it from a template.
That’s organizing the way that they approach their day so that they never have to worry about spending time in the morning figuring out who am I gonna call today, literally organized for them in what we call a pursuit day. Every day, day in and day out, they’re getting moments of interest organized to the top of their pursuit list. The third aspect is just automating as many of those delivery on email touches as much as possible so that they can literally have the machine working for them as opposed to them having to work the machine to get the day done.
I’d say the other aspect of our system that we learned a lot about is as a service provider, we were part marketing automation and we were part sales development. A lot of aspects of our system have incredible analytics, or what email subject line works the best, what time of day are people picking up their phones. We have this incredibly powerful touch plan reporting in analytics capability that helps both the sales development rep for their own addressable territory, kind of optimize their touch plan work loads, but also helps the SDR manager who’s trying to scale a team to share all this great knowledge about their addressable market and the way it’s reacting to their pursuit across a team of many SDRs. Those are the four aspects that we think deliver on this promise of making one SDR into two to four SDRs.
Marylou: I think the topic of personalization is one that we have had a lot of discussion around. It’s covered in my book too, talking about the three levels of email personalization, if you will. I think where people are losing sight, there’s this big “rah-rah-rah” over you must personalize your emails but in reality if you don’t have it set up where you’re working on your top 10, 20 account, you can’t possibly be writing, even if you are just adding to a template, it’s very difficult to do the research and then add that to a template on each of those top whatever clients, twenty clients or so in a highly personalized way. It sounds like you’ve been able to take the best of all worlds and leveraging technology with the sales conversation in tact and maybe you had some data elements but it feels as if it’s a personalized email which is really what we want anyway because we’re looking to have those interesting moments, those things bubbling up to the top in order to be altered to take our time and spend on a one to one type fashion.
Mark: That’s right. Not every touch in an orchestrated touch plan should be automated. I think if you have one or two engagements, whether they’re digital interactions or whether they’re actually brief phone conversations. I think once you’re downstream in a multi-faceted touch plan, you probably should start amping up your personalization because now in the fishing parlance, I’ve got somebody that’s circling my line and I probably need to make the bait as attractive as possible for that particular fish. I think if you move downstream in the touch plan, your level of personalization probably needs to go up.
What we’ve done is we offer as a part of that workflow orchestration letting that either be an automated email or a personalized email. It basically stops the workflow for personalized email and says this is the person that you need to send your next email to but the step is you need to personalize this email for this particular contact. This design to take as much distraction of trying to keep track of hundreds of prospects and what do I do next out of the next. It is not to take away what the SDR says or thinks or positions, that’s where their real craft and the real art comes into the mix. It does take away all the distraction and all the overhead which can be a lot in any given day of trying to organize what do I do next and with who?
Marylou: Exactly. So Mark, how do people reach you or connect with you if they wanna learn more about what you have to offer, where it fits, and how it’s going to change their life?
Mark: It’s real simple. We’re located at oppsource.com. We have all sorts of resources, we shared a lot of our best practices that we learned as actually doing this as a service as opposed to selling our software that we built as a platform. There’s lots of resources there, there’s also a way for you to engage with us and prompt us to get back immediately. We practice what we preach so one thing that we continually hear from everybody that visits us is you guys actually do this moment of interest thing. Yeah, we chuckle, we believe in it and it sets us apart from many of our competitors.
Marylou: Very good. I appreciate your time, Mark, and thank you so much for sharing your insights. For those of you who are listening, this is yet another way to still skin that cat of personalization and feel like you’re really reaching out to those people who want to hear from you but also keeping in mind you have lots of other accounts that are in different tiers, different segments where you can reach people professionally with and engage with them in an authentic way by leveraging this tool or tools like this in order to have those conversations queued up for you ready to go. Thanks again Mark, I really appreciate your time.
Mark: Thank you, Marylou.