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For companies that generate $5-$20 million in annual recurring revenue (ARR), marketing typically sources about 42% of an account executive’s leads. For larger revenue-generating companies with $20-$50 million in ARR, marketing sources only 36% of an account executive’s leads. So, if your inbound traffic is flatlining, it’s time to look into new lead sources to grow your business. How? Outbound sales and marketing processes, which diversify lead sources that help grow your business.
Today, we’re talking to Trish Bertuzzi, CEO and founder of The Bridge Group and author of The Sales Development Playbook. The Bridge Group provides services to the B2B technology space in three areas: Sales development, inside sales, and account-based selling. Trish identifies the biggest challenges when companies are getting started with outbound sales or marketing. Best practices include automation and getting past cold processes to drive huge returns from outbound efforts.
Some of the highlights of the show include:
Quotes by Trish Bertuzzi:
Nathan: When you look at a company that’s generating about $5-$20 million in annual recurring revenue, marketing typically sources about 42% of an account executive’s leads. And as you start to look at larger revenue generating companies, like let’s just say, $20-$50 million ARR businesses, marketing sources only 36% of an account executive’s leads.
You know that tells me? If you’re feeling like your inbound traffic is flatlining, it is time to look into new lead sources to grow your business. Maybe you’re thinking at this point, “Well, Nathan, what might you suggest is that next step, then?” If you’re wondering that, my answer would be outbound sales and marketing processes. That’s why we’re chatting with Trish Bertuzzi today on the Actionable Marketing Podcast.
Trish is the CEO of The Bridge Group and she’s also the author of The Sales Development Playbook. Today, you’re going to learn what Trish sees as the biggest challenges when implementing outbound sales processes and how to solve those. You’re going to learn some of those best practices, with including automation into those processes, and you’re going to learn how to get past cold processes to seriously drive some huge return from your outbound efforts.
I’m Nathan from CoSchedule, and I’m really excited to introduce you to Trish, so let’s get started.
Hey, Trish, thank you so much for being on the podcast today.
Trish: It is my pleasure.
Nathan: Trish, I obviously, have been reading up on The Bridge Group and all the awesome content that you guys are publishing out there. Just for anyone who’s not familiar, could fill me in on The Bridge Group and what you do there?
Trish: Sure. I’m the CEO of The Bridge Group, as well as the founder, and I’m also the author of a book called The Sales Development Playbook. My firm provides services to the B2B technology space in three primary areas: sales development, inside sales, which to us means people who carry quota, and anyone who’s doing account-based selling. A whole variety of services from strategic to tactical, been doing it since 1998, worked with over 380 companies, and, yes, this might be self-proclaimed, but I’m going to say we’re the thought leaders in this space.
Nathan: I don’t even think that’s self-proclaimed. I sought you out for this because I knew that you’d be an awesome guest on this show, so yeah, definitely. I had discovered you guys through a report that you had published, the software as service account executive metrics and compensation research report. I really wanted to pick your brain on outbound sales and marketing processes today, so just to kick us off, what are some of those biggest challenges you see when companies are getting started with outbound sales or marketing?
Trish: It’s not even, the challenge doesn’t just sit with those who are getting started, the challenge sits with everyone now, because outbound is a bigger struggle than it ever has been before. I mean, I have a favorite saying, and it is the following: “Getting to engagement is now the hardest part of the sales process.” and the reason is because our buyers are done with us. Like, they’re done. We’re inundating them. We’re spamming them with email. We’re leaving robo- voicemails. Now we’ve got bots in the mix. We’re not being human with them, we’re just throwing crap against the wall and praying to God something sticks, so they’ve built a wall, the wall is higher than it’s ever been before, outbound’s tougher.
Nathan: I get inundated with those sorts of messages, too. With that wall being higher, what would you recommend for salespeople or marketers to break through that wall?
Trish: It’s not a one size fits all strategy, no matter what you do anyway. I think it really is buyer-based. Different buyer types will react to different ways of outreach, so I think you have to figure out how do your buyers want to be approached. Are they LinkedIn people? Are there people who might like video? Are they techy, so they might like research? Are they sales people, so they might like you to be super personalized. I mean, I think you really have to figure out your buyer type, and kind of analyze their preferences, and then build a strategy from there.
Nathan: Basically, know your audience, and know how they would like to be communicated to.
Nathan: You had mentioned a couple of tactics there. What are some of those effective outreach tactics, especially when it comes to outbound?
Trish: Once again, all dependent, so it depends. I believe if you’re going to use the phone, you have to tell a story with your voicemails. You have to have that story well laid-out in what you’re going to communicate, and each voicemail is telling a different piece of the story, and they’re short, and they’re succinct, and you’re hoping to establish empathy, credibility, and arouse curiosity. That’s all. And then you back that up with great emails. And you back that up with great content. So it all depends on, once again, what medium you’re using, but that the key to it is that you’re telling your buyer a value-based, personalized story.
Nathan: I really like that idea of story, or a narrative. I think the answer to the question I’d ask you next is probably “it depends” too, but I was wondering if you can maybe share some tips on getting started with finding your narrative and knowing what might work. How do you research that?
Trish: You could ask your buyers. Here’s the thing, everybody makes such a big project out of it, right? If you’re selling to the VP of Product Development, you have how many customers that are VPs of Products Development have customer success, go ask them. What are you most likely to respond to from a medium, or message perspective. You have a VP of Product Development in your own company, go talk to that person. Right? It doesn’t have to be complicated. We just have to be willing to start the conversation.
Nathan: As we’re starting to think through outbound, we’ve got our narrative, let’s just say, we’ve got a solid idea of where we’re going to start, are there any sorts of tools or tech that you might recommend that sales and marketing teams look into as they begin outbound?
Trish: Well, you have to have a rock-solid, user-friendly CRM. Not just any CRM, a user-friendly CRM so you want to be able to track everything. You absolutely need to have some type of sequencing tool, something that automates the process by which you do outreach. Not only automates it, but allows for analysis so you can do a A/B testing on your storytelling. I’m a big fan of conversational intelligence tools, where you record the calls, so you’re not only listening to what your reps say, you’re listening to how your buyers respond.
Nathan: I guess you could use that sort of knowledge to go back and update your narrative, right?
Trish: You would hope so. And here’s what kills me: so, conversational intelligence companies like Chorus, Gong, ExecVision, they sell to the sales side of the house. I think a huge opportunity for them is to sell to the marketing and product marketing side of the house because they should be listening to those conversations just as much as sales, just to understand the buyer’s side.
Nathan: When sales and marketing are thinking about starting outbound approaches and really trying to not be separate teams, how would you recommend, or how have you seen successful companies do that? Like, streamline the process?
Trish: They have to build the story together. They can’t build it in silos. Marketing can’t build it and give it to sales, and sales can’t build it and go into execution mode without checking with marketing, because it’s a cohesive story.
Outbound is about sales and marketing alignment. Outbound is about making sure we’re all targeting our perfect ideal customer profile, that our story is in alignment, that our marketing message backs it up, and that all of our content is part of the overall story. It’s very much something that needs to be workshopped, to start, and then built out as a team.
Nathan: As we’re working through outbound, let’s say, we’ve got that sales and marketing process pretty well-defined, at least to start off with. How would you recommend businesses get that steady stream of outbound leads? Is there a really good place to start there, or products or services we should be looking out for?
Trish: Well, there’s no magic bullet, and there’s no product that’s going to be that silver bullet. So many times technology is bought as a silver bullet, and then it never works, so we don’t get our ROI from the technology we just spent money on. I mean, I think you have to have a well thought-out strategy. Outbound isn’t about activity, it’s about a strategy. I think people confuse that. They think, “If we just do enough of something, we’ll get the results we’re looking for.” Actually, what you’re going to get is diminishing returns, so it really is about taking a very strategic approach about who you’re going after, what you want to say, how you’re going to say it, how the message is going to be delivered and how you’re going to analyze your results.
Nathan: When we start looking at outbound and really understanding that it’s maybe a colder outreach method than someone who may have discovered you through your blog, or through your website, or the content, which was one aspect that you had mentioned before, are there any tips or best practices that we should include within our messaging for that first outreach, because it’s a little bit colder than inbound.
Trish: Get to the point. Just get to the damn point. When you reach out to someone for the first time, tell them what your objective is and what’s in it for them. Two things, very simple, “Here’s my objective. Here’s what’s in it for you. Can we talk?” then build from there. But clearly articulate to them in the first message what is in it for them. The purpose of my call today, the purpose of this communication, whatever the case may be. And then make sure that you translate what you want into what they need, or potentially need, and always finish with a call to action.
Nathan: The communication should be pretty short, succinct. Is there any best practices there? We wouldn’t want to leave a super long voicemail or write a super long email. Is that a correct understanding?
Trish: Yeah, I mean, everyone’s like 30-second voicemail. I can’t do a 30-second voicemail, I’ll be honest with you. I can’t. I think I’m pretty damn good at voicemail. Don’t be rambly, be concise, be articulate, have a little passion. Voice matters when you’re leaving voicemail, it absolutely is your only tool, is voice and intonation. Make sure that you’re on point with that. Emails, they’re going to be read on a smart phone, don’t think they’re not, they are. Make sure they’re smartphone-readable. Subject lines still matter, no attachments, all the basics. All the things you can read about in my book–The Sales Development Playbook.
Nathan: I was just going to ask you about that, too. Is there any sources that you would recommend for us to read, or look up, or follow, to continue to learn about outbound?
Trish: Oh my god, there’s a whole conference called Outbound. Ithink it’s in April, it’s in Atlanta, it’s for male, no female, and please note that I’m making note of that, for male sales book authors. Anthony Iannarino, Jeb Blount, Mike Weinberg, and Mark Hunter, and they put on an entire conference focused on outbound. Any of their books, like Jeb’s book, Fanatical Prospecting–mind blowing.
Nathan: I’ll definitely add that to my reading list, along with your book, too. I’ve been gobbling up everything on your blog, so I would definitely suggest that people follow The Bridge Group, too, to learn more.
Trish: We don’t publish on our blog. We’re really bad, probably four or five times a year, but we’re super active on LinkedIn. That tends to be where I express my opinion, and as you know, Nathan, I have an opinion. So that’s a great place for people to find out what’s going on.
Nathan: Excellent, excellent. Actually, that’s a really interesting point, about publishing on your blog, because I didn’t even notice that you publish so infrequently. The content just seems to stand the test of time, for sure.
Trish: And that is one of the reasons we publish infrequently, because too often, blogs are a machine–a content machine. Another saying, “Content is the new spam.” so we use our blog when we release our research, or when we think there’s a super relevant point, like GDPR or the Fair Labor Act that impacts how we pay our inside sales and sales development people, or something like that. Anything that’s more sort of topical, I’ll take to LinkedIn, and that’s a shift. I think people need to think their way through that shift. What vehicle do you use to establish either yourself or your organization as a thought leader. I think things are changing there too.
Nathan: Yeah, I couldn’t agree more. I mean, from the marketer’s standpoint, I loved what you said about content-overload, essentially. A lot of blogs just publish and publish and publish, and they don’t necessarily look at what sticks. I think you guys have created stuff that cuts through the clutter there, for sure.
Trish: Absolutely. Listen to me, absolutely! I’m very proud of our content, so yeah.
Nathan: Honestly, your content is the whole reason why I wanted to chat with you. I just want to pick your brain just a little bit on the reports. How are those reports been helpful for you? I’m like, really looking forward to, are you guys going to create a new report for the SaaS A/E metrics and compensation?
Trish: Yes, so we published two primary reports. We published Inside Sales for SaaS Metrics and Comp, it was done in 2017, which means it will be done again in 2019, we do it every other year. We also published Sales Development Metrics and Comp report, and we do have a 2018 report for that. We have been publishing these reports for over seven years, so we have unbelievably historically trending data, which is always so interesting to me, to see how things are changing. I think that maybe in 2019 we also might do a similar report around customer success.
Nathan: Oh that’s good. I will be gobbling those up for sure. On those reports, have a lot of people discovered you guys through them? I just believe that that has to be a really handy way of inbound process to get new people interested in The Bridge Group.
Trish: It is. It’s our number one lead source. I probably get, we’re not a huge business, but I would say I probably get 30-40 downloads of whatever, whichever piece of content someone chooses a day. That’s a lot of leads for a business our size. It’s been absolutely something that has impacted our pipeline, and absolutely something that has impacted our revenues.
Nathan: It’s really interesting to me to think about that report, too, because if someone’s downloading that, it seems like they’d be a really hot lead for you guys, because it’s not just like a top-of-the-funnel sort of blog post. That’s like very deep, if someone’s looking into these compensation reports.
Trish: Yeah, but once again, I focus on my ideal customer profile. Out of those 30 or 40 leads, there might be four that fit my ideal customer profile. A lead is not a lead just because someone does something. You really have to take your resources and be super focused with them, and we have, I think, perfected that process.
Nathan: You know, from the marketing side, it’s easy to just look at numbers, but we have to be looking more so at the right numbers.
Trish: I always say to my marketing clients,they’re like, “Oh my god, we hit 1000 leads last month.” “How many fit your ideal customer profile?” I’m like, “Yeah, I just asked you that question.I know you don’t like it, but I did, yeah.”
Nathan: If marketing’s job is to bring in people interested in buying whatever you’re selling and introduce them to the sales process, it makes sense to have marketing needs to focus even further.
Trish: Yeah. I always say those who focus are those who win.
Nathan: Yeah, and I think that’s awesome advice and a great place to end this episode. Trisha, I just want to say thank you so much for taking a little bit of time out of your day to chat with me.
Trish: My pleasure. Thank you.
Nathan: Industry benchmarks are an interesting beast. I almost see them, like they’re a forecast of what’s to come. For me, what I do is I like to look at companies who’ve grown really rapidly, and pick apart and understand what they have done to be so successful. It makes sense then to test and try new tactics that these other companies have proven successful before we have grown into this sort of caliber that these companies are already on.
As you start to that research, it’s going to become clear that outbound sales is one of the ways to diversify your lead sources that will help you grow even faster.
Trish, thank you so much for letting me pick your brain today on these outbound sales and marketing processes. This was really great. As always, thanks to you for listening in to this episode with Trish Bertuzzi, she is the CEO of The Bridge Group, and she’s also the author of The Sales Development Playbook. Definitely check that out to learn a lot about inbound and outbound sales processes, and how you can use those to grow your business.
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