315: Qualifying the Lead, with Doug Campbell | Inside Sales

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George: Welcome to the latest edition of the Conquer Local podcast. My name is George Leith. We’ve been over the past few months bringing you the inside track on inside sales. I’m very bullish on adding inside sales to organizations and their revenue motions.

George: It’s basically telesales, but it’s with a lot more rigor and one of the things that we did was we went into an actual organization that is an inside sales machine and started to ask the various leaders of those revenue motions about what made up their day and what are some of the things that they’ve been learning around this very unique way to go to market. So we first started talking to the lead qualifications team. Sometimes they’re called a sales development rep. Then we started talking to the closers, the business development reps, and eventually, we will bring on the folks that make these businesses successful and give you a look at what customer success is all about.

George: But what we wanted to do was bring in the VP of revenue who is over top of a couple of these different revenue motions. The acquisition and the qualification of the leads. So marketing gets you the leads and then sales has to do some stuff with them to see if they’re real or not, and then the group of people who actually make the presentations to those potential customers and close the business and bring them on as new clients. So Doug Campbell is going to join us in a moment as he heads up two of these revenue motions and we’ll find out what some of the most important pieces are in his mind to making these organizations successful when we return on the Conquer Local podcast.

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George: It’s the latest edition of the Conquer Local podcast and Doug Campbell joining us in studio, VP of revenue for Vendasta Technologies. When we were putting together this concept of how we would tell the story on inside sales, there’s probably nobody better aligned to do that then the guy who has been running the inside sales organization here in our very building. And Doug, I know that you are a student of the game but a student of sales because you’ve been involved in sales business for quite a number of years. Tell us how you got your start selling.

Doug: Wow, that was about 21, 22 years ago. So fresh green person in university and just getting out and applied from the newspaper of all sources into sports marketing and got my start with the Regina Pats as an account executive and beating the street and was able to sell local sponsorship packages. And then that turned into a career where I went from Regina to Lethbridge, Alberta as the director of sales and marketing and PR and from there into digital sales where I started four markets in Western Canada for a radio group and from there and to entertainment marketing and then back in digital.


Operating an Inside Sales Team


George: So with that wide ranging background you have been tasked with overseeing an entire sales organization and the topic of these episodes have been to shed some light for those who may not be aware that inside sales are one of the fastest growing industries in the space is being driven by software.

George : Every software as a service company has some sort of an inside sales machine that they’ve built or should in my opinion. And I wanted to get some learnings from you. We’ve heard from your team that set the appointments and do the quality analysis of the leads that are being handed to them by marketing and seeing if there’s a fit.

George: And then we’ve also talked to your team that is involved in the presentation and building out the plans and asking for the business and closing that business and now wanting to take it up a level where you are tasked with that entire revenue motion and understand from you, how you think things are changing with this whole advent of inside sales or telesales where it really is on steroids and in today’s day and age.

Doug: Yeah, absolutely. Just finished coming back from a conference too in Florida and it was the Alexander group’s annual executive conference and you’ve got a bunch of different industries that are looking to integrate inside sales as part of their organization. A lot of legacy based industry. So it definitely is on fire. In terms of taking it up a level and the metrics that, I mean that’s really, it’s driven on metrics and being able to understand what’s going on on your sales floor via your CRM and or what’s going on within the scope of your team.

Doug: So when it comes to our teams, you may have listened to that episode that had a Glenn and or Todd or Myron and I do definitely think that those are must listen to episodes. If you can go back in the Conquer Local podcast and have a listen to them. But in terms of operating an inside sales team, it’s critical and it’s definitely accelerating the whole scene.

George: Well, we look at building out revenue motion as we call it, and you’ve got a couple of them inside your organization, you have this first motion which is qualifying the leads and that is your sales development rep or growth specialist or whatever they’re being called today. But really the goal is to communicate with the lead at the very first moment that they raise their hand, whether it’s filling out a form fill or whatever it might be.

George: And then to start to qualify that lead and see what bucket you can put it into or where it needs to go next. And then you have that other revenue motion, which is around acquiring the customer and then being involved with them for a period of time as they start to come on board and then they move to another group that is going to make them successful and grow them after that.

George: So I really would like to get some of your insights on the lead qualification portion where that segmented sales piece is something that you’re a big believer in. And I know that there have been some challenges in those teams. How have you built that first motion of the qualification over the past couple of years? What are some of the things you put together?

Doug: Yeah, so when it comes to what we call the tip of the spear which is our sales development, or we’ve recently rebranded that to agency growth specialist, it’s really about qualifying that customer and it’s reaching out based on the intent that the customer is converting on. So the multiple different conversion points that are within our funnel. And based on those conversion points that start to the discussion.

Doug: So with the customer and being able to find out whether or not, there is indeed a need there qualifying based on what they may be coming to us for, what problem we’re trying to solve. And then from there understanding enough information about the business and whether or not it might be a fit to have that go into our funnel for our BDR, which is that closing motion on the sale itself.

George: So here’s the piece that I wanted to get to the bottom of by having you here because you’ve been living this for the last few years. There are some sales leaders that will say, and I just had a gentleman say this to me last week, it’s just one role. The person that’s qualifying, the lead should be able to, because I might not get them on the phone again. How have you found by separating this out, how has it been more successful than just going straight with the person is able to get the lead moves right into the presentation?

Doug: Yeah, there’s certain situations maybe where you might want to have that go directly into the closing motion for sure. So there are certain stages of sale that a customer, Hey, they do a lot more research than they used to.

Doug: So, 22 years ago we as salespeople, we had all the information. Now the customer sometimes has more information than the salesperson on the research into the solution itself. But we’ve definitely seen that as a way to engage in that conversation a little bit more efficiently. In terms of numbers with our leads, in particular, our high points is that we’re converting 50% of those leads and on average it’s probably about 35% of them that are making it through and are becoming more qualified in that sales cycle, which allows you to reduce that sales cycle.

Doug: So it goes from something that maybe was going to be a bit longer into something where you have a median of 30 to 90 days or in an enterprise cycle, maybe that’s reducing it and actually understanding the timelines that are involved in that enterprise cycle that may take it six months to a year or longer.

George: Yeah. And I think that the one thing that’s really interesting is, I know that you have this vernacular inside your sales organization of a unicorn and a unicorn is a lead that comes in and gets closed the same day. But you’ve found that those unicorns sometimes are really caught up in the excitement and they don’t really quite know what they’re getting themselves into. And so you’re actually slowing it down a little bit to make sure that when you do finally put the presentation in front of the qualified lead, that your close rate is actually quite high and you’re able to be very efficient. So you’re not burning cycles with closing reps on leads that aren’t tall enough to ride the ride.

Doug: Yeah, absolutely. I mean there’s definitely an aspect of burn cycles there as well that you do save. It’s definitely helped us in terms of accelerating that piece of the process.

George: What would you say is one of the biggest challenges that your sales leaders face inside each of these groups that you’re managing?

Doug: So number one, in terms of a scaling organization, it’s definitely hiring. And it’s that employee attainment marker and ensuring that you have a repeatable cycle for that hiring process. And that starts with having an ideal candidate. An idea of an ideal candidate that you can A, either come back from metrics and say this is what was successful for us previously, or this is what we want as we move into the future in terms of that type of person.

Doug: But it’s also having that scalable process as well too. And that comes down to what happens after you hire the person. So that’s the onboarding and making sure that they have the opportunity to meet their quota or to meet the markers that you want or the metrics that you need as part of that funnel. A 90 days or 60 days, whatever that marker is for your organization to make sure that they’re fully ramped and that there’s some consistency to that process that you can measure it as you move forward and adjust it.

George: How important are dashboards or whiteboards or whatever you’re using to do those measurements?

Doug: Massive, so it is a little bit of metrics based management. So it’s a bit like Money ball per se. And I know you had definitely the growers space on here previously, which was Mark Roberge, he’s basically written the Bible for inside sales in the modern day.

Doug: But it is huge to have those metrics and being able to operate off of them. But you have to pick some of the North stars that reside within them. So what are the most important metrics to your organization that are within those? Because you can get caught up a little bit and having too much data and having a little bit of paralysis by analysis.

George: Yeah, I’ve been here living it with you as we’ve built the organization there. There is way too much data and it’s a matter of finding the pieces that matter. The other thing is, and if you walk watch Mark Roberge over the past few years and some of the presentations that he has done on stage, it’s not like this was something that they nailed four years ago and they’ve been following the exact same process.


Overcoming Changes | Training


George: There is constant learning on an ongoing basis where they talk about, okay, here was the problem we were having and here’s how we overcame it and put a process in place and then it changed. And it’s this constant change and being really careful that you don’t blow it up too quick, if success might be just a week or two. How do you overcome that? Because it seems like there’s a lot of numbers flying around. There’s a lot of people that say they’re experts and there’s a lot of you may have one bad month and then you’re getting everybody yelling at you saying “We got to change some stuff.” What the problem is, how are you overcoming that feeling that you’re still in the middle of figuring it out, I guess is what I’m trying to get to.

Doug: Yeah. So yeah, I call that the Saster syndrome is because there’s a weekly podcast, a Saster. If you don’t know it, definitely tune into it. It’s awesome. But what it does is it features a bunch of VPs, CEOs, founders, and everybody’s got a most important metric and it’s kind of the victory metric that they discovered along the way during their process that was most important to them.

Doug: So again, I come back to, you’ve got to pick and choose some of those, those metric-based battles in terms of what’s most important at the time. Some of it is curiosity and some of that’s going to lead you to new processes or what you might need to fix. But at the end of the day, it’s having those North stars and having the lagging metrics that you want and those leading metrics that are going to get you there. And you might change a lot of those leading metrics along the way, but the lagging ones shouldn’t change a whole bunch.

George: Yeah. I hope that you actually do change those lead metrics inside your sales organizations or even inside your own daily sales duties. You might be doing different things four months from now then you’re doing today to find success. What we have found is that the lead metrics are really the thing that we’re not focused on as human beings or as organizations. And correct me if I’m wrong, but the minute that you started to align your sales organization around lead metrics, something amazing happened.

Doug: Well, yeah, no, absolutely. We had a system that was called 40acts and then we actually moved to what Google is made famous in terms of OKRs, but what it really is, is it’s focusing on those lead metrics to move the lag metrics. And so as we implemented those systems within our organization, we found that we were moving those lag metrics more consistently on the quarter or throughout the course of a whole year as we focused into those leads.

Doug: What you’re going to find out in a hurry is that if your lead metric is wrong, it’s not going to move your lag metric as quickly as you might have thought. And so you might have the wrong lead metric that you’re going to throw out. And that could be, X, Y, Z. It could be the amount of efforts that are being put into an account, could be the type of effort that they’re putting into an account when it comes to an AGS in our organization or BDR in that model as well too.

George: Well, so here’s the interesting thing. What I think I heard you say was you may be focused on the wrong lead metric to get the result that you’re looking for. So there are all these things that you could be measuring, which one at that period of time is going to move the lag metric the most. And it is something that we constantly need to be testing to see. Now when it comes to testing, who would you recommend inside a sales organization you should use for your tester? Should you use your best rep?

Doug: No. I mean your best reps are definitely going to lead you to good places, is that they generally are people that you’re studying to see what makes them tick, what’s making them successful. But you’re also studying in terms of reps that are having issues or that maybe aren’t moving the metrics as quickly in how you might be able to make them better.

Doug: What we’ve done recently and more recently you’re seeing this more and more in every organization is a learning management system of some sort and some way in which you can scale out your training, whether that’s product training, whether or not that’s your sales skill training or what have you.

Doug: That is how we’re able to repeat that and most organizations are able to repeat that more consistently and in a faster way. I mean, even with us ourselves, we’ve seen dramatic improvement where we have new hires that are almost certified by the time that they join our organization because they’ve already went through the first phase of training and are now moving on to where we can actually actively coach them versus getting them up to speed by the fire hose of information that is coming into a new company.

George: So what I think you’re saying is that you’re using that learning management system to even see if it’s the right candidate before you even hire them.

Doug: Absolutely. And so it’s been able to tell us, A, is a person engaged and B, where’s their level of learning at and where can we coach this individual? And we’ve even moved to what we call monthly coaching plans and we focus in on one metric because you throw five or six things at a rep or at anybody. It doesn’t have to be a rep. Anybody in particular, you can’t take that. You’re not going to move five different things when in the course of a month, but you can probably get better at one thing, and it’s kind of a golf analogy, is that if you’ve got a swing and your golf coach says “Hey, you know what? I want you to fix this.” Put your weight in your back foot, take a backswing. I want you to swing a little bit harder and I need you to twist your hips a little bit more. Now go take a swing and you mess it up.

Doug: But if he just says “You know what, take a hundred shots, but just put a little bit more weight in your back foot.” And then once you get that, then let’s start looking at how you can increase your swing speed. Then after you get that, then let’s look at how you twist that hip a little bit further.

George: So some great analogies there from the golf course with Mr. Doug Campbell, the VP of revenue for Vendasta Technologies. Doug, thanks for joining us this week in the Conquer Local podcast.

Doug: Thanks for having me.




George: Some great insights from someone who is doing this every day and let’s look back at what Doug was bringing us as far as key takeaways. That learning management system, the ability to give your teams the chance to learn on their own. I do have to tell you, this is something that I’ve seen working with sales organizations over the last seven years or so.

George: If you ask a question to a group of salespeople in a training session about what they didn’t understand or if they needed further clarification, they’re not going to do that. They’re not going to ask in front of their peers something that may make them look stupid.

George: So having some sort of a video system where they could go watch videos and then answer a set of questions and you can measure their engagement and see if they’ve actually learned anything is really a game-changer and the ability to do this during the interview process to find out if the person you’re hiring is even worth bringing onto your organization will help you in making that wrong hire that we’ve all made, we have in our regret pile.

George: The second piece is this lead and lag measure portion. When you really dig into it, it just makes common sense, but I think that when you’re actually crafting what the measurement should be, it’s hard because we have so much data. If we are employing a CRM and we’re listening to calls and we’re tracking all this information, we could get caught up in a thousand different data points. What we really need to determine is what the crucial lead measure is that impacts that lag measure.

George: So the best analogy is, you’re trying to lose weight, you don’t look at any lead measures like how many calories you’re putting in your body and how much time you’re working out. You just basically look at the lag measure, which is the scale and you say “Oh, greater, Oh shit.” Because you either hit the number or you didn’t hit the number.

George: By getting people to focus on the lead measure, it actually is very freeing for them as well because it can be very frustrating if you are responsible for a lag measure that you don’t control. But if what I control in my revenue motion and to Doug’s example is I have to be making 60 calls a day and booking 20 presentations and I got to make sure that 80% of those appear.

George: Those are the three things that I need to be worried about. How many calls am I making, how many presentations am I booking, and then how many are completed. That’s quite freeing for me as a sales development rep that is there to qualify the leads and get qualified prospects on a call with somebody that’s now going to take them through a presentation and close them. That’s how I’m contributing to that lag measure of whether we inside that organization hit their number or not.

George: So really want you, when you’re looking at your sales organization or even yourself on a day to day basis, figure out what the lead measure is. Figuring out how it impacts the lag measure, which is probably where you’re being compensated is on that lag number. It’s not as easy as it sounds to do it. It is a bit of an art, but once you get it figured out, you will find that it is a game-changer.

George: Well, thanks for joining us on the Conquer Local podcast this week. We’ve had a lot of great feedback on inside sales. As promised, we’re now going to go inside to where we make those signed customers successful on a future episode, which is coming up.

George: Thanks for joining us here in 2019 for the Conquer Local podcast. We’re looking forward to seeing you next year in 2020 and future episodes. My name is George Leith. I’ll see you when I see you.