Why Rainforest QA’s Jake Biskar Says Relying Solely On Emails is ‘Irresponsible’ Prospecting

Collin Stewart, CEO

05 October 2017

As Head of Sales Development, at a company heavily invested in activity metrics, sales development leader Jake Biskar figured the key to prospecting was sending as many emails as possible.

The more contact you attempt to make, the more contact you will, eventually, make. Right?

Not so fast.

In a company’s earliest days, Biskar acknowledges, frenzied prospecting activity has a place. But as a company matures, so should sales development practices. In fact, Biskar now thinks just sending email after email is “irresponsible.”

“When I got to Rainforest, I decided the only way to be successful was activity. And early on at companies, yeah, activity is a really good metric to judge if someone is going to be successful. But, at Rainforest, we noticed that metric wasn’t working anymore. It just wasn’t effective,” says Biskar, on a recent edition of The Predictable Revenue Podcast.

“So, I say relying on email is irresponsible because you should just be doing a lot of other stuff. Email is the foundation, but if you’re not doing other things to humanize yourself, then the way you’re reaching out is irresponsible. You’re basically relying on a number to get you to your quota. If I just say ‘you had 700 emails, better luck next month,’ that’s irresponsible.”

A critical reason for Biskar’s belief in more creative avenues for prospecting is simple: prospects are now expecting it. They expect your message to stand out from the others they get – after all, their inbox is full of sales pitches.

“Everyone is finicky if you don’t do enough research. SDRs are constantly up against it,” Biskar adds.

One example of standing out from the crowd is Rainforest’s use of Sendoso – a platform for sending gifts such as company swag or handwritten letters. Direct mail, Biskar says, is a great option to have in the toolbox.

Rainforest uses Sendoso to send gifts to when leads have been unresponsive but are a potential perfect fit. Unresponsive leads, Biskar stresses, are just examples of prospects that require another method of connection.

Another great use of Sendoso is to send small gifts to those companies that have taken the time to chat with a Rainforest rep and share information about their development needs. Even if it turns out they can’t use Rainforest, the more information the Rainforest team can gather the more they will understand their market.

“If anyone is going to give us context on their development process, that’s huge. It’s research for us, and we’ll send a coffee,” says Biskar.

“It also helps us get one more line in, before we break up (i.e. people use Rainforest for these reasons…thanks for your time).

Of course, Biskar and his team haven’t abandoned emails all together. In fact, he calls emails a “foundational” part of prospecting. But, just as he does with Sendoso, he tries to figure out ways to make those as unique as possible.

Typically, that means personalizing the first and last lines of each email his team sends, and having his reps leverage LinkedIn views to let prospects know they are doing their research, and that they think they’ll be a good fit for Rainforest.

“LinkedIn views are really important for us,” says Biskar.

“We’ve also been logging in as our CEO and CTO to show leads to show even more interest.”

Today, Biskar manages a team of 10 SDRs (although the team will soon grow to 12, he adds), each of whom are expected to pass off 12 Sales Qualified opportunities to Account Executives each week.

To get to that quota, each SDR works 500 leads in sequence, makes 30 dials and prospects (gathers research etc.) to another 100-150 leads each week.

And so far, the results from that team have been staggering. Over the past two years, SDRS have sourced $6.5 million in new revenue, a sizable chunk of Rainforest’s almost $10 million of recurring revenue.

One of his SDRs, in their fourteenth month on the job hit $1 million in revenue sourced. All that with a $60,000 average deal size.

Not bad, right?

“I honestly believe we have one of the most successful SDR teams in San Francisco right now,” says Biskar.

“And I think we’ve done it in an interesting way; we’ve given autonomy to our SDRs.”

To keep track of the success and the activity of his team, Biskar uses straightforward Salesforce dashboards to see how many replies each rep is getting, how many dials they are making, and how many meetings they are scheduling (although only meetings that take place are counted towards quota).

Replicating that success with each new hire, however, can be challenging. That’s why Biskar says he spends a lot of his time in the hiring process. He needs performers – all sales teams do – but Biskar says he’d rather hire supportive teammates first.

It’s easier to stand out from the crowd with those kind of people.

“I look for people who want to be part of a team. It’s easy to find someone who wants numbers and to be the best at all costs. Lifting up the team is critical. And, even if you’re numbers are middle of the road, if you’re doing that then you will be perceived as a top performer,” says Biskar.

“That’s where we’re always trying to get to as a team. That’s my number one focus. We haven’t had any voluntary churn on our team.”

For more on Jake Biskar’s sales leadership beliefs and practices, check out his recent edition of The Predictable Revenue Podcast.