How Marketing Initiatives and Programs Help Reps on the Front Lines of Sales

Collin Stewart, CEO

31 August 2017

Behind every good salesperson, whether they be an Account Executive or a Sales Development Rep, there’s a high-functioning marketing team. Sales reps love being armed with persuasive content, automation software and, of course, a never-ending flow of leads to work.

And with the exception of outbound prospects, it’s marketers that deliver those goods. Their primary goal is to help sales interact with, and eventually close, prospects. But sometimes content, descriptive value propositions, screenshots, and a regular cadence of emails isn’t enough.

Sometimes, you have to take your high-value prospects out to dinner.

“Our best initiative last quarter was to host Thought Leadership Dinners,” says Franco Caporale, Head of Enterprise Marketing at Branch, on a recent edition of The Predictable Revenue Podcast.

“We invite top prospects and customers for a chef-made dinner in different cities – San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York and, basically, everyone interacts on their business pains, challenges and triumphs.”

Although Branch’s Thought Leadership Dinners are a relatively new initiative – the company tried a few one-off dinners before diving in and hosting five last quarter – they have a been a runaway success. In fact, Branch plans to double the amount of Thought Leadership Dinners this quarter to 10, and branch out to such cities as Toronto, Chicago and Boston.

Of course, Branch will have to cap how many dinners they host – they’re not getting into the restaurant business, says Caporale – but they want to keep visiting markets that may not see the same amount of events as places such as San Francisco.

For example, Branch hosted a dinner in Atlanta last quarter, which was a great success.

“There are a lot of great companies there, but it’s an underserved market for projects like this,” add Caporale.

“So, we are really going heavy on this program. And we are going to scale it.”

Each dinner is attended by 20 people – 3 employees from Branch (all from Marketing, Sales and C-Suite leadership positions), 3 existing customers and 14 prospects. Each of the prospects, according to Caporale, are from top-tier, potentially large accounts that have been hard to prospect into by a Branch SDR.

That said, it’s SDRs that are driving the attendance at these dinners. According to Caporale, Branch SDRs are booking the vast majority of attendees. The company has created a campaign in Salesforce, decided on the accounts they want to invite, sent simple emails highlighting the networking opportunity the dinner presents, and the day / time of the event.

All the prospects have to do is RSVP.

“Our SDRs have sent 8-10 very customized emails over the course of a few months and gotten no response,” says Caporale.

“Then we send a dinner invite and we get a response right away.”

At the dinner, Branch representatives lead the discussion at the dinners, to avoid attendees speaking only with those they are sitting beside. Opening the dinner, a Branch employee will ask attendees what their main mobile challenge is. Later in the dinner, attendees are asked to one mistake that almost got them fired (a popular question that always gets a laugh, says Caporale), as well as a tip or trick that has been very effective to them in the jobs.

A key element in the attendee mix, adds Caporale, is inviting current customers. Prospects love hearing from people already using Bench and is a huge benefit when converting attendees into actual opportunities.

“After e facilitate the discussion, prospects are very keen to introduce other people on their team right away,” says Caporale.

“This is a much stronger way of getting large accounts into our pipeline. Over 50% of prospects invited, not including customers of course, have converted into opps. They meet us in an intimate setting, then we get intros to other team members, book demos and have more engagement.”

For those considering launching a similar dinner initiative, worry not, as these events don’t have to break the bank. Branch’s budget for each dinner is $2,500. Last quarter, they spent a total of $12,500. The return, however, has been substantial: pipeline added from the dinners has been “in the seven figure range.”

For more on Branch’s marketing initiatives, check out Franco Caporale’s full interview on The Predictable Revenue Podcast.