The following is a guest post by Michael Pullman, Global Sales Manager at ZUUS Dynamic Scheduling.
In 2017, we made outbound sales a focus at ZUUS and in 8 months we created $1.75m in qualified pipeline. We experimented, A/B tested, and worked the kinks out of our outbound process. In doing so, we found, aside from our success, that the critical step along the way is the handoff from the Sales Development Rep (SDR) to the Account Executive (AE).
Inbound prospective customers have researched 90% of your solution before talking to the sales team. In outbound, we don’t have that luxury. We create demand by probing for problems and then immediately solving those issues. Often the only thing a prospect knows about our solution is a line or two in an email or voicemail from our SDR. They’ve seen or heard a well-crafted sound byte that piqued their curiosity and they want to hear more.
The SDRs contact prospects to arouse curiosity. They reach prospects via email, phone, and LinkedIn. They are looking for a customer who qualifies to use ZUUS because they are experiencing the pain our product solves.
At ZUUS we set strict qualifiers:
- The company must be in the restaurant industry
- Have 20+ locations
- The prospect is either a VP of Operations, Finance, IT or C-Level executive
- Use sales forecasts
- Have labor cost percentage targets
Once an SDR finds an interested customer they set up an ‘Are We a Fit?’ call via email. Then, they’ll introduce the AE as a subject matter expert. Having a perceived expert on that first call means we have a low no-show rate of 13%.
At ZUUS, we morphed our first call into a combined ‘Are We a Fit?’ qualification call and demonstration. In one 50-minute call we can establish a fit, find a problem, and show the prospect the solution. Busy prospects appreciate the efficiency.
We also have both the SDR and the AE on that first call. Having both team members shows commitment. To open the call, the SDR relays what he or she learned about the prospect and re-introduces the AE. The AE can tell stories of similar prospects, customers or solutions we’ve delivered. The disadvantage of our approach is we spend more time with the prospect. Yet, the customer seems to appreciate the introduction to an expert solution consultant.
In the first part of the call the AE re-qualifies the prospect. Do they meet our criteria? Are they aware of the problems we can solve? Then, the SDR hands off the lead, believing they’re qualified and the AE confirms. At this point, we consider the opportunity ‘double-qualified.’ Often we move through the qualification part of our calls in 10-15 minutes. We’re dropping hints about the solution the whole time as well.
By the time we’ve uncovered problems and hinted at the solution, they’re keen to see it in action. From there, we move right into the demo with the short time we have remaining. We’ve found that doing a long demo in the first call kills interest on behalf of the prospect. It bores the customer and puts them in analytical mode. So, I avoid the deep dive in the early stages. I want to gloss over the features and give them a brief run through of the solution. That short run through leaves a great first impression and keeps the customer looking for more.
At that point, we’ll set up a deeper dive with more members of their team and an ‘executive fly-by.’
The deep dive gets more internal stakeholders familiar with the solution. We bring payroll, HR, operations, finance and IT in on the solution early. This provides each of the stakeholders a sense of ownership over the decision.
The executive fly-by is an chance to request senior decision makers jump on a 30-minute call. In this call we’re only demonstrating the standout features. It’s a chance for C-level executives to see where their ROI will come from.
Finally, after the demos we put a proposal in front of the decision committee or decision maker.
A few false starts in the early days taught us we had to get the handoff right. Now, we’re able to qualify out bad prospects and explore a fit with those that are good fits. By introducing the AE as an expert, the SDR gains credibility. With that efficient first call we leave a great first impression. The short demo generates interest, while defined next steps keep enthusiasm high and further meetings in tact.
Top performers crush the handoff. Nail that process and you set yourself up for success throughout the rest of the sales process.
Interested in learning more about outbound? I write about the things we’ve learned on my LinkedIn profile.