Episode #14. Sales Development insights that actually work with Jeremey Donovan
Episode #14. Sales Development insights that actually work with Jeremey Donovan
Guest of the day:
Jeremey Donovan — SVP Sales Strategy and Sales Operations at SalesLoft.
He was formerly SVP of Research & Advisory Services at CB Insights and a Group Vice President for Research Marketing at Gartner Inc. Jeremey’s expertise includes marketing, sales, product strategy, new product development, and product management.
SalesLoft — the #1 sales engagement platform, with Headquarters in Atlanta and 400 people onboard servicing 2,000 clients. SalesLoft was named the Best Company to work for in Atlanta.
What will you learn?
Sales operation at SalesLoft with some juicy insights;
SDR role in the sales process;
Best practices and insights for SDR recruitment and clients’ generation.
Michael: You are SVP of Sales Strategy and Operations. So what is primarily your role within your company? Are you working with the sales team? Are you working with customers?
Jeremey: The job title would imply a little bit more internal, so working across the sales team to make sure that we have the right KPIs, dashboards, and so on, we have our territories properly assigned and our reps prioritizing the correct accounts within those territories.
Making sure that deals are getting executed properly at the finish line with our deal desk, sort of traditional elements of what you would think of in sales operations. And then within the sales strategy function, that's really thinking about not what's happening now, but what's happening three, six, nine, twelve months from now, just to make sure that we have the right capacity in place.
For example, we have the right sales processes in place to be successful. So those are the pieces. On the customer side, I do actually have a ton of customer involvement, simply because since we sell to sales professionals and sales leaders, they'll often want to talk about how SalesLoft actually uses our own product or even independent of our product, how SalesLoft runs our own sales operations. So I'm often sharing best practices with peers who are curious about how we handle territory, which has nothing to do with our product whatsoever.
Michael: I would love to talk about that during today's session with you. So I've seen on your LinkedIn company page that you have about 2000 paid customers right now. Is that right?
Jeremey: A little over 2000. Yeah, that's right.
Michael: So you service marketers and sellers, but what type of companies are they? Is it small, midsize, or enterprise?
Jeremey: It runs the spectrum of enterprise, SMB and what we call emerging so much much smaller companies, so it really runs the gamut across all of those, and industries we mainly focus on historically are bread and butter is other SAS companies actually, but I would say more generally B2B, sales-centric companies would be our target.
Michael:And then based on your business model, you have different pricing tiers. What is the difference between those pricing tiers? And again, I'm just looking to kind of give you some context of why I'm asking this. Obviously, you know in SAS business, based on the way you're selling your product based on the subscription, you probably have different salespeople within your organization that is focusing on the midsize or enterprise-level companies, negotiating big deals, and those that are taking in both - qualifying and closing. I would want to talk more about that later on but want to first establish the understanding of your products and the pricing and the different tiers, and then just fall into the team composition and what parts of the team are handling what parts of the process.
Jeremey: Yeah, that's a great question. So right now, we have, as you described tiered set of products. All of our salespeople, regardless of whether they sell into smaller companies, midsize companies or enterprises can sell that suite of products and those tiers... I don't want to make this a marketing commercial so I'll say it more abstractly.
The tiers relate to the fact that we have three main value propositions and those value props get associated with features that go into the products. To be a little more concrete and not super abstract about that, the three kinds of value props that tie to features that we have. One is cadences, which is all about the workflow for how you prospect and engage your customers, the traditional sales engagement space. Then we also have what we refer to as conversations, which is the conversational intelligence space, so that the peer set that people would be more familiar in that space would be gong, chorus, exacerbation, and so on.
So we also integrate that. That is one of the entitlements that exist in our product packaging. And then the third thing is deals which allow account executives, or I guess, retention and customer success focused people to manage their opportunities and know what the opportunity health is so that they can actually take action to advance opportunities forward.
There's a number of companies in that space, but I guess the closest competitor that people probably would think of as Clary, so people may have different needs for different people within their organization. So we might sell a mix of different seat types if you will, based on the need of the organization for those three core value propositions.
Michael: And then how much money you were making per customer on the low end and on the high end?
Jeremey: We don't share that publicly so I can't answer.
Michael: Got it. I'm sorry about that. Can I get information about the average monthly subscription? Is it like $100, 500, 1000, $10,000?
Jeremey: It just varies so much by segment. I mean, we have some smaller companies where we have big contracts. Some of the larger customers are public, so for example, IBM and Google, and so on. So LinkedIn, those are all kinds of public. So I mean, those can be very, very large contracts.
Michael: And then with regards to your acquiring those customers, how big is your sales team right now?
Jeremey: We have, I believe we have about somewhere between a hundred and 150 salespeople.
Michael:150 salespeople. And do you guys have it like a full cycle? Sales call when you've got the lead, talk qualify, close and then support, or you have sort of like SDRs, sales executives, account managers. What's the team structure?
Jeremey: We're pretty hyper-specialized, as you would imagine in this space, running a little bit, I guess, of that predictable revenue playbook. So we have absolutely SDRs who are sourcing opportunities for our account executives. We do separate inbound from outbound SDRs so we don't have all bound SDRs. We don't think that makes sense. So those inbound and outbound SDRs feed our account executives with opportunities.
The account executives then manage those opportunities to close and will retain the commercial relationship with that account until the renewal. So any upsell, which is very common in year one, they will take care of. In parallel when the customer signs, the first obviously go through. We have customer success people who are responsible for the non-commercial part. They, as it sounds, they're responsible for customer success, so they're driving adoption and usage and providing advanced support for those customers.
And then once the year ends, then we move into account managers. So account managers only own accounts that are at least aged one year, and then they are responsible for the commercial part of the relationship, and the CSMs obviously continue.
Michael: Talking about SDRs. 150 salespeople, how many of them are SDRs?
Jeremey: 40 are SDRs
Michael:40 SDRs. And what is the team or department structure? Do you have an SDR tier, like senior SDR or junior SDR, or team leader?
Jeremey: Structurally. I mean, we have a director, managers, and SDRs. The SDRs go through three promotion tiers. So it's SDR-1, SDR-2, SDR-3, and that's independent of the segment that they serve. So yes, we do segment our SDRs, whether they're serving the SMB world, the mid-market world or the enterprise world, but we don't do a progression across those three.
It's not like you enter in SMB, you get promoted to mid-market, you get promoted to the enterprise. It doesn't work that way because they're not SDRs long enough to go through. I guess you could do those maybe six months, six months, six months in theory. You could do that, but we don't do it that way because that would be too disruptive. So instead you go through that sort of Level 1, Level 2, Level 3 within that segment.
I really love this model. It is extremely objective. There's no subjectivity to it. In order to be eligible for promotion to Account Executive, you have to source 150 opportunities. At the 50 opportunity mark, you graduate from SDR-1 to SDR-2. At 100, you go from SDR-2 to SDR-3, and then at 150, you are promotion-eligible for AE, so it's extremely objective and feels very fair and balanced that way.
Michael: And then they need to source 50 opportunities to get from Level 1 to Level 2, and then it's six months. So basically, their KPI is about 10 opportunities month over month. It's like 10, 15.
Jeremey: You got it. It is exactly 10.
Jeremey: Yes, and they have to ramp so that's why it's about a year and a half for them to get through that process.
Michael: I wanted to touch base more about the SDR workflows. Are you hiring all the SDRs in Atlanta, or are they scattered across the US?
Jeremey: Almost all of our SDRs are in Atlanta. We have a handful in Indiana through the acquisition of another company, and then we have SDRs also in London. We have a London office. So those are where our SDRs are, but otherwise not scattered. We do have other offices - we have a New York office, we have a San Francisco office, but we don't hire SDRs in those locations. Economically, it doesn't make sense if you can hire people at a lower cost of living places.
Michael: Now do you work remotely? So how is that for you? Have they been working remotely before the whole pandemic happened or ...?
Jeremey: No, they had not been working remotely, and fortunately, I think the tools we use make it easy. Zoom Info, LinkedIn Sales Navigator using the core SalesLoft platform to do their job, so from tools and technology point of view, that was a pretty seamless transition. I think the biggest challenge with the SDR function remotely is probably for the managers to coach.
We can track activity also, so that's not an issue. In fact, activity levels since people are working from home are way up because they don't have to commute. So activity levels have been great, opportunity generation levels have been great. If I were an SDR, the thing that I think would be hardest is just like getting coached remotely and having the energy of the team. When I would walk the floor and people are ...it's a healthy culture on the SDR floor. They are tossing the football, they've got a basketball hoop set up, and then even more seriously, they're trading ideas for what works and what doesn't work. So you have to find ways to synthesize the energy as well as the best practice sharing, and I think we're making good progress at doing that.
Michael: I started with this just to kind of touch base on the ramp-up period. You mentioned you have that start period? So what's the time that you need after hiring the SDR to get them to the point where the SDR can hit quota on a monthly basis, and what is the coaching period for you and what does this consist of?
Do you guys have an external program that you use to hire to coach SDRs, or you basically have all the internal processes for the SDR, and how much time does it take to move from Point A to point B, to get this SDR up to speed with all that you're doing? What's the process there? I've talked with someone a few weeks ago about their SDR process, and they said that their training is more like shadows. So they would link an SDR with a senior SDR, and then they basically go through that shadowing process for a week or two, and then just a few training sessions and that's it. So what's the process for your company, considering that you have like 40 people that you probably have some turnover?
Jeremey: Well, it's more disciplined than what you described. So we have an incredible sales enablement function in the company. For how many salespeople we have, our coverage ratio of sales enablement to sales is quite high. We currently have 4 people on our sales enablement team for the 100 to150 salespeople, so it's quite high. And actually, within the sales enablement team, we have a dedicated sales development/ sales enablement person.
And that individual was one of the top managers. He was an SDR and he was one of our top SDR managers. His name is Colin Waltrip, and he recently moved over into the sales enablement team so he is fully dedicated to ramping and ongoing training and support for the SDR team, so we're not using an external system. I think like a lot of companies, we have a hodgepodge of our own ideas and all the external ideas that we're able to cull from books and peers and so on.
They go through about, I think it's a two-week kind of intensive regular training program, as you would expect, with some asynchronous training as well as a heavy amount of role play. And then after that two weeks, they hit the phones, but they are heavily supported and they continue training, both formal training through the sales enablement organization, as well as role-plays and coaching with their managers. So that training is ongoing. And then yeah, Colin and the rest of the sales enablement team, as well as the managers are supporting the SDRs, both again in ramp and beyond
Michael: If I am new on the job, and then when you build your training program for your SDRs, have you used a lot of external resources as you mentioned, thinking about revenue. Is there like a must-read book for the SDRs for you guys?
Jeremey: I'm not close enough to it to answer the question. I am not aware of any "must-read" books for them. I am a humongous reader. We could probably spend the whole podcast talking about sales books, nonfiction books, fiction books, Sci-Fi. You can get me started on books. I have acknowledged that relatively few people actually read books cover to cover, and I don't know what the proportion is in I don't know what the generation. I used to think Gen X was young. I'm Gen X; now Gen X is old. It's the way I used to think of baby boomers, so I feel like I'm an old person now. So I don't know what the 20, 25-year-olds of today are called. Millennials or something like that.
Michael: 25 years old are millennials and then the twenties and younger are Zoomers.
Jeremey: Zoomers, yeah. So I suspect having a 19-year-old of my own that reading books cover to cover is... I wonder if it's like even rarer now in the age of Facebook, but anyway, that's my side comment. I think it is important to read. I wish more younger people read, but anyway, I've acknowledged that they don't read, so I don't expect that they have any required cover to cover reading.
Michael:You don't have that sort of requirement for your SDRs. So in your training process, there's no sort of rule of thumb saying that you need to read these five books and then you go from junior to senior. If you don't read them, then we don't promote it.
Jeremey: No, no, we don't tie. There are certifications absolutely that go on, but they're more like one-off certifications on particular skills or product knowledge or value prop messaging. So we definitely train and certify, but again, in order to get promoted from SDR-1, 2, 3, and then become AE promotion eligible, there's only one metric that matters, which is going from 50 to 100 to 150 opportunities generated, and it's clear as day. What I'll say is I think the incentives are aligned and that those who engage in a) activity and b) making themselves more effective by paying attention and diving into the training are the ones who will be more successful. There are tons of research out there that says that for learning to be effective, it actually has to be challenging. If you just get easy stuff thrown at you and don't challenge yourself, then you're not going to learn.
So, for example, I've seen SDR teams where... Let's say a whatever LMS you use Lessonly or Mind Tickle or Learn Core or whatever, whatever you use. I've seen instances where sort of those modules come out and then all the SDRs sort of gathered together and give each other the answers, and they're missing the point. The point is not getting a passing score on this little Lessonly. The point is to challenge yourself to think, because that is what's actually going to help you absorb the material, make you a better SDR, help you get promoted to Account Executive faster. So sharing the answers, it's funny. In a school that's considered cheating. In the work environment, it can be considered collegial, but I view it as really unfortunate when I see that happen.
Michael: Unethical, right? With regards to the hiring of SDRs - again, I'm not sure if you are familiar with the process, but the question that I have is whether I need to hire people that have been on the job already and have some sort of experience, or is it better for me to train and to hire fresh people that haven't been on the job, and then I can get them all the information that I need them to have.
So what is the hiring way for you guys with regards to the experience? And then if you hire folks that didn't have experience in the space, have you seen that those particular professions that those folks had before joining the SDR teams that now they can progress and propel themselves, even in a more efficient way, just because of their prior experience?
Jeremey: Yeah. I can comment on this very directly. So many people would probably answer that off of gut opinion. I am an engineer originally and remain someone who's a student of data science. I don't want to call myself a full-on data scientist. So we actually answered this in a very fact-based way. We polled every SDR that ever worked for Salesforce in the history of Salesforce, and we sent that out to...we use Upwork for this to fill in biographic data for them.
When they joined Salesforce, where had they gone to school? Did they have a Masters's degree? Did they have a law degree? What was their prior job, if they had a job before they joined? What was their role? What industry did they work for? When they were in college, did they play sports or not, to figure out whether that mattered. All these things, right? And then we define success as they got promoted from SDR to AE at Salesforce. That was our definition of success. And we looked at what was more likely to make somebody a successful SDR.
I don't have the full list in my head, but some of the things that you said. We found that people who were SDRs elsewhere before joining Salesforce as an SDR were less successful. So that was a negative predictor. We found that the school you went to; the rank of the school you went to did not matter. Most degree types do not matter with one exception, which is if you have a STEM degree - science, technology, engineering, or math degree - but there are so few SDRs who actually have STEM degrees. If you ever see someone applying for an SDR job who has a STEM degree, hire them immediately because they're very, very, very likely to be successful, but again, it's rare.
Sports was an interesting one. Everyone thinks sports matters. What we found was playing sports in college does not matter with one interesting twist, which is if you separate individual sport athletes from team sport athletes, having played an individual sport was predictive of success in the role, so for example, I don't know, swimming, tennis, golf, track, which yes, you get a team score, but really it's an individual competition, so gymnastics, those sorts of things.
But if you were on a team sport like baseball or basketball or football or even soccer, which is what a lot of people think about as being athletes I want to hire into sales, they're statistically no more predictive. It was about a 2000-person sample. They were statistically no more likely, and then I know I'm going on a bit, but I want to answer all your questions.
The other one was the industry. The industry you came from does matter, at least again in that Salesforce sample of people successful at Salesforce. Those who came from the professional services world were more likely to be successful, and very specifically those who were former recruiters. And then the last piece, and then I'll put it all together and then we'll talk about what the ideal profile is. The last piece is work experience. We found that people with about two years of work experience were to be successful.
So, putting that all together, if I were to pick who I would hire, my two key criteria - sorry for the verbal stumble, there - I would hire recruiters with two years’ work experience. I think that's a common profile to be able to hire. There are enough of them and especially right now, unfortunately, a lot of recruiters are probably losing their jobs. I have deep empathy for them. The good news is those people make incredible SDRs, so those are the SDRs I would hire. And then if you're super lucky, then you could filter for former individual sport athletes. And then the rarest of the rare would be those that also have STEM degrees, but I think that I would not use that as a selection criterion because you won't have enough people to hire.
Michael: It's sort of a data science-driven approach for hiring SDRs. Do we have the same sort of data-driven approach for the internal SDR operations, like what to send, who to send, how to send, when to send the data-driven approach for the outreach? Do you have the same approach?
Jeremey: Yes. We're incredibly data-driven and we have models, statistical predictive models for account assignment that tell us based on about 15 or 20 different factors how likely an account is to become an opportunity, how likely an individual is to get attached to that account. So yes, we have a high degree of sophistication around that.
Michael:This data treatment approach, does it also relate to the way the SDR works? For example, how they send emails, how many emails they send per contact, and so on and so forth? If that is the case then, do you think that it stops the SDRs from thinking out of the box with regards to being creative with their approach and creating some new things that haven't been tried before? I'm asking this because I kind of have a very similar problem right now because I have a team of 20 SDRs, and we also are process-driven, but we like everything to be very clear.
So that when there is a person on the job, that person knows that all of the things that have been done before and what's needs to be done. And when I see that the SDRs that started working with us and they've been on the job for a year and they've been just going through that process, when there is a problem, when there is a mistake that you need act fast and be very creative, they don't have that skill because they rely heavily on everything that's already been provided to them. So what's your take on that?
Jeremey: On the first part of the question, I like your insight on what they do when there's a problem. In the first part of it, I'll start by saying...I don't know, you have different epiphanies that you encounter throughout your life. And one of the epiphanies I remember having when I was probably in my twenties was that constraints foster creativity, which is a weird thing to say, but it's like I think one of the Apollo missions. Maybe it was Apollo 11, Apollo 13. I can't remember which one it was.
There was this famous thing that everyone talks about where something was wrong and then they got all the stuff that was inside the capsule and they had to figure out how to fix it with just that available set of things. So that's that example of basic constraints foster creativity, and I've seen that throughout my life is like, I actually want to know what my boundaries are within something so that I can innovate within those boundaries. I would apply it to the SDR world as well, which is yes, we are prescriptive in the cadences, so the number of touches that they do after, what period of time, what the default starter messaging is within those.
We don't have them memorize scripts, so I think there's creativity within the top track, but we do A/B test what we say lightly. We do very rigorously A/B test the subject lines, readings, email body content length, even it comes down to how we sign off.
We know that the highest reply rate comes from a one-word subject line, in general, and that's usually your company name, so for us, our starting subject is SalesLoft. We know that when you put the greeting, rather than saying Michael or hi Michael or hello Michael, it turns out that hey Michael is the best. We know that the first sentence is perfectly fine to start with " I", like I noticed ---, or I hope. That's a perfectly fine thing to do.
We know you should not end that first sentence with a question mark. You actually should end that first sentence, if you can do so genuinely, with an exclamation mark. We know the email body length should be 50 words to 100 words. We know that you should sign off with "best" as opposed to thanks or thank you or whatever. So we do engineer a lot of those things, but then we also allow a significant amount of creativity that we expect, not just encourage, but expect our reps to personalize 20% of the template because we know that you can double your reply rate if you personalize 20%. But we also know that if you go beyond 20%, you're wasting your time.
I think there's a lot of creativity to be had within those constraints, and I always encourage SDRs that this is the hardest job in sales. It's the most gruelling, demanding, can be extremely monotonous. I try to set that expectation that it is an 18-month grind, unlike probably anything you'll ever experience again. But when you get through that 18 months, you've opened the door to incredible earning potential as an Account Executive and as a sales leader.
So you just got to get through it and how do you get through it? You get through it by making every day like an interesting challenge of testing, something new that maybe no one told you to do. Just test something and see if it works for you. We don't say you have to do it exactly this way. We try to give them the flexibility to do that.
To your latter point about if they hit a hiccup and they don't know what to do, I don't know. I mean, I haven't seen that. I was actually thinking about the transition from SDR to AE. And what I can tell you is based on our own data and things I've observed elsewhere, if you are an SDR - take that Salesforce example and this is true by the way because we studied this too. If you were promoted into AE from SDR at Salesforce or SalesLoft or wherever, you're far more likely to be successful as an Account Executive than if you were hired externally.
So both in terms of your year one in particular revenue attainment, quota attainment, as well as your likelihood of being successful and moving up the ranks in the outer years. So I feel like the SDR experience sets people up for success in that way because it teaches them to grind and to prospect, which I think is so important. So I have not observed what you talked about, where they hit a wall, but I also may be too far removed. I did run our SDR team for about a year. I had not observed that there, but I was also managing the manager, so I don't know.
Michael: Jeremey, it's sort of inspiring what you just shared, especially the part when you were just giving some data of what works and not works. I'm also like small tricks, but they give a great difference with regard to the way you market your product or service. As one of the examples, you know, there's an approach I will give for the right person. When, instead of looking for the right person, you put a colleague name as a variable, and you say, Hey, you or John or John Doe or something. And then you say, Hey, John, I'm looking for the person to speak about this, and I'm not sure if I need to talk to you or your co-CEO, John.
It's huge because then instead of just saying, Hey, I'm looking for that person, you mention your colleague's name and he say, okay, you know what? Talk to John because he's the right person about that. And then you'll send an email to John say, Hey, John, I just talked to Michael. He said that I could reach out to you about this. So they'd say John referred you, like in the subject line.
Jeremey: Yeah. One of the most killer ones, someone prospected me with was rather than sending an email to me, they sent an email to my boss and they said, should I be talking to Jeremey? And then my boss forwarded it to me. That was a job that I was new to when I got that email. I was probably within my first month or two, especially that I'm anything my boss sends me, I'm going to assume they premeditated and this is important that I need to read it and so on.
So I thought that was a killer thing to do is send to the person's boss and say, should I be speaking to, or even somebody else senior in the company that would likely know your prospect? Should I be talking with...? Should I speak with Michael is a killer approach.
Michael: We also tested an approach where we had three people that were decision-makers and one was the Exec, and two were like VPs at the director level. And then we reach out to them first. And then from that, from the SDR added their names or something and then we added the CEO name as well, like CEO mailbox that we were using.
And they would reach to their CEO saying that, Hey, I just received your contact details from my team that talked to or reached out to your colleague. And I just wanted to level this off to this higher level and talk about this. Should I tell my team that your company is interested? And it's a heavily personalized approach where you just kind of level up the decision-making process.
Talking about the rough numbers and the data science approach that you guys have, I have a question about the call to action, because I think it about 5 to 10 years ago, there was a thing that you can just say your call to action to say, Hey, if you're interested or I would love to talk, let me know when you're available, but you'll put in an exact time and date say, Hey, I'm available tomorrow or next Tuesday at 2:00 PM. And that's sort of like tricks the psychology for the person because then the person can check the calendar and say, No, I'm not available at this time, but I am available at that time.
So that increased the conversion. But I think that a few years ago, in the last 5 years, so many companies and individuals started using that approach so now it's sort of annoying. When you say people just mentioning the calendar or something. So now I see that something, Hey, I appreciate your feedback or no, I can send you more details. So have you seen there is a difference between the CTA mentioning that time and date and does still works right now, or you need to be more gentle with your approach and be not very oppressive?
Jeremey: I looked at this about, I don't know - 3, 4 months ago, and I found that that the CTA didn't matter. Just keep it kind of short and tight and no matter how you craft it, it actually does not matter. Just yesterday, there was a post put out by Gong about this and I'm trying to remember exactly what they said, but they said that... let me see if I can find it real quick. It's actually worth a pause here to hunt this down.
The post that was put out basically said in early-stage prospecting and cold emails, they said that basically any interest in speaking CTA was the best, and then kind of open-ended what time works for you or a very specific CTA, like, Hey, are you available Wednesday at 2:00 PM? That those were not as effective; they were only about half as effective.
So just sort of asking any interest was like twice as effective as the others. I don't know. I was not able to replicate that finding in the data that I looked at, and I looked at literally millions of emails to do that. So worst case, it doesn't matter. Best case, asking effectively like any interest in speaking or something to that effect. Are you interested in speaking, more in general, they say is better. So why not? Can't hurt try that one. And if you're looking for that post, just look up Devin Reed at Gong on LinkedIn, and the title of that post is "This surprising cold email CTA will help you book a lot more meetings."
Michael: You mentioned that you look at millions of emails. If that's okay, may I ask which way you can aggregate that kind of data from the data science standpoint? Do you sort of like filter out or measure out? What's the process there if I were to want it to have the same sort of study internally if I can do that? Is it very complicated? Do I need to be a data science person for that, or are there some tools and tricks for me to be able to leverage that?
Jeremey: I'm sure they're probably are some off the shelf things. I mean, the way we do it probably requires a degree of, complexity. We store all of our customer data in a data warehouse. The data warehouse removes personally identifiable information (PII) because you have to be very, very careful with that. So we remove any personally identifiable information and we have tools that we built that are Python scripts and so on that allow us to kind of ask questions across millions of emails, tens of millions, even hundreds of millions of emails. We can ask those questions like if you put this word in the subject line, how does the reply rate compare to the average? So because of the PII restriction, we can't look at any individual email, but we can interrogate the emails subject line, body, whatever.
We did two interesting ones this past week. One was, are gifts good or bad? If you put a gift in and it turns out that that gifts actually are neutral. You're no more likely to get a reply than if you don't ever or not with a gift. Another person, someone else asks...another customer, because we're often answering these for our customers, asks when you put a hyperlink in an email, does it matter whether it's a raw URL, or can you use hypertext instead where the URL is hidden behind whatever standard plain English you have.
And it turns out that that's another one where there's actually no difference between the two. Someone else did another study this week that I read that said - and we didn't check this one. There's a caveat to those two that I said, which is if you use as a URL shortener, like Bitly or goo.gl, whatever the shorteners are, that those shorteners actually have lower click-through rates than not using the shorteners. So anyway, like stuff like that, but to answer your question right, was that we have a data warehouse and then we basically throw SQL queries and Python scripts off against that, which is more traditional data science work.
Michael: That's really cool, by the way. Really cool. I do think that my company, we need to get to the point where you guys are, and also start doing that because we have thousands of the conveyance for different industries and we didn't manage to figure out the data yet. But I do think that you need to be data-driven with regards to your decisions. That's for sure.
Jeremey: It helps us in three ways. I mean, it helps us one, obviously internally, as we're thinking about what to do and how to craft our prospecting. Two is it helps our customers and that's probably the most important. And then three is, it helps our marketing is to be able to share that information. My view of marketing - at least personally anyway - is I try to avoid all self-promotion. I even try to avoid company promotion, which is why if you ask me SalesLoft specific questions, I get uncomfortable because it's not how I operate. How I operate is sort of how we have been in this conversation, which is I'm just going to drop a whole crapload of data on you and hopefully give you some value in the process.
Michael: That's actually great. We know when we built the Belkins Growth Podcast, we want to promote neither Belkins nor our customers. We just want to have nice conversations and get some value out of it for folks that are listening to this.
Michael: Quick question for you. Talking about SalesLoft, not about the knowledge but about the way you work. Your SDRs also have sort of ...they do LinkedIn outreach and a voice drop or some phone drop or something like that. So they have this sort of 360 kinds of the process where they do a bunch of different channels. Correct?
Jeremey: Yeah. I mean, the term is sort of a little out of vogue these days, but omnichannel, I guess or multi-channel is the way to think about it. So phone, email, social, and actually now increasingly more direct mail. So we have two direct mail vendors that we use and partners Sendoso and Alyce. So both of those have been great for us for developing and nurturing opportunities.
Michael: The LinkedIn traffic grew by 40% over the past two months with regard to how people engage with them. So did it affect the way you handled your outreach campaign for your SDRs? Had they started focusing more on LinkedIn, or did it change the process yet for you?
Jeremey: I think what's happened in the last two months is what I hinted at earlier. You've got all these SDRs. A) You got a ton of SDRs working from home, so they're not commuting and they can be in theory and they're not distracted by banter, conversation. The social conversation is good because it helps you build your culture and helps you relieve stress, but in the absence of that, they're going to do work.
So I think SDRs worldwide have had all this extra time. So I think that a 40% increase is just a reflection of people having more time. I also think very sadly, Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, all these economists have said that GDP in the US is predicted to be sequentially down 30% to 40%, which is mind-boggling when you think that GDP in any given year is usually ranges, I don't know, 3% to 5% increase, so to drop 30 to 40% is astonishing.
So I think part of the increase in activity is simply a response to fear, rational fear of the pipelines drying up. You need a lot more pipeline now to actually hit your numbers. So yes, the LinkedIn activity has increased, but I'm sure you've been the recipient of this as well, so have the phone calls and so have the emails. Everything has increased probably dramatically in the last two months from a prospecting point of view.
Michael: What you're saying is that is the reaction to the crisis and it's not positive. It's more like in a more negative way. The things are getting done the same way, you just need to push twice as hard to get them done.
Jeremey: I think that's correct. Yeah, again, I think it's two-fold. I think it was simply that SDRs and AEs, prospectors, in general, have more time and have become more efficient with that time because there are less in-office distractions and less commuting. So I think that's probably the bigger factor, but then yes, I also feel that it is a fear reaction.
Michael: Talking about prospecting, we as a company had a challenge of figuring out which industries we can generate leads with, because now cannot say for sure that this industry is doing better or doing worse and obviously you have some numbers, but they always fluctuate. So we see that these states are coming out from the crisis. This industry is doing better. These are bad areas for support. So do you have a more systematic approach with regards to understanding what kind of industries or markets we can plug into and which you don't need to bother at this time and you need to shift that if that makes sense?
Jeremey: It's really hard. Yes, we do but I do think it's hard to scale, but I'll address the yes part and then I'll address the difficulty at scale part. So the yes part is everyone knows that we must be empathetic and sensitive to particular industries. The travel and leisure industry, the restaurant industry, but even that subtle... like your neighborhood, the places where the delivery was common and take out was common - Chinese food, Mexican food, pizza. Those places are selling like gangbusters. Wine and liquor and beer stores, those places are selling like gangbusters.
So there's this subtlety of not everything is affected in exactly the same way. I think there is this acknowledgment that yes, you need to be empathetic and there are certain industries you need to tread very lightly on. If you're going to be hyper-empathetic, I think before you press go on a cadence, on any sort of sales engagement, it behooves you to look up the company's situation. Did they have a lay off recently, and if so, depending on the severity of it and what's going on for them specifically, like maybe this is just the time not to try to look at discovery and demo?
Maybe this is the time to just reach out to them with like here's a valuable study that we did. So that for the prospecting you do, try this out. So just 100% percent give, no give to get. So you might adjust to those particular industries, but I think you have to do that on a one-off basis if you're going to do that.
And that gets to what I was saying was scale is. For better or worse, there is no perfect set of clean industry data.
So what I mean by that is like, let's take a FinTech company. Is that company a financial services company, or are they a software company? And that's the problem is like they're actually both and to different sellers, one seller might want to know they are financial services and one seller might want to know they are tech, and another seller might want to know that they're both. So I think that's the issue is that there is actually SIC codes or NAICS codes or JIX codes or whatever the coding methodology is like. There is no perfect industry methodology. So I think it's super hard to do that sort of segmentation at an extreme scale.
Michael: Totally makes sense. Okay. I know that we are almost out of time and I know that you have a lot of calls ahead of you. So I just wanted to wrap up this session with you by asking you this question that I was keeping in mind for the whole session. I've read that you guys are the number one employer in Atlanta, so people just fancy working with you guys and for you.
Why is that? What sort of things do you guys offer...not offer, but what kind of company culture do you guys have and what are the specifics that you guys have that other companies don't have that people would just say I want to work for SalesLoft? I personally being one of the founders of the company always work on the company culture, especially in a very challenging environment like we are right now. You said that you have a hoop in the office or something that people can...
Jeremey: It's not that. Yeah. I can answer the question very specifically. So I was a customer for years before I joined. And I was attracted to join the company because of the people that I met, obviously, and the service experience that I had. And I think the answer to this is the following is I actually think we have less, even when we were in the office, I think we actually have fewer of the sort of fun perks that a lot of tech companies have. I think actually, there's like less of that.
For me, what I've discovered in working for SalesLoft is the following. Almost every company has the exact same set of core values and they have different wording, but whatever. I think the fundamental difference between SalesLoft and other companies I've worked for, and I've worked for companies that have good cultures as well, but the fundamental difference between SalesLoft and companies that have poor cultures is that the CEO co-founder and the executive leadership team hold themselves accountable to those values.
They walk the walk on those values. If they themselves deviate even in a small way from the values, they will publicly in ... we have All Hands every week. So in the All Hands, they will acknowledge like I did not live up to this particular core value. So I think it is that walk the walk and holding themselves accountable, that to me is the biggest difference. In places where the executive leadership team is above the values or outside the values, the culture is not real.
Cultures are bad and it's rare than you would think a lot of executives are not self-aware of the fact that they are living outside of the values and are afraid to be vulnerable enough to acknowledge when they've made a mistake because we all make mistakes. So yeah, I guess long-winded diatribes and everything, but that to me is what it is. It is authenticity and commitment to the core values that make all the difference.
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