Trish Bertuzzi is the founder of The Bridge Group, a sales consulting firm which has worked with over 220 B2B technology clients to build, expand and optimize their inside sales efforts. Over the last two decades, Trish has promoted inside sales as a community, profession and engine for revenue growth. Her team’s research and ideas have been featured on Inc.com, by associations such as SLMA & AA-ISP, and across more than 68 sites in the sales and marketing blogosphere.
Recently, Trish stopped by Leadspace Radio for a chat about the trends and practices she sees (and doesn’t see as much as she’d like) as she works with sales and marketing executives. If you missed the Leadspace Radio session, check out a few bits of the interview here. Catch the full program here – and hear amazing bits of insight and key sales and marketing advice you might not get anywhere else.
LS: So, there’s a lot of talk these days about “The Buyer’s Journey.” What’s your take on that concept?
TB: There is this stat that floats out there that a buyer is 65% of the way through the journey before they talk to sales. Personally I think that’s an urban myth but okay, everybody quotes it so it’s now part of our dialogue. In any event, buyers are smarter. Buyers have more information at their fingertips; they know more about what they are looking for than ever before. What people forget though is that on the flip side of that coin, sellers know more about buyers than ever before.
For instance, if I am targeting you as a prospect, I can probably find out everything I need to know about you except what you had for lunch. And then if you use Foursquare, I know that too.
LS: You specialize in improving the performance of inside sales groups, and you’ve pointed out in the past that there are a lot of different functions under that umbrella. But most people think of inside sales as the sales development reps, right?
TB: Right, so let’s focus on them. Those are your front-line people, the people that tend to be the first ones to engage with your buyers. So they are responsible for arousing curiosity, positioning your value, closing on the next step in the sales process; all the while being interesting, intriguing and providing value to those that they are talking with.
LS: A challenging enough task, but in some organizations they’re charged with much more, like sourcing new leads, qualifying prospects, scheduling initial calls, and so on.
TB: Yes, but we are definitely seeing people getting better at this because in the olden days, which was maybe four years ago right? In the olden days people will go, “Well, how hard is this? I’m just going to grab a list, hire some junior woodchucks out of college, put them on the phones and have at it.” Well, that doesn’t work anymore and people have realized that doesn’t work anymore because our buyers are so insanely busy. So people are really taking a much more thoughtful approach to this. In a study we just completed, we found that 40% of all organizations have now gone to role specialization. So fewer sales development reps wear multiple hats now, they are typically either focused on converting inbound inquiries or they are doing outbound prospecting.
LS: Let’s talk about the differences in skill set between somebody who is focused on inbound leads, versus only doing outbound calling.
TB: I actually have two opinions on it based on your strategy. Let’s start with inbound. If your inbound reps are responsible for nothing more than getting a sales rep a meeting, you can hire junior woodchucks, you can hire anybody, because all they’re selling is the meeting. And usually what sells a meeting is persistence. So you can hire someone, you can teach them to use technologies, messaging, techniques, tips, you name it and throw your “get the meeting strategy” at them.
Conversely, if your inbound reps are actually responsible for qualifying opportunities from people who raise their hand about you in some way, shape or form, you need someone who’s got more skills. They are the first interaction the buyer has with you. They better know that buyer’s business, they better know how to position your solution so that it fits the challenges that buyer is trying to address. Not so much a junior woodchuck; much more of a skilled person.
LS: How do you go about finding those “difference makers,” the really skilled salespeople?
TB: You usually have to recruit them from someone else. To do that, you’d better have a whiz bang culture. You’d better have a learning environment. You’d better have a solid career path. You’d better have a physical layout that’s attractive. Everybody wants these people. So you need to go to the companies where you think they might be and try to recruit them, but you have to recruit them to a better place.
And by the way, once you get them, they are going to get recruited away from you. So once you sell that candy, you keep selling it. Just because you hire them doesn’t mean you own them. You need to keep selling them on your company. They are the most precious commodity.
LS: In terms of getting the most out of those skilled salespeople, and improving overall productivity, what’s the most important thing a company can do?
TB: The first thing I say when I speak about inside sales productivity is the number one lever to pull is data. Number one, hands down, done. The better the data, the more productive your team, end of story. It’s the fuel that you need to put into your engine, and if you put bad fuel in your engine you’re going to sputter. You put in good fuel and you’re going to go like a race car.
Catch the entire interview with Trish here via Leadspace Radio.