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9 Bombshells Ralph Barsi and Jacco van der Kooij Dropped at the Post-Rainmaker ABSD Workshop

6 min read
March 10, 2016

The dust had just begun to settle at the end of Rainmaker 2016, the largest sales development conference in the world. Some rushed to the airport, others back to the office. But there were a few who just couldn’t get enough — they were hungry for more.

To satisfy this hunger, Ralph Barsi and Jacco van der Kooij led a tactical workshop for those champion attendees. The topic: Account Based Sales Development — diving deep into the people, the process, and the technology behind the model.

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Attendees walked away from the workshop with a ton of ABSD action items. Here are nine bombshells Ralph and Jacco dropped at the event:

1. Rule #1: Get Executive Buy-In

It’s near impossible to be successful with sales development if there’s not C-Level buy-in. Without buy-in, sales leaders skeptically create a process, but with the overarching fear that immenent failure will be detrimental to their role (and ultimately, the entire department). Fear is the antithesis of the unconventional, which is often the key to success.

Takeaway: Use data and reason to demonstrate the value of specialized roles within the customer acquisition machine. More revenue takes more opportunities. More opportunities takes more leads. And more leads come from targeted and intentional prospecting.

2. Remember Process Before Tools

This may sound counterintuitive coming from a company dedicated to providing an inside sales ecosystem with the application of record for touchpoint workflow. But process is absolutely critical to success. Sure, Cadence can accelerate your workflow, but if the process isn’t architected from a sustainable foundation, all you’ll be accelerating is poor outreach. The leader who buys a tool first, and waits to create a process is doomed.

Takeaway: Process always comes first, followed by finding the right tools to execute — after you have proven effectiveness. And a great process is architected one step at a time. Be intentional. Understand your buyer, and craft messaging to educate them based on the needs within the context of their specific pain points.

3. Onboard 80% on the Customer, 20% on the Company

How often have you onboarded a new rep, and focused primarily on your company’s what, why, and how? Why does your business exist? To serve your customers. Reflect this in the onboarding.

Takeaway: Focus 80% on your customers, the market you serve, and the value you add. Leave the other 20% for company history, core values, organizational chart, etc. Your SDRs should be customer experts, first and foremost.

4. Interview Your Customers

How many of your SDRs have actually spoken with your customers? My hypothesis is likely none of them. Have your SDRs interview customers. Help your SDRs understand their buyers. Bring customers into the office, to your SKO, or even go to them. Between the customer and the SDR, you’d be surprised who ends up taking away the most value.

Takeaway: This is an easy and effective way to empower your organization to show empathy and intentionality. Know your customer. What do they think about everyday? What keeps them up at night? What does their daily schedule like? What pain points do they experience and in what context do they feel these pains? The answers to these questions are the keys to the castle when engaging in conversation with your buyers.

5. Coach and Train in Segments and in Peer-to-Peer Situations

Coaching and training cannot just happen at onboarding — it has to happen at key checkpoints along the entire SDR lifespan. Conversation role-plays should occur daily and involve the whole team. Then, segment your team and empower the peer-to-peer coaching. Set your team up for success through continuous practice, improvement, and constant training.

Takeaway: This is critical. Continuously train your team! Who thinks a single training is enough to sustain your team throughout their career as an SDR? Daily and weekly trainings are critical. It doesn’t take long — just 15 minutes per day is all that’s needed to keep the team sharp.

6. Get in the Trenches

A sales leader who is not in the trenches with their team is a leader who is not followed. Jump in the pit with your team. Make calls. Fail.

Takeaway: Failure builds trust, demonstrates you are human, and empowers your reps to take risks. Please. For the sake of your team and organization. Lead by example.

7. Focus Messaging on the Customer, Not Yourself

Sales people are selfish. How many times have you received a cold email or call where the message was, “I am reaching out to you because we work with X,Y,Z companies and we are helping them solve problems A & B. We enable our users to do such-and-such. We are market leaders in {insert market} and we provide our users with the most value….”

Takeaway: It’s not about you — it’s about the customer. Educate your buyers instead of selling to them. Build trust and create a relationship.

8. Create Account Tiers

Not all accounts are created equal. Tier your accounts into three categories: Tier 1 for strategic accounts, Tier 2 for accounts in your ICP with lower opportunity value, and Tier 3 for accounts that have yet to be a proven ICP.

Takeaway: Test your process and enable your new SDRs to cut their teeth on Tier 3 accounts. Once your process and strategy gain traction, then go after Tier 2 accounts. Reserve your Tier 1 accounts for a proven process and communication strategy to maximize effectiveness and conversion outcomes.

9. Treat the SDR as the Concierge to Your Business

Your SDRs are the concierge desk of your business. They’re the frontlines of communication — the first impression. Arm them with the knowledge needed to field questions, train them continually on process, and enable them to be the experts of your customers, market, and solution.

Takeaway: SDRs are like the mini-CEOs of your business: the Chief Education Officers. They should be on a mission to show empathy for their customers needs and consult them on best practices. Position them to be “trusted advisors” for your market and industry.

The biggest takeaway, and prediction for the rest of the year: Process is going to be the unique selling point in 2016. Focus on selling the process, not just the product, and watch your accounts grow along with you.

Want more Account Based Sales Development knowledge? Check out our newest eBook on the The What And Why Of Account-Based Sales Development, or visit our ABSD one-stop-shop here!

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