As technology evolves at an increasingly rapid pace, so do the number of channels that sales professionals can use for sourcing and reaching prospective clients.
As needs change over the course of the buying process, and as you move further down the funnel, which of these avenues are best to build trust?
The trends among the usage of SMS, email, phone, and social media continue to emerge, and we go over new findings that will give you some shock and awe over what you think may be the reality.
In this episode of INSIDE Inside Sales, you will learn about the new best practices for using a multi-channel approach. We’ll go over the benefits of using certain channels, and the potential consequences from neglecting changes in current trends. We’ll also discuss cadence strategies and how to overcome the mental roadblocks many sales reps have towards using all of their available channels.
Not in the mood to listen? No problem, you can read the transcriptions below.
Host: Darryl Praill, VanillaSoft
Guest: Chad Burmeister, ScaleX.ai and BDR.ai
Darryl Praill: Hey there guys and gals this is Darryl Praill for another episode of INSIDE Inside Sales, the only Podcast focused specifically on the sales development role. What you need the meat, the potatoes, the tactics, everything you need to be successful in your job. We don’t talk vision, we don’t talk strategy, we don’t talk big picture, we just talk tactics. And the whole point, the whole objective, is to make you a better, more successful, more, shall we say profitable sales professional so that you can enjoy the fruits of your discipline and you can rock it until the next step in your career.
With that, I’m really excited to have today’s guest and if you’re listening carefully and you’re wondering what is that background noise I’m hearing because normally I don’t hear that in Darryl’s Podcast because he’s really anal about the audio? It’s because we’re actually live at the AAISP, the American Association of Inside Sales Professionals Leadership Summit taking place in Chicago, its an annual thing. It’s a fantastic conference where all the sales development professionals get together to actually share tips, tricks, practices, trainings, data, research, everything the do to make their profession more successful.
And when you’re at an event like this, you get a whole bunch of really smart people there as well, and like the individual I am, I totally pounced on that and I’m very pleased to bring to this discussion Mr. Chad Burmeister, if you don’t know Chad, he’s the founder and CEO of ScaleX.ai and just like that type it into the URL. While we are listening to this you should be looking at his website and you should be following him on LinkedIn, Chad, Burmeister. And Chad and I have had many conversations about the sales profession around the tactics, around what works and what doesn’t. And when I approached him today, he was reacting to some of the research that he’s seen presented here at the show including research that VanillaSoft presented a study on stage and I call this episode Multichannel for the Win, so Chad, welcome to the show.
Chad Burmeister: Well I’m looking around for all the smart people and I-
Darryl Praill: It’s just you and I, brother.
Chad Burmeister: I guess it’s just us.
Darryl Praill: So you gotta carry that mantra.
Chad Burmeister: I’ll do my best.
Darryl Praill: You’re the smart guy. So tell me a bit about before we get into it, which is the context where you’re coming from, what does ScaleX.ai do, just context?
Chad Burmeister: Yeah, so we provide multi-channel sales acceleration powered by artificial intelligence so what I mean by that is we provide phone, email, social, as well as AI-powered video, which is kind of a new thing we should cover a little bit today if we can. And we help companies move from a normally 50-sales activity per day cadence up to a 500 or a 1000 activity per day cadence.
Darryl Praill: So a 10 or more-fold increase in…
Chad Burmeister: 10-x, 20-x, powered by artificial intelligence. It’s not for everyone.
Darryl Praill: And I get that, but you’re working with sales development reps, and their leadership team of course, that’s who is budgeting your services and technology to physically do that. So you, by nature of your clients and what you do, and the volume with which you do it, you have a good, shall we say, foundation of experience and raw, real data, that backs the points we’re going to talk about today.
Chad Burmeister: Yeah, every year I come to the AAISP Summit. This is number 10 out of the 11 that they’ve had. So I came when there were probably 100 people in the room. The first one had 50. Now I think we have probably close to one thousand.
Darryl Praill: I heard there’s over 1500.
Chad Burmeister: Okay 1500 wow.
Darryl Praill: Yeah it’s gotten quite big.
Chad Burmeister: Yeah, it’s enormous.
Darryl Praill: Because the first one I think, Bob Perkins said there were 60. I know, we were a founding member so we were there in that first year and we’ve been there 11 years now so it’s really growing.
Chad Burmeister: I love to come to these events and understand what the industry metrics are and compare them against what we’re seeing. And when VanillaSoft presented on the main stage and shared the data of multi-channel, I was nodding my head the entire way through. There were a few things that might give you some shock and awe of what you think may be reality and it may cause you to take a look in the mirror and say, okay if I’m an SDR, what skill set should I focus on to become better in my role as the world changes over the course of the next several months?
Darryl Praill: So for context for the audience, one of the things we presented yesterday was some preliminary, emphasis preliminary, findings from a study that we commissioned in partnership with the AAISP and the APS, that’s the Association of Professional Sales Reps from the UK where we surveyed over 2000 executive buyers about their expectations in the sales cycle. So a very simple example would be if I, as a potential buyer, was evaluating options and I filled out a form to get a piece of content, a study, whatever it might be, I, as a buyer, am going to be suspicious that some rep will get my form data and contact me so as a buyer when am I comfortable with a rep reaching out to me? How many times am I comfortable with that rep reaching out to me? Using what channels, hence we’re segwaying into today’s topic.
One of the things that was really interesting was that when we followed the buyer through the entire buyer’s journey because they may have one preference at the start, the top, then I have a need stage, and then they go to the evaluation and search stage, it changes. A couple things: social media was huge as a channel, it was the third best behind phone and email, but it was big. At the initial, I have a need stage. So I’m kinda doing some basic checking out what’s going on. But then it continually dropped as it went to the search and evaluation stage.
Chad Burmeister: So let’s drill down on that.
Darryl Praill: Go for it.
Chad Burmeister: I may go out and post and say hey, my annual renewal with my data provider is up in the next two weeks.
Darryl Praill: Right.
Chad Burmeister: So I may post on social and say hey, network, can you help me out?
Darryl Praill: You got any recommendation?
Chad Burmeister: Right. And that’s how I go out and do my initial search as an example as what you’re talking about there.
Darryl Praill: And then your whole audience sees that and then anyone who comments on that, their audience sees that, and that’s when a lot of people go, hmm, I have a need for that. You know, if Chad’s got it, I’m going to sit here and watch this conversation and I’m going to take the advice from that and I’m going to factor that into my needs. And that may lead to a search, which then leads to an evaluation. But what was interesting was of course it dropped, which makes sense because it went from need to search evaluation so now I’m actually moving into a sales cycle. It’s no longer about social, no I actually want to talk to you as a rep, you know, I want to get some education, some objection handling, etc. And so it makes sense that it dropped.
Chad Burmeister: And it was interesting that when you shared, well does it hold up for millennials and age groups, and-
Darryl Praill: Yes we did break it out.
Chad Burmeister: …and it actually did hold up, that millennials also the further they get down the funnel, they want to talk to people on the telephone too because video and audio is an important aspect when you’re building trust.#Millennials also the further they get down the funnel, they want to talk to people on the telephone too because video and audio is an important aspect when you're building trust. ~ @saleshack #SalesStrategy Click To Tweet
Darryl Praill: And that was the big thing that was interesting in the data that you juts touched on right there. I mentioned phone was second, phone actually got more and more important as you moved through the sale regardless of age. So even someone who’s 20, 25 years old who’s a buyer wants to talk on the phone. What blew me away was the crowd actually broke out in spontaneous applause when we said “the phone is still relevant; it’s not dead according to the buyers” which is very interesting, hence now here we are, it took us a long time to get here guys, I apologize. Because a lot of sales reps don’t want to use the phone. In other words, they don’t want to use all the channels available to them. So Chad, when we say multi-channel, what are we talking about?
Chad Burmeister: Yeah, look when I go into a center, I’ve worked for great companies like River Bed Technology, we had an office in San Francisco and San Jose. I worked for WebX in Phoenix, Arizona. I traveled to the Sacramento office. It used to be when you walked into one of these facilities you’d see people doing emails, you’d see people doing a video conference, and you’d hear people on the telephone.
Darryl Praill: You’d walk in and you’d hear the buzz.
Chad Burmeister: You’d hear the buzz, right? Music to my ears. And now the buzz sounds like this.
Darryl Praill: Keyboards typing.
Chad Burmeister: Keyboards typing and very very few conversations.
Darryl Praill: People with headphones in, but they’re listening to music they’re not on headsets.
Chad Burmeister: And that’s all fine, I’m okay with a lot of that.
Darryl Praill: Sure but they’re not on a headset.
Chad Burmeister: They’re not on headset in a lot of cases. So multi-channel is kind of like going fishing. Every other year I go with my dad, my brother, my brother-in-law, we go to Alaska. Sorry it’s not Canada but we’ve been there as well.
Darryl Praill: Well, it’s almost Canada.
Chad Burmeister: It’s the other Canada.
Darryl Praill: Yeah, we don’t talk about that.
Chad Burmeister: So we do see bears there and they make it harder by the way in Canada because they make you fish with a barbless hook, and in Alaska they give you the ability to fish with a barb so, note to self, right?
Darryl Praill: So you’re going to Alaska because you’re not man enough to go to Canada, is that what I’m getting out of this?
Chad Burmeister: It’s so we can catch more fish and bring them home and actually eat them and not just let them go. So think about it, when we’re fishing, the first year when we went to Canada with barbless hooks, we went fishing on our own, we didn’t actually have a guide. And so what did we do? We put all three fish hooks at one layer, one level down, so 20 feet, 20 poles, whatever it is, right?
Darryl Praill: The whole crew of you: you, your brother, your dad, brother-in-law, everybody-
Chad Burmeister: And we didn’t put flashers on by the way. We had no idea what we were doing. We just asked them what to do. On the last day of that first trip to Canada, we discovered that if you put flashers on and you go high, medium, and low, and by the way, there’s different places to go fishing, i.e. different data sets and we learned that we hit our maximum capacity within a couple of hours. Right location, fishing hooks were at all different levels, and when they started biting at the mid-level, then guess what? We put all those hooks to mid-level.
I tell you this story because think of email and social as kind of your let’s say top of line hooks, yeah they catch fish every once in a while. Maybe at two to three meeting in a month on three to five thousand emails. Social same kind of thing: two to three meetings. Guess what? If you use the phone effectively, factor eight is here, Lauren Bailey. Kudos to their organization. They are really really focused on the conversation, the art of the conversation. Because there’s great reps and there’s really sucky reps who really haven’t figured it out and if you can figure it out rather than just settling for the two to three meetings per month on social and on email, now you can get to a position, when you do it right, five additional phone meetings, ten. With some of our customers that…
Darryl Praill: You’ve got that bottom hook that’s using the phone.
Chad Burmeister: Yes the bottom hook is where the fish are in most cases and they’re using the phone and doing it in an elegant way so my advice to you, if you are an SDR, honestly this has not changed in a lot of years. What has changed is the comfort level, I think, with using the phone and the tactics on how to use the phone effectively. So Lauren Bailey now does the training, John Barrows just did a training. Morgan, who’s here, I just saw walk by a little bit ago.
Darryl Praill: Yeah we just did an interview with him.
Chad Burmeister: They are teaching the art of how to get on the telephone and if you think it’s a fad and it’s going to go away, it’s not and it’s been here since the time I’ve been selling and I’ve got a couple gray hairs in the beard.
Darryl Praill: I wasn’t going to say anything but since you brought it up. So let’s recap, what I’m hearing you say using your fishing metaphor, was that fish, like prospects, you don’t know what depth they’re at or what channel they will react to. Some fish are up top, some are middle, some are down deep. And if you don’t fish at all three levels, and the metaphor there would be email, social, and phone, then you’re only going to get a portion of your catch. Whereas if you use all of the channels, you fish at all of the possible depths, you maximize your chances to hook the sales you want; that’s your metaphor.If you don't fish at all three levels (email, social, phone), then you're only going to get a portion of your catch. 🎣 Maximize your chances to hook the sales you want by using all 3. ~ @saleshack #SalesStrategy Click To Tweet
Chad Burmeister: And some people may be a certain way, I think when you were on stage sitting next to your CEO of the company, you both said well I wouldn’t do it that way. You said you don’t pick up the phone.
Darryl Praill: I don’t.
Chad Burmeister: And you don’t but guess what? If the fish hook came through social media for you in an appropriate way that said Darryl, the reason I’m reaching out is because of this pain, I did that with you once. We had a meeting and kicked off the sales cycle.
Darryl Praill: That’s right.
Chad Burmeister: We’re still in the middle of it but that’s a different story.
Darryl Praill: And we actually went back and forth on that but my CEO does pick up the phone and he loves doing that so there’s two different fish, if you will, in two different channels. So multi-channel is all about the idea of actually using every single form of communication and engagement to connect with your prospects and here’s the rub: many of you listening to this are not doing that. For example, many are not using the phone despite what study’s say. Many of you are not using social because it freaks you out, or you’re unfamiliar, or you’re scared of it. And many of you are using email wrong. So we want you to use all the channels, all the hooks possible to actually be successful so with that we’re going to take a little brief commercial break and we’re going to come back and talk about the benefits and the consequences and how you can improve the likelihood of you being successful if you go multi-channel. We’ll be right back.
Darryl Praill: Alright we’re back. And we’ve already talked a little bit about what multi-channel is and what you guys are and are not doing. Now in your experience Chad, you talked about how there’s the cream of the top SDRs and then there’s everybody else, right? Have you observed a difference in how, does the cream of the crop go multi-channel or not and is that an important separation or not?
Chad Burmeister: Great question. You know, somebody said AI will make good reps great, great reps unstoppable, and average reps irrelevant. And so if you think of good to great, that’s back in the vernacular of A to A+, B to B+, and C to B, right? Move up your skill set. If I’m a rep and I’m killing it and I’m only using the phone, I have a guy here at this conference, Jordan, he kills it on the phone. He probably doesn’t kill it on social and on email. Now, killing it on the phone is way better than killing it on email and social. Because that’s where we said you can get a lot more fish in the boat when you’re effective on phone.Killing it on the phone is way better than killing it on email and social. Because that's where you can get a lot more fish 🐟 in the boat when you're effective on phone. ~ @saleshack #SalesTips #SalesStrategy Click To Tweet
Now, if I can spend time with Jordan and say, “okay let me show you how the artificial intelligence actually helps you write better emails to get better opens and better reply rates, and let me teach you how to use videos inside of your emails”-
Darryl Praill: And inside of your social
Chad Burmeister: And inside of your social, now we can get more fish in the boat. So I look at those as free meetings as how I’ve always called it.
Darryl Praill: I like that. That is a bonus because it’s minimal extra work in all honesty. Now, let’s talk about the challenge. The challenge is some people just don’t like the phone, some people just don’t like social. Can their behaviors be changed and will they be good enough to capitalize on that multi-channel or should they just go find a different career now?
Chad Burmeister: So I think it was Lori Richardson, it might have been Carrie Kennedy. Two different tools but I’ll give them both a shout out here because I think they’re both great people. One of those two folks talked to me about how one of the reps they were working with was so vehemently against being on the telephone that they would really have thrown up if they were forced to have telephone conversations.
Darryl Praill: Right so they had an anxiety on the phone.
Chad Burmeister: Yes, and they were in the wrong job if that was their role, however, they made the skill set of social and email, they made up for what they lacked in phone, so could they have been doing 25 and 30 meetings in a month had they done phone? Sure. Were they able to make their number by being amazing at social and email? Yeah, they did. So I think, most people, the good news is you can bring someone over the line. Early in my sales career, who really says “I really want to do cold calls!” Sure, I had an emergence, everybody dose. But you can get most people over that hurdle. There’s a few that it’s just not going to happen so maybe they should be in a marketing role and they could do better things in social and email and video, those kinds of things.
Darryl Praill: Which is the nice thing if you’re in the revenue line of business is that you can shift in different roles. It was interesting, I remember one of our earlier podcasts I believe it was with Brian Smith Jr. He recognized that while he was okay on the phone, he was really strong with email so he didn’t abandon the phone, he still utilized the phone, but to your point about becoming over the top fantastic he really optimized email to kind of offset but he never stopped the phone, alright? So, we’re talking a lot about the phone. I don’t want the audience to construe that as being we’re advocating phone. What we’re advocating is multi-channel and to not physically avoid the stuff you’re afraid of like the phone.
Social media is a classic case. I’ll use me as an example, I’ve used this before, and if you’ve heard this for roll your eyes, hit the fast forward 30 seconds button, whatever you want, it’s all cool. When I began with VanillaSoft, my social was no different than anybody else’s social. It was adequate. I posted occasionally. I had a reasonable network. They were mostly marketers. But I recognized that for me to help VanillaSoft get to the next level, my audience lived on LinkedIn, that’s where they lived whether I wanted to admit it or not. So I had to consciously make an effort to invest my time and skills in LinkedIn. Now here’s what you don’t know. Even though you may look at my feet today and think wow I’m not you and if you say that, thank you and if you don’t, I understand, it’s not that great.
I actually had to go seek assistance from LinkedIn experts and say I’m going to pay you money to tell me what I’m not doing or what I should be doing and help change my behavior so that I did it. So a lot of it was they were coaching me on the kind of posts to write, the frequency to write, how soon to respond or not to respond, when to use video, if to use video to caption it. And we would fight, we would bump heads, and these are young guys so they’d say to me “oh, you don’t understand it because you’re an old fart” and I would say “no you don’t understand because I’m an old fart with a lot of experience that you don’t have.” But what came out of that healthy to-and-fro was my voice because I adapted to them, they figured me out, I learned from them, and that helped me tackle the one channel I wasn’t good at. So today social is potentially my primary calling card by almost everybody else.
So if I, a 51-year-old guy can make that shift to a channel that was foreign to me then there’s no reason why anybody listening to this can’t do the exact same thing. So now I want to segway into a discussion about, we’ve talked about multiple channels, but what we haven’t talked about is how to apply those multiple channels. And the biggest thing there is the cadence, or the sequence, or the playbook. Pick your term, they’re all the same. But the idea that, if you’re going to do X number of touches in X number of days. We’ll use the classic seven touches in seven days or maybe it’s 18 touches in 35 days. Whatever, pick one. It’s that those touches are multi-channel because you’d never know when you’re going to hit them.
And part of that multi-channel is also mixing up the times. Do I hit them in the morning? Do I hit them at mid-day? Do I hit them in the evening? Talk to me about the importance of multiple cadences.
Chad Burmeister: Yeah well, it’s interesting. We’re coming out with a site here on May the 1st that’s called OutboundLabs.io. It’s up. It’s very rudimentary at the moment. Within a few weeks, it’s going to be a delivery mechanism of conversion rates by channel. So we’re going to start to publish by looking at vendors like VanillaSoft and partners and other vendors and we’re going to look at their phone dialing records, we’re looking at all the emails, social activity that we’ve done for our customers’ phone activities and start to say alright, on email, if I send out 50 net news a day and another hundred for stages two, three, four, five, and six, what’s my open rate? What’s my reply rate? What’s my positive sentiment? What’s my negative sentiment? How many meetings did I book? How many referrals? What’s my unsubscribe rate? All of those things.
My point of that channel is that, again this is on average, so on average you might so a 30 to 50% open rate. You might see a two to four percent reply rate, and of the two to four percent, 75% is negative and only 25% is positive. So that’s where you get to two to three meetings even if you’re amazing on email. Now there’s a few exceptions to that rule. I’ve talked to BDRs at this show who say they get 75 out of 100 emails.
Darryl Praill: But just for the record, they’re lying, okay? They are lying unless-
Chad Burmeister: They don’t count the other one thousand they did the week prior. So very low percent rate. Now, let’s take social as a stand alone channel. Similar kind of thing. If you’re doing 10, 20 connection requests per day and you’re doing a sequence after people connect, you’re running the maximum number of inmails that LinkedIn will allow for you. You’re doing Twitter likes. If you’re doing all of that extremely effectively, again, the data we have found so far, and I think your data would support this, another couple two three meetings. When you put phone in the middle or put that on top as the cherry on top, now because they’ve seen you on email, they’ve seen you on social. When they pick up, and I am going to fall on my sword right here because in the past six months, just like all of you, I’m human. I become lazy.
And I’m great on a cold call. I am uncomfortable on a cold call, which is why it’s easy for me to skip that channel. So being here at the conference, hearing VanillaSoft remind me that the two to three times multiplier, even if I’m amazing, and I am, I use AI to personalize the outbound emails and I’m really good on social and my friend Jamie Shanks and Vengreso and all these folks who I’ve learned from over the years, I’m still leaving two to three times the meetings.
I’ll give you one example. When I first started this company about a year and a half ago, I turned on my agent-assisted dialing, I left a message for about 500 people in one day when I was at the Lake Tahoe event for Frost and Sullivan. And finally, somebody picked up and it was Tracy Iler from Inside View and she said “Chad, we were just talking about you. We saw your video that you sent us a few days ago. I meant to give you a call.” Well, she meant to but she didn’t and I was talking to her in a live conversation. And that, my friends, is why it’s important, just like goin to the gym or just like doing things that you may not feel comfortable with, that you have to put into your routine or you’re going to leave the Tracy Iler’s of the world for somebody else to call into.
Darryl Praill: So takeaway here. Be intentional about multiple touches across multiple channels. Chad has shared how he can be lazy and fall into bad habits and has to intentionally get back on the phone even though it’s perhaps more daunting than an email or social.
Chad Burmeister: Have you heard the term big rocks? Do you remember that one? You take a glass and you say “there’s are the important things. My family, my religion, my reading.” And so when you think about it, on your calendar, you should have a recurring meeting. Could be two days a week, could be five days a week. Depending on your metrics, it probably should be one to two hours a day where you put the caution tape around your cube and say this is my time for phone calls. Don’t interrupt me. Now if somebody comes in and a CMO wants to meet with you about a prospect, okay, let it slip every once in a while. You can miss your trip to the gym every so often.
Darryl Praill: So what you’re saying is the whole idea of being intentional. Being intentional about where you’re weak. I had to work on my social and I actually had to hire people to help me. You have to consciously work on your phone because what we recognize is that all channels together dramatically increases our likelihood of success. More hooks in the lake at different levels at different touch points gives us more fish to bring home.
Chad Burmeister: And who doesn’t want more fish?
Darryl Praill: Who doesn’t want more fish? So it’s as simple as that. I always talk about self-awareness guys. Be aware of where you’re weak and overcome it. No excuses. Multi-channel for the win. Alright, if I want to learn more about ScaleX.ai, if I want to follow you, is it simply as Chad Burmeister on LinkedIn?
Chad Burmeister: It’s very simple. The website ScaleX.ai or BDR.ai. There’s two separate services. ScaleX is a fully outsourced service. If you don’t want to try this at home, 30,000 sales touches in a quarter, let us do it for you. BDR.ai says hey we partner with companies like VanillaSoft and we will give you the technology and teach your team how to actually leverage the technology.
Darryl Praill: And what I like about that is that if you’re adapting to your sale requirements and dynamics. That’s also something where you can say I’m going to give to Chad and his organization this product, this project, this service as an extension of my team while piloting the artificial intelligence aspect and checking it out. Because maybe I’m not bought in or maybe I just need to see it first hand.
Chad Burmeister: Or maybe as one of the speakers here said, 70% of the reason why technology implementations fail is because of user adoption. So why try to fight that tide when you can do it outside the four walls?
Darryl Praill: Alright so recap: multi-channel for the win. Are you guys using multi-channel and if not, what’s stopping you? I want to hear from you on social. If this is your first time listening to the INSIDE Inside Sales Podcast please like, share, give us a review, tell your friends, but whatever you do come back because every episode has got a wonderful piece of nugget from leaders like Chad Burmeister. Thank you for giving us some time today, Chad, we’re so grateful. With that, folks, we are out of here. Take your happy selling. My name is Darryl Praill. I will talk to you soon.