INSIDE Inside Sales – Ep 41: Check Your Alignment

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How’s your alignment? No, I don’t mean your car (or your hips), I’m talking about the operational side of things. Are your Sales and Marketing Operations aligned? These help make up the very foundation upon which your career is standing, and if they’re out of alignment, you’re putting a harness on how successful you can be.

In this episode of INSIDE Inside Sales, Darryl speaks with thought leader and Tenbound CEO David Dulany, hot on the heels of his huge Sales Development Conference where this year’s theme was all about “Alignment.” Inspired by the Top 5 lessons learned at the show, Darryl and David discuss ways to keep your organization’s tent posts aligned, and also delve into the importance of personalizing your messaging, the weight that incentive plans have on behavior, and how we’re just tapping the surface when it comes to mining valuable data. They also look at the concept of Revenue Operations, and ways to reverse engineer your goals to increase your profits. All this and much more, only on this episode of INSIDE Inside Sales!

Not in the mood to listen? No problem, you can read the transcriptions below.


Host:  Darryl PraillVanillaSoft

Guest: David Dulany, Tenbound

 

Darryl Praill: Good afternoon everybody, how are you doing? My name is Darryl Praill, and I am pleased, thrilled, delighted that you are back for another episode of Inside, Inside Sales. I tell you folks, since the last time I’ve talked to you, if you don’t know, you know little pulling back the curtain. These are not all live, we actually record them in advance as you might imagine. And sometimes, depending on my travel schedule, I have to record a couple in advance. So I’ve actually been away from the phone for a few weeks, if you will, away from the microphone to be specific, the whole word, not the phone, the microphone for a few weeks. And it feels like it’s been forever. And I’ve missed this dialogue that you and I exchange all the time.

Darryl Praill: So why was I away? Great question. I was away because I’ve been doing the trade show circuit where I get a chance to meet so many of you and I’ve had so much positive feedback. So if you’ve stopped me at the shows and you’ve thanked me and you said something to me about the shows, please know how much I appreciate that. I had lots of people actually stop by recently and say how much they love an argument we had not too long ago about who should own the role of the SDRs. And ironically, my sales head was with me. And of course he actually won that argument despite me disagreeing with him. So he was, throwing it in my face.

Darryl Praill: That’s the beauty of the whole tribe we have here. And so what’s nice when you go to these shows is you, like I said, you get a chance to talk to you, but I get a chance to talk to all these fantastic killer subject matter experts. And the beauty of that is, I get to get insights that I don’t always get exposed to, because like you, I’m doing my job every day. I’m heads-down, and sometimes it’s hard to come up for air. And what you start to learn when you go to these sessions, and you hear perspectives from different individuals, from different organizations, with different size teams, and different solutions they’re offering, and different maturities. Some are startups, some are established, different budgets, different markets, is that you start to realize some of the problems that you’re having are not exclusive and specific to you.

Darryl Praill: Now we all kind of know that, right? We all kind of say, yeah, I get that maybe I missed my numbers this month and I’m out alone. Maybe others have missed their numbers too, but that doesn’t really help you. But when you’re there, immersed at a show, talking to other, elbow to elbow in the actual stands, in the actual auditorium, the room, and they’re all nodding their head and going, they’re smiling and they’re giggling because it really resonates and hits home what the speaker is saying. You go, I’m not alone. I’m not alone in this awesome community. Now, often the biggest challenge we’re learning is that the issue is all about alignment. And that’s a big word.

Darryl Praill: What I mean by it’s a big word, small word, three syllables, but big word in context. What you mean by alignment? Well, it can mean a lot of things to a lot of people. What I view it meaning is, am I aligned with the company goals and objectives? Am I aligned with my colleagues in other complimentary supporting roles? I’m in marketing, so am I aligned with my head of sales? Are we all shooting for the same goals? And we should all be shooting for the same goals because those goals are set at the corporate, you know executive table, and they roll down.

Darryl Praill: Am I aligned with my tech stack such that it will help achieve those goals and objectives? Am I aligned with my staff? Are we saying the same things? Am I measuring them and compensating them such that they’re incented, such that they’re motivated to deliver exactly what I need? I mean, alignment is massive, it’s huge. And I think candidly, it’s where we all struggle. If we sit back and look at the big picture, that’s where we struggle. We struggle with our bosses, we struggle with our execution, we struggle with our results and often it’s all about alignment. So imagine my pleasure, my delight when I’m off to the 10 Bound Sales Development Conference, have you been there? This is a one day thing guys. I want to say this might be year three, don’t quote me if I get it wrong, I will learn shortly.

Darryl Praill: And at the 10 Bound Conference, it is just this massive community coming together where it’s all sales development professionals, and we’re talking about everything sales. So for example, I had a session on there called, When you Suddenly Realize the Sales Process is Broken. I mean we’ve all been there, right? How did it get broke? Well probably some misalignment. Simple, simple statement. And the whole show was put on by David Dulaney. Now if that name rings a bell, it should, David was an early guests on the Inside, Inside Sales Podcast.

Darryl Praill: So guess what I did when the show wrapped up, I reached out to him like a day later on email saying, Dulaney, brilliant idea, I like it. You should come on my show right now and tell my audience what are the five top things that you learned when it relates to alignment? so how to Dulaney know that was all alignment specific? Because he’s the guy who set the theme. The whole show was around alignment. David did it with his crew, and I am just thrilled to have him here; David, welcome to the show my friend.

David Dulany: Oh Darryl, thank you, it’s an honor to be back on and I’m just doing back flips over here. I’m knocking stuff over and just causing chaos because I’m so excited to talk to you again.

Darryl Praill: You are a chaos machine, my friend. I mean I saw this show, I saw the energy, you were and you know what was crazy about watching you? And this is a compliment to you I’m not trying to suck up. A lot of people can be really flustered and exasperated and anxious at those shows because there is so much going on, it is a logistical nightmare. And you were like Mr. calm and cool collected. Even when you kicked off the show, you had your stick down pat, you were talking nonstop, and then you got off the stage and you were done, and like your minions, your many, many minions, just take care of what needed to be done while you sat there as the king of the hill. So, you know, hats off to you my friend.

David Dulany: Well, you know, I mean we got practice what we preach here and we were pretty well aligned. I got to hats off to the crew and to everybody that was involved, 10 Bound and the hotel and everything. It was just an amazing show, and I can’t thank you enough for being involved in and being there. Like I said, your presentation, got some of the highest remarks and it was just a terrific, terrific, yeah, experience for everybody. So thanks so much.

Darryl Praill: Oh, hey dude, you just gave me the platform and the rest was all the community. So that’s what it’s all about. All right, so let’s get this show started. Everybody’s been listening in their cars or on the commute home and they’re saying, “Shut up already get to the point.” It’s about alignment. So let’s start off, lesson number one from the show, what is it when it comes to alignment? What is the first lesson, the first takeaway we can share with our audience today?

David Dulany: Yeah, I mean first and foremost we even added a track this year to recognize this. But, one thing that we really kept hearing and something so critical for alignment, is the concept of of revenue operations. And this might be new for a lot of folks because we’re really familiar with sales operations, and we’re really familiar with marketing operations. But what happens when we want to tighten up that alignment and really make it valuable for the sales development team, sales team, marketing team and all the people that are involved, is mapping out the operational processes from a high level, from a strategic level so that we know that marketing is going to be supporting the sales development team to set more meetings.

David Dulany: The sales development team is going to be supporting the sales team, with the type of meetings that they want. And from a high level perspective, the leadership is going to be able to track what’s working and what’s not. So how do we set that up? We’ve got to be able to look at the operational side of the house from a high level, and really map that out from a revenue operations perspective. So, we even had a track on that this year. I got some great remarks on the content there.

We've got to be able to look at the operational side of the house from a high level, and really map that out from a revenue operations perspective. ~ @DKDINSF #SalesStrategy Click To Tweet

Darryl Praill: Now that you have a track, I mean for those who don’t know it, there’s the Sales Development podcast and a that’s hosted by David, those wonderful pipes you hear right now. And I strongly encourage you to go and check it out on your favorite, whether it’s Apple, or Google, or Spotify, or what have you. And he had, very recently I was complimenting him on it, before we went live, he had an episode about revenue ops. And why I liked this topic was because you nailed it. It used to be, there’s marketing ops, which we’ve all had, which is, for simplicity I think about as top of funnel, right? Tracking the leads and the whole nine yards and getting them in and making an MQL.

Darryl Praill: And then there’s sales ops, which is okay you just got this lead, now you’re actually making sure the reps are doing it, they’re making the calls, they’re doing the conversion rates, they’re doing the activity and marketers don’t care about that stuff. And just like sales guys don’t care about what marketing is doing, you do your thing and I’ll do my thing. But revenue ops, I’ve heard people in previous iterations, talk to it as like sales and marketing ops because it’s like, well what else would you call it? But revenue ops if you’ve not heard of the term, has really emerged to be that operations team that worries about the marketing side.

Darryl Praill: Marketing automation, account based marketing, all that kind of stuff. The sales side, sales engagement, your activity, your, all that wonderful stuff. And then as well, often the sales enablement side as well. Making sure that they’re being coached and they have the content they need, and making sure all the tools work together, and all the tracks, and all the metrics are achieving what you want. And the beauty of revenue ops to your metrics are achieving what you want. The beauty of Revenue Ops, to your point, is it truly does align. We don’t have marketing ops over here, sales ops over there in their silos. It brings them together so we understand the reason we’re doing this, boys and girls, is around revenue, which is probably one of the top line objectives that the management team came up with. I love that, and that was a new track for you guys. You had three tracks, if I recall. You have Revenue Ops, you had leadership, and what was your third track?

Darryl Praill: Rep training, which ironically is coaching.

David Dulany: There you go. Right.

David Dulany: Yeah, the first year it was for sales development managers and the leadership track, we had the one track, the second year we added the rep track so you could bring your top performing SDRs. Then, this year we have the Revenue Operations. So hopefully, if someone brought their whole team, they can go back, and they’re sitting in a room today going, “Okay, how can we really map this out in the end, and make sure that we’re really leveraging the investment that everyone’s making here, and we’re not letting things fall through the crack.”

Darryl Praill: So then, normally an audience, my audience are sales pros. My audience, we always tell them, “You will be marginally better after this episode than you were when you started.” We’re not talking vision, or strategy, or management speak, we’re talking bread and butter selling. So what lesson learned can you share with my audience about how they need to utilize and they need to advocate for, or perhaps there’s a different way, on Revenue Operations? You say they’re critical, maybe you can give us some examples of why they’re critical.

David Dulany: Yeah, so a perfect example, and it’s point number two. Actually, it’s a perfect lead in of the point number two that we kept seeing come up over and over again at the conference, which was the old school spray and pray, send out a zillion emails and hope for one response, is really going the way of dinosaur, because it’s just … With all the different factors, we’re getting a smaller return on this type of behavior that’s happened. We saw a trend in the last few years where marketing automation platforms were, at first, the purview of the marketing department. It was very hard to get anything through, where if you wanted to send out a thousand emails, that had to go through a check and balance process, whereas now, in the last five years, we’ve given every SDR out there in the world, a high powered marketing automation platform with no training and no accountability. So they’re sending out a thousand emails everyday.

David Dulany: The long story short is, what we’ve seen, and what we saw at the conference was, this is not working as well as it used to. We’re getting diminishing returns, and personalization of messaging is a huge trend, it’s something that all the sales people, all the SDRs that are listening to this, really have to get behind. You got to personalize your message, you got to make it relevant, you got to use some kind of trigger event. To your initial question, Darryl, setting up a Revenue Operations system really helps you to be able to personalize something. And, personalize it at larger scale, because instead of just these separate silos working out of balance, the marketing team writing emails, the sales team writing their own emails. If we can bring those together then the really high level communicators on the marketing side can help sales development reps, and help the sales reps to personalize, offer that information, pieces of that information that they can then take and personalize versus just sending out a thousand emails every day and hoping for the best.

Darryl Praill: So point number one was Revenue Operations are critical for alignment. But, exactly as you’re saying now, point number two in our top five takeaways, is personalization has gone from a nice to have to a must have. But, this is the thing, I see it over and over again where I keep almost getting the exact same form template in my in mail or my email, even on my voicemail sometimes when I, on the rare occasion, check it. This sounds copy and paste, and I just roll my eyes, but some would argue that that’s okay, you need to do that so you can scale. You can reach more with your time, and therefore it’s all the same any way you go. But, we’re seeing more and more that argument is bunk, it’s bogus. The recipients, me, are seeing through it, because we’re getting so many of them we can astutely figure out they’re all the same. The ones that we react to are the ones that are personalized.

Darryl Praill: I can speak, I am actually getting amazed recently in the last couple months, how personalized some of these messages I’m getting are. They know me, they know some of my staff members, they comment on some of my social media activity, or some videos, or webinars, they call it out. Then, they physically draw in references and connect it back to, obviously, their value prop and why I might care. I’ll be honest with you, that amount of personalization, if nothing else, impresses the crap out of me and makes me just want to say, “Okay, I’m going to respond, because you clearly worked hard at doing this.” So you’re telling me, that’s the way we have to go now, am I getting that right?

David Dulany: That’s correct. Then, beyond that, if we think of things strategically, as a revenue operations engine, the marketing department is supporting that behavior, because if you think about the old school definition, marketing is one to many, and sales is one to one. It’s that human connection. So if we can think about how do we set up the operation strategically so that you’re giving people the tools, you’re giving the SDRs and the sales reps the tools to be able to quickly and effectively personalize, so they can create those wow, one-to-one message, but they’re not getting caught up in analysis paralysis, and just spending all day researching. Setting it up strategically really empowers people to be able to do that, some of the top, really cutting edge, forward thinking programs that we heard about at the conference were able to do that. It’s exciting, it’s hard, it’s not an easy thing. What’s easy is just handing somebody a sales engagement platform and saying, “Here, just go do whatever you want.” The next thing you know, it’s exactly that eye rolling behavior that you’re getting from the prospects. So we got to up our game here.

Darryl Praill: Big takeaway from here guys, guys and gals, that if you thought you could keep on dodging it, you can’t, because now your colleagues, your peers, those people you’re competing against, they’re doing this. You want to succeed? You got to make this a priority, you got to invest. If you don’t have permission to do that, you need to get alignment, of course, going back to the whole scene with the folks at being your organization. With that said, we’re going to take a break, but we’ll be right back. Don’t go anywhere.

Darryl Praill: One of the things you mentioned, David, you talked about data. You made a passing reference to data being prolific anymore. You talked about that at the conference, maybe you can elaborate. For point number three, talk to me about data.

David Dulany: Yeah, I mean, that’s another thing that we saw. If you think about the concept of data exhaust, there’s so much data being kicked out by the sales development program, and the sales program, and the marketing program, I mean, all the way across the spectrum. What we saw with a number of the presentations is that we’re really just scratching the surface on the available amount of data that’s being created by all these systems, and we’re not looking at it holistically, and using it as a way to increase the performance of our sales development programs. Some of the presentations, I think of Jeremy Donovan, some of the presentations that we saw were amazing in the way that they were able to pull out … Beck Holland is really good about this too. They were able to pull out pieces of information that are useful immediately for getting better results. Again, not to get too high level, but if you’re not comfortable with looking into your data and running basic AB testing and things like that, you’re losing a huge opportunity and you got to be able to step up and find someone who can help you with that. Whether it’s within the company or outside on a consulting basis. Be able to find that, because one piece of information, one revealing data point could completely turn your whole sales development program around. We saw that at some of the presentations.

Darryl Praill: For the reps on the line, how can they leverage data to make themselves more successful? Some quick and dirty tips.

David Dulany: Yeah, I mean, quick and dirty tips is something as simple as laying out an AB test.

David Dulany: Laying out an AB test for yourself over the next two weeks. So, thing number one is laying it out as far as a basic to-do list of what you’re going to do over the next two weeks to send a hundred personalized email messages or a hundred personalized voicemail messages with a hypothesis that you’re going to get this result. And then you’re going to do the same amount on the other side for the B test. So, you’ve got an a test and a B test and then you’re going to track the results over the next two weeks. Now, okay, great. David, piece of cake. Sounds super easy. The question is, you’re all excited right now. Whenever you’re listening to this, you got your cup of coffee. You’re going to do it. The real test is the holding yourself accountable over the next two weeks to execute on it and then look at the results and try to make some sense of them if you’re seeing any trends. So, one of the top gurus in the sales industry is John Barrows, and his main tip on testing to sales reps and to SDRs is you got to constantly be AB testing to see what’s working.

David Dulany: And so it’s not something that’s in our wheelhouse necessarily, but that’s something real easy that you can do.

Darryl Praill: And ironically, you can actually tie that back to the second point, which was personalizations. You can do an AB test and collect the data on personalized approach A versus personalized approach B. Then once you get a winner, by the way, you keep on doing it. If it was B, okay, now I’m going to do B versus C, and you’re always looking to get that little bit better, but you actually intentionally test it. Same with your phone. Same with your email. You’re doing it all the time. I love that. So, that was point number three.

Darryl Praill: Point number four, something near and dear to everybody’s heart who’s going to be listening to this podcast, incentive plans. Talk to me, baby. What’s it all about? How do we get alignment? What’s the issue? What’s the answer?

David Dulany: Okay, 100%. So, let’s start with what not to do, and this is what we heard in a lot of the presentations that usually when people are putting together a sales development team or they’re unpacking the program to try to figure out what’s going on, one of the things that they will do when they’re starting is they grab a playbook from their last company on incentive plans and comp plans or they just read the latest blogs about what some other companies doing and they implement that. And what we saw with some of the top organizations out there that incentive plans and compensation plans are critical. They’re almost like the first place that you want to start if you’re looking at your sales development program and trying to figure out how to up the performance because people are motivated by incentives and comp.

David Dulany: And when you think about alignment, what is the end goal that we’re trying to accomplish with the investment in this program? Let’s basically take that end goal and reverse engineer the incentives and comp back from that goal so that we’re driving toward that and then we can set up the operations to support that. And so for example, most companies out there still are comping people on activity level and they want some tangible evidence that you’re actually doing the job. But activities are very easy to juice. I mean, you can… People figure out how to make it look like they’re doing a lot of stuff, and especially with the new systems that we have in place, I mean, number of dials and number of emails that you send and things like that, I mean, they’re just not as relevant as they were five or 10 years ago because it’s just easy to juice those things.

Take that end goal and reverse engineer the incentives and comp back from that goal so that we're driving toward that and then we can set up the operations to support that. ~ @DKDINSF #SalesStrategy #SalesTips Click To Tweet

David Dulany: And so what the top performing programs that we saw at the conference are doing is they’re going further into things like close one revenue based on the activities of the sales development team and pipeline. Because that really aligns right there with what the business is trying to achieve. And so that was just a really interesting newer thing that we saw.

Darryl Praill: I love it. Everybody wants to talk about incentive. All right. That was number four. One was revenue ops, two was personalization, three was data, four was incentive plans. You seeing a pattern here, guys? It’s all about incentive. So, again, some of this is in your control. You could do the data. You could do the testing and the personalization. Some of this is not in your control, so you need to coordinate with the players who do control those aspects so you can get alignment. Brings us back to the fifth point. The fifth point, I love this point. Quick and dirty, talk to me about the importance of training and coaching.

David Dulany: Yeah, definitely. I mean, this is something, again, top performing organizations out there, they get that revenue operation engine really humming. People have that alignment. They have the support, everyone’s kind of rowing in the same direction, and then they realize that the way to move the needle is invest in the people that are actually interacting with prospects, invest in the SDR training, invest in the training of the managers that manage the teams and make sure that they know what they’re doing. Because there’s two things. One is if you don’t have that foundational support, the operations are a mess. Things are falling through the cracks. Your comp plan is not incentivizing people correctly. If you just throw in some training on top of that, you’re probably wasting money. But if you have a well-organized program, people are starting to row in the same directions and you add training on top of that, I mean, now we’re really cooking with gas, right? Because you’re going to get the…

David Dulany: The leads are going to be arriving correctly. People are going to be able to personalize quickly. You’ve got your reports set up and you’re being able to analyze the data. Now, we’re adding on skill development so that when we put people into the right place at the right time, they know what to do. Man, you’re going to have a great program, and that’s… Some of the top performing programs that we see out there, the big companies, the big SAS companies that have been around for 10 or 15 years, you go in and you unpack how they do sales development and they have checked every single one of these boxes here, Darryl, and they’re really big in training. I mean, they have a university program for these people that are coming right out of college.

Darryl Praill: It’s true. I’ve seen that and I’ve seen a lot of companies not have that university program where they kind of give it a passing reference, like, “Oh, I’ll handle it ad-hoc because I hear something wrong. Otherwise, they’re fine. They’ll figure it out.” And the reality is that’s just lost opportunity if you don’t train proactively. Okay. One final piece of advice for all of my friends who are listening. If anything here resonated with you and you’re maybe perhaps not confident to bring it forth because you fear that you shall be smited by the powers that be, just give them this episode to listen to and strongly suggest they pay specific attention to the items that caught your attention. That’s my suggestion to you. David, tell me more about where the crew can check you out, learn from you, follow you, listen to you. What are all the details?

David Dulany: Oh gosh. Thank you, Daryl. Definitely tenbound.com. Ten Bound dot com, tons of free research there on sales development, best practices, all of our service sheets and more information about upcoming events that we have. We’re going to be doing a lot of events in 2020 and we’re really excited about it. So, thank you, Darryl. Thanks for the opportunity.

Darryl Praill: Hey, man, anytime. So, that’s David Dulaney, the conferences Ten Bound. If you don’t go, go. Make it a point next time around. Do not hesitate. In the meantime, follow David. He’s got fantastic content. They’ve got lots of great stuff happening. They’ve got research coming out now. It’s crazy. So, they can help you in so many ways. They can help your firm get aligned. My name is Darryl Praill. I’m with Inside Sales. At least that’s what I wish my full-time job was, but I also do this small thing at VanillaSoft, the industry’s number one sales engagement platform. Follow me, follow the show. We’d be grateful. Hopefully you got value out of today. If so, I hope to see you again next time. In the meantime, you guys take care.