In a series of video interviews, Owen Scott, Concentrate’s Managing Director, talks with Matt Aird, the CEO of Sales Science. Matt and the Sales Science team help B2B companies get more meetings with their ideal prospects, using sophisticated outbound sales programmes that combine the best people, technology and processes.
Concentrate kicked off 2020 with a new eBook: Hunt for the sales unicorn. A legendary creature known to possess magical abilities, when applied to the sales and marketing sector, a unicorn is someone who can do it all - from cold calling and crafting marketing emails, through to pitching solutions and closing deals. Like their mythical counterpart, they're rare. Often, they exist in the form of the founder of a company. So what happens when a business wants to scale its sales and move away from the founder doing all the selling?
The eBook was written by Concentrate's Managing Director, Owen Scott. It outlines the fundamental philosophy of improving sales productivity and performance, and the steps to get there.
In the first video, Matt leads Owen through the outline of Hunt for the sales unicorn, with emphasis on three areas:
- Hiring that first Business Development Representative (BDR) - someone who's willing to learn
- The importance of a lead generation machine - why this is a job for marketing
- Support the BDR by providing structure in the form of a clearly defined sales process and sales plays
Together, Owen and Matt navigate through the challenges tech companies face when they're transitioning from the founder of the company doing all the selling. The transcript of the interview can be found below.
WATCH THE REST OF THE INTERVIEW SERIES:
All right, so I'm joined today by Owen Scott. Owen is Founder and Managing Director at Concentrate.
Concentrate - I'll let Owen introduce it. But they've recently come out with a book called Hunt for the sales unicorn. And that's all around how tech companies look to kind of scale sales, and all of the challenges and tribulations that come up with that, and how you can best kind of mitigate some of those with some different tactics and strategies. So Owen, thanks for jumping on the call today. I just thought we'd kick off just with a quick intro from you. So ever tell everyone about kind of you and what you guys do at Concentrate down in Christchurch.
Cool. Thanks, Matt. And so yeah, welcome I'm Owen Scott, I'm the Managing Director of a marketing agency called Concentrate. And what we do is, we help Kiwi tech companies grow.
So we're about the sort of the outsource marketing department and the lead generation machine behind about 30 tech companies in New Zealand, you know, every month we're helping them, you know, find leads for their sales teams.
I suppose just a little bit of background with the book is that we also run a annual study called Market Measures. Where - you know - we've typically researched about 350 Kiwi tech companies. Okay, all of the insights and information that comes out of that study we fit into some of the fundamentals from this book.
Yeah, that's great. I wasn't aware of that. That's awesome. All right. So going through the book, there is a bunch of areas, obviously, that that stood out to me that were really meaty and we could dig into but I thought we might start today by addressing three things. And the first one that I wanted to cover off with you was what are some of the challenges that arise when a tech company looks to transition from the founder doing all the selling to looking to kind of bring in that first sales resource? What are some of the key kind of challenges that come up during that process?
Yeah, so I think we see this all the time as continuous cycle where they have an issue. So basically, the challenges that the founder, you know, basically they started off, the founder does everything the founder does all the selling, but then they reach a point where they want to scale and the founder can no longer you know, do with that. So they say, "Right, let's hire a salesperson." This is where the sort of typical mistake happens is, they tend to hire and look for a founder replacement. So it is as you know, as the senior superhero. They can do everything the founder can do - actually if we step back a little bit - if you look at the founder, the way they sell is, you know, the founder can make promises, come up with the price, find products on the fly, they have an amazing ability. And what we try and do then is we replace it with the sort of superhero, unicorn salesperson.
And, you know, quite often we do find these senior people, they come out of a, you know, maybe a large tech company or something, they've got lots of experience. But then the next step of the process is we typically set them up to fail, is that we don't provide them with the support that they need. So you know, great salespeople need to supply leads, they need structure. They need to find product. What tends to happen is we hire these people. Six months later, sort of they haven't achieved the targets that they're supposed to achieve. Then you go back to the founder, yeah, round and round until, you know, eventually they sort of can get it right.
And then the goal of trying to scale doesn't eventuate right? Because the founder is back in the hot seat or spending time hiring. Yeah, absolutely. I think one point you touched on there is really, I think important. We see this a bunch as well. You know, a startup company hiring someone from big established software company, right, that has, you know, and they used to comeing from a company with an established brand, with all of the processes in place with a bunch of leads coming in. Right, and that's a very different environment coming from, you know, big established company to make the first sales hire at a startup. Yeah - and yeah - just yeah, making sure that both the rep and the founder aligned on the fact that, you know, that's going to be a different process, and you got to kind of buy into that. Yeah.
I think just, you know, adding to that is that when we looked at their Market Measures study the characteristics of these sales people, you know, they're actually very good. They are very experienced. They are highly paid. They have a good close rate. The issue is, you know, it's just, we're not supporting them and making them efficient enough, and, you know, give them that process environment. So it's sort of like not the people, it's the environment we put them into - that's the issue.
Okay. Cool. So are there - just to just riff off that a little bit - because you mentioned process there a couple of times. Are there any key kind of process holes that you notice? Is it not having kind of a defined sales processes or not having defined handover process from marketing to sales? Is it all of those things that they're just kind of walking into a blank slate, or?
Basically, the way we treat them as they sort of operate like the lone wolf, yeah, we you know, give them sales collateral, etc. And we send them off overseas, to basically go and find people. Nurture them, close them, and bring the deal back. So our company can live off it for a while and then we send them off over again, we don't have a system. And yet, you know, we'll get into that, but there's lots of dimensions to the system.
Yeah, hundred percent, I guess, then that would create a bunch of frustration on both ends, right, because the founder doesn't have clarity on what's happening, in terms of a sales process, and what's moving forward and what isn't. And then the rep is kind of trying to make everything up as they go along. Yeah, hundred percent. All right. So there's a lot that we could dig into there in the future.
So if we move on from that, when do you think it makes sense for a tech company to look to bring in that first sales hire? Are there any kind of common characteristics you see across companies as to when it makes sense? And perhaps some when you think - look, you're probably not quite ready for that yet?
Yeah, so I think it's earlier than you think.
But so it's definitely when you want to scale. And that's when the founder can no longer - has capacity to, you know, be full on in that sales role. So obviously, as a startup the founder does everything, and it's fine. But as soon as you want to start scaling sales, you need to move to the new model. So, you know, the model we're talking about is, you know, hiring BDR so it can be a low cost, lower cost person. But it is about scaling. So I think we - it's pretty early.
Okay, so is it kind of like, once you've got a few customers on board, once your product, you know, solves a specific problem and you've made your mind up that you want to scale, then you should look to bring someone in kind of as soon as you can kind of financially afford it and you think products at a point to go?
Yeah, I think it can go with it. I mean, companies know when they, you know, can sort of financially afford a resource in this area, you know, but it can be a little bit earlier because we're going to talk about a lower price resource. We don't have to get you know, we don't need the hundred and 50 k salary plus on target earnings net, because we're gonna get the superhero salesperson, we can do it earlier and we can go for a lower cost salesperson.
Yeah. Okay, cool. Well, let's dig into that then a little bit. So what what do you think? You talked about the BDR there. So what's the - tell me a little bit about how you think about setting that up? Obviously at Sales Science, we have a lot of experience setting those up and running those programs for people but how do you guys view the role of the BDR and there responsibilities in a company?
Basically, instead of, you know, if we look at the sales process, you know, we sort of have, you know, finding prospects, qualifying prospects, and then we sort of nurture them. And then we get into, you know that the closing part of it. When we typically hire a salesperson we're looking at the whole job. What we're talking about with the BDR is slicing off the first step of that, which we'll call it "prospecting".
So I'll give you a practical example - is in Concentrate, I do the selling with Greg Williamson he's another Founder here. So between the two of us we do all the selling and we've just reached a point last year that we're thinking we don't have time for this, we need to scale. What do we do? And so we've hired a BDR. The BDR's job is the first piece: prospecting.
So that BDR finds leads, qualifies leads and basically, their output or goal is to have meetings with Greg and myself and a prospect. I've just kept, you know, like, 30% of my sales time off - the you know, that it's a very focused, you know, it's a very specific, focused job, find people, connect with them, qualify them, and give me meetings and we actually pay that person on the meetings that they give us.
Yeah, perfect. Yep. So they, that's great. So you chop off a small part of the sales process, which makes it easier to kind of define and teach someone? Yeah, right. You can, you can ramp them faster. They've got really clear metric to success, which is book a meeting with a qualified person, right? And then they get compensated on that. And so that feedback loops really short. They don't have to wait for deals to close. Right? You can kind of incentivise the right behaviours through that.
Yeah, that's really good. And then But yeah, we're an agency. So you know, we're not a large company. But you know, we've moved to that, you know, well basically, I want a discovery meeting prospect meeting once a week and Greg wants one a week and you do that every week, we're getting one now. Now we're getting really qualified, rich conversations with people not not from not tearing around having cups of coffee, sort of trying to find people.
Yep, hundred percent. That's awesome. That's great. All right. And so in that transition, then let's think about that. So going from the founder to the point where they're bringing in their first BDR hire. So the person that's going to run that that prospecting qualification piece, give three pieces of advice to a founder that's looking to hire that role for the first time perhaps what they should look for, what should they should keep an eye out for during that process.
So there's really three things that we can go through that next. But the the first thing is, you need to hire that BDR. And the main skills around the BDR is, you know, you want someone who can learn. You know, that's really, you know, chopping that front off the BDR. So let's just say that's the first thing you need to do to actually move from the founder sales to sort of a scalable machine.
The second thing that you need to bolt on the front of that, a lead generation capability. So that's the role of marketing. You know, in a lot of tech companies, the role of marketing is sales support, the website and sort of brand stuff. We want to sort of change that role of marketing, hold their feet to the fire, and they are responsible for generating a certain number of leads for the BDR.
You know, you'd want to be able to get up that - say half the leads for the BDR, inbound leads from the marketing department, and maybe half is still the BDR reaching out, looking on LinkedIn, researching, finding best fit companies.
BDR marketing system on the front, and then under the BDR, we need some structure. So we need a nice and clear defined sales process with maybe some, you know, the sort of well defined sales plays. In other words, when I do a call, what am I looking for? What's the structure? What homework do I need to do beforehand, etc. So that's sort of the three things. And we can follow up with maybe another video where we can dig into those three areas with more detail, but so yeah.
Yeah, hundred percent. That's great. Well, thanks. Thanks for joining us this morning, Owen. That was really helpful. We'll definitely follow up and dive into those three areas in more detail. We've got a - I'm sure we've both got a bunch to say on those areas. So yeah, thanks for joining us, and we'll speak again soon. Cheers mate.