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Enabling BDRs

The following post (BDR Managers: Here’s A New Way To Get Promoted) was written by Robyn Lightner of HubSpot.

When I started as a Business Development Rep (BDR) on a new team of wide-eyed recent grads eager to make prospecting exciting again, my manager designated herself as a “Monkey Wrangler.”

If you manage a team of BDRs, I bet you’re nodding. Often your brand’s first impression on a prospect, great BDRs need to be agile, curious, and capable of using all available context to connect with another human … who happens to be a potential customer. As with any job in 2014, they should also be having fun.

Now that new technology has made it possible to track behaviors in the sales process, BDR Managers have an opportunity to not only make their reps happier and more productive, but to prove out a business case that earns you recognition within your organization.

What is this new tracking technology we speak of?

Once a BDR Manager myself, I see the golden opportunity for managers to empower their teams with an arsenal of content optimized for behavior tracking – in other words, email opens and clicks. For anyone looking to access this tracking intelligence with absolutely no budget, your BDRs can use free tools like Signals (or Yesware*) to get desktop or mobile notifications when a prospect has opened or clicked an email they’ve sent.

Now while an email open is great, we shouldn’t be satisfied with an “open” signal. Our goal is to compel the prospect to agree to a call or a meeting. Since we know that >66% of buyers’ research happens before they’re ready to speak with sales, expecting a meeting from a cold prospecting email that lacks education is like asking someone to marry you on the first date.

That’s why I propose the following three-step strategy to empower your BDRs, see success across the team, and hopefully get recognition (or better yet, a promotion) along the way.

Step 1: Set your reps up for smart behaviors to track.

Beyond email opens, tracking email click behavior provides a rep with a much deeper understanding of how interested a prospect is in their message. Clicks can suggest or verify which part of your message is most interesting to them, or allow you to follow up on an important link that went unclicked.

To maximize this opportunity for your team, take your standard templates and make sure each and every one of them has a place where your reps can insert a relevant link to offer complimentary content. You need to make each link compelling and clickable using hyperlinked text. Here’s what I mean …

The lazy salesperson will just copy and paste the URL of the page they want to send into their email so it looks like this:

With this, a prospect gets a flash of numbers and punctuation and forward slashes that shouldn’t pass the blink test. It’s like seeing the thorns on a rose. Make hyperlinking a habit, and present your message this way:

Efficiency Tip #1: Create a document of hyperlinks. The copy/paste/reformatting process can take precious extra seconds that your BDRs are unwilling to sacrifice because of looming activity requirements. So do it for them! Create a one-page Google doc with clearly accessible hyperlinks that your reps can save in their bookmarks bar for frequent usage. Start with URLs that are easily swappable – like case studies, industry specific data sheets, and overview video clips.

Step 2: Ensure your team knows how to react to tracking signals.

Are you or your CEO worried reps might misuse this of type tracking technology? Remember that your prospects aren’t doing anything different than before – you just know about it now.

Think less about the clicking action and more about what the context of that action will likely be. If someone is opening your email from their mobile phone, it’s likely they’re in transit or otherwise distracted. But if your prospect clicks on the relevant link in your email, it’s more likely they are right where you want them … at their desk near their phone.

No need to even mention that you received an alert on your iPhone during lunch and rushed to call them (creepy). Just call them to follow up using the insight that you thought it might be a good time to catch them at their desk. On your next attempt, go ahead and mention that they clicked through the content you sent them and ask what they think.

This extra insight empowers you reps to be more agile and free themselves from the standard of mechanical 2-day, 5-day, 10-day follow up. Anyone can robotically send an email sequence but in 2014 it’s about being agile and engaging your prospects within the context of their needs.

Efficiency Tip #2: Create a smart cadence for outreach. Before email tracking technology came into play, sales outreach looked a little like this:

This step-by-step, static method doesn’t match how modern buyers behave and purchase. That’s why we have tools like Signals to track our emails. Instead, let your BDRs follow a much more natural process. It may end up looking like this:

Step 3: Demonstrate your team’s success.

If your BDR team takes on this modern approach to selling, you likely want to show the results of your novel success strategy to grow in the ranks at your business. Here are three areas I suggest watching.

  1. Morale: You’ve armed your reps with email tracking data to help them increase their connect rate by reading prospects’ digital body language. More connects is a huge win for your team’s morale because it means less time spent sending boring follow up emails and fewer encounters with our friend “press 1 for accounts payable.”

  2. Connect rate: Even more important, a higher connect rate typically means your reps are getting more “at bats” and more opportunities to practice their conversation skills. This means more meaningful connect calls and more learning over less time.

  3. Meetings: But really, as the manager of a hustling team, you need to show that by adding behavior tracking to your sales process you are generating opportunities and customers that your reps otherwise wouldn’t.

How the heck do I do that? My reps find it interesting, isn’t that enough?

First of all, talk with your team and see how they feel about having click tracking technology. Do they understand this type of intelligence and believe it empowers them to be more productive? If so, make sure to set some expectations while excitement is high. Explain that, in order for you to get this technology in their hands, you’ll need their help to prove it’s value internally.

Efficiency Tip #3: Share success stories as you test. Roll out tracking technology to a few members of your team to test. Before signing up for a trial, create a forum (internal wiki, email digest, project board, etc.) where reps can post examples of success they’ve had leveraging the new technology. That way, you can look back at these stories in the future and see if any use cases resulted in new meetings, forecasted opportunities, or even customers. Then compare the potential revenue generated directly from this new insight to the cost (time, budget, setup) of implementing email tracking – and you have a simple yet powerful case.

At the end of the day, new technology to track how prospects engage beyond an “open” of a sales email is worth more than a “cool!” from your VP of Sales. As a BDR Manager, take the time to plan it right from the beginning. A pilot program within your team can become an opportunity to boost productivity, morale, and your credibility within your organization. Can you say triple whammy?

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