Building SaaS Pipeline – part 3

I read Trish Bertuzzi’s book ‘The Sales Development Playbook’ and it was by far one of the best sales books I’ve read in a while. The book focuses heavily on building pipeline with SDR teams. This is the second post of a few I’m going to share about this book: there was so much good information that putting it all in one post would be too long. Below are some of the excerpts I found to be very insightful, from page 55 to 127.


You can’t just ask your employees for referrals to potential new-hires. “Unless a friend or former colleague figuratively falls into their laps, the referral program rarely gets a second thought. Hubspot’s Mark Roberge, who earlier discussed how he made hiring his number one priority, shared the following approach with me. “I call this the referral. When a new rep has been in the role for three or six months, I tell them that tomorrow we are going to sit together for twenty minutes. And that tonight, I’m going to go through all their LinkedIn connections and find people that are early on their careers at good companies. I’ll build a list that we’re going to go through together.”

Gotta use Glassdoor. “Far too many companies haven’t even claimed their Glassdoor profiles. Their company pages are stock and bleak, and they present only the bare minimum of information. To stand out from the crowd, spice it up. Add pictures, videos, awards, information about your culture, your philanthropic commitments, etc. to your profile.”

But don’t try to fake it on Glassdoor. “Pressuring reps to be team players and leave the faux-positive reviews is bad business. On more than one occasion, I’ve seen unhappy reps, shortly after departure, update their previous reviews with “My boss made me write that previous review; here’s the truth.” That casts a pall over every other glowing review. Just don’t do it. I recommend a three step process for your company on Glassdoor: Encourage, respond, and address. Step one, encourage your current team to post reviews. Let them know you want them to have the best-of-the-best colleagues and that reviews on Glassdoor are one way to show what a great company you’re building together.”

Use a survey to narrow down candidates. “Here’s how it works in practice. When candidates submit a resume, prompt them to take a five-minute survey. There are several immediate benefits. First, the candidates prove they’re interested by investing an additional five minutes. There are plenty of resume blasters out there — reps who apply for any position with a pulse. They are unlikely to begin and even less likely to finish your survey. We’ve just eliminated them in one fell swoop. Here are a few sample questions to give you a feel for what this might look like…

Which of our products interest you most? Why?

Which two of the following do you consider our closest competitors? (Pick list: include three competitors and three non-competitors)

In what year was our company founded? (List with incorrect options)

If you only had thirty seconds, how would you explain what we do to someone you met in an airport or coffee shop?

Phone interviews are key for SDRs. When it comes to hiring SDRs, phone interviews are as (if not more) important than in-person. Your reps will be making their living on the phones. They need to be articulate and able to make a connection without being face to face. These are the first two questions you should ask: What do you know about our company? What do you know about me personally?

Ask about real stories. Behavioral questions ask candidates to share specific examples of how they’ve performed in past situations. Ziprecruiter’s Kevin Gaither, who earlier shared his approach for sending LinkedIn messages to candidates, commented, “too many managers ask questions about how someone would handle something. To me, that’s just a BS way of trying to get at the answer, because how they would respond is not nearly as important as how they have responded in the past. I’m not looking for textbook answers. I’m looking for real stories.” So many candidates are asked the same exact questions in the interview process that their responses are rehearsed.

Let candidates meet current SDRs. “Because you have the candidate onsite, I highly recommend you give him or her an opportunity to sit with a current rep to see the job firsthand and ask candid questions. What is it really like here? What is the worst part of the job? How many reps are making quota? How much training do you really get?”

Be fast and deliberate when hiring. “Take a look at some of the most highly rated employers on Glassdoor, and you’ll notice a common thread: Their interview processes are lean. Many run from soup to nuts in just two weeks. If you want your perfect candidate to choose you, you need to move quickly. Here’s my (admittedly aggressive) timeline.

Resume & survey received — Day 1

Phone screen — Day 2

Phone interview — Day 4

On-site interview and shadow — Day 5–8

Extend Offer — Day 10

That’s ten business days from application to offer. Personally, I prefer the offer to come from either the CEO or the VP sales — As high as you can go. This is a final opportunity to make the candidate feel special. Just like with job descriptions, add some personality and sizzle to the offer letter.”

SDR’s take 3+ months to ramp. “It takes approximately three to four months to ramp a new SDR to full productivity. I also know — from that same research — that average tenure is between twelve and eighteen months. Also, in many markets — Austin, Boston, the San Francisco Bay area — you can expect to cut that number in half. There are just too many companies willing to take reps with six to twelve months’ experience and give them a shot at a closing role.”

Productive time is short. “Productive time in the role is just simple math: Tenure minus ramp time. On average, that’s just eight to fourteen months.”

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