When I was just starting out as a sales rep (SDR) I lived by the mantra that “you only get one first impression, so you better make it count.” Unfortunately, I was also living in Salesforce, drowning in follow-up tasks, and quickly becoming unable to make the best first impression on all my inbound leads. This was a huge threat to our sales funnel because in order to connect with people, you must communicate information that is meaningful to them. If it’s not relevant they won’t give you any of their time. They won’t care. And frankly, why should they?
As a result of our process, I was unable to earnestly reach out to every lead with information that showed them how my company could help them succeed. There was simply not enough time in a day for me to individually create each one of these personal interactions!
Sales managers, we’ve been there, and the math is simple: to be considered “thoroughly worked,” every lead should get at least eight touches. Multiply those touches by 200, 300, 400…1000 leads, and your SDRs are quickly responsible for an overwhelming number of tasks! Without some process for automation, this scenario quickly makes your sales funnel unmanageable.
To help visualize this challenge I am going to use a reality show on the Discovery Channel called Gold Rush, in which teams compete to mine the most gold in the short summer months of the Yukon tundra. To win, their plan is simple – in three months, run as much pay dirt through a wash plant as possible. Whoever can process the most dirt, yielding the highest quantity of gold, wins.
Why this is so relatable to a sales funnel and why I personally have gotten a kick out of watching the show is how one mines gold: you prospect a claim (target demographics), transport the pay dirt (leads) to your wash-plant (sales funnel), where the pay dirt is put through a series of different filters and washes (a qualification process), first blocking out boulders that would damage the wash-plant (not sales prospects), and then funneling the condensed pay dirt through your sleuth boxes (opportunity funnel) where the fought after gold (customer) is captured.
Just like a wash-plant, a sales funnel is only effective and profitable when it is able to consistently and continuously work through all the leads being fed into it – if unqualified boulders sneak into your funnel, or you’re not able to process out all the disqualified opportunities, you will quickly become unable to process new inbound leads, or unable to close all of your qualified opportunities – causing you to miss out on gold that is now spilling over the sides of your wash plant and likely falling into the hands of your competitors!
Similarly, before Outreach arrived on the scene, I was frantically shoveling through follow-up tasks, trying to keep my Salesforce wash-plant from sinking into the ground on which it sat. At one point I had so many follow-up emails and calls–not to mention a daily inbound flow of 20 new MQLs–that I was literally working 9 hours straight and unable to keep up. Burnout sucks, and nothing will kill a good SDR quicker than mindless, arduous data entry.
The killer was something we can all relate to – I was wasting the majority of my time with mundane data entry and engagement tracking. Doing the math I calculated on average it was taking approximately three and a half minutes to research the lead’s history, make the call or email, document the activity, and setup a follow-up reminder. Again, at scale, that is a massive amount of time for your SDRs to have to dedicate to non-revenue generating activities!
Then, like air conditioning on a hot summer day, Outreach arrived. Their initial idea was brilliant enough – automate all of the touch points and task management that goes into working leads through the qualification process. Immediately this made a massive impact on the amount of workload that could be processed, allowed me to make a great first impression with every inbound lead, and scaled my lead management from 350 to 600+ leads.
However, Outreach is more than just a revelation to the sales development process: it is a mechanism that can help facilitate the entire customer journey from lead to opportunity and, most excitingly for me, to an end user’s implementation and customer lifecycle.
With the proliferation of the SaaS model, it is clear that no relationship is ever set in stone. As much as that first impression is important, the long-term success of any customer relationship will be determined by the user’s overall adoption of your product/service, and by how satisfied they are with your customer experience, “I’ll buy from you until I find someone else I like to buy from more.” It is because of this shift in the buy/seller power dynamic that this long-tail portion of the customer lifecycle has become so incredibly important.
Now to state something that may be obvious. The biggest risk to any renewal funnel is a lack of insight into your users’ adoption. This insight could be anything qualitative and quantitative, from usage events, NPS scores, to open tickets – not having end user insight leaves your customer base incredibly vulnerable to churn. Said a different way, the biggest challenge for your customers’ is you not knowing where they are in their product lifecycle because this prevents you from properly educating and enabling them to succeed with your product!
Again we’ve all been there at the end of the quarter, it’s time for the customer renewal conversation. Who’s in, who’s out, and who needs to be saved? Can anyone be upsold? Eventually there is always one customer (if you’re lucky it’s only one) where no one on your team knows if they are happy or not, if the account is adopting the product or not – there is no window into the account, or any of the users propensity to renew with your product.
Most often the root cause of this lack of insight is a disparate web of microservices – all individually purchased to support the customer journey, but unable to properly work together in order to achieve the business objectives originally outlined. This is a challenge that every organization is facing today. With the proliferation of subscription softwares, how do we optimize their business value with our customer experience?
To solve this paradigm for our customers, we have integrated Built.io Flow with Outreach in order to power the entire customer journey, and incorporating our entire library of customer tracking and engagement tools into Outreach. This level of connectivity and messaging automation is going to shake the foundations of what we thought it meant to manage a customer journey.