Co-Founder and CEO, LeadIQ
Optimizing Your Sales Pipeline: The Difference Between Startups and Enterprises
Mei Siauw: All right, great. Thank you. The guy at the backend. Give me, so that's good enough. So, hi everyone. My name is Mei. I'm um, cofounder and CEO of LeadIQ. And today I will be sharing a little bit on my journey going and building a sales pipeline. So a little bit about myself. Um, prior to lead IQ, I used to be a product manager at Oracle. I was there for 10 years, a little bit too long before I finally decided that it's time to, oh, I suspect some time with a business, you know, me when I was at Oracle. So, um, and, and then I decided to try, um, to work in a startup. So four years ago I laugh, um, obstacles to join Michael Fonder. We're working on a startup that eventually became lead IQ. Lead IQ was not the first thing that we work on.
Mei Siauw: We prefer that to get through what LeadIQ is. I am not a sales person. I do not have a sales background. So we did a lot of trial and error to learn what we learn today to get to where we are today. So ethical as the founder, I was the first sales person of the company and throughout the past four years we do the sales team. And today we have seven sales people working for our company. So what I would like to share is that outbound sales is very important, especially for early startup because if you are looking for an enterprise or a larger startup, you typically have a better band that at least some people recognize you have credibility, you have an application when you only know already start up, you have none of that, no brand, no credibility, no one have heard who you are.
Mei Siauw: It's much harder. And why outbound sales is even more important. So most of you would probably have heard those benefits. They will at their glory days was one of the most hype company, um, in Silicon Valley. Moved and salesforce took about four years to get to from zero to 20 million ARR. Zenefits took half of that. So just about two years, it was really good. They did something good. And of course now slack is the golden child. I think Slack did it even short at in a shorter time than what's end of it did. But let's listen a little bit to what did benefits do? How did they do it? From zero to 20 million ARR in two years? Oh, there's no audio. Can we get the audio up?
Speaker 1: Sorry. [inaudible]
Mei Siauw: bear with us for a few seconds. So in any case, Zenefits, um, started the as a YCombinator company the first three months they hired, um, Matt Epstein who you will be hearing him talking soon to just do a lot of prospecting, cold emailing and Abby testing. Who's the right audience, who's the right person? They thought it's symbol because um, they are selling an HR software. They should be talking to the HR people. But in the end, um, what they realize is that when they are emailing the HR people, they don't respond to them. So even though they have an HR software, which the most obvious people that would be using them as the HR people, no one responded back to them after, only after AP testing, sending to different people. They realize that when they send it to the CEO or the CFO, the company, then they get more response than it will eventually forwarded to the HR people.
Mei Siauw: So that's one of their learning. It looks like the audio doesn't work. So we'll skip it. I'll move on. But that's, um, they took almost three months ab testing this you would have, it would be more exciting to hear it from Matt rather than me. But that's a summary. If the audio works, we may try to play this again. Right. So given that, um, we decided that as a company that we wanted to invest in outbound sales. Do we try to hire our first SDR? And I'm going to share our journey on how we did that and what happened. What's the learning, what's the ups and what's the down? So the first thing we did, we launched, you need IQ in April, 2015 about, um, six months later we hired our very first marketing, which luckily is a good person who's very experienced in cold emailing.
Mei Siauw: He was an SDR in another company called [inaudible] before. So one thing that most people do not most companies do not pay a lot of attention is that as an early company, the first impression matters as we mentioned, right? No one had heard of you. You have no reputation. So the first thing they all try to get her about you is that from your website or your blogs or your emails, when you are sending an email about who are you, what kind of company are you? Do I even want to talk to you? Now, most people spend a ton of time in building the website, designing it so it looks nice. What do you want to talk about it? Maybe 10 to $100 you'll spend a bit of time maybe hire a content person to work on your blocks, making sure that you are giving good contents, but when you are sending cold email, most people don't even think about it.
Mei Siauw: You just type it up and sending it and SME all today, most of you probably know it too. You have received tons of cold emails that the content is just junk, right? And most people are now thinking that cold emails is equal to spam and you will be deleting most of them, right? We are, we believe in this and we'd spend a ton of time really thinking of go email. How can we make sure that our cold email is received by the recipient and how would they think about it when they first see this email? Here's some example of our cold emails, Ryan, the first marketing person that we have who's on post facto wrote this to a sales leader in a company because we want to talk to them about [inaudible]. We wanted to get their feedback. So we did in the Sao even about up what up. He just like say, hey Jr, I'm not giving the nutrition but I made this for you leaving something in the description. Any chance we could snack time to talk next week? Just say that this is a [inaudible] tool we are building and we can help you guys. What are your thoughts? And there is a link. There's a, Oh, it's the audio still not working. There was a video left [inaudible] and then in the [inaudible] and the league there is a video to do this
Mei Siauw: [inaudible] [inaudible] structure. Yes. Psyllium, [inaudible] and [inaudible]. That's one. Uh,
Mei Siauw: you get the idea, right? The key here was that all are trying to do is get them attention and let's meet and then we talk about the rest during the meeting, right? So by making this video, um, we catch the guys extra attention. This is domestic bonds. You're not seeing it here.
Mei Siauw: So we've got a massive ones right away and I, and I'm in fall call next week and so is my boss and see seeing the whole sales team, they just were so impressed by the amount of effort put into this email that they were like, yeah, I'm down to talk. We didn't close this but we got a good meeting out of it. If they're not like we were too small, our product was too little. This what they are looking for. But we get a good first meeting and in the early days we did a ton of this just trying to get meetings with people. This is another song for another company that was also personalize. It doesn't scale, but we did maybe 10 to 15 of this kind of core emails with videos, right? That's the early days. How we first get we all company to start like talking to us.
Mei Siauw: So once we did that for a couple of months, we see that it's working. We can get people to talk to us. We in May 2016 we hired our very first SDR to try to replicate what Ryan did. So Ryan and Ryan is quite a personality. He's comfortable singing in a video office. SDR is not like that. Doesn't matter. The goal was just that we want to personalize. So he does different things. He switches link in, he makes sure, what are they interested in. And he still make it personalize. It's not video anymore, but it still works. So since we've hired office str, we implemented salesforce and we started tracking and we, you can see the number of new opportunities created was going up. We thought this is working, this is great. Um, but what happened was that ops are growing, but revenue is flat. We will not posting those ups.
Mei Siauw: So outbound ops, I actually kind of hard, they tend to be longer cycle. You want to post them. That doesn't mean that you can always close them yet in the beginning, but you start dancing with them, you're nurturing them. So there are a couple of things that were happening for us at that point of time actually. So first is that, um, I'm the, I was still the very first and the only sales person of the company then and up until this point, this is when we hired our very first [inaudible]. So, um, I think because we started getting more and more customers, we did not actually have enough people to handhold them. We are still really many people is still needs to be taught on how to use it. So when we hired our very first a, it free me a little bit to work with each customer when they were not happy about something, we can actually build it quickly for them.
Mei Siauw: Um, and then our revenue starts going up again. So now I mentioned the you that we hired, offers SDL and offers e opportunity starts going up in November, 2016 we decided to scale it. Let's build three more SDRs, right? So we hired a second AEE and we hired more SDRs. But the next six opportunities stay flat. So when we hired one SDR, we will making in making about maybe 30 [inaudible] in opportunities every quarter as we hire more as the ours, somehow it's just spread between the three of them. So something is wrong. So we was, we started like learning like what happened? Um, the opportunities are just not coming and we learn about that. Having the s U help us to learn at that point of time. Lead IQ, you're a software that helps sales team, um, get more boss back and contact information. At that point of time we only have emails, we don't have phone numbers and we started reaching out more companies, but most of the companies do not want to pursue further when they learn that we are email only providers.
Mei Siauw: We were looking for numbers. So this period of time we realize that it's hard for us to continue growing if we don't have phone numbers. The SDOs help us to, um, live in that. So we started like, we need to grow this, we need to fix the phone numbers and make that available to you. So in August, 2017, we killed the SDR team realizing it doesn't work. We just, um, move 1% to customer success, move another percent to opposing role and, and we actually did not have any SDR team at all for a couple of months. Then in November, 2017, we, the, the phone numbers is available. We started to take another step at this, uh, let's do this again. And this time you, we realized that to office experience that as the are a pretty hard, um, all that it would [inaudible] personality unit, someone who is not, that's not give up easily who's Visteon.
Mei Siauw: And typically people hire out of that college graduates and it's very hard to train, um, them and they need a lot of training. We don't have the skills and we don't have the bandwidth and the capacities to actually train. That's part of the failure with our first batch of the SCUF team. So this time round we decided to hire experienced SDR where this batch of people, they have been an SDF before in another company for at least two years or four years. And then we hire them with lead IQ. You have done this before, you know what's coming, you know what you need to do. You just need to do it again. But this time it's easier because you are selling to folks like yourself, your product y product sells to SDRs. Right? So they got it. Oh yeah. I would use as an SDR, I would use this product and it's easier for me to sell that.
Mei Siauw: So we tried that and um, it actually works really well. Sorry, I'm clearly not knowing how to let me get this. Um, it actually worked well. As you can see starting then like opportunity starts going up again. So what I want to share more to here is that more, we have had a lot of questions because we work with many companies who hire you are when should we hire in house SDR and when, which should we outsource it and our experience. Right. Um, when you don't have the time to invest in it or you do not have the bandwidth outsourcing may make sense. Typically it's cheaper to get started. It's easier. It's about 6,000 per month for an agency to start testing out for you. They will work on finding ideal customer profiles, finding some contacts, working on some email templates, but you still have to work with them closely as if they are your in house team because in the early days there's still a lot of ab testing on messaging and value proposition if you just fully outsource it.
Mei Siauw: Like for us, for example, we made a, never have learned that the problem, we were not closing the ops or we were not getting the ups was for numbers because we have that in house. The people were just like, I can't sell this because we don't have the phone numbers. The Ad Agency may just not care to dig deeper on why it is or if you don't have a good communication, you may not, um, understanding it and you may be, you just may feel like the agency doesn't work out and you find another agency. There's a, you need to communicate and really feel, um, to be them like an in house SDR. But in the long run and in house SDR is really need it because it's hard to scale with agency with once you get an inhouse SDR running, if you have processes that you can train new people on how to hire, how to train and how to scale them, then once you're ready to scale, it's very easy to just add another body and you know how many ops you will be generating next.
Mei Siauw: So in our experience, I'm building an SDR team, takes about at least three months [inaudible] time. We only get about 50% success rate. This is us as in only one out of two SDRs we hire and up being successful and staying with us after three months. So it's something that we are trying to improve. It could be our fault in training, we don't know it could be but um right now we're just okay, we need to be [inaudible]. We know so far we only have 50% success rate. We need to high of six. That's the way we go about it. And what we have realized to an athlete, we are asking our SDRs to send less emails. Most people in the industry, we know they are targeting between 50 to 100 activities, either email, socio or calling a day at the Er. And in our opinion that's way too many.
Mei Siauw: If you are standing that many, you don't have the time to personalize it and if you don't personalize it, more of those emails are ending up in junk mail or people just sending it, mark it as spam. When that happens in the long run, more and more of your emails are going to be ending up in the spam folder. Right. And then if an efficacy of your school email is going down too. So it's very important actually to send last emails that most people are appreciating and the, the percentage of emails being marked as spam by your recipient and the percentage of emails that are getting responds back and it's to be PD balance in order for you to continue being able to do this outbound in the long run. Otherwise within a few months it will you just like no one is responding to our outbound outreach.
Mei Siauw: So we see, um, more success if you use multiple channels, email, phone and LinkedIn is the way you, once you email someone, try to engage them within LinkedIn. We internally use LinkedIn a ton where if you notice people are um, mentioning something on their LinkedIn posts, um, we will then tie to engage with them or our marketing team actually spends a lot of time building contents that we're posting in LinkedIn. And then we will be prospecting people who like to post. So our marketing and as the ours actually work hand in hand, we try to give our SDRs warm leads rather than cold leads that these people are already liking contents for marketing, um, from social media. So lastly is that we realize that um, who are successful have really like competitive and aggressive nature that they just don't take no for an answer when they try to do cold email.
Mei Siauw: It's easy for someone to say, I don't have time right now. The better one somehow is able to turn that no into a 10 minutes conversation. Like someone say, Oh I, I don't have time right now, but he asked, oh, but how are you, you know, are you meeting your quota this month or are you meeting, do you have a, how are you currently doing the leads? And somehow that turns into a conversation that 10 minutes later, okay, I'll take the meeting with you. So it takes skills and it takes practice. But after seeing, that's why training is very important. The new guys, the younger guys typically give up really easily. They just think this is impossible. Who is going to take my court calls, but after seeing the, the more experienced str did it the finally like they'd realize, okay, this is some of the tips, the tips and tricks that they can do.
Mei Siauw: One last thing that is actually the biggest idea from what we have discovered today is that we realize that as you are team are often being seen as the most junior of people in the company. They are the most kind of like usefully the least paid because usually they are the most junior who are out of college and tweet that the worst sort, sorta like, you know, they're just the assets then of the 80s. Um, whose job is just like making appointments for the sales people. We are trying to do it another way. Where as yours are the most important people in our company because your van advocates, they, they're the face of the company who is Jennifer's, if you remember my slide from the beginning, first impression matters. Your website, your blog, your call, email and you asked, you have this one of those. They are the people who are out there representing you, your company and your brand.
Mei Siauw: Who are these people? We, we are now no longer hiring out of Grad. We hire people with experience who we think and represent our brand and can speak to what we are about. We spend marketing dollar to [inaudible] you offs as industry experts. We ask them to make video content. We put a lot of like um, actually social, social, um, advertising to promote some of this content, but how they are doing their Po emailing, what some of the other tips, some of their tactics and we promote this content so we promote on SEO and we know them to be [inaudible].
Mei Siauw: Doug, just touching base checking in. Some SDRs think it's okay to show your prospects know love and respect or that it's okay to give more than take when they prospect.
Speaker 5: If you want a demo, just let me know. I'll get one booked
Mei Siauw: Some SDRs leave the boat on their prospect's court and don't have a clear call to action or things. Sending a template. An email is fine, but one SDR that doesn't do this is Jeremy from LeadIQ. Jeremy Olivier's spent the past few years helping strs everywhere, improved their prospecting and is constantly innovating. Is outreached. Jeremy, how many ops are you out so far? This is about, that's it's the last day of April 69 just a couple of months ago, he had the greatest month we've ever seen 69 opportunities in one month. Whether he is singing songs to prospects, web sinking raps about their buildup cities and even leaving voicemails warning prospects. He'll be sending them a prospecting video with the dancing banana. Jeremy is what you call it, Game Day player.
Mei Siauw: One Prospect Jeremy reached out to, he found out that the business development manager was having a kid, so what he did was Jerry and his girlfriend, they made a little baby onesie with the logo, his company on it. Guess what? We got the meeting.
Mei Siauw: If Annie didn't convince you, just look at his responses from his prospects. Fantastic outreach. Above all, the most impressive details was the throw back Jersey. Great touch. Hey Dude, so I had lunch with Danny today and gave you a huge Kudos for the way you kicked off the conversation. You did a great job of using something personal without being creepy. Let's fine line to walk for sure. Well done. Kudos to Jeremy at lead IQ. Humor is really tough to get right in cold outreach, but he nailed it here. I really appreciate those that take the time to put thought into their approach. Obviously he seen my tweets. Hey Jeremy, your video is 10 out of 10 I'm free around 9:00 AM Pacific time killer outreach. I'm open anytime after 12 central next Wednesday if you we. Prospecting should be personalized, fun and somehow disruptive yet polite. Nominate Jeremy is sales development rep of the year. This prestigious award will be presented by 10 down at the sales development conference on August 30th, 2018
Speaker 5: I hope to have your vote for best SDR at the sales development conference by 10 bound. I'm Jeremy Lovey and I approve this message paid for by strs for Jeremy. Okay. Okay,
Mei Siauw: So basically we and Jeremy won the SDR award. Obviously we, we promoted that video everywhere. We tried to get a lot of our customers to, to, to agree with it that this is how SDRs should be prospecting. This is how the w you know, imagine if all of your core emails is um, done in a pot full way, right? People would be, there will be last call emails around, it would be better for them. STPS and we want um, asked you offs to be like better SDRs like basically elevate their position. This is not an easy position. Pay Them more, find the right people to do that and make us, you all speak like a position that similar to [inaudible], not like at more junior than EAs. So we put a lot of um, marketing into this, trying to like truly put our SQS as unplanned advocates, the people who are reaching out to LeadIQ and how they should be doing things and it's been working out well for us, right?
Mei Siauw: As I mentioned, right. We are still in the beginning of scaling this, but we see a couple of example that work well from what we have done in the bass. And now we are having more and more people to go. This then continuing this idea that outreach, an outbound needs to be personalized in is to be put with thoughts and the people doing it. And it's to be people who really cares for the company, for the job. And they had to been brand advocates. You're not just people who felt this is an entry level role and all they want to do is becoming the next [inaudible] and I'm just doing this for a while while trying to wait for that position to come. So, um, do map up the takeaways. Outbound sales is really critical for most people and most companies in the early days fill that. It's very hard.
Mei Siauw: We work with many companies that just felt that it's not working out for us. We will just put money in inbound. Um, it is hard, it takes time, it takes investment. But if you put in a lot of effort in there, it can be for us almost two years before we finally get it going. It will be very rewarding and it's the first step for you to, with scaling your company. And lastly, again as yours or your brand advocates to them, like they are pay them like they are and it will really pay well for your company. Thank you.
Speaker 1: Can we have [inaudible]
Mei Siauw: Right? Do, do we have time for questions or no? Are we done? Okay. All right. Oh, we have two minutes. I didn't get it. Okay. We have two minutes. Does anyone have any questions?
Speaker 1: Yeah,
Mei Siauw: We have a service, um, for sales development of apps actually we help them with like finding leads, finding contact info and then engage with emails, um, or, or like a cold calling to different platform and then we sync it to their CRM.
Speaker 1: Okay.
Mei Siauw: No, no. So you have to have your own SDRs and we're just a service that the platform for the SDSD is,
Speaker 1: Yeah.
Speaker 6: I really liked what you said about SDR as its own discipline. How do you convince people that to do that when it's generally seen as just a stepping stone?
Mei Siauw: Sure. That's a very good question. So we have, we have been, it's not easy, but we are very transparent in our hiring most SDRs after doing SDRs for a couple of years, one to become an ae, but not everyone is good at closing. It's actually different skill sets. Like Jeremy is very good at getting the first appointment. He is not as suited to closing and he enjoys what he's doing just opening the door, right? There are many people who all like that and they felt like they are stuck in other companies where they can move up any longer because the expectation is becoming an AE. That's the next career growth. So we tried to find people like that and convince them that um, come join us. We pay, you can earn um, the same or even more than [inaudible] if you're doing this well because your job is just, even then only you are aggregating our brand.
Mei Siauw: And so one thing that we do is we, we found the SDR compensation. Typically SDRs are paid like, um, 40, 50. Right now we've upped their base salary with the number of appointments and the quality of bringing in. We also give them a closing commission when the, when the opportunities, typically SDS do not get close in commission. So in ob company we keep them close in commission. So they are aligned with the AEs. We are still testing it out, but right now we do a lot of, like, the main thing is recognition and compensation. The asks, you have lobbyists when they are being recognized, like being put as, um, brand advocate, then they don't feel like this just filled up the most junior level, um, in a company. Yeah. Great question. Thank you. You did? Yeah. All right. Any last question? Great. Thanks so much.
Keep me posted on Empower 2019.