We’ve had the privilege of working with some of the most cutting-edge and accomplished SDR leaders in SaaS over the last year. These leaders and their teams at fast-growing companies like Carrot Fertility, Esper, Amperity, iSpot, and more have helped shape the Relevvo product. Today, we’re kicking off a new series where we share some of these gathered outbound prospecting insights with you.
First up, we’re thrilled to welcome Drew Spitzer, AVP of Sales Development at Carrot Fertility. Drew has been working with early-stage startups for the past decade as a consultant and early employee. They have built multiple sales development teams that have resulted in tens of millions of dollars in additional revenue. They’re currently managing a team of 25+ SDRs and 3 SDR managers.
Aashish Dhamdhere (AD): Drew, welcome! Let me start by asking you what it is you think most SDR teams get wrong about prospecting.
Many teams will anchor right away on people, i.e. the contacts that they need to engage. Yes, people ultimately make decisions and you definitely want to connect with them, but you have to think about the profile of the account first. I strongly believe that the only way you can be effective at prospecting is by taking an account-based approach.
There is an order to prospecting that sets you up for success. You have to start with accounts, then move on to contacts, then to messaging, and then to the actual outreach. This way, you can tie back the meetings that you book and the revenue that you generate back to the industries, market segments, and buying patterns that form the account profile.
When you have the right accounts and the right personas, you’ll start seeing meetings get booked. And this is good, but this is also when you have to get really picky. The meetings you want are the ones with deal velocity. Are they going to move through the funnel towards Closed Won or are they just taking a peek at the product?
What we’ve found is that, for our audience, there are a lot of people that want to meet with us, but many of these meetings don’t go anywhere, and you have to be disciplined in cutting that out. You have to recognize that while you have traction, it’s the wrong kind of traction.
There is a cost to taking meetings that don’t move through the funnel. That cost has to be taken seriously. This is where you can iterate the accounts and/or personas you’re reaching out to optimize for deal velocity.
AD: With this iterative framework for targeting, how do you then do your outbound messaging
This is a really critical piece and probably the piece that requires the most iteration. The inclination is to try to get to the end quickly. Like I need a surefire message that just works from the beginning. But it doesn’t work like that, and it has to be a process of learning and tweaking.
The first part of the process is that you should never ever have reps sending out their own messaging. And this might sound counterintuitive, but it’s an approach that’s consistently worked for us. Even with my top Enterprise reps, we still use a team cadence. This is an email sequence or cadence that we’ve standardized across the team, and everyone on the team is sending the same messaging.
You also don’t want each SDR to worry about writing emails. You can have good writers and you can have bad writers, but it really comes down to the amount of work that they have to do, and you don’t want to add the job of writing to their plate when it will only marginally help them in meeting their meeting booked goals. Don’t worry, there will be room for personalization for reps who really understand how to leverage these team cadences. You just need to focus the whole team at first to maximize results and increase the speed of iteration.
You want one person or small team to own the creation, iteration, and expansion of this core cadence or sequence, and you want this person or team to be really good at writing emails. It’s so much better for everyone to start with one cadence and learn from that. You do eventually want cadences by market segment and by personas but you can’t jump straight there. You have to take the intermediate steps to experiment, tweak, learn, and then get there.
A cadence should include two to three anchor emails, and those anchor emails should be around the value proposition that you’re addressing.
You then have a couple of follow-up emails as replies, you have a LinkedIn message, perhaps a Sendoso offering, and calls scattered throughout, and then you’re on to your next value proposition. The goal always is to get them to look at that original email and to get them to respond and say that, yes, I’m interested or that, no, later would be better. One email string per value proposition, two to three value propositions per cadence. Iterate from here and you’ll find your winners!
AD: That makes a ton of sense. How much do you let the individual SDRs apply their own creativity in the process, and when?
Here’s the playbook that I’ve found to work well. I started with a small and trusted team, and we did some experimenting together. We wrote a couple of mini cadences, and we tested the value props with our target audience using open and reply rates as the key metrics, and then iterated on the basis of what was working.
This got us to a point where we had four cadences based on our key personas, and we were A/B testing how these value propositions did with each of these personas religiously. This is when I went to the team and opened up the cadences for some really simple personalization. Even simple stuff like: “I hope your Wednesday is going well” or “Thanks for that great post on LinkedIn, such a good read!”. This isn’t that much personalization, but it adds a little flavor and gives the rep a chance to let their personality shine through. Since then we’ve kept increasing the amount of content that they can input into the templates.
We are now at a point where I’m expecting my top reps to personalize 20% of their emails. I give them the structured messaging, the cadences by personas, and then give them the freedom to personalize within this structure. I expect the personalization to be about injecting personality and relevant content. The job of personalization is to grab their attention and draw them into the messaging. The point of the messaging is to get them to act on the CTA.
The best reps that I have are great at being their own genuine self. They’re good at being light-hearted and coming across as someone that can be trusted. This is super important. You don’t want the personality to come at the cost of trust. The relevant content is about referencing data points on Glassdoor or 10Ks or Best Place to Work awards that Relevvo has helped us identify, as an example. You do need a powerful tool that lets you do this personalization at scale! Otherwise, you’ll be stuck in the trap of personalization that costs too much for the marginal benefit. If a rep can spend two minutes rather than ten minutes finding relevant content to leverage in personalization, not only is the value there, but you can iterate faster on what you personalize and how.
AD: You don’t say! 🙂 This seems like a great point to ask how Relevvo is helping you in this journey? And how do you see us helping you in the journey even going forward?
So the first problem that you guys have helped us tackle is the problem of picking what accounts to go after in a given week. And the iterative process of how you’ve done it is continually adding more and more value. By helping us capture the research that individual SDRs were doing in the form of ‘Plays’, you’re helping us target the right accounts by automatically pulling in the insights that we know are most relevant to our prospects. And, of course, seeing all these conditions listed in one place is inspiring the SDRs to share additional conditions, too. With this level of support, we want to continue to explore what other ‘Plays’ will positively impact engagement.
Not just that, but you’re automatically pulling this information for us and giving us the right relevant pieces of information that the SDRs need on the building trust piece of personalization. In my ideal world, SDRs don’t go anywhere else to identify accounts. They go to Relevvo, and they see the list of accounts that are prioritized by their Market segment, and they pick the number of accounts they need, and they’re off and running!
Now, the Monitor piece we’ve just lit up is seeing how closely the SDRs are sticking to the ICP. Are they reaching out to accounts outside the ICP? And do they have the right persona coverage in each account? These are insights we NEVER had before! It’s not just a great filter for the SDRs upfront but then it’s also a good check for the actual outreach piece.
This level of actionable information is exactly what SDRs and leadership desperately need on a daily basis. You folks are making us dependent on you!
AD: Thank you! We really appreciate the partnership, and it’s been so much fun working with your team.
Your team consistently comes across as super high commitment, high energy, and high integrity. I imagine this is because you’ve created an amazing culture for your team. How have you done this?
I would define culture as what the team does when the managers aren’t there. So while I don’t get to dictate the culture, I do get to determine what I encourage and I want to see more of in the hopes that it will drive the culture in a certain direction. And then I call out and promote the folks that are exemplifying those behaviors and values. It’s been helpful very recently to sit down with some core members of the team and help write down what they see as the most important elements of our culture so we can continue to hire and train folks with that focus in mind.
In the long run, our culture is anchored on a few people who exemplify what we’re looking for. And we’ve kept those people and we’ve invested in those people. We’ve told them that they’re the cornerstone of the culture. Those are the Reps who have been here the longest, who have been the most collaborative, and have given the most back. They are most likely to answer questions from their peers.
I would say that being really clear on what culture is and how it impacts the org is where you want to start before you get into how you want to make it happen. For me, what was paramount was to think about the culture that we need to have in order to work together as a team. What team dynamics do we need? It was clear that we needed a culture where folks who want to excel can really excel, and, at the same time, folks who are struggling can find the resources that they need to do well.
So, we’re building a culture for the middle, not for the top, and that means that team members need first and foremost to be able to collaborate ask questions and get questions answered.
AD: Love that! Our last question for today. What is the most counterintuitive or non-intuitive thing that you’ve learned in your SDR management journey as it pertains to prospecting?
I don’t know if it’s non-intuitive. I kind of knew it based on the math but the reality held up to this experience, which is that your unit metrics don’t scale. What works with a team of four will not work the same with a team of 20. So you have to factor in decreasing efficacy with increasing volume.
It’s not going to drop off completely, but it’s not going to be able to use the simple math of multiplication either. It just doesn’t work like that. It’s not a linear curve. The processes have to change and scale with the organization
As you’re covering more of the TAM, you can’t rely on volume alone, you can’t just blast volume, you have to get more thoughtful, more prioritized, and have a more personalized approach.
AD: Drew, this is super helpful! Thank you so much for joining us today and for kicking off this series! Once again, we appreciate the partnership, and we look forward to having you back again soon!