Welcome to Episode 44 of the Sales Influencer Series: the #1 podcast for modern B2B sales leaders. Enjoy the interview and take a look at our latest eBooks: Moving the Sales Performance Bell Curve and Using Data to Make Smarter Sales Decisions.
The topic of today's interview - how Inside Sales Team is cultivating a legion of true sales development mercenaries. Brian manages a team of B2B reps who embed inside their clients's teams for 12 months at a time - tackling emerging markets for leading-edge SaaS companies like Adobe, DiscoverOrg, and our team here at Ambition.
We asked Brian to explain how he's built IST's sales team into the sales profession's answer to Navy SEALs, using culture, coaching, and camaraderie. (Shouts out James Carbary and Sweetfish Media for help producing this episode).
Ep. 44: The Navy SEALs of Sales Development
Introduction and Background. 0:00 - 4:15.
Brian Vital is the Vice-President of Sales at Inside Sales Team - a company he's been with for 5 years after growing up in Boston, Massachusetts and discovering his sales gene early (selling wrapper paper for school).
Brian was one of IST's earliest hires - he joined the company based on his love for the fast-paced world of sales, his passion for educating and coaching others, and the unique challenges and opportunities IST presented as a groundbreaking attempt to reconstruct the BPO model by giving B2B sales teams an elite small group of SDRs who specialize in their market and spend 1-3 year tours of duty working exclusively for one IST client.
Brian's Origins with Inside Sales Team: 4:15 - 8:23.
Sales reps at IST have zero cap on quota. But when Brian joined the company back in 2013, it was a risky move - he had a baby on the way and had zero prior experience as a sales development rep. He essentially jumped into the deep end - doing 250 calls and emails per day, having 30-35 conversations with buyers, and learning incredibly fast during his first 4 months on the job.
Finally, he became embedded with a rising but still-relatively-unknown company called DiscoverOrg, who he continues to work with to this day. Per Brian, a unique value of working for DiscoverOrg was selling into complex mainframe enterprise companies - and more specifically, into their notoriously difficult-to-navigate IT departments.
Managing a Mercenary Sales Development Team: 8:23 - 19:30.
Inside Sales Team has 50 reps working for 25 clients - all of whom fall under Brian's purview. The unique challenge Brian faces - instructing his reps on how to sell 25 different products. Communication of knowledge - according to Brian - is critical. Mastery of B2B sales fundamentals is critical. Interfacing and collaborating with people is critical.
The focus of Brian's coaching efforts is on those things. The reps become the subject-matter experts on the products and markets of their clients. Brian's job is to reinforce the foundations that breed success and train reps to operate on muscle memory, learn incredibly fast, and interface with both the sales leadership at their clients and the market into which they are selling.
The number one thing Brian does is own up to how hard the job is. In response to that reality, he works exhaustively with the company's Head of Culture to create a fun, team-oriented, transparent work environment to help reps attack their work day without getting overwhelmed. To achieve that, Brian does the following:
A. Tech: Give SDRs the Tools They Need to Succeed.
- DiscoverOrg: Leading sales intelligence platform for B2B teams.
- Outreach: Leading sales communication platform for SDRs.
- Sales Navigator: Leading social selling platform.
- Ambition: Leading sales performance management platform.
To see how these platforms work together - read our brand-new eBooks below.
B. Metrics: Recognize, Publicize and Compete.
Brian uses Ambition to synchronize sales metrics (stored in client CRMs and data systems) on TVs, leaderboards, dashboards, scorecards, and competition interfaces every day.
As the above post shows, Brian also gets creative with sales competitions. This March, he ran a March Madness-style single-elimination tournament with all his reps and shared the results publicly - using Ambition.
C. Culture: Be 'People-First' and Celebrate Your Reps:
Brian is comprehensively dedicated to maintaining a 'People-First Culture.' Several ways Brian achieves that:
- He uses Ambition to give each rep a holistic Activity and Objective Score each day.
- He keeps an Open Door policy during work hours every day.
- He limits his time for reporting to 30 minutes - after reps leave the office.
Beyond that, Brian has created SDR Huddle - a great content resource and forum tailored exclusively to SDRs. His own reps are often the featured authors, giving them a platform to write powerful, insightful articles (like this one from Ambition's original SDR, Any Duwe).
Hiring Elite Sales Development Reps. 19:30 - 22:32.
Brian looks for 2 things when hiring, depending on where you are in your sales career.
First, for recent college graduates, Brian asks: When you were in college, what did you do? Brian looks for reps who went above and beyond their normal coursework, juggled extra-curriculars and jobs with class, and seemed intent on pushing themselves to maximize their personal, professional, and social lives.
The reason that is important: the SDR role at IST demands people who can handle high volumes of work, diverse challenges, and proclivity to adaptability.
The second thing he looks for is more specifically focused towards people in the middle or later parts of their sales career: the answer to the questions: "What are you looking for at this part of your career? What do you look for in a sales role?"
Candidates who express a love for the fast-paced, money-oriented work atmosphere sales brings are a great fit for IST. Prior experience matters signficantly less than current mindset and attitude regarding your career.
Who Uses Mercenary SDRs? 22:32 - 23:16.
Success clients for Inside Sales Team Team tend to have two constructs:
The first ICP tends to have a specific growth or revenue target they're dead-set on hitting (e.g. 50 meetings with potential new clients this month), but they have no clue how to get there. They don't know how the sausage is made and their internal setup isn't prepared to hit those numbers as currently constructed. The value IST brings these clients is the ability to instantly implement two experienced SDRs with expedited time-to-ramp and prior industry experience.
The second ICP tends to have an experienced SDR team but is having trouble recruiting or ramping up - or - is almost entirely constructed of very senior sales development reps. For this ICP, the competitive aspect comes into play - with some sales managers using IST reps to set the pace of effort and activity to motivate internal reps who have become complacent. No one wants to get shown up by an outsourced Sales Development Rep.
How to Contact Brian. 23:16 - 28:22.
Inside Sales Team is much more than an outsourced sales development agency - many of whom are not interested in keeping your brand safe, offering 'white glove' services, and allowing their reps to develop key relationships with your reps and managers.
Brian is on LinkedIn and his email is firstname.lastname@example.org. If you're interested in using an outsourced sales development team but skeptical about what makes IST different, Brian highly encourages you to get in touch, start the conversation, and assess the value that Inside Sales Team can bring your organization.
Manage Your Entire Sales Force with Ambition
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Want bright lights on your Salesforce KPIs? Contact us.
The Sales Influencer Series Library
To check out further Sales Influencer Series podcast episodes, just click on the links below.
Episode 1. John Barrows
Episode 2. Lori Richardson
Episode 3. Max Altschuler
Episode 4. Matt Heinz
Episode 5. Mark Leslie
Episode 6. Kyle Porter
Episode 7. Jon Bradford
Episode 8. Eks Anderson
Episode 9. Matt Hottle
Episode 10. Heather Morgan
Episode 11. Ilan Ferdman
Episode 12. Ryan Jenkins
Episode 13. Tamara Schenk
Episode 14. Mike Weinberg
Episode 15. Scott Britton
Episode 16. Mark Kosoglow
Episode 17. Dionne Mischler
Episode 18. Ken Barton
Episode 19. Kevin Karner
Episode 20. Jill Rowley
Episode 21. Brandon Redlinger
Episode 22. Will Wickey
Episode 23. Drew Woodcock
Episode 24. Dail Wilson
Episode 25. Nathan Sexton
Episode 26. Tucker Max
Episode 27. Bruce Tulgan
Episode 28. Dallas Hogensen
Episode 29. Morgan J. Ingram
Episode 30. J. Ryan Williams
Episode 31. Emily Mikailli
Episode 32. Lee Bartlett
Episode 33. Rex Biberston
Episode 34. Marcus Cauchi
Episode 35. Gary Vaynerchuk
Episode 36. Joe Gianni
Episode 37. Jason R. Jordan
Episode 38. Mike Kunkle
Episode 39. James Carbary
Episode 40. Skye PoVey
Episode 41. David Priemer
Episode 42. Ryan Taylor
Episode 43. Mickey Cloud