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Outbound Ops, with Ben Salzman and Kyle Williams [Episode 721]

Ben Salzman and Kyle Williams, Principals at Dogpatch Advisors, join me on this episode.

Key Takeaways

  • Dogpatch is an advisory and research firm developing sales playbooks and processes for outbound sales. They harness the continuing explosion of data into a pipeline to help companies scale faster with higher relevance.
  • SDRs are not usually experts in operations, persuasion, copywriting, sequencing, time management, and conversion. Dogpatch offers an Outbound Ops system to help. Kyle and Ben explain an overview of the system.
  • Consolidating data from various sources allows insights rather than just observations. Kyle presents a couple of sales approaches based on sample insights.
  • Outbound Ops fits a new role. It simulates how a CEO or an experienced AE prepares decision tree before the first call with a specific account. Ben describes how the data is gathered and used to drive the content.
  • Visual Prospecting is an extension of content generation beyond the text. It is helpful because people process visuals faster than text. Dogpatch can scale this function to provide something of actual value to your prospect.
  • Dogpatch provides Outbound Ops as an asset for anyone in an organization to use to produce dynamic, relevant content that fits their situation. Ben talks about scaling self-learning plays that ‘tune’ themselves with repetition.
  • Some prospecting tactics can create a disconnect from the prospect in the funnel. The top of the funnel doesn’t help the close rate. ‘Bad results, fast’ are not ‘good results.’ Ben explains interactive discovery whiteboarding.
  • Ben talks about sales ‘experts’ who have skipped the step of having actual experience in complex enterprise sales. You can’t gain insights without the experiences of facing customers and closing deals. Andy shares some ‘filters.’
  • You can’t ‘templatize’ face-to-face interactions between a unique salesperson and a unique contact.
  • Andy writes a daily sales email, which he creates from his list of 900 potential topics he keeps on Evernote. Be curious daily to avoid the Dunning-Kruger effect. Andy finds something new online every day.
  • ABM and ABS have been around for years for big accounts. But some companies use the tools more for the sake of automation than for authenticity. If you optimize a process to achieve a target, the optimization limits you.
  • True productivity counts dollars generated per sales hour. Selling skills are still mysteries to some salespeople. Don’t demonize ‘good’ in relation to ‘excellent’; good salespeople are consistent.’

Episode Transcript

Andy Paul  0:00  

Hey friends, this is Andy. Welcome to Episode 721. That’s Episode 71 of accelerate the sales podcast of record. Now every week at this point I say that I’m excited that my guests are on the show and that I have another excellent episode lined up for you today. Well Let me tell you that goes double for today. Very excited to welcome to the show my guests Ben Saltzman and Kyle Williams. Ben and Kyle are the principals at dogpatch advisors based in San Francisco. And it’s such a fascinating conversation about outbound prospecting that it’s one of the things we gotta keep talking for hours. And the episode did not go on that long. But be warned that this episode runs a little bit longer than the normal 30 minutes. And just because we had so much to get into. So today, we’re going to primarily be talking about outbound actually outbound operations to be precise and serve a new term coined by by Ben and Kyle Now, we know SDRs outbound teams in general are usually not experts in operations or persuasion, copywriting, sequence, emails, time management, conversion, all those things. So outbound operations, the system that they’ve developed for an organization to use to produce dynamic, relevant content that fits their purpose. Your outbound situation that tunes itself through self learning. Yeah, with repetition. And so it’s with our company dogpatch. benecol have developed this outbound ops to consolidate data from a variety of sources to enable true insights into the buyer that can drive demonstrably improved outbound sales approaches. So we’re going to get into that ring and much, much more. So definitely stick around for this entire conversation.


Okay, let’s jump into it. Excited to get going, Ben and Kyle, welcome to the show.


Ben Salzman  3:33  

Thanks for having us!


Andy Paul  3:35  

so welcoming Ben Saltzman and Kyle Williams from dogpatch advisors to the show. So tell us a little bit about dogpatch. And what do you guys do?


Ben Salzman  3:44  

Yeah, thanks for having us on this band. So dogpatch is an advisory and research firm. We’re focused on developing sales playbook sales process, a lot of things around outbound and we sort of come from deep operating experience in sales and think there’s a lot of ways to sort of drag the sales profession to the modern modern world and better take advantage of a lot of this sort of explosion of data that’s happening. So we spend our time with operators with technology companies trying to help companies scale faster.


Andy Paul  4:17  

Okay. And Kyle, what was the impetus to start the company?


Kyle Williams  4:22  

Yeah, I think it was Ben’s point about us being operators. Ben and I have worked together for over a decade now at different organizations working together at Google, and were together at a startup. And then after the startup, we realized there were a lot of things we were doing, particularly in outbound that we thought were table stakes. And so we started interviewing, you know, companies outside of outside of our normal sphere. And we learned, actually, it’s a lot of the stuff that we were iterating on back at Google that we thought was outdated that a lot of companies are doing. And so that’s I think some of the core impetus is we think we can help and we think we take a different perspective of being Operators instead of the traditional show up, ask you a bunch of questions and then give you a binder of here’s everything you told us rephrased.


Andy Paul  5:08  

So give us an example of things that maybe you’ve been doing at Google. Previously that, you know, there are now companies today that are just sort of learning about or beginning to adopt.


Ben Salzman  5:19  

Yeah, I think one of the core things was, yeah, one of the core things, I think, was realizing that this explosion of raw data was fundamentally breaking what a lot of people think of as the Predictable Revenue model, right. So we often say the predictable, Predictable Revenue model is something that’s wrong and said it was right and the world has simply changed around it. Right. So it’s still the Bible for much of the valley. I mean, it’s like table stakes. If you want to get an investment. That’s the thing that investors do. they hand you the book and say, go do this. I think that’s right. And we’re trying to change that as quickly as we can. And I think if you’re operating in a world where you’re taking people two years out of School hitting them a target list and expecting them to become both experts in the domain and be really close to prospects. I think your expectations are off and are sort of, right like if our core thesis is that this explosion of raw data and all these attributes that you can know about companies, about people about techno graphics and real time signals and beyond, makes it so that the traditional SDR model fundamentally breaks when it’s trying to sort of process and normalize all of this raw data. So at Google, we realized that there was raw data that we can get our hands on things like what email system is someone using what spam filter or these and this was for Google Cloud, and sort of selling Google’s technology to companies. And we started to really figure out how to scale relevant communication, which is to say, you know, sort of the outbound function, go beyond what we sort of think of as tribal relevance is how you went to college mascot. So the sort of state of the art unfortunately selling us? Correct. And we thought we should come back to that. And I think, you know, we sort of realized that if you take two steps back and think about building a data pipeline to actually power a new type of playbook, you can reach both much higher throughput and higher relevance without sacrificing, you know, quality. And so we wrote a, there’s an E book chapter that we did the clear bit on sort of inventing this function was sort of bringing together that clearinghouse for raw data with training and things that we were receiving on how to how to get people to respond one to one, but figuring out how to scale that. So that was a core insight for us.


Andy Paul  7:39  

So when you say the Predictable Revenue model is broken, if I take what you’re saying is, is that it’s assuming that SDRs can assume the responsibility for all these functions you talked about, in terms of making sure they have good data to work with and Well, I mean, we’re going to go through some of that when we talk about Your outbound Ops, but it’s just they’re asking too much of SDR, I guess basically are unrealistic expectations for an SDR can do.


Kyle Williams  8:08  

That’s right. We’re basically asking them to become experts in operations and persuasion and copywriting and how to sequence things properly and then to manage to do all the time management to run through your different plays, as well as converting with live conversations or the replies that come through. And those are things I wouldn’t expect someone who’s five years out of college to have mastered, yeah, all at once, right? Those become different specialized functions or centralized in different ways. Okay, so the way and oh by the way, use it as a farm system to get yourself ready for the next role. Most people get promoted to that job without ever having sold. Yes. Or having been prepared to sell in any real way.


Andy Paul  8:50  

Yeah, no, absolutely. That’s why it’s as common it’s about to make it, let alone all these other areas you talked about? The fundamental problems still with most SDRs is that they don’t know how to sell It’s it’s not their fault it’s just that’s a function of the job that jobs I can people hate it when I say this but it’s not really a sales job


Kyle Williams  9:08  

we love it we use it I think this


the feedback loop for generating reply accounts goes up.


Andy Paul  9:16  

Exactly, exactly right. And that’s why I’m happy to have marketing have responsibility for that. That’s why in my books I always start my book with the presumption that you have a lead on how to handle what you do once you have a lead. Because Yeah, that’s it. It’s dirty, thankless work for the most part, and I mean, wish. Wish I had been more this way than the way I don’t know. I think I would have preferred to do it this way. Then. Going out and driving to the East Bay somewhere and parking in a business park and making 4050 cold calls a day. I’m not sure which one would be preferred, but nonetheless, it’s a learning experience. At least I was learning how to sell so yeah. Alright, so talk about outbound ops This is one of the things that you guys focus on you’ve been alluding to here companies work with so tell us what that is.


Ben Salzman  10:09  

Yes, open ops for us is both you know a new model for outbound but also a function within organization that is responsible for centrally planning and managing the sort of hypothesis or playbook backlog as well as setting up and managing a clearinghouse for processing sourcing normalizing raw data for the use in outbound so there’s lots of ops you know, correct. So there’s lots of ops people running around you know, many big clouds we’re


Andy Paul  10:37  

just gonna say there’s just so yeah people listening this Yeah, sorry. Got a sense is that because there’s still a big cadre of sales experts I’ll say who, you know, think that pays this account. Exact consulting prospectors, I think, in some cases is great, but that ‘s, you know, you’re gonna use LinkedIn the second you make your connections. awareness of all of this use of data just basically doesn’t exist.


Ben Salzman  11:05  

I think that’s right. And then look, we have strong opinions on ways to enable at ease to sell also, but often it’s going to be standing on the shoulders of centralized work. Extract All the complexity of sifting through data. What does this data mean? And getting ready the second facts of like, this piece of raw data in and of itself is not useful. Sometimes people use that for sort of an observation of like, I noticed you have x tech installed. And I want to tell you about my product, that’s great.


Andy Paul  11:33  

Startups existed to do that. Right. Right.


Ben Salzman  11:36  

That’s exactly right. And what we can talk about, you know, more and more is the way that you sort of piece together more than one piece of data to create something new. So instead of observations you’re getting through insights. So, you know, I noticed that you started this function and opened an office in this area, and that you have this tech install. The three of those things present together tend to create this issue and here’s how we solved that issue. Again, most SDRs aren’t set up to get that insight for a single account, let alone doing it across 10,000 100,000 accounts.


Andy Paul  12:09  

Okay, Kyle?


Kyle Williams  12:10  

Yeah, I would say part of what is going back to the ey concept and tying it in here is what what is good about AES being involved in how prospecting happens is that they have the feedback loops of how this feed on the ground live conversation, how you adapt in the moment and how you get to the most compelling story that’s in their heads, but it’s very much not documented. And they couldn’t necessarily explain it. But a Google story that we have for that is, you know, Ben and I are selling, you know, to CIOs, and we’re selling early clouds. And so you talk to different IT teams, and IT leaders, and what you’re doing is you’re talking about their infrastructure, and then you’re talking about why they should move to what Google’s doing. And you see patterns that arise, right, like someone who has Cisco ironport for a spam provider, and that was a piece of technology we sold as Google spam protection. That’s a very complex enterprise sale. Very expensive and also very good. tell you something about the culture of that IT team versus someone who’s using some open source, you know, spam list and updating it once a month. It’s about cost of ownership. And back then there were no providers that gave you these tools, right? So we did it and we wrote a script that would ping email servers. And the email servers will reply and just say, I’m here, right? There is an email server sitting here, but the way that it replies it has a different flavor based on if it’s coming from a Cisco ironport box, or it’s coming from some open source tools. So tying that into running against 10,000 domains, suddenly we have a proxy for culture, right? So we’re not saying like, hey, Andy, I saw your company uses iron port, and therefore we think Google’s great for you. We just go in with messaging that talks about the fact that Google has 500 plus security engineers, which you probably don’t have in your company, the robustness, what goes in and how frequently things are updated, etc, and how downtime, blah, blah, blah, You have the open source, we’re going to talk about total cost of ownership and ease of maintenance, right and changing the language, which seems obvious today, because you can go pick those things up. But it especially back then, and then moving and evolving this idea forward is the expertise that it takes to know those patterns that happen on a call is very different than the expertise that says, where to go minus across a bunch of companies and create these inferences. And then we’ll be able to tie it together into how we say something different. But today, primarily outbound is its own feedback loop of are we getting replies we’re not actually listening to what happening right on the calls and pulling it forward. Right.


Andy Paul  14:36  

So how does that company then other than having you guys come in and do this for them as you know, hot? First of all, they have to conceptualize this idea of this outbound ops as you talk about this is a distinct function that doesn’t exist within the organization today. How do they come to this awareness that, oh, shit, we need this? Yeah,


Ben Salzman  14:56  

that’s a great question. And I think a lot of times it’s happening already. It’s just happening on an account by account basis. So if you go sit down with the best AP, or the CEO or someone in product, and you ask them, How do you prepare for a first call, right? Let’s say you’re going to sell to, you know, a big tech company and have a meeting next week. What is the decision tree that goes off in your head of the things to look for? And, you know, sort of decide what is the logic for how I’m going to assume that this call is gonna go here, the questions I’ll ask, here are the pieces of information I’m looking for is the outcome etc.


Andy Paul  15:27  

Now, this is this is an A or str we’re talking about,


Ben Salzman  15:29  

this would be like your best as someone in product, your CEO, someone who’s really an expert on the company, alright. And if you sort of find out what they do on an account by account basis, created frameworks to sort of back that out into Okay, here is the logic that the person goes through in their head, they may not have ever been down, they may not actually be able to repeat it account to account but they can do it once, right? How do we back that out and then go think about sourcing that data on a broader scale. So you know, the samples are different within each company, but I think often What we’re doing is we’re mining for those insights from the best customer success rep the best sales reps looking through email copy and saying, okay, here’s a single example of someone doing high calorie work to produce a highly relevant insight for a company. How do we take two steps back and set up the infrastructure to go and collect a lot of that data? And oh, by the way, that data might not be available from a third party vendor, right? Like everyone can get data on Sure, you know, company name, you know, revenue play count, what’s most likely to produce high quality insights and sort of relevance at scale is going to be data that you can’t buy from a third party provider, it’s likely going to be data that you’ll either use custom code to go out and scrape, maybe even out sources to go find, you know, by hand when high enough worth the value that it’s worth paying all these outsourcers. So we’re trying to sort of back out what are the attributes that they aren’t even thinking about? that can help jive content and you know, Kyle talked about this sort of Going and finding these different attributes like we did at Google, it’s important to note that when most companies think about data providers, they’re doing it for like a Tam exercise, right? their board meeting. And they’re like, Oh, we have Hoover’s you know, Hoover says there’s 27,000 companies in the space who are,


Andy Paul  17:17  

yeah, there’s 70,000 names on discover. org, but that aren’t


Ben Salzman  17:21  

correct. And so you sort of get to this place where you’re trying to fit a square peg round hole and trying to use data that was meant for one thing for another. So for a long time, people have been using the data for targeting who do we want, based on they have a lot of revenue, they have a lot of employees, great. Why do they want us? And how does this drive to content? Those are actually harder questions. Right? So seeing data for targeting is one thing using data to drive specific pieces of content. And we kind of get into examples of this if you’d like. That’s actually much more difficult. And often it’s a different set of data, a different set of providers, a different motion to go and capture and use that


Andy Paul  17:58  

so Who’s responsible for this, then? I mean, this is sort of an interesting thing. I mean, it’s not a sales ops, necessarily, it’s not sales enablement. I mean, are companies you’re working with actually creating a new position? That is outbound ops?


Kyle Williams  18:15  

That’s right. And so in terms of is a one Yes. It’s a new It is, in our mind a new role. We do have clients who are building a role called outbound ops. And then the classic question is, which team does it sit in? Is it marketing? Is it sales, and it kind of is in between the two, right? Because I need the abilities. What’s really missing is the domain expertise, what your company does, and the decision trees that are going off in your best storytellers heads up to be a core component of that output, which doesn’t tend to be like out marketing, great at scaling things. Sometimes what comes out does feel like bullet points for everyone as opposed to something written for say, Andy. It is in between the two, it’s sort of which team is most likely to be able to have that muscle and adapt to that new mental model tends to be more effective to start from what works granularly and spent expand up versus, frankly, the problem that’s existed outbound in general, which is, most outbound starts with a templates, right? And then putting it into a sequence and then at the very last step, we put people in it and then maybe we do something to each person before it goes out. We put in that Andy went to Stanford to go karting. All right?


Andy Paul  19:28  

I’ve been researching me.


Kyle Williams  19:31  

Or worse, you get 50. Go Cardinals.


Andy Paul  19:35  

With a picture of the bird on it. Yeah. So, we could spend all day talking about this. Because the next thing you guys work with, which I think is really interesting, is the concept of visual prospecting. So tell us what that is.


Ben Salzman  19:54  

Yeah, so we think of visual prospecting as an extension of content generating For outbound, right, if you look at most people’s playbooks, they’re only thinking about plain text copy to power the playbook. So maybe they have 10 and 20 100 templates that are all different variations of black and white text trying to tell a story, right. And I think, you know, we both objectively know and from research that people process information and visuals a whole lot faster. I think that 60,000 times faster in a picture. So the question is, how do we tell stories to prospects to help them understand what might be a complex technology really easily and often that’s going to be a visual and we’re not talking about visuals I HTML from Marketo, and sort of high quality marketing graphics. But what would be the best if you had 45 minutes in front of PowerPoint? Or what would a time strap designer do? You don’t want the fidelity to be too high? It kind of breaks the charts like I created this. But often what we’re hoping to do is expand people’s outbound playbooks. To include both plaintext, copy and visual content. So this could be a workflow diagram. It could be a side by side of your world today, for sure. In the future. It could be things like logos, charts, names, pictures. I mean, there’s lots of different ways to incorporate all these elements, flatten them, publish them to the cloud, and have them show up in line in an email. And so you know, what we find is most companies are already doing this today. But again, they’re doing it one at a time. So the best he has a sales motion that they run to help explain their product to a buyer mid cycle, it’s worth that effort. Our question to ourselves is, how do we come up with 510 a dozen concepts that can be plugged into the playbook and powered at scale, right. So there’s all these APIs and services out there to go and capture logos to go and capture different pieces of information and incorporate the same process of collecting and processing all this information to power content. It’s just a different type of content. And you know, the results speak for themselves. I think some of our customers’ summers, we’re going to publish a blog post on this soon to have found up to three x the opportunity rate, right and this has very high statistical significance. We have thousands of prospects, right? A B tests where, you know, they’re getting three x the opportunity rate without actually affecting the reply. And the open rates that much right, obviously not the open because you can’t see the visual learner. But the point is, it’s sort of like you’re losing 10 pounds of fat gaining 10 pounds of muscle, right? It reduces a lot of the negative replies and sometimes you’ll see people reply with literally, wow, this is super impressive. Thanks for taking the time to do this. And that’s where you really build trust with prospects and the sort of reciprocity principle kicks in, just doing custom work for you to help you understand what we do. It’s very powerful.


Andy Paul  22:47  

Interesting. So it sounds like Mr. Your description, but this is something that you know, companies need to be doing, whether it’s SDR reach, or as you said, more middle of the funnel He activities as well.


Ben Salzman  23:03  

Yep. And we found it you can often take from what’s happening, you can run it mid funnel, right take the natural nurture of what’s happening when a has done the calculus to say it’s worth spending calories to create this right I’ve got to deal with at a certain stage, I think being able to help them communicate internally will help it push to the next phase. But if we can reduce the calories that it takes to produce the essence of what’s happening in that customization, then we can pull it forward and get some of the similar effect way earlier in the cycle. There’s two traps we’ve found one is been alluded to with to go too far with design. It sort of breaks this narrative a little bit like, you know, showing up at your house and it’s like, this is too much like why are you doing this right? The other trap is going too low, like doing too basic or too like, Andy, I got you a coffee and I put your name on a Starbucks coffee mug, right like it quickly devolves into a just Being novel for novelty sake, and then we’re back to you went to college


Andy Paul  24:06  

at the same place. So yeah, difference between gifting somebody a Starbucks gift card and actually providing them something of value,


Kyle Williams  24:16  

Right using the principles to say synthesize what’s happening when your best AV, your CEO, your best storyteller is communicating something really crisply to an individual or an organization and pulling that forward into what happens in that visual. Mm hmm.


Andy Paul  24:33  

So there’s still the issue of the fact that he has to be able to use that effectively, though, right, because you are sending something but at some point, after that is sent, there’s gonna be a conversation.


Kyle Williams  24:45  

Correct. skills to know how to speak to it, right? Yeah, yeah,


Ben Salzman  24:49  

yeah, that’s right. And when we find anything going back to this concept at prospecting, I think it’s often a false choice. You know, we’re gonna just have SDRs prospects or your outbound team prospects. And, or an easy prospect. And we don’t worry about SEO, you don’t have to have both. What we’ve found is if you create a centralized function with a playbook backlog that scales Mm hmm. And you have these assets, self service, they should be used almost like you’re sort of pulling from a tool belt and saying, here’s an asset that I can use in this particular situation. And anyone can use those people in marketing can use them, events, you know, babies, you know, see,


Andy Paul  25:29  

Well, this point we talked about earlier, so you have these types of assets then doing something like what are called social selling or digital selling, but looking into the social proximity and other factors of your RNA, then they become pretty valuable tools for them to reach out with.


Ben Salzman  25:47  

Absolutely, and what we know one of the things that we’ve tried to do is make these assets self service for anyone in the org. So often we’re building these into our toolkit and allowing us to go and the dynamic Lord arbitrarily grabbed a number of domains, clicking a button. And then they don’t worry about how it all happens. But on the back end, it’s going out doing the analysis in real time and producing the content on a domain by domain or a person by person basis. So you don’t have to make this decision around like, well, what campaign is this? For? Who’s using it? It’s No, we’ve set up the infrastructure to produce dynamic, relevant assets or content for anyone in the org to use. And that is when you can start to get to a place where it’s very scalable. So you know, again, often taking two steps back and figuring out how we solve this problem? Not once and for all, but for the coming quarter, half year? Sure. What does our playbook look like and how did we deploy it to the whole horde?


Andy Paul  26:44  

Right? So the question then would be for people listening to this show if I’ve only got three people on my sales team. How do I possibly do something like this?


Kyle Williams  26:57  

And so the first thing is Yes, we are proponents of using technology and code to automate a lot of these things that happen. But the first thing is just looking at where are those best behaviors happening today? And one of the stories that happened, how to adapt and pull it forward in any way you can. It’s, it’s primarily, first of all getting that mental model. It’s kind of like, if you look at the progression of a sales rep, as they’re learning and developing, they start up just saying what the thing is, what do you do, and they just list off the features. We’re an XYZ technology company composed of these three functionalities, right? So it’s up, don’t


Andy Paul  27:32  

forget, we were founded in a garage.


Kyle Williams  27:34  

That’s right, even founder founders. That’s his great story. They’re telling the founder story that works for founders. And they’re just saying, It’s, someone says, What is it and they say, it’s that right? And, and then the next progression is being able to pivot off of, well, if you’re the type of company that X, Y and Z then then we are this right and adapting to whether it’s the nature of their business or the persona you’re talking to. It’s like if you are this than what we are, is that right? It’s and then this The next evolution of a salesperson is they’re taking in a bunch of this is right. So it could be the persona, it could be the type of company it could be. I’ve asked you a couple of discovery questions. And I understand the culture of the organization and the big initiatives for the CEO. And then all of those come in together to say something that’s unique to who you’re talking to, but largely is composed of a central internal decision tree. And so salespeople do that. And years ago when information was harder to get to you could have a lot more that based salespeople and you could get away with not having many of those taking a lot of this like going from many deaths to that rose people right. And we all know the world today is that they have to be better right? But we have a challenger that says, here’s the curve specifically to the big change outside of your world. We were trying to evolve people up to taking money. This is to say that we think the same thing has to happen and outbound outbound is very much still sitting in that world. It’s just popping in your name popping in and popping it in your industry. And we see that same evolution happening for outlets. So the first thing is, look at that evolution of what happens with a salesperson and say, where are we on that curve and what we’re doing from prospecting, and then starting to mind what you’re learning from your best salespeople and pull it forward. And, Andy, I’ll add that, you know, when you say give this example of a theoretical company with three sales reps, you know, we love Charlie Munger has all the wisdom he has, those are inverting problems and looking at them backwards. One of the questions I would ask is, if you have a three person team scale more or less important than the team that has a 20 person sales arc, right, so you only have a couple of sales reps. Maybe it’s worth thinking about instead of hiring that next SDR or the next two, maybe you hire someone who can centrally think about scaling outbound in a really thoughtful way, before you actually end up adding a bunch of people and what we’ve found is that there’s often a play or sets of plays in your playbook, that will be higher relevance because of scale, not in spite of it and that is a very core One sort of inversion, people think about often people think, Oh, well, once this scales and becomes generic, we are really interested in coming up with plays that become more specific and learn for scale, for example might be, you know, you go and do an analysis for we have a customer who’s a language translation company, and they’re trying to figure out where is their market demand from a particular place? It’s not being served by having your content, your applications, etc, in that country, right. So localization. So you know, if you go to a single company, and look at their Alexa traffic to say, whereas regional traffic coming from and then you go to the iTunes Store, a sale they have, you know, 12% of traffic comes from Quebec and France, but they only support English and German. Here’s an insight. Well, is that a lot of language support? Is it a little, what is it? We don’t know? Because we don’t have enough data, right? If you go into the app store for the top 10,000 domains, and find out which languages they’re in and how many and then you go pull the Alexa traffic and do the gymnastics to figure out what’s the gap. analysis. And where does the market opportunity exist? Well, maybe 12% of there’s a lot, but you don’t know that unless you’ve gone and done the analysis across a huge number of companies. So right, Kyle and I have this concept of sort of smart plays or self learning plays, where the more that you run them, the more that they’re tuned. And so this messaging or this snippet not working on this persona, let’s swap it out. So again, relevance from scale, not in spite of it is sort of the core place to start. And that might mean building it from the very beginning before you even hire your first sales. Rep.


Andy Paul  31:31  

Yeah, well, I think you made the point it’s a trade off of costs that you spend at the beginning that’s great, maybe be the right decision to make. So the question is guys cuz this topic we’ve, we’ve talked about before, too, is fascinated by what you guys are doing. Is it so focused and it’s so for me meaningful, meaningful results oriented in a meaningful way. mean that for me, that plays into the rest of the cycle is is Yeah, I have this concern that the advice you guys have interested in your opinion is that it seems like there’s some obsession about prospecting in the sales world in general like a disproportionate amount of resources and brain power or brain waves going into think about top of funnel and yet, yes, a lot of time talking to lead sales leaders and salespeople and, and, you know, very little focus on winning. And, and it really, it really sort of concerns me it’s like, Okay, great, man. We’ve got top of the funnel, we have these obsessions with pipeline coverage ratios, and which, you know, people are always surprised that your pipeline coverage ratio results in a win rate, that’s the reciprocal of your coverage ratio. It’s like yet we’re people are still piling onto that paper I was talking to I spoke at a conference a couple weeks ago and was bringing this out about My concern does keynoting and the efforts of my grad students as well, yeah, you interesting brought that up about, as I saying, you know, aren’t you better off starting off with what your desired win rate is and looking at how you scale from that, as opposed to the way we’re doing it today? And he was saying, Yeah, we’re just getting ready to go from five to seven x pipeline coverage requirements. It’s like, Well, why? And he thought it was gonna, he thought it was gonna scale with that. And I said, not. I suspect you may find the opposite thing happening when you do that. So have we gone too far the other direction. It’s just like, it almost seems like little mindless at this point.


Ben Salzman  33:41  

But Andy, I have so many video views on LinkedIn talking about prospecting. I know, I’m kidding. I’ll let Kyle geek out on all that cold drive here.


Kyle Williams  33:52  

Yeah, I mean, it feels like there’s a number of factors that feed into why this would be a logical place to increase focus over time, right. The one is you can just recycle tactics, right? There’s tons of tons of people saying, here’s 123 of the latest template, the latest thing that I tried to see that grabs those, it feels like there’s a lot of silver bullets to be chased in prospecting. It’s one of the most actionable things that you can quote unquote, fix and make a vanity number go up, right, like you start to increase on prospecting. And activity numbers go way up, you start to fix discovery. It’s like, I’m sure you see this, like when you start to develop people on certain new skill sets. It’s like the changing the golf grip effect where it’s worse a little bit. So we fixed it and now everything’s worse for a couple months, right? So you repeat that pattern a few times. Like I like the one where I walk in next month and the church is going up instead of going down. We’ll just flip it over. Right exactly.


We need a detachable screen.


Andy Paul  34:58  

Why there’s just but it seems to me Like parv, it’s really driven by the fact that when we look at the technologies that have come into sales over the last five years or so, is there focused on that? Because that’s one of the areas that’s most separable, right? Because there’s, it’s not like it really depends on the interaction with the customer other than that conversion to a meeting for the AV, otherwise, as you turn point, it’s just, I got a number. But we don’t have those tools for the middle of the funnel for discovery, and so on and so forth. I mean, very few comparatively, that, it seems like that serve has tipped the balance. Oh, yeah. Because we can do this. We are as opposed to saying, just because we can doesn’t mean we should


Kyle Williams  35:39  

that disconnect of because we split outbound as a separate thing. Then we created a new set of feedback loops, and then we could put tools that accelerate those feedback loops, but they’re totally disconnected from what happens downstream. And it’s sort of created like we see this. A bit of tying back to the silver bullet changing. There’s so much out there. It feels like when it doesn’t hit, there’s another silver bullet to change and like we forgot that sales is hard. And so even the things that we propose, they’re not easy, but we would say they’re much better leverage and much better quality and they connect through to the sales, the full sales process and even into what happens after they, after they become a customer. But you have this silver bullet chasing loop because one you have the feedback loop stuck in there’s always the next, the next tool to try the next try.


Andy Paul  36:29  

Yeah, well, I’ve had conversations like that. My friend told Ben this once before his conversation was zero. Have more than one zero big SAAS companies and not picking on SAS companies just happened to be people talking to you. But, you know, I asked what their growth plans were and how they’re going to scale. It was all about well, you know, we’ve got this finely tuned engine at the top of the funnel, and you know, we’re gonna invest there and generate a lot more activity, put higher bunch of SDRs and hand off the ease and and I’m like, well All right, you’re close, right on the I guess it’s 20 20%. Yes, our silence and then it’s like, Alright, so have you ever thought about increasing that to 21% or 22%, you’ll be cheaper and faster to grow. And it’s not that they thought I was crazy suggesting it. It’s just that by the time I looked in their eyes it just wasn’t part of their plan. And it seems like that’s a mindset that needs to change because we’re normalizing. I feel like in today’s way, we’ve got things set up for many companies as we’re normalizing bad sales behavior. Yeah,


Ben Salzman  37:36  

totally. No, it’s often bad results fast, right? We started to think of this obsession over prospecting, I think chorus and some of the other players in the space that are starting to call analysis. There’s a lot of interesting data. Mid cycle that that really wasn’t before. And to Kyle’s point, there’s just so much raw data out there for prospecting. It’s the easiest Place to think that you can start to scale right most sales orgs, who even if you have a successful a team, a lot of that’s locked in their head and locked into conference rooms, you know, they’re getting in front of a whiteboard, and trying to try to sort of create a repeatable thing. But that still happens. One at a time. One of the concepts that Kyle and I talk about is how do you use the same concepts around scaling dynamic content or dynamic insights, and you know, deploy them later in the sales cycle. So one concept like that is what we call interactive whiteboarding, which is, we’ve talked about this in the past, you know, often people are, if they’re a really gifted salesperson are often the CO product person who’s spending time laying out their view of the world on a whiteboard. And what we’ve found is that it’s possible in a lot of organizations, especially with very complex technical products, to create a repeatable process for that whiteboarding session. And when we say interactive discovery, it’s using the canvas of the light To create a template for discovery so often, you know, flow to the room at our last startup, we’re starting off with, here’s how we see the world and spending 510 15 minutes drawing it out. And the prospect doesn’t necessarily know this going in. But it’s sort of this interactive, immersive experience, right? Where now what I’ve drawn on the board becomes a template for discovering I’m filling in blank space on which people are here, which systems are here, the performance of this particular letter or style, and then at the end, they think that they’re still in a pitch, but now they’ve just laid out the plan. Right? So one time, Kyle and I actually were at a very large fitness retailer in Vancouver. And by the time we got done with the whiteboarding session, the person just stuck one of those little labels that says do not erase like this is our plan of staying on the whiteboard, right like in their project room. We now had a mutual plan to sell to them that we drew together and I think you made this point before and he like they did half of it. We handed them the pen. Yep. And they drew and for us, right. And what’s really interesting about this interactive whiteboard and can now scale because of tools like Google’s jam board, so digitizing that same experience and creating a repeatable template for that interactive discovery, you can do it on an iPad in a zoom meeting. You know, if you really again, take two steps back and invest in the infrastructure to make it repeatable, a lot of these same insights that are being used for outbound can power discovery can power, you know, different demo concepts and other mid cycle selling.


Andy Paul  40:34  

Yeah, I love that example. Because, for me, what you’re really doing there is telling their story. And it’s a way of visioning, I guess other people call it but I mean, for me, that’s like, the only story you really need to be able to tell is their story of how they fit into that template that you’re laying for them laying out for them right that they’re helping to create. So they’re putting themselves into the picture and they see it Yeah, you accomplish several steps on one when you do that. I think that’s really powerful.


Ben Salzman  41:06  

Yeah, no, we did to


one question I have, I guess one of the things that we really pride ourselves on Andy is like the fact that we’ve been in front of customers for a long time. We’re trying to sort of pull forward insights. And one of the things you alluded to earlier as a sort of noise in social inputs, expert community, what’s your sense for the quality of the community that we all live in now and it doesn’t ever start changing tracks here, but does ever annoy you that throw a lot of the folks out there projecting all this advice? If you go to their LinkedIn profile, they’ve actually never sold an enterprise complex deal, and they’re sort of sort of skipping that step. Right. Like it’s


been a lot of time doing it, right.


Andy Paul  41:52  

Yeah. Yes, it does. without naming names, but, but yeah, man, I think People have made a career out of being an expert as well as to make a career out of being in sales then saying how can I help people with my expertise? Yeah, I think there’s some danger in that because until you’ve really gone out and done it until you had to go out and close, you guys sold complex enterprise stuff. I sold complex enterprise stuff around the world. And we’ve had to do it, there’s no way to really gain those insights without having to be face to face with a customer and making it happen. And so yes, I mean, it’s the thing of the internet. Right? Everybody’s got a megaphone. And, and so how do you help people discern, you know, who the good people are to follow as opposed to and who that can benefit from as opposed to those who aren’t? That’s not real easy, right? Because there is so much out there. Yeah, I think that there are people I started to tell people to start with eliminating the people who are telling you there’s only one way to do things. And if you serve, use that as your first filter, you know anybody that says, hey, there’s one truth out there about sales or there’s, you know, this is the only way to do it or you know, 10 x, whatever, then, yeah, your antenna should go up. Because anything that seems to be too good to be true, it oftentimes is, as we know, but the fact is, I think sales. It’s interesting, because I love what you guys are talking about. But at the end of the day, they’re still gonna have a conversation with somebody, it’s still you’re talking to someone else, but that’s for sure like this or in person. Yeah, you may be using a template, you may be using something to help you. But you know, you as a person still have an impact on that, that other individual, and you, you can’t temple ties. You know, the way one of 7 billion people in the world interacts with another one of 7 billion people in the world that’s going to be unique in that instance. And so that’s why I really focus on and tell people stuck, you got it. Yeah. I want You’re following me I want you to learn from me I want you to learn from Ben and Kyle. But then how do you become the best version of yourself and that’s gonna be coming from various sources because there’s certain things that will resonate with you in certain ways and others won’t. That’s fine. I’m, I’m a sum total of, you know, hundreds and thousands of books and articles and podcasts and everything else that i’ve i’ve read and listened to and and watched in my life and my career mentors I’ve listened to Yeah, there’s just no one no one spot but I you know, I’ve got a BS filter that’s pretty wide and, and maybe I’m more cynical than some people but healthy, but I think it is a little bit healthy because I think that you know, when you spend time with people that that ended they don’t have value for you is is Yeah, that’s time you never recover. And yeah, I think for people that are really ambitious and sales is a great career because you can learn a lot quickly. You can grow quickly. You can Take on lots of responsibility quickly.


Ben Salzman  45:03  

But the people who do that quickly are those who are just open ears, open eyes, and learn by listening. Everywhere they come. Like that filter that you have on do they say there’s only one thing? It’s like a reverse Dunning Kruger effect, right? The Dunning Kruger like I know a little bit if you have a little bit of knowledge, you think you’re very sure. And then the more you learn about something, the more you realize how big that knowledge space is and so you start to have the nuance of here’s where it applies and doesn’t and here’s where it adapts and doesn’t and like that.


Andy Paul  45:34  

Wow, I’m a lot older than you guys. And yeah, I mean, I, somebody asked me the other day, Okay, well, how can you? How can you write a daily email about sales? And I said, you know, I’m four years, four decades into my sales career. I’ve got a list and I’m kidding. And I can go into Evernote, I’ve got a list of 900 potential topics to write about. Well, I mean, I just, I read something or I talk to you. Somebody like yourself, because you guys already stimulate a couple ideas. And it’s like it goes on the list. It’s like,


Ben Salzman  46:06  

yeah, I’m just sharing wealth and can you carve off?


Andy Paul  46:10  

Sure, I’ll send you a couple dozen.


Kyle Williams  46:12  

But so which ones have the Ben Kyle tag in Evernote?


Andy Paul  46:15  

Right. And it’s but it’s Yeah, it’s that type of thing is as long as you’re curious. And I think this is where your point with the Dunning Kruger is where people begin to fail, if they lose their curiosity. And yeah, that’s just a personality type. And that’s why there are so few people at the top of the pyramid. Yeah, most people sort of get satisfied at a certain level or, and I think that was maybe easier to do. And I was younger, because there were fewer resources. But now, how can you not be excited because every day online and see a world I could never see 10 years ago or 20 years ago? I mean, totally


Ben Salzman  46:56  

data. You know, speaking of curiosity, any one of the topics, we’ve talked The path I’d love to get your perspective on is what do you think the latest is on the sort of state of in quotes ABM and how this whole conversation is playing out, you know with operators and with that enable it but also with the sales advisory community what what is how do you define it and it’s a topic that we wrote


on the bus Well


Andy Paul  47:27  

yeah, when I first heard about ABM I was like, Okay, well, there’s a solution in search of a problem. But I become less Yeah, less that way about it. Because Yeah, it’s like it’s fundamentally new, right? I mean, it’s, it’s, that’s how I, when you’re selling big accounts, you just don’t go out and cold call everybody out of the blue. I mean, one company I was with that we grew to quite a large company. Yeah, like 200 prospects in the world. I knew who they all were. So, yeah, by necessity, I was doing account based prospecting, even back decades ago. But I think, yeah, I think the tools are really useful. But I think that what I’m seeing so far is that a lot of companies are using ABM sort of the way they approach using sales engagement tools, which is, I’m just gonna say, Take sort of the same thing I’ve been doing and just automate it. Right, and then call it account best selling or account based marketing. And yeah, it’s just talking to some of there was some time about account based selling and was really equating Matt more to serve called classic social selling, but yeah, really closely and tightly knit. You know, social strategy. I mean, certainly gamified I’d love to have had those tools when, when I was, I mean, think about the size, so allow my cup Big customers overseas and in the satellite communications business, and you had no email, no internet. And you know, you had to go come up with a plan to break into an account. So these things were great to have had, if you could restrain yourself and how you use them, you know, if you could be a target if you could be authentic, and there are some people that do a great job talking about that. So I don’t answer your question. But it’s, it’s, to me, it’s like, it’s evolving. So quickly, it’s one of these things that if we look at it in two years or so, we’ll probably have a completely different perspective on it than we do now. Because I think people are gonna Sorry, I think there’s some companies who have learned their lessons without being outbound and how they’re doing it. Yeah, and doing things like you’re suggesting with outbound Ops, that we’re gonna see more of that with account based selling where it’s a little more rationalized as opposed to Hey, let’s turn some people lose with these tools and right fundamentally spam 20 people inside an account as opposed to let’s let’s put Got the real strategy? That makes sense?


Kyle Williams  50:02  

Yeah. Yeah. I think there’s a version of good hearts law. You know the economist. Yeah. misquote of you know, when a measure becomes a target, it loses.


Yeah. So why would I


send you a gift bag gift basket, because I had this specific wine that you like, the chocolate that you like, and a gift for your family like, and then now suddenly, you’re all getting the same exact thing. It just becomes a novel thing for the first couple rounds.


Andy Paul  50:25  

Yeah, what actually, you know, I, maybe you’ve heard me talk about this, but I invoke good heart’s law is the reason why we should get rid of quota as a measure.


Kyle Williams  50:33  

Mm hmm. Tell us about that.




Andy Paul  50:36  

Well, I mean, if to good heart’s law, you’ve heard people talk about it’s British economist to come up with this idea that’s been simplified into saying that when a measure becomes a target, it loses all value as a measure. And when you think about quota, this is the perfect exemplification of that not only have a situation where, according to Miller Heiman CSO insights, we’ve got about less than 50% Sales Reps even attain quota. But it doesn’t really measure anything useful. I mean, it measures somebody was able to do something, but as people who have studied heart’s law have said is that part of the reason it loses its value as a measure is that people optimize their processes to attain the target. And so when you’re optimizing your process to achieve a target, it has nothing to do with your potential productivity, because you’re self limiting yourself to hit the target. So for me, as I’ve been spending more time the last two decades working with companies on productivity issues, it’s like, yeah, just it just doesn’t make any sense. And when I write about it, I always get people writing back to me senior people saying, Yeah, we’d like to do something different. And because it’s basically it doesn’t work. Yeah,


Ben Salzman  51:51  

yeah. Yeah, I think it’s often going to be a judgment on the biz biz ops person ability to properly set quotas. That’s often you know what the Well,


Andy Paul  52:02  

yeah, but so one of the other missing factors when you get into when you think about it is so quote, oftentimes is a top down setting quote is a top down exercise, right? I mean, as much as companies say, Oh, yeah, we do bottoms up, they don’t. So well, they will, if it aligns with the top wants, but when it doesn’t, it’s top down. And so let’s say a company comes in and says, Okay, we’re gonna raise quota 7% this year. And so a question. I’ll ask them and say, Okay, well, interesting. So have you assessed the skill levels of your sellers? And have they increased their skills or competencies, but 10% over this past year? Is there any reason to believe that they’re going to perform at a higher level? Based on the level of investment you’ve made into them to be able to achieve that number? Of course, the answer is always. No. Right? Let’s go rate quota is 10%. Anyway, yeah. And then you start getting the sound vicious cycle where it ‘s self perpetuating as people underperform. So why why wouldn’t as a company, why wouldn’t you say, well, maybe there’s a better way to do this I advocate using productivity as measures or revenue dollars generated per hour of selling time, which gives you an individual measure that you can then say, Okay, I can compare to people and say, Oh, why did it take Kyle 20 selling hours to close this million dollar deals? Where Ben did it at 18. Right, right, then I can say, Okay, well, now I can see what levers I have to pull that really are meaningful in terms of affecting the outcome. But then also, if I can look at what my productivity per person is, actual productivity is for a person across the board, well, that gives me a sense of what my true capacity is, as a sales organization, as opposed to saying it’s 10 times. If I have 10 people in my sales team, and say it’s 10 times the quota or it’s what most people do as well, I get two people that quote, I get six, they’ll be, you know, 80%. Yeah, that’s how I scale my team. Right like, I’m looking at Productivity number and say, Okay, I can say here’s what the optimal productivity is this year now what can I change that will have an impact on that? And it’s not gonna be in my mind, it’s not gonna be the number of hours you have available to sell. It’s how do I make each person more productive for each hour they spend selling? Totally. Yeah.


Ben Salzman  54:19  

Yeah, we often see people sort of


bring up Oh, there’s another initiative going on in the company that should allow going to sell more sort of completely divorced from the reality right. So going back to ABM, so what we’re rolling out an ABM program now, so, yeah, everyone should be able to do better. And that makes the fundamental assumption that the quality of the plays is good, right?


Andy Paul  54:45  

Well, if somebody knows how to, somebody knows how to qualify, someone knows how to do discovery, someone knows how to do needs analysis. I mean, these things are still mysteries for many people. So it’s, yes, I find my way and I have few people I talked about this all the time, and we’re trying to get more people sort of signed on as, let’s get rid of quota, let’s look at something that’s really actually meaningful. And that’s individual. Because I think another thing that’s really self destructive in a way that’s really unnecessary is sales leaders. Look at people, as you know, hey, you’re an A person, you’re a B person, you’re a C person. And not really, right. I mean, we serve. We’ve demonized this idea of being good at something. Right? If you’re not excellent, you’re good. Well, good. Good, by definition is bad. It’s like one. All right, good, that good is actually good. I want people to be good at what they’re doing. And I take a whole team of people who are good, because the good people tend to be more consistent, more predictable, more reliable. And I have a chance of upskilling them, whereas oftentimes, I’m sure you’ve seen this, but the other rock stars tend to come and go Yep,


Kyle Williams  56:00  

Back to my point, this model makes it a little easier to transfer from company to company. There’s a little bit more. Exactly, exactly. I hit this arbitrary number, this was my production by our spending. And here’s how that broke down, etc. Right easier to to package it up.


Andy Paul  56:17  

I think the ultimate goal should be that everybody has a number. Everybody in sales has a number. And that number to your point Kyle is transferable. And so when you’re looking to go find a new opportunity, and you’re competing, it’s the guy rolls in with a Rolex watch on the gold chains and works for Yeah, I just happen to be working for a company that hit a home run while he was there. And now everything sees the expert, right. And, and you’re competing with that person. It’s like, Well, actually, I’ve got the number here to prove that. And, to me, I said that’s sort of the ultimate is that Not to reduce everybody to a number, but why not? Because then it makes it easier to hire and get hired. Yeah.


Kyle Williams  57:06  

made that higher on the roll. Excellent.


Andy Paul  57:10  

Yeah, don’t Don’t do that.


Don’t do that. Alright, so who’s in charge here, Samir, You?


Kyle Williams  57:18  

You? We know that all right. All right.


Andy Paul  57:20  

So yeah, we’ve gone well past, but it’s been so much fun. And that is not a problem at all. We’ll make sure we do this again, too. So, guys, tell folks how they can learn more about dogpatch advisors and how they can connect with you guys individually.


Ben Salzman  57:36  

Yeah, go to our website. You’ll find us on LinkedIn. We speak at conferences. Occasionally. We do things like podcasts and we produce a decent amount of content with partners and customers and everything as well. So we’re super open, we love geeking out on, you know what’s to come and how to push the profession forward. So reach out to us anytime. We love, you know, going really deep with people a lot especially You know, new ideas and ways we can rethink a lot of the problems that we’ve discussed today. So, yeah, we’re out there. Come find us and say hi, anytime.


Andy Paul  58:09  

Yeah, well, I think people listen so you get a sense of just why we enjoy talking to him. So, guys, thanks for we’ll do it again.


Kyle Williams  58:18  

Loving Danny. Great. All right.


Andy Paul  58:25  

Okay, friends, that was accelerated for the week. First of all, as always, I want to thank you for taking the time to join me. And I think my guests Ben Saltzman and Kyle Williams. Join me again next week as my guest will be Dennis Brown. Dennis is the founder of the link Academy and host of the growth experts podcast. Dennis is one of the true experts on using LinkedIn as a sales tool. And we’re gonna be getting into some really practical and valuable LinkedIn strategies that you can use and put to use in your strategy right away. Yeah, Susan put these in your selling right away. So be sure to join us then. For you to go Don’t forget to check out the sales house. This is the sales performance accelerator for b2b sellers just like you visit sales house.com and look forward to seeing you there. Thanks again for joining me. Until next week I’m your host Andy Paul. Good selling everyone.