We go together like lamb and tuna fish.
(Or you might prefer spaghetti and a meatball.)
Whichever way you slice it, Jake Shaffren, former Sales Development Representative (SDR), Account Executive (AE) and current Director of Sales and Brad Metz former SDR and current AE made a pretty dynamic duo.
Let’s dive into what made their AE/SDR pairing work for them.
A Very Virtual Kickoff
Brad and Jake have never actually worked in the same office.
While this is the case for most new hires in pandemic times, for Brad and Jake, Slack messages and Zoom calls were a regular part of their daily rhythm.
“Jake stepped into my new hire meeting one time, and that was the first exposure that I got from Jake. So to be paired with somebody that was literally training me on my first or second day was super cool,” explains SDR, Metz.
“In my SDR role, the biggest challenge that I face every day is trying to scale volume while also maintaining quality. At ZoomInfo, we have no shortage of good accounts to go after. And really, the best way to push the envelope is to increase the volume while also maintaining that quality. It’s like that’s my overarching focus every day.”
Intentional Communication & Spotting The Right Account
Time management is a pain point for any sales professional.
How do you prioritize tasks when you’re in and out of meetings, literally nonstop? And how do you ensure that your SDR is in the loop?
For Jake, one of the ways he ensured Brad was always in the know was by intentionally including Brad on a lot of the email threads, once the opportunity opened up.
“Over time we build trust. And so, there’s certain things that he’s able to respond to quickly and I don’t even need to bother with,” explains Shaffren.
“It’s not because I don’t want to, it’s just a really, really good way to maintain that communication.”
At ZoomInfo, we’re lucky to work within an amazing platform. But just because we know how awesome ZoomInfo is, doesn’t mean our prospects do (yet).
“It’s actually a challenge trying to get prospects to believe that there’s a solution to their go to market bottlenecks,” explains Metz.
Seeing is believing, for sure. And when you can take that a step further by learning how to spot an account that is ripe for selling – that’s when you really start hitting your stride.
“One of the things pretty early on that I tried to instill with Bradley, and really any SDR, is that account selection. There are tons and tons and tons of accounts to choose from. But, over time, you learn the leading indicators of a good account,” explains Shaffren.
“But even more important, is learning the warning signs of an account that is not a good fit. The times where we know that our collective time is better spent elsewhere. And so, one of the things that [Brad and I] would do is, look at deals that we’ve closed over the years and say, ‘Okay, find me companies who look just like this.’”
Tracking Accounts, Building Confidence and Making Deals
There’s a number of strategic ways to really figure out and dig into who’s in their space and who’s in the market. But by and large, you can do that all in 10 seconds with ZoomInfo.
When we’re in the platform we make sure to look at trigger events, like personnel changes or acquisitions.
One of the really good ones for us is funding. Especially when a smaller company will receive a big round of serious funding, or they take on private equity. With that, there’s a strong investor need to drive growth, and drive it aggressively.
“When a company gets around, we know they have cash. So that’s always a good thing from a no budget perspective. And also there’s a true need in the sense that there’s outside forces asking them to drive growth,” explains Shraffen.
When we are going after companies that have just gone through funding it becomes a blitz of sorts.
“A lot of people understand it’s public knowledge,” explains Metz
“We need to be the first in the door. So I’m contacting end users, I’m contacting C-suite, I’m contacting everybody, and the conversation is going to look different for each contact.”
For the C-suite, we obviously talk a little bit about the funding, a little bit about how we can help them scale, how we can help them grow, how we can help them appease investors, and really hit their numbers as soon as possible.
For the end user, we’re talking about growth, hitting their numbers, getting their job done quicker, and really making them as efficient as possible so they can bring in those commission checks.
So different conversations depending on the persona, definitely.
“Confidence is big, especially when reaching out to C-suite, because they just generally don’t have time for you. They don’t want to spend time going through a discovery call. They don’t want you to hit them with a bunch of questions,” explains Metz
“You need to tell them exactly what they want to hear, or you need to figure out what you need to know from that person. Whether it’s a delegation or you need to figure out a better way to get in touch with them.”
This confidence is one of the things that we always try to instill in any new hires. And within a matter of a week or two, our SDRs will actually know more about this space than a lot of the people they’re engaging with or prospecting into.
“One of the things that always really fascinated me, especially in the early days, is I would get on the phone with a CEO of this really crazy techie company; and he or she was just ignorant to the sales and marketing world and how to grow a sales team, or drive revenue,” explains Jake.
“And that’s not because they’re dumb. It’s just because that’s not the world they live in. So, within a matter of even a couple of weeks of starting with ZoomInfo, you’re privy to our internal process, you’re privy to our tool stack. And so, you should have total confidence going to approaching a CEO. And, really, you have a duty to call that person because we can truly and genuinely solve their problem and help them grow.”
Bradley notes that it’s easier to show up with that confidence when you work for a company like ZoomInfo.
“Confidence has really helped my game because I truly believe in this product. It’s an amazing product. And when I get on the phone, I don’t feel like I’m selling snake oil. I feel like I’m truly bringing value to my prospects,” explains Metz.
“So then it becomes less of a conversation of trying to sell ZoomInfo, and it’s more of trying to get the prospect to open up to the idea that I can do the things that I’m saying and solving the problems that I’m saying that we can solve.”
Last Learnings: Remembering Your Roots
So what were the parting thoughts from our dynamic duo? The conversation ended with some reflections on resilience and mutual understanding.
“One of the things that I think I’ve relearned through working with Brad, and the trials and tribulations of sales development in general, is just the resiliency it takes,” explains Shaffren.
“There’s a lot of rejection in sales in general. But, for me, when I go from call to call, these are scheduled appointments. So I’ll have one bad call and the next call is better. It’s like, ‘Okay, I’m in a better mood.’ But it’s really easy to make 50 calls in a day, or however many calls there are in a day now, and just get constantly told ‘no’, and that’s hard.”
This kind of understanding and respect for the job Bradley does is the kind of empathy that drives strong AE/SDR pairings.
“Personally, I think it’s important to really understand what motivates the other, both personally as well as professionally. And so, I’ll give you an example,” said Shaffren.
“I’m fortunate in the fact that I came up through the SDR ecosystem, if you will.
Don’t get me wrong, that there are no free walks here. However, understanding that Brad is ultimately incentivized by completed meetings, I’ll be able to give him objective feedback as to why I’m not completing a meeting, why I’m marking it a bad fit.“
Understanding what makes someone do the things they do in their professional life, along with what Brad is ultimately looking to accomplish personally — these motivators can be the fuel to more meetings, more deals, and more success.
“I think AEs viewing the SDR as a true resource, a collaborative one at that, and one that has a lot of value if you nurture it,” says Metz
“Like Jake said, just understanding where your partner’s at, where your colleague’s at, and being able to work with them on those grounds.”
For Bradley, it comes down to recognizing the power that can come from this kind of professional relationship.