As Founder & CEO of AltiSales, Tito Bohrt has built 20+ SDR teams from the ground up and sourced over $100M in revenue for his clients. Did we mention? He’s only 28.
AltiSales goes beyond a traditional consulting firm by proving their techniques and methods using their own SDRs to deliver high quality meetings to their clients. Once the client is ready, they hand off their proven methodology to 3-10x sales performance in-house.
Even while in Spain, Tito made time to share his two cents with us in regards to what’s actually going on in the sales industry. Warning: many truth bombs were dropped.
Neha: What’s the most ridiculous thing you see happening right now in sales?
I think there are a lot of ridiculous things happening in sales; the lack of appreciation for sales development being the main one. Before we had SDRs, AEs used to be full-cycle and what they hated the most was prospecting. If you read books like Fanatical Prospecting by Jeb Blount, it talks about how top-of-funnel is really what drives sales. Then, we bring SDRs. AEs just cancel meetings on the SDRs, don’t care, or start saying, “This wasn’t qualified enough,”—they’re asking the SDRs to do so much work. SDRs are very underpaid for the value they bring to the funnel.
Neha: There’s this amusing notion that cold calling is “dead,” but over here we think it has more to do with reps just being afraid to pick up the phone. Why do you think reps are so afraid?
Let me tell you how many demos we’ve set today with cold calling. I’m literally going to count. Nilan got a demo booked two minutes ago, another one happened three hours ago, another one happened two minutes before that, another one four minutes before that, then a few prior to that… so that’s six. It’s 2PM EST and my team team of 7 SDRs is at seven demos via phone. How is cold calling dead? I have no idea.
The people who say cold calling is dead is because they don’t know how to do it. It’s like going to a person who’s in really bad health and them saying, “the gym is dead.” What do you mean the gym is dead? You’re 280 pounds! “Yeah, the gym is dead man. I went once and that shit didn’t work.” Of course it didn’t work! You went once. Do you have a personal trainer? Have you read and learned about how to do this well? Have you realized it’s not just about going to the gym but also about eating the right things?
Cold calling is the same. Have you researched your prospects? Have you put in the effort upfront? Have you figured out how you can do the call paths? Do you know how to communicate with executives? If you don’t, then obviously it’s dead! Then you can be the 280 pound person. But, if you know how to do it, I bet there are a lot of very ripped people who when you ask them, “Is the gym dead?” will say, “You’re stupid.” That’s pretty much my reaction these days. If people say cold calling is dead, I think, “Nah, you’re dumb.”
Learning to cold call is like going to the gym. So many organizations come to me and ask, “Tito, can you train our team?” I’m like sure. Then I get hit with, “How much do you charge for a day or two of training?” I’m like wait a second. “I’m in Miami, you’re in San Francisco, so I have to fly there. I have to spend my whole day there. I have to analyze your team. I have to coach your team. Then I have to come back and the opportunity cost of not training my team… it’s like $5,000 to $10,000 for the most part.” Then they ask what the impact of my training will be on their revenue for next year. It’s like asking, “What’s the impact of you going to the gym once?” The impact is zero. You want to hire me for 40 coaching sessions for the year? Sure. I’ll charge you $100,000 and I’ll do it. Better yet, find someone who’s as good as me as coaching and hire them in-house. The value of my training to my team right now is in the millions of dollars. For what else do people train once? Do people do any sports here? Oh, I’m going to run a marathon. Let me go train on Tuesday and I’ll run it in October. Are you kidding me?
I also think it’s mainly the young people that are afraid. The problem is the lack of training when it comes to talking on the phone. When I was in the 5th grade, I literally called my crush every night and we spoke for an hour. We weren’t even dating, but we spoke for an hour. I don’t think anyone right now in 5th grade would ever dare to pick up their cell phone and call their crush.
What people don’t realize is that you lose a lot of communication through text and this is true for the corporate world as well. Even young CEOs will be on their phone a lot. I’m a young CEO. I’m 28. I’m on the phone a lot. When someone sends me an email, I call them and they appreciate that. They’re like, “Thanks for calling, this is so much easier.” Millenials are not used to calling, but ask them how many times there have been big misunderstandings through texting. I’ve lost friends. I’ve been ghosted by people I liked because of a misunderstanding. It’s dumb. If you text and don’t call, your churn is going to go through the roof once you’re an executive.
Whether you like it or not, voice is a better method of communication than email, and that’ll always be the case. People are just afraid because they’re not used to it which makes them uncomfortable. They don’t know how to think on their feet, which is the worst part. They’re so used to having the two minutes to two hours to think about how they’re going to respond in a fun, smart, and smirky way. That’s completely destructive to human relationships. Hopefully people start understanding the value of face-to-face communication and phone and voice communication. It’s so much better.
Neha: Tools like Outreach are a double-edged sword—great for productivity, but if used incorrectly, can turn reps into mini-marketing automation robots. Your talk at Unleash is titled, “How great leaders help SDRs crush quota” and likely address this—can we get a sneak peek?
My talk at Unleash is about managing a team’s workflow and managing their metrics. I don’t let my SDRs build any sequences. They’re all built by a manager or built by me. No one else is allowed to build the sequences. I don’t allow them to put however many prospects they want in their sequence, I put as many as I think is fair. We have a Head of Data Operations who tells me on a monthly basis how many leads she has given every rep and then I have their sequences. Then, if a rep is burning too many leads, I tell them not to do that. You have to call them 4 times. That’s what the sequence is. You have to obey the sequence. Same with the emails. The email goes out with what I say. I had terrible experience letting SDRs do whatever. Early stage companies just don’t have the resources to build sales development right.
I have access to how many calls my reps have made per week, the connection rate, hooks accepted… the whole funnel. I also note the adjustments we’re making every week. In one instance, we reverted back our adjustment. We went from really good numbers to really bad numbers. But we’re testing things, we’re changing things… our connection rate has gone from 2-3% to 4-5%. I’m in charge of making the tweaks. And why I’m responsible is because they don’t know best practices. It takes a long time to collect data. To see if one email is working better than another, we probably need 1,000 emails sent per template. That’s my go-to.
If I have one SDR on this campaign, then he needs to send 2,000 emails for this step. If the sequence has 5 calls and 5 emails, that means for every call he gets an email, so for every 5 calls he makes, he actually gets one email sent but he needs 2,000. So he needs to make 10,000 calls. Which is about 100 days work of calling, which is approximately 5 months. So it literally takes me 5 months to know if my email A or B is working better… for each of my emails. But I only review campaigns every 8 weeks and I find something to improve. But most reps try this email 3 times and another one 5 times, and if they get a response, they decide all of them moving forward will be that one. It’s like rolling dice with your right hand and then with your left hand. If you get better with your left hand, that’s like saying all of your rolls should be with your left hand. That makes no sense. It’s not statisically significant. You’re crazy!
Neha: Given the nature of your business, your reps move from company to company faster than typical SDRs do, and you get your reps set up in a new gig faster than anyone else I know. How do you train them so quickly on call scripts, questions to ask, answers to objections, etc.?
That’s a bit of a misconception. Our SDRs are actually dedicated to a single company and they stick around with that company for a long time. Our clients love our SDRs. They’re like, “I don’t ever want this guy to leave me!” They don’t think we can train someone else to be just as good and the truth is, we can train them, but they couldn’t train them. It’s all about the training.
My background is in behavioral economics so I build all the cold calling scripts. Then we have our own methodology for how we’re going to measure our data and what matters to us. Then finally, we have email templates that work for them. They’re going to sit down; Outreach is completely set up, their signature is set up, they just have to bump up their LinkedIn.
Our biggest thing is to forget product training. Don’t do any product training. People are like, “What do you mean?” Don’t show your SDR your product. It’s a terrible idea. They start talking about the features. “Oh yeah, we have this thing where you click on the green button…” Have you ever seen that experiment where they go to one person and tell them they’re going to tell them a song and they just have to tap the rhythm out on the table? Everyone else then has to guess the song. The song is “Happy Birthday.” The guy tries, but the others don’t get it. Everyone who doesn’t know it’s Happy Birthday, literally doesn’t know it’s Happy Birthday. That’s what happens with product training. You show your SDR the product and they explain it in a way where they think, “This is so obvious, how can you not get it? It’s so easy.” It’s like the professors you had in college. They’re geniuses at math but then they explain it as, “How do you not get it? You just take the derivative of this and this… it’s just obvious!” The thing is, it’s not obvious.
The problem with most organizations is that they spend a full week teaching their SDRs the product. The SDR is well-trained but he’s just pitching features, not benefits. That’s the most destructive thing you can do to your organization.
At least for the first two months, my SDRs haven’t seen the product once. Then they may join or see a demo and they’re like, “Oh, now I can see what I’m saying actually makes sense.”
Speak their language, not your branding!
Neha: Handover between SDRs and AEs is a common point of contention, especially when it comes to SDRs getting paid. You talk about SLA’s in your article on handover on Sales Hacker. How do you make traditionally “fluffy” qualification metrics like pain/interest into something more tangible so you ensure reps are generating real opportunities?
SDRs aren’t interest generation, they’re curiosity generation. That’s the difference.
You can’t have somebody be interested or not. If there’s interest, that’s on the AE. The only qualification criteria that matters for an outbound SDR is “Are they the right person and do they work at the right company?” If they’re the right person at the right company, if you have a good product, you should be able to sell it. You need to provide insights.
There’s this example in sales where they sat candidates down at a table and asked them to sell them a pair of sunglasses. The first guy basically says how the frame of the sunglasses are bendable and all these things. The next guy is talking about the branding and how cool you look. Then there’s one guy that literally grabs his phone, turns the flashlight on, and flashes it in the guy’s face, and asks, “Would you care for some sunglasses?” Done. Sold. That’s what a good AE does.
Companies buy on ROI. They buy on long-term benefits. The sunglasses example is relatable because we’re all humans. However, the reasons why companies buy isn’t because, “Oh, this looks cool on me”—they’re solving a long-term pain. That’s what matters. The SDR needs to bring the right prospect to the table.
SDRs need to make it aware that prospects are facing an annoying problem in which they may not even know they’re facing. A good AE will start a conversation and show the prospect that there’s this problem and convince him. If you can convince them, they’ll realize, “Holy shit, I have a problem.” The next thing you have to do is talk about a best case solution. You do not talk about your solution at all. You have to phrase it as, “You know what’d be amazing if you have an annoying light flashing in your face? A pair of sunglasses.”
GUESS WHAT? That’s what I sell. Here are some sunglasses.
When you’re helping them discover the problem, you can phrase the problem in ways that are more helpful to your product.
Neha: What do you feel is overdone in B2B sales?
Email blasting is completely overdone. Every company when they start ruin their own reputation by not knowing how to execute on email properly. We’re in the era of helping prospects understand what solutions matter and why. The role of an SDR is to actually be a free consultant. You’re a consultant that helps companies find problems and guess what, the problem you’re trying to help them find, is exactly the problem your company solves. “Oh you have this problem, I can’t solve it for you, but how about I set up a meeting for you with an AE that can solve it. How does that sound?” that’s your role.
Neha: The theme for Unleash this year is, “3 steps to invincible.” What are your 3 steps to succeed in impossible circumstances?
If it was just as simple as listing the three things that matter, everyone could do it. The problem is, there are 300,000 different things you could possibly do. You’re not even aware that they all exist. You don’t even know where to start. You start discovering them one by one.
It’s like playing poker. When you don’t know how to play poker, you don’t know what to bet or what not to bet. You then learn to read your cards. Then, when you look at your cards, you know what you have and know how to play that hand. But, that doesn’t make you a good poker player. What makes you a good poker player is if you look at your hand, understand what you have, and try to figure out what everyone else has according to how they’re playing. If you can do that, you’re better.
If you don’t know how to play poker, I can say, “Neha, here’s the deal. Try to figure out what they think that you think that they have, but also figure out what you think they have…” You’d be so overwhelmed, that you’d fail. You have to take people through a journey.
There are no 3 steps to invincible. If you want to be really good at something, you train and train and train and train and train… until you get really good.
Cristiano Ronaldo scored a chilena, which is this crazy, jump in the air, backwards kick that goes over your head to score a goal. If you go ask Cristiano, “That goal was amazing, what did you do?” He’ll just say he saw the ball coming so he jumped and kicked backwards, and that’s it, it was simple. But you go to some guy that has never played soccer, “We heard from Cristiano the kick is simple, you just go in and when you see the ball coming towards you, you time it and just kick backwards and you score. Got it?” He’s going to injure himself and he’s never going to get it right, no matter how many times he tries. Cristiano won’t tell you that it takes years and years of practice and training… he’ll just tell you, “I just jumped and kicked.” When you ask people who are damn amazing, “How did you do it? How did you become famous? How did you IPO?” They’ll say, “I just jumped and kicked.” Whatever they tell you is wrong. It’s about their habits. What do they do on a day-to-day basis? I work insane hours. People think I’m lucky my posts go viral… right. If they only knew.
There are no 3 steps to invincible. There are 300,000 steps.
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