Welcome to the first interview of a series I'll be conducting with a few of the best salespeople around! In this first…
In this second episode, Larry gets into detail about lead generation recruitment and how to lead and nurture a team to bring out the best in it!
Here it is.
Hi Larry! Thank you for doing this, could you introduce yourself a little bit?
Yeah, sure. Sure. Pleasure to meet you. I’m Larry Long, Jr., BDR Manager and leader of our lead generation efforts here at Pendo.
All right, so what do you guys do at Pendo?
We’re a platform for product success. The best way to describe it is we love products, and we love to help organizations that love their products, love their users, and love their users to have delightful experiences within their product, so it’s a combination, and it really brings together the core of analytics, user analytics, and data, as well as the ability to influence the behavior, gather feedback, provide contextual helps. It’s really a platform for companies, product managers, customer success leaders to drive engagement, to reduce churn, and ultimately build products that their users love.
As a sales leader, how do you structure the sales process?
On the lead generation side, our process is really simple. I hate to dumb it down, but we identify target companies. We then identify target prospects within those companies, and then, once we have them identified and in our target, we then outreach to get their attention, get them to the table so that we can have a discussion to see if there’s a mutual fit, if there’s an area that we can add value to what they’re trying to accomplish. I’ll give you my thoughts in terms of what sales is. For me, sales is really matching, just playing matchmaker of your products and/or services with someone else’s needs, wants, desires, challenges, hopes, dreams, and aspirations. If you can create a match there, then generally we’ll be in business.
In terms of outreach, what’s your favorite method? Do you use several methods at the same time? How does it work?
My favorite is what we’re doing right now. We’re talking on the phone. A lot of people call it that 500-pound phone, because it’s tough to pick it up and tough to outreach to folks, especially ice cold, but we do things to warm up our calls. We utilize email, which is a popular channel, and I guess if you look at it kind of like an interstate, it’s a crowded channel. Think about how many emails you get in one day. It’s just busy. It’s very easy to get lost through that channel.
We also utilize social media, whether that’s LinkedIn. We utilize LinkedIn Sales Navigator so that we can reach out to folks using InMails, which is a channel less traveled, but it’s definitely picked up over the years and become a little bit busier. Twitter. Being able to engage with folks utilizing the DM as you’re connecting with them, as well as Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat to gather information, Facebook to gather information on prospects to really make an intentional, customized, personalized outreach effort by being able to gather information on what’s important to them and their companies. Phone calls, number one, emails, number two, social media, number three.
I would say 3A is handwritten notes. When you think about – I’m not sure about you, but I know for me I don’t get very many handwritten notes, and ones that I do, they have staying power actually. I keep them on my desk, because it’s that rare. For someone to take the time to break out a pen and write a thoughtful message, handwrite, and address it to me, get a stamp, lick the envelope, and send it to me, that’s putting in extra effort that not a lot of folks do.
Another thing that I’ve seen work well is video email, and we look at it as really a comprehensive. There’s not one way, because some people will never respond to an email. Some people will never respond to a phone call, will never respond to a voicemail message. Other people will never respond unless you catch them in person, whether it’s in their office, whether it’s at a conference, so we utilize and we believe that it’s best to utilize all different channels. You think about handwritten notes, conferences, in-person meetings, telegraph, telegram, carrier pigeon, you name it. We try to utilize and implement that, word of mouth, referrals to try to outreach and get the attention of our prospects.
Okay, that’s a thorough answer! As the head of business development and as a leader, how do you define your mission toward your team and your purpose within the organization?
Yeah, that’s a great question. It’s a two-pointed question. My purpose to the team is really to serve as a guide, as a teacher, as a coach, and as a leader to help them get to the next level, so it’s just like sales, the same thing. My job is to find out what motivates my team, where do they want to go, and help them achieve that, so my goal is very simple. I have three goals. Number one is hit numbers, which is why we’re in sales, to accomplish something, to build something, to achieve something, and that something is generally realized by a definitive number. If the target is 100, I’m trying to make sure I hit 100 or above, and I’m trying to help my team drive to overachieve on their targets.
Number two is the progressed career, so that’s that growth. That’s the learning and development to help them take their game and take their skills to that next level. We had a meeting this morning, talking about our training, our onboarding training, and really helping folks build that strong foundation of knowledge around our company, around the industry, competitors, personas, around our products, around the tools and resources that we utilize, both internal and external, and then around selling. If we can build a good base, a good foundation, we can then build on top of that where we’re now driving towards intermediate knowledge across those pillars, and then we can drive from there to expert knowledge where we’re really SMEs, subject matter experts, to help folks progress their careers to the next level.
Then, number three is to have fun. If you’re doing number one, you’re hitting your numbers, hitting your goals, if you’re learning each and every day, you’re growing, you’re getting better, you’re bound to have fun, so that’s really how I view my role.
And toward the organization?
Now, in terms of serving the company, we are, from my perspective – and I’m a little bit biased, but I love my team, and I believe that we are the quarterback, to use a sports analogy, the point guard, to use a sports analogy. When we go, the company goes, because we’re essentially setting the table, really teeing it up so that our sales professionals can then do their jobs, show value, deliver value, and close deals. Our job is really to set the table and really fill the top of the funnel, because if you think about it, if you don’t fill the top of the funnel, good luck. I’m not sure if you’re a baseball fan, Forster, but if you go to the batting tee, and there’s no ball there, I would say it’s pretty impossible to hit a home run. Now, if you go to the batting tee, and there’s a big, bright green softball, there, you now have a better chance of knocking it out of the ballpark, and that’s really the purpose of my team is to make sure that we tee up a lot of big, bright green softballs, for lack of a better analogy.
And how do you attract talent to your organization -valuable players, to keep the sports analogy?
That’s the biggest challenge. You look at the great sports organizations, and for us, it’s the San Antonio Spurs. It’s the New England Patriots. Year in and year out, they have great programs, and they interchange folks within their program, but it really does come down to the talent of the people. It is the people. That’s the biggest challenge is – especially, in lead generation. I would say lead generation is probably one of, if not the toughest position to hire for, because it’s tough. It’s tough to pick up the phone and outreach to folks ice cold, and it’s tough to get beat over the head over and over and over again and come back that next time with a smile on your face, with a positive attitude, ready to knock it out of the ballpark.
One of my best reps was in the office this morning. I came in – I worked out from 6:30 to 7:30, came into the office at 7:35, and he’s in here, making calls to Europe, which the day is already rocking and rolling across the pond, and he had a tough call. He tried his best to overcome objections, and essentially the prospect finally made the decision that, hey, I’m just not interested. He had to battle back to pick up that phone again and make that next call to the prospect with a great attitude and that internal belief that what we have is of value.
To answer your question, it’s tough to find folks that fit the mould, and what we look for are folks that have that entrepreneurial spirit, that business accountability and business ownership. The second thing we look for is that internal drive and desire that, when you get hit with an obstacle, I need reps that are going to find a way to get around them and get over them, go under them, and if they have to, go right through those obstacles. Our team name is FIDO. It stands for Forget About It, Drive On. F It, Drive On. The third one is preparation and really putting yourself in a position to be ready to succeed, and the fourth one is communication. So much of what we do is verbal communication, as well as written communication. Being able to communicate your ideas effectively to someone else is so important. Those are really the four major things we look for, and then there’s a lot of intangibles, integrity without compromise, mental toughness, positive mindset, positive energy. That’s really what we strive to find, and it’s a big challenge.
Pendo, recently won an award for Best Customer Service at the North Carolina Tech Awards. It means that you have a dedicated team, bent on delivering value after the sale. How does your team provide value before the sale is closed?
Yeah, that’s great right there. One of our company core values is maniacal focus on the customer, and you can say customer, you can say prospect, but in order to have a focus on them, you have to have a genuine care about what’s going on in their situation, so it’s really understanding. There’s a reason why we were given two ears and one mouth, and I know I’ve been dominating this conversation, just talking up a storm, which I love to talk, but for us, the way that we deliver value is by active listening, asking the right questions to uncover. Hey, what are you trying to accomplish? What are your goals? What’s your current process? What does success look like? What’s holding you back? Just really digging in, and it’s kind of like a doctor.
When you go to the doctor, they generally do what they call a SOAP note, so the S is Subjective. They ask you, hey, Forster, what’s going on? The O is Objective. They get in there, and they determine from their perspective what’s going on. The A is Assessment, so they assess the situation, and then P is Plan, and that’s what we do. We’re really sales – I guess you would call it sales doctors. We dig into the subjective of what’s going on in our prospect’s situation, we give the objective of what we think, we give an assessment, and then the plan is generally a prescription of Pendo if that’s what they need. Sometimes they don’t need it. Sometimes they’re not ready for it, and we’re honest with them in terms of how can we help you drive your business to where you want your business to be. From my perspective, that’s how we drive value even before the sale is made. It’s that genuine care and really striving for an understanding of what’s going on and what they want to be going on within their business.
From what I read, Pendo’s workforce is expected to grow significantly in the next year. How would that affect your job and the way you manage things?
Oh, goodness. Growing and scaling is a challenge, but business is a challenge, and that’s what makes it fun, to be a part of a growing organization that’s doing what we believe is some pretty important work. It’s exciting. The impact that that’s going to have is, once again, how do you find the right people? We just had this discussion last week that we’re not going to compromise our expectations in terms of folks that work for our organization.
I’ve worked for organizations that have said, woof, we need to bring on 60 people, and we’ll lower our standards. The unique thing about Pendo is that we’ve said outright we will not lower our standards. We’re going to make sure that we find superstars, A+ players, and that’s a great culture to be a part of. I heard a study. I don’t know what study it was, but it said top performers and your high performers, one of the things that they really dislike is working with lower performers.
If I’m a superstar – it’s kind of like LeBron James. There’s a reason why he took his talents to South Beach so he could play with Chris Bosh, and he could play with Dwayne Wade and win that championship. Some people fault him, but there’s nothing wrong with wanting to win, and I wouldn’t consider myself LeBron James, but I want to win, and I want to surround myself with the best players that are out there, so if there’s a Kevin Durant of lead generation, I want him on my team. If there’s a Steph Curry of lead generation, come on in, and that’s really what we’re trying to accomplish is building a superstar stable of resources that can take us to that next level that we’re trying to accomplish.
What’s your sales stack? What tools do you use for lead generation and closing sales?
Yeah, that’s a great question right there. We have a lot of tools at our disposal. The main one, Salesforce.com. That’s the one that we use on a regular basis. Outreach.io, that’s what we use for our cadences in terms of our emails, both – I guess you would call them sequence emails that go out kind of on that, as well as our personalized, customized emails, social media. We also leverage LinkedIn, LinkedIn Sales Navigator. The phone system is Truly. We utilize DataFox. We utilize ZoomInfo. Video conference is Zoom, which we’re on right now. What else do we have within our tech stack? Trello for kind of project management within our territories, and then our team is creative. They go out, and they find free tools, hunter.io, ViewedIt, which is the free version of Vidyard, I think, but ViewedIt is a way to send videos within an email. Hunter.io, Google, Meetup groups.
Our team is very creative in terms of what they utilize. We have some reps that utilize Mixmax, for their emails. You’re only as good as – you can have all the ammunition and bullets on your belt, but if you’re not able to utilize it effectively and efficiently, you’re really not going to have success, so we really strive to make sure that whatever tools our reps decide to use, they’re using them to the most efficient and effective way.
Okay! I have one last question but not the least. What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
Oh, goodness gracious, best piece of advice. I would say that would come from my parents. My father passed two years ago, and he came from a pretty rough upbringing and was able to have success, but both my parents taught me to believe in yourself. When I wake up every morning – I don’t know if you can see me on video, but I wake up every morning just thankful. We’ve got Thanksgiving coming up, but Thanksgiving is every day for me. I’m just thankful and blessed to be here and have the opportunity to impact others’ lives, to enjoy what I’m doing and believe in myself that I can accomplish the goals that I’ve set out to accomplish.
I threw out a lot right there, but if I had to pick one, it would just be believe in yourself, that you can accomplish what you set out to accomplish. Now, it takes planning. You have to plan, and then it’s great to have a plan. I think Mike Tyson said, “Everyone’s got a plan until they get punched in the chin,” so you’ve got to execute on that plan, and you’ve got to be resilient and have determination. That self-belief is so tough. There’s so many people out there that don’t believe in you that, if you doubt your abilities, and you don’t have belief in yourself, that’s a double uphill battle that you’re facing.
I love this answer! I think that’s all I wanted to ask; you delivered quite a bit of information!
Yeah, Forster, I appreciate the questions. I appreciate you reaching out to me. I hope I was just able to deliver at least one nugget of value that might be able to help someone out there. I used to own a baseball academy. I was privileged to play baseball in college, University of Maryland. Go, Terps. I absolutely loved being able to invest in and provide knowledge to kids that wanted to improve their game on the field but, even more importantly, teaching them life skills off the field, setting goals, dealing with adversity.
In baseball, if you fail 70% of the time, you’re going to the Hall of Fame. You’re a 300 hitter. There’s not too many places that allow you, other than lead generating and prospecting, where if you make 100 calls, and you’re able to bat 3% — if you’re a 3% success, you’re going to the lead gen hall of fame in terms of cold calls. I just love having the ability to hopefully provide knowledge to others to help them take their game to the next level and help them have that belief that they can accomplish the goals that they set out for.
Everyone’s got goals and dreams in their mind. I’m a big believer of put it in writing. Write it down. Every one of my team members has their own business plan. A lot of times, they ask me, hey, what should my business plan look like, and I tell them, it’s your business. You make your business plan how you want your business plan to look. There’s not a standard format, because your business is different from my business and is different from the next person’s business, so really putting it in writing, where do you want to go, what’s your plan to get there. Now you have a compass to guide you in terms of that execution, and it’s really a living document. That business plan shouldn’t be stagnant, or you’re going to be left behind, but that’s the fun stuff. That’s what I enjoy right there. If there’s anything that I can do to help, please do not hesitate to reach out to me. I certainly love, absolutely love to help.
Okay, and I will. Thank you so much, and Happy Thanksgiving!
Hey, thanks so much, Forster. I wish you all the best. Thanks again.