The Sales Development Podcast

Episode 14: Russ Hearl

In this episode, David interviews Russ Hearl, Vice President of Sales at PatSnap, a company that offers innovation intelligence, patent searches, and IP analytics. Russ attributes his success to his strong background in cold calling. He addresses the strengths of cold calling and debunks the myth that it is dead. Tune in to find out how he was able to raise $82M for Double Dutch through cold calling, the importance of researching your target market, and some key advice to strengthen your sales teams.

3 Key Points:
1. Cold calling is NOT dead – its success is dependent on a number of factors including the demand for your product and the research you put into targeting those calls.
2. Set up structures, methods, and define roles and expectations clearly for the success of your sales teams.
3. Always use data to analyze your target market and do your research to hit them at the RIGHT time.

Time Stamped Show Notes:
● 00:34 – Introducing Russ Hearl – VP of sales at PatSnap
● 01:19 – Russ’ career in selling started 20 years ago
● 01:27 – He worked for Rolling Stone Magazine in Ohio
● 01:33 – While doing his undergraduate studies, he worked for Merrill Lynch doing cold calls
● 01:42 – By the time Russ finished his undergraduate degree, he already had 6 years of cold calling experience
● 01:46 – To Russ, a sales career can be built around cold calling
● 02:01 – He worked in sales for FedEx, for 7 years
● 02:16 – Russ believed that his abilities in cold calling, prospecting, identifying the target market, and tailoring his pitches were the reasons why he was promoted so quickly
● 02:35 – As Russ progressed and evolved, cold calling was always the basis of his success
● 03:23 – Russ always had the passion of building businesses through sales
● 03:42 – He shares his experience with Double Dutch, raising $82M
○ 04:08 – Over 90% of their wins were from cold calling
● 04:28 – Now at PatSnap, Russ has a team of over 45 people across 2 offices
● 04:54 – PatSnap has a very large investment in inside sales
● 05:10 – PatSnap sells innovation intelligence software to professionals and large companies
● 06:03 – They’ve just raised a large series C from Sequoia
● 06:55 – Cold calling results depend on several different factors
○ 07:04 – “Your chosen go to market strategy is often predicated upon how much built in demand there is in the market for your product or service”
○ 07:18 – Russ explains this further using the example of Hubspot
● 07:44 – The role of cold calling is different for other businesses
● 08:08 – Saying cold calling is dead depends on several factors
○ 08:15 – What’s the demand for your product?
○ 08:25 – “We’re not running inbound shops”—so we need to reach OUT into the market
● 08:54 – “There’s a significant need for intelligent outbound prospecting” so that you use your time and efforts efficiently as you look for leads
● 09:41 – PatSnap’s significant wins came from outbound cold calling
● 10:26 – The amount of content marketing got everyone on the bandwagon
● 12:44 – “It always starts with targeting”
○ 13:28 – Make sure to put together centrally determined territories with account lists
○ 14:15 – Have a method for how to reach contacts
○ 14:28 – Measure your conversion rates
○ 15:23 – Compare your business against businesses with similar market dynamics
● 16:01 – A sales development team helps build opportunities and pipelines
● 17:06 – Sales development transcends as a strategic function of a business
● 18:34 – In many organizations, there’s now a merging of sales operations, sales development, and sales strategies into one leadership structure
● 19:36 – The CRO became a title of a person who is in charge of revenue, closing deals, and customer success
● 20:27 – “The linchpin of the organization is your ability to effectively, smartly, target the market”
● 21:19 – Use market intelligence to understand what the competitive landscape looks like
● 21:38 – Setting up an efficient outbound sales machine can defeat the competition
● 21:58 – Russ and his team made millions of cold calls at Double Dutch
○ 22:26 – “There is an approach there that works where you can out in front of other businesses before they have the need”
● 23:00 – Waiting for your sales team to improve can make you lose the race
● 24:04 – Double Dutch used data on upcoming conferences and events to sell for those events
○ 24:27 – “We can time the market”
● 24:44 – PatSnap knows that the companies that produce the most patents are probably the best candidates for them
● 25:34 – Get the information you need and start calls
● 26:14 – It’s vital to know when your fiscal year ends
● 27:14 – The timing of when you target the market can make the biggest difference when it comes to your success
● 28:34 – If calls are missed, they can be missed forever leading to negative ramifications for your business
○ 29:10 – Too many sales leaders overlook facts and miss variables
○ 29:40 – Representatives may know a lot, but they need a senior leader to centralize strategies for them
○ 30:11 – Everybody wants to know the “art” of cold calling but it’s not where the waste is
○ 30:50 – The lack of planning is often to blame
● 31:18 – What Russ tries to do in his sales teams is to “improve the transparency of the inputs that it takes to get to the outputs”
● 32:08 – Prevent blaming and unproductive conflict by adoption of the CRM process
● 32:35 – Separate the sales development team from the account executive team
● 33:31 – Changing the structure of teams after they’ve scaled can lead to bigger issues
● 34:49 – There’s a need to spot check to see if all processes are being followed
● 36:14 – Use a comp plan to monitor sales representatives’ behavior
○ 36:23 – For example, the plan is to make 80 activities a day
○ 36:30 – They may make 60 emails and 20 half-hearted calls
○ 36:34 – “Making calls is what you want them to do”
○ 36:51 – Consider monitoring only meaningful activities – this does NOT include email sending
● 37:39 – Younger salespeople takes the path of least resistance
○ 38:34 – Make sure to design their roles properly
● 39:27 – “It’s always been about your business acumen—are you demonstrating personal and professional growth and are you a good team player?”
● 40:00 – Selling is about communication and asking the right questions
● 41:09 – Skills is a mixture of classroom training and in-field exercise
● 42:25 – “If you’re just sending emails, you’re not going to have those swings”
● 43:12 – Invest in yourself, build relationships, and be a great team player
● 44:39 – End of podcast

Resources Mentioned:

  • PatSnap – The company where Russ is serving currently as VP of sales
  • Rolling Stone Magazine – Where Russ worked for when he was in Ohio
  • Merrill Lynch – Where Russ started his cold calling experience
  • FedEx – Company where Russ worked for 7 years
  • Double Dutch – Company where Russ helped to raise $82M through Sequoia
  • Hubspot – Russ uses this company to illustrate cold calling

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