In this episode, David interviews Chris Casillas, Director of Sales Development at Appfolio. Chris takes us on a journey back to where it all began for him in sales development and the role Appfolio has played in shaping his journey. 

​You’ll learn how Appfolio grew from a few customers to tens of thousands of customers and Appfolio’s processes for finding, training, and entrusting their SDRs (sales development representatives) with those sales calls.

​You’ll also learn about the characteristics of a great SDR which includes enthusiasm, a growth mindset and much, much more.

3 Key Points:
1.It’s important for those in sales development to put on a growth mindset.
2.Communication is key to any team’s success—have a common language across all departments to streamline communication.
3.Always consider how coachable a potential hire is when finding your next sales development representative.

Time Stamped Show Notes:

  • 00:48 – Introduction to the Sales Development Podcast
  • 00:59 – Introducing Chris Casillas
  • 01:15 – Chris is The Director of Sales Development
    • 01:35 – He has been with Appfolio for 8.5 years
    • 01:44 – He’s been doing sales for over 10 years
  • 01:49 – He started off at Citrix Online in late 2006
    • 02:00 – He was hired at the age of 19 as an experiment
  • 02:17 – After a couple of years, he was invited to join Appfolio
    • 02:35 – They went from a few customers to tens of thousands of customers
    • 02:42 – They are a publicly listed company
  • 02:56 – Appfolio creates a cloud based software for their customers
  • 03:30 – You want to make sure that the people you hire in the beginning are properly representing the organization
  • 03:46 – Sales development allows Chris to share everything he’s learned to his team
  • 04:16 – They have a sales development team in Santa Barbara and in Dallas
    • 04:30 – Within that group, they have subgroups for outbound and for big clients
    • 04:58 – SDRs start on outbound, then they move up to a hybrid group that deals with inbound & outbound
    • 06:03 – “Time kills deals”
    • 06:49 – People usually get stuck in one particular model in SD
    • 07:29 – “The system should be serving you, you shouldn’t be serving the system”
  • 08:25 – Hiring people straight out of college is NOT Appfolio’s default position for recruitment
    • 09:18 – Enthusiasm is extremely important – it can make all the difference
    • 10:22 – Appfolio is also interested in knowing what their applicants do outside of work – how they make a better version of themselves
  • 12:49 – If SDRs don’t take advice, Appfolio already knows they’re facing a challenge
    • 12:56 – “Having a growth mindset is so important”
    • 13:08 – Growth mindset plays an effect both inside and outside the company
    • 13:22 – Understand that you can change
  • 14:45 – Don’t wait for the job title or position to add value in a way that’s outside of your job description – take initiative
  • 15:57 – If a person wants to become an account executive, they have to starting knowing people on the inside sales team
  • 16:16 – Every company has their own nuances regarding how they do accounts
  • 16:54 – It took David 20 years to figure out how businesses work
  • 17:55 – The high-volume play is NOT the best approach
  • 18:50 – David remembers that before sales customization platforms, they only had lead lists, Salesforce, excel sheets, and post-its
    • 19:14 – Now SDRs have marketing automation programs like Marketo, Peridot, or HubSpot
    • 20:16 – The approach that Appfolio takes is to get smart on who they want to win and be thoughtful about how they approach those people
    • 21:15 – A call and email combo is more effective than just sending out an email
  • 22:52 – Start with WHY
  • 23:14 – Ensure you increase efficiency
  • 23:26 – Appfolio focuses on the account to opportunity conversion rate to understand their efficiency
  • 25:13 – Take a snapshot based on how long it takes for accounts to turn into opportunities
  • 26:35 – Appfolio’s sales development team works closely with their marketing team
  • 28:36 – Have an established framework of what you’re expecting from your teams
  • 28:46 – Having road maps for a call or an account is very important
  • 29:41 – “Request for removal” process is a system that Appfolio has in place
  • 30:24 – You don’t want an account system framework to turn into a low quality cadence
  • 31:21 – Make sure that you communicate to your SDRs why a transition is happening
    • 32:22 – Communication is huge in every launch of an account-based program
    • 34:36 – The alignment of sales to the SDRs for Appfolio is better when they start with a common language
    • 35:37 – Make sure the hand-off (of the client/account) is done really well
    • 36:24 – Ensure notes taken are front and center so anytime a sales manager looks into an opportunity, they know exactly why the SDR passed it to the salesperson
  • 38:35 – “You can’t take totally a high-level approach to run in an SDR team” Get in the weeds! 
  • 39:25 – Conversion rates are good for Appfolio, but they know they can do better
    • 39:39 – They were able to see clearly what factors allowed them to predict the outcome of their leads
  • 40:25 – It’s the SDRs job to let the sales team know who they’re getting
  • 41:49 – The root of success is having a shared vocabulary that teams understand across all departments
  • 42:28 – “We do everything based on opportunity”
  • 42:42 – Appfolio has criteria documented clearly to identify when a lead is an SQL
  • 44:09 – Chris loves the book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, and lists the habits:
    • 04:14 – Seek first to understand than to be understood
    • 44:43 – Break down the knowledge gap
    • 44:50 – Belief governs behavior
    • 46:35 – If your people do not believe something works, show them success stories
    • 46:52 – If their belief is not in line with your expectations, give them concrete examples
    • 47:13 – The resistance a person cannot overcome is another challenge you need to be able to work with
  • 48:26 – Coachability is a critical aspect in hiring a sales development rep
  • 49:40 – Chris shares about an amazing rep whose performance started to drop
  • 50:51 – David wrote a blog post early this year, 2017: The Year of the SDR Manager
  • 51:42 – Being at the beach every morning before coming to work is one thing that helps Chris manage pressure and stress
  • 53:04 – At 18, Chris decided he would leave the country to travel at least once per year
    • 53:16 – Travelling is very important to Chris
  • 53:33 – They’ve had a number of people on their team who have quit to pursue their passion outside of sales—these people have found that working their job gave them the skillset to do what they really wanted to do
  • 55:00 – Chris’ approach has always been to be useful in and outside of his job description
    • 55:09 – He’s had a total of 4 different positions in Appfolio
  • 56:33 – Chris’ advice to SDRs
    • 56:50 – When you’re on a call, you have to focus on the reasons why they “should” opt-in
  • 58:52 – Connect with Chris on LinkedIn or send him a message at
  • 59:18  – End of podcast

Resources Mentioned: