The Sales Development Podcast

Episode 31: Gabe Larsen

Summary:

In this episode, David interviews Gabe Larsen, Vice President of Inside Sales Lab. Gabe talks about how Inside Sales Lab conducts research with an astronomically high number of data points and the many insights they can gather from their research. 

​He states the importance of A/B testing to gauge the effectiveness of various selling tools and explains the phenomenon of illusory superiority. Tune-in to find out why mixing outbound and inbound selling is a terrible idea and some other interesting studies Inside Sales has in its pipeline.

3 Key Points:
1. Use A/B testing to test the effectiveness of various selling tools.
2. There is a bias in what we believe we are doing and what we are actually doing—the philosophical term for this phenomenon is called illusional superiority.
3. Mixing outbound and inbound selling is NOT a good idea; study shows that developing one specialty enhances productivity.

​Time Stamped Show Notes:

  • 00:00 – Sales Development Conference is coming up on September 21st in downtown San Francisco
  • 01:08 – David introduces Gabe Larsen
  • 01:55 – Tracing Gabe’s journey so far
    • 01:55 – Spent a couple of years as an investment banker at Goldman Sachs, consulted with Accenture and then went for a consulting stint in the Middle East
    • 02:09 – Affinity for sales since his younger days; Gabe’s first job was with Sales Team Automation which is today known as Inside Sales Lab
    • 02:25 – Boomeranged back to Inside Sales Lab after fifteen years
    • 02:32 – Realized the importance of people, systems and processes. On the basis of this philosophy, started the Momentum Strategy team focused on sales strategy and process optimization
    • 02:55 – Got a chance to be on the road and study different sales playbooks and hence, shortlist best industry practices
    • 03:15 – Drawing from this, Gabe started Inside Sales Labs, the research arm of Inside Sales; Gabe divides his time between reading, writing, hitting the road and consulting with clients
  • 03:56 – Loves the balance of being with clients, thinking and writing
  • 05:19 – Using The Coffee Play, Gabe and another sales rep sat down and built a campaign in partnership with their SDR’s
  • 06:14 – Data provides Inside Sales with an edge over its competitors—within 10 years, Inside Sales has gathered more than 100 billion sales interactions
  • 06:44 – Contrary to perception, Inside Sales dabbles in research as well as sales development
    • 07:13 – The average Sales Development team tends to get frustrated if it does not have the research to back up their iterations
  • 08:25 – Need to instill the best practices of marketers by adopting a testing mindset if you want to reach a higher level in sales development
    • 08:37 – Analyzing effectiveness of first call sequence and different email subject lines will help clinch more sales
  • 10:00 – Use A/B Testing to up your contact rate and closing rate
    • 10:00 – Resort to A/B testing to test the effectiveness of different selling tools
    • 10:42 – Gabe, along with an SDR conducted A/B testing to test the effectiveness of emails against a handwritten note, also called a High Impact Mailer
    • 11:15 – Test your chosen means of communication—do not use a communication method blindly just because you are comfortable with it
    • 11:57 – Even mini tests can get you an extra percentage point in your contact rate, and potentially another opportunity to close
  • 12:44 – Give prominence to quality over quantity in sales development. Important to step back, analyze and “sharpen your axe” once in awhile
  • 13:42 – Access different training modules and research reports by InsideSales. Gabe particularly recommendsCadence Audit 2017: What 145 Thousand Activities Tell Us About Sales Reps Behavior
    • 14:28 – Studied 15,000 cadences from 8,742 companies
    • 14:40 – Cadence is a sequence of activities to increase contact and qualification
    • 15:21 – Research results can be used as a benchmark to determine your outreach strategy
  • 16:09 – Studied 10 million sales opportunities as a part of a pipeline management study
    • 16:53 – An interesting aspect of this study was to determine if people actually did what they said they did in the survey
    • 17:30 – Gabe recommends The State of Sales Development Survey by Topo. According to this study the average number of touches on an inbound lead is 15.5
    • 17:50 – Analyzing these 10 million responses revealed that the actual number of touches is 4.05—there is a bias in what we believe to be true and what we actually do
    • 19:20 – Study further revealed that the optimal number of touches is between 10 and 15
    • 20:02 – Illusionary superiority is an actual psychological bias
  • 21:08 – Merging inbound and outbound sales is a bad idea
  • 21:42 – Studying 17 million outbound cadences
  • 22:30 – Build these five elements to optimize your cadence:
    • 1. Attempts: which is the overall number of touches
    • 2. Media is the communication method that was utilized
    • 3. Duration between the first touch and the last touch
    • 4. Spacing is the time between each activity
    • 5. Content is the messaging that you utilize in your emails, social media. Content is the most powerful component of the overall cadence
  • 23:07 – Cadences are completely different for outbound and inbound; therefore, you are better off specializing either in inbound sales or outbound sales
  • 24:31 – Law of specialization says that you are going to go the least common denominator where there is the least amount of effort or pushback
    • 25:18 – Coming out with a study involving 1500 companies to back this up
    • 25:33 – Specialized inbound sales development teams leads to a sharp productivity increase
  • 26:00 – Use of AI in inbound selling
    • 26:34 – Inside sales has started to take on field sales responsibilities, as a result e-commerce is starting to take on inside sale responsibilities
    • 26:44 – Gabe’s hunch is that AI is the right tool for inbound selling
    • 27:12 – Companies using automated phone responses for outbound selling have experienced moderate success
    • 27:35 – Finding the balance between personalization and automation is KEY
  • 30:45 – Future research
    • 30:45 – Will be coming out with various benchmarks computed from a study of the market of remote sales across Europe and the United States
    • 31:19 – Study on state of sales development in partnership with Dave—this study will cover technology and best practices
    • 32:00 – Studying outbound cadences, effectiveness of phones and emails
    • 32:38 – Planning on coming out with an Account Based Sales Play which will be along the lines of The Coffee Play, The Lunch Play is another fun thing that the InsideSales team is working on

 
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