Podcast | Darren Reid from Interactive: Why Your SDR Team Should Report to Marketing

| | Time to Read: 31 minutes

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Episode topic: When Should Your SDR Team Report to Marketing

In this episode, host Shahin Hoda chats with Darren Reid, Director of Marketing and Alliances at Interactive, about how organisations should manage the SDR role and when it should fall under the marketing team. 

Darren also talks about how and why Interactive has MDRs (Marketing development representatives) and not SDRs, during the conversation. He shares the origination of the MDR role at Interactive and how MDRs are groomed for their expected results.

Darren concludes by sharing some of the mistakes organisations make while setting up an outbound-inbound MDR/SDR team and advises B2B marketers to go with their gut to test new ideas quickly. 

This episode’s guest

Why Should SDR Teams Report to Marketing

Darren Reid, Director of Marketing and Alliances at Interactive

Darren has over 25 years of experience in leading organisations in the Information Technology industry. He has helped build and grow several organisations in a wide variety of countries. 

Darren is currently Director of Marketing & Alliances at Interactive Pty Ltd, one of Australia’s largest IT services companies. Listed in AFR’s Top 350 Privately Owned Companies, Interactive is a business with revenues approaching $250m and a footprint of 40,000 client sites across 2,700 companies in Australia and New Zealand. 

In August 2020, Interactive was awarded Australia’s Best Place to Work for its culture, inclusion and dedication to employee experience. 

Before joining Interactive, Darren led the APJ partner and alliance channel for CA Technologies, a global software company. Darren had previously run the CA Technologies’ Professional Services organisation, where he was accountable for all service delivery outside of North America. 

Darren’s past appointments have included a variety of increasingly senior roles at IBM, Lotus and Software Publishing Corporation, including sales, presales, support and professional services. Darren lives in Melbourne with his wife and two children.

Conversation segments on this episode:

  • [01:21] Definition of SDR from Darren’s point of view
  • [01:44] If they are about sales order taking - then put SDRs in the sales department 
  • [01:55] Marketing development - engage an audience before an event, qualify a lead for the sales cycle. 
  • [02:27] Using MDRs in the pre-sales funnel. 
  • [03:41] Inbound and outbound activities at interactive
  • [05:41] Benefits from the MDR role
  • [09:48] Origination of the MDR role
  • [12:09] Preparing the MDRs for their role at Interactive
  • [21:02] No-one wants to be the first, but everyone wants to be the second
  • [22:20] MDR’s job is to tell the story of the company in a way that is validated when the prospective client comes onsite
  • [25:03] Don’t spend too much money on outsourced, outbound telesales.
  • [28:54] Best practices for MDRs using Marketo as an example
  • [31:33] First thing to understand is the compatibility between the supplier and prospective client
  • [34:47]  Advice for B2B Marketers - go with your gut
  • [36:24] Exciting thing about B2B space - the market is more sophisticated than ever
  •  

Resources mentioned on this episode:

About the Growth Colony Podcast

On this podcast, you'll be hearing from B2B founders, CMOs, marketing & sales leaders about their successes, failures, what is working for them today in the B2B marketing world and everything in between.

Produced by Shahin Hoda & Alexander Hipwell, from xGrowth

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Episode Full Transcript:

[00:00] Shahin Hoda  Hello, everyone, welcome to another episode. I'm Shahin Hoda with xGrowth. And today I'm talking to Darren Reid, most recently, Director of Marketing and Alliances at Interactive about the relationship between marketing and sales development teams and why in his past experience with Interactive, he had the SDR team report into the marketing department. On that note, let's dive in. Darren, thanks a lot for joining us.

[00:24] Darren Reid  Absolute pleasure to be here. Thanks for having me. 

[00:26] Shahin Hoda  No, I'm really excited to have a chat about this. This is a quite a debated topic and where SDRs on their sales are on the marketing. And I really love to explore this with you and dig a little bit deeper. So you know, I think first of all, it would be good to define, what do you think? How do you approach SDR? And what is the definition of SDR or inside sales team? That role, what is that definition for you?

[00:57] Darren Reid  I think that's a really good point, actually. And I think that's where, depending on how you define it, that's where you decide where it reports to as well, which is the sort of topic we're talking about, right? So if the goal of the inside sales function is to actually be a sales function, and take orders and interact with customers and help sell through the selling process, then having them report to sales probably makes sense. Where we had them sitting in marketing and Interactive was because they're doing more marketing development, right? 

[01:23] Darren Reid  So they would be helping us qualify further before we handed on leads to a sales rep. They'd help us, you know, engage an audience before an event or post an event. They'd be working with us around things like, hey, we saw you downloaded this particular piece of content, can I help you with more information? Is there more things I can give you as part of your decision cycle, so that when you are ready to buy, Interactive is the top of your mind. And so we were really using them in that sort of pre-sales funnel, if you like. 

[01:51] Darren Reid  So sort of at the bottom end of the marketing funnel, but before they hit the sales funnel, and really running a bridge between those two points. And I think if that's the plan, if that's how you're going to run your SDRs, or inside sales, or whatever you want to call them, we call the marketing development reps. But you know, MDR, SDR doesn't really matter. If that's the goal of them, if that's what you're trying to get them to do, then that's the right place for them. 

[02:15] Darren Reid  If you really are about sales, if they are about order taking, if they are about, you know, just processing, all your transactions are relatively straightforward. And putting him in a sales organisation is probably okay, as well. Now but for us, it was very much out, the Interactive offering is a fair bit more complex, it usually requires quite a number of decision-makers in the process, it's not a simple bite off the shelf, there it is, we'll take that with us type offering. And so having someone just to help you sort of roll through the process, so to speak, just to help steer you or give you some more guidance, or whatever it was, was a really important, very powerful approach.

[02:51] Shahin Hoda   Got it. Got it. And, you know, another topic that is debated is inbound versus outbound. They definitely, from what you just talked about, definitely sounded like there were some inbound activity that the SDRs were involved, like, somebody download an ebook or attended a webinar was there was there an outbound component as well to what even team have done,

[03:13] Darren Reid  It would have, it would be that way shortly. So the SDR or your marketing development function is relatively new and interactive, we've probably only had it in for probably about six or seven months, we had a backlog of inbound activity that we needed them to work through, which is probably just about finished now. And so yes, that the activity would be there now to move to an outbound basis, you know, we've, you know, we're calling up, you know, lists that we've bought, or, you know, people who are in related industries and things like that to try and, you know, get them in front of sales or get them in front of our audience, you know, our events and things like that. 

[03:46] Darren Reid  So, initially, it was to clear up the backlog of inbound activity that probably wasn't quite ready for sales, it just wasn't mature enough for, you know, it's been truly an inexpensive salesperson to go and spend time on, you want to make sure that they're spending time on leads that are closable, winnable, have a you know, a net genuine contribution to offer the company, the marketing development reps tend to be less expensive, they tend to be a little bit more junior in their experience, not necessarily Junior in their maturity, but certainly genuine experience. And so you pay a little less and through that, then you can put them on things that perhaps might have a longer payoff period or or you know, maybe not pay off at all, but you know, get them on those things that are perhaps less appropriate for 20 of sales rep.

[04:28] Shahin Hoda  Got it. Yeah, I understand expensive sales rep or an AV who's you know, on 100-150 $200,000 a year. Yeah, you definitely don't want him to be chasing up people who 90% of them might say, yeah, I'm not interested. That's a sure way to losing a lot of cash. Now, what were I'd love to explore so it's clear from your explanation that that qualification was a big component of hey, are these the right people for us to go out and to talk to and should we pass these to a more senior person? What were some of the benefits that you start seeing when you introduce this team into the organisation?

[05:11] Darren Reid  Well, I think that initially, there was no benefit. And I don't think and I think there was some real resistance actually, right? So it was quite interesting, you know, the sales reps used to broadly every lead that comes in going to them, and then them doing the qualification and deciding if it's worthy of their time. By putting this team into the process, what we were doing was saying, any lead that actually makes it through this cycle is worthy of your time. So we're taking that not qualification away, but we're taking that decision away from the rep. And the rep certainly weren't happy with that at the start. 

[05:41] Darren Reid  Now, as we sort of got into it, and they started seeing the benefit that they weren't wasting their time on, as you were saying low opportunity, low prospect, low, you know, opportunity of close, they were seeing that they were spending more time on winnable deals that had legitimate opportunity for them, that they could go after and actually was worthy of their time. And what ended up happening was, you know, everyone has an ego, right? And salespeople tend to have a slightly bigger ego than most because they have to, right? Because that's the way they survive their jobs. I certainly don't begrudge them for it. 

[06:10] Darren Reid  But what we ended up doing was we ended up actually helping inflate the ego a little bit and saying, you know, look, the leads that we're giving you, you know, we've done the work on marketing has put the hard yards in, we've got you the people who are going to make the decision who have, you know, as best as we can tell, have a budget approval or authority around, you know, approving the deal, that they have a requirement that we can make, so we're not giving you something that we can't do. And you know, as far as we can tell, they've also got a timeline, they may not have shared that exactly, but they're in the buying process. 

[06:41] Darren Reid  And we feel that they're at the right point where they should be talking to a rep. And often what you find is, the customer will self select, even at that point, they'll say, you know, we'll go through the motions and say, look, you know, here's all the information, blah, blah, blah, we'll follow you up again, a couple of weeks. Great. Follow me up for a couple of weeks. So we do that. When we get there. We say okay, so you've got all the information, yes. But all the information, have you, you feel like you're ready to talk to a sales rep, now you're ready to actually start constructing a conversation around a transaction? And if they say yes, well, then you're then they're almost saying to you, yes, I'm ready to buy. 

[07:13] Darren Reid  I'm actually at that point where an acquisition is perfect for me and I am exactly there. Or they might then say, no, actually, I need more information. Well, that's a perfect opportunity for our marketing development rep and say, great, what else can I help you with? We've got an event coming up on this topic, you know, I can get you in touch with some of our customers to talk about their experiences so you can do reference checks. So we can actually almost craft that that sales process, if you like, right up to the point where the rep then is doing the hard negotiation that the bits that are difficult around, you know, product configuration, or solution design and configuration, or you know, pricing or, you know. 

[07:49] Darren Reid  All of the terms and conditions that go with that, that, uh, you know, little worthy of a sophisticated reps time, versus just someone who's You know, I'm doing a university assignment on data centers, for example, right. I mean, you know, the number of, I'm sure our reps have spent hours with people like that, right? And to know the benefits to the company. And you know, at the same time, because they're spending time there, where it's time that they don't have to spend somewhere else. 

[08:13] Darren Reid  So this way, marketing, okay, marketing is taking the brand to your point, you know, probably 90% of the people that our marketing development rep talk to aren't ever going to be opportunities, or at least not in the foreseeable future. So there's a lot of, you're burning through a lot of activity for not a lot of results there. But when you do get one, or two, or three, or four, or 10, or 20, that go through to a rep that become opportunities that become sales, you can see the path that they went down. And so every time you do that, you're refining your process even further, so that your marketing development rep becomes more efficient as well, as well as in driving more efficiency in your sales organisation.

[08:52] Shahin Hoda  Interesting. And Darren, when you were introducing or when the organisation was introducing this, this MDR role, was there a debate whether it would go under sales or marketing? Was there, you know, sales would be like, no, that's that should be in our court. What was it, give us a picture, can you paint this picture of what was happening there?

[09:12] Darren Reid  So the initial design for the role actually came out of sales. So the initial plan was, we need these inside sales roles, because that's exactly how they described, we need these inside sales roles, to do all the stuff that the reps don't want to do. And it's like, it sounds like a great job description for someone. Not at all right? Like, I mean, just you know, what job is it? It's a job that no one else wants to do. So congratulations. It's nothing, there's no way that's the right way to approach a role ever, right? But that's essentially how the sales organisation came at it. And, you know, we went the other way and said, well, look, rather than doing the things that you guys don't want to do, how can we take those things away altogether, right? 

[09:54] Darren Reid  So the things you don't want to do are chase people down with Gmail addresses and mobile phone numbers and that's all what they have given us. Now the things you don't want to do are, you know, chase down companies who are clearly not in the firmographic of the organisations that we go and sell to. You don't want to be chasing down an industry that's never bought our product before, because the likelihood of success is low. You know, you don't want to be chasing down an organisation where we already know that the incumbent, you know, is a competitor, and they're likely to be there for the next five years and trying to unseat them is impossible, right? 

[10:24] Darren Reid  So there was a whole bunch of activity that we sort of mapped out. That said, if we could take all that away, and give you confidence that none of those things are true, right? So that we've, you know, we've done the firmographic, and they fit our profile. We know that they're in the market for the services that we offer, and we can offer a service that they need. You know, they're not coming to try and buy a widget that we don't sell, for instance. If we could take all that stuff away, Isn't that better for you, you know?

[10:49] Shahin Hoda  Big tick there.

[10:50] Darren Reid  And then is it not more logical then, that you as a sales leader, focus on leading the highest value deals that we can find, you know, use your best reps to go and chase the best deals that will drive the best results for the company. And for the most part, the sales organisation went, yeah, that sounds like exactly what we want to do, because everyone wants to be an elephant hunter, right? And so what we said was, look, why, you know, given you've got the funding for this, why don't you fund it for the first six months, but we'll put it in marketing as a functional area of marketing, so you're paying for it. So ultimately, you have the say of what this does, but let's use it for goodness, rather than just as an order taker for sales. 

[11:31] Darren Reid  And again, the Interactive business is not an order taking business. That's not the way our offerings work, right. So they're, you know, they're data centres, they're business continuity, they're cloud solutions, they're, you know, infrastructure service solutions, they're complex enough that you don't walk down a supermarket and go, I'll have that box of hardware maintenance, I'll have that box of data centre. It doesn't, that's not a logical thing to do, you know, everyone comes with, I have a fully bespoke requirement that is unusual or different, or, you know, I've got legislative requirements that I need to meet or whatever it might be. So you don't just stand, in the old days, we used to stand by the fax machine on June 30. Like, you know, and, and take all the orders off the fax, you know, you don't do that in this business anymore. 

[12:13] Darren Reid  I mean, I don't think there's any business to do that at all anymore. But in this business, particularly, you need to engage with the client over a potentially extended period of time to really craft out what it is they're trying to do. And an inside sales rep in the traditional sense, isn't going to be able to do that, right? This is not a, you know, I'm out there selling a laptop, or a phone, right? Where there's a, you know, a fixed set of parameters around which this thing works. And it comes in different configurations. Sure, you can have it in four different colors, sure. But fundamentally, it's the same, you're offering. 

[12:44] Darren Reid  This thing comes in a myriad of colors, and it comes in every possible combination of factors. And there's 60 things to think about. And when you putting an order in, there's 45 things on the order sheet, you know, so that requires someone who is, you know, firstly, very experienced, so, you know, the sales people that we have the BDMs, and the AEs that we have are legendary in their experience. Some of them have been in businesses that they work in for 15 or 20 years. So they really know it extraordinarily well. You know, it's not difficult to teach, but it's difficult to generate that experience in a short period of time. So that's a challenge. 

[13:18] Darren Reid  And then, you know, if you can serve up customers who, as I said, are already, you know, proven to have budget or are talking about having access to budget, have some sort of timeline and understanding what they're trying to offer, you know, are in a position of authority in terms of making more part of the decision process, then, two thirds of the reps work is already done in terms of that qualification thing. So now we can let them loose on the things that they do really the best, right? Which is solutioning and, you know, building up pricing and developing, you know, terms of contract terms, and condition contracts, and all those things that need to be finessed and handled, you know, with someone with experience. 

[13:55] Darren Reid  And that's how, in the end that, you know, I think sales would still like to have an inside sales function, I think they'd like that idea just for purposes of you know, everyone wants an empire, right. So, you know, the more people reporting to me, the more important I am, that's generally how it works in a lot of organisations. So, I think there's still a feeling about that, but I do think that we recognised pretty early on that, having that function sitting in marketing. Firstly, they got far more attention. You know, marketing is a far smaller function than sales. And also, you know, I think if you have a quarter of, you know, $1,000 versus a quarter of a million dollars, you know, you're gonna give the million dollar quota, the attention versus $1,000 quality attention. 

[14:32] Darren Reid  So, you know, I think, I think that's the risk unless you have an inside sales function that is of size or of scale, or has a very clear activity set that he's, you know, almost exclusive to us, then it's very hard for them to fit into the sales organisation, you know, in a real way. Now, I mean, we were very lucky all of our senior VPs were mentoring and coaching and they took our inside sales team or marketing development team out on actual conversation with customers. So they got a feel for how things happened. post their involvement, and that made them smarter and better and more efficient. And they continue to do amazing things today. So I think what we did, we proved out that heavy marketing for Interactive particularly was the right place for it.

[15:15] Shahin Hoda  I love I love especially where you ended where the sales team kind of took the NDR team out and really showed them the ropes. Because I think one of the areas that a lot of people have challenges with with the SDR role is exactly what you said, where, hey, you know, this is not an interaction or transaction that you only have to pick the color. There is just a variety of things that you have to take into consideration. And often what happens is when organisations introduce the SDR, MDR, instant sales, whatever you want to call it in an organisation, and they kind of get on the phones, or they start interacting with customers, all of a sudden, the first thing that happens like, what did you just say? What number, that's not how you talk to them or that's not how you say or that's not what you should present? Did you have any challenges similar to that introducing the SDR team into the organisation,

[16:11] Darren Reid  I think that is the same as if you bring in a brand new rep, right? So I think anybody new into the organisation doesn't really matter. And one of the things that you either have in particular does is we sell a lot physically. So we have people, we invite customers onto site to see what it is we do actually physically. And you know, there's some people, particularly in the Melbourne branch who are famous for their tours, famous, like they are just brilliant at it. And if you can ever get on one of their tours, you want to because they are amazing at it, just incredibly talented. And so we get the SDRs or the MDRs to go and do those tours. So they got the sense of, you know, the stories behind the story, you know. 

[16:53] Darren Reid  So one of the things that that people don't think about, you know, for example is okay, so you know, we were on Zoom today, and that's fantastic. That's using a data centre somewhere, probably in the US but somewhere. That data centre is generating a prodigious amount of CO2, you know. It's sucking in an enormous amount of energy. Where's the energy coming from? How green are their credentials? What are they doing to offset carbon? You know, all of these sorts of conversations? Can you put them on your website? Of course you can, but they don't mean anything until someone physically sees it. So when they come down and have a look and go, oh, wow, a solar array? 

[17:23] Darren Reid  Yeah, that solar array can power the entire, you know, town that we're based in. Holy crap, right? Okay. Wow. You know, so those stories start to have a real effect. And I think, if, you know, we certainly had our MDRs go and do those tours multiple times with different people. So they picked up all of the different stories. But you also tend to tell the story about the customer who had this issue or the, you know, the way we solve that problem, or we had this experience, or above and beyond for an engineer. And so those, you know, those stories become part of the fabric of the company. But they become part of the fabric of the relationship that you have with you with these new customers.

[18:00] Darren Reid  So the MDR is having those experiences and hearing those things, they started to parrot some of the phrases, which was perfect, exactly what we're trying to do. Invariably, someone says something stupid. But hey, I say stupid things all the time, right? And I'm old. And you know, so, you know, invariably, someone's gonna say the wrong thing, or just you just go in not quite what you what I would have wanted you to say that. And so we were always very careful not to script people, because it comes off robotic. And you know, you probably get telemarketing calls. I know, I get telemarketing calls. And you can tell that someone's just reading a screen, right? They just, you know, because whatever you say, it's saying the next thing, it doesn't matter, whatever it comes in the order after, right? 

[18:41] Shahin Hoda   Yeah, that's right.

[18:42] Darren Reid  And you know, when you're in B2B particularly, but when you're in, you know, really, you know, quite expensive transactions. That's the worst possible scenario where the customer just feels like they're, from the moment they get on the phone, they just been sold. Whereas what we were trying to do was get the SDR to think about, well, who are you calling? You know, what industry? Are they in? Who else do we know, that our customers that we had experience with that are in that industry, and one of the things we know about that industry that might be of interest to them? So, you know, we'd often start out conversations by hey, look, we noticed you download this white paper, you know, you're in banking and finance, and you're looking at disaster recovery as an example. 

[19:17] Darren Reid  You know, we have a number of customers like you who are doing exactly the same thing. You know, let me just give you some ideas of the sorts of things we're doing for customers who are like you, and that's sort of, you know, relies on, you know, one of the things that one of the people I know, we're going to talk about this a minute, but one of the people I really like reading Seth Godin, I think he's just quite a direct and interesting guy. I don't think he's, you know, he's only the God that a lot of people make him out to be. But I just, I like his style, i like his approach and one of the things he says is, the purity of marketing is people like our students. That's all. That's all you're trying to do.

[19:47] Darren Reid  You're trying to say, now, we're like you, and people like us, we do this thing, right? Which of course, in an Interactive land, it's like, you know, customers like us, like people like us are buying disaster recovery or people like us are buying cloud or people like us or are buying whatever it might be. And so we tried to build the MDR conversation around that same idea. So now we can see that you're this, and this, does that sound about right? Yeah, yeah, that's right. And then you've got these sorts of parameters in your business. Yeah, yep. That's right, too. Great. Well, we have about 10 other customers that look exactly like you who are already doing the thing that you're doing, right? 

[20:21] Darren Reid  Because one of the things that we found, and I think this is probably true of everybody, no one wants to be Robinson Crusoe. You know, no one wants to be the first, but everybody wants to be the second. And so if you can sort of give people that sense of, you're not going to be first, it's okay. There are already people like you here and they've already done it. And they're already loving it. And he's their story. They're not only equipping that person to go and have that conversation internally and say, hey, look, hey, guess what, you know, this was this was, this was, this person are already doing these things they're already doing with Interactive. I think these guys are pretty good. You can then say to them, why don't you bring you know, those that bind the group out and see us. 

[20:58] Darren Reid  Come and see what we do come and see it physically come and do a tour. Come and think about how you would fit in here. And, you know, one of the great things about doing that is you show off your culture, right? You get to show off to people, this is the sort of company we are not just the sort of things we sell. And as a result, what you end up with is this beautiful energy exchange happening. And if it happens correctly, then the customer goes, oh, yeah, you know, this feels really counsel. This is exactly the sort of premise environment I could be in here. This is the sort of in In fact, almost, this is the sort of place I could work. And if you can get them to that point, they've bought you, right? And you've done the job. So the MDR is responsible to bring it back to the point I'm sorry, carry on a little bit. But you know,

[21:42] Shahin Hoda  Good stuff. 

[21:43] Darren Reid  The MDRs job then, is to impart that cultural experience that energy exchange early, but tell the story in such a way that when the customer does finally come onto site, which can take some time. We validate everything that's been said. So it's not, oh no, I was expecting that or that's different. Well, that's not what, oh no, hang on a minute. There's no what I call a clunk. No, there's no dissonance there, right? What it is, is total validation. Everything that the MDR represent you, everything that you've experienced, on our website, everything you've experienced, and our white papers, all the things that we've talked about, are here, and they're manifest, they're live and real in in real time. 

[22:21] Darren Reid  And so, you know, the finance people you meet, are an embodiment of all the things we've already told you and the engineers that you made are an embodiment of all these-. And our barista, when you take a coffee from them, is all the things that we've ever told you and that becomes so manifest for the individual, or the people that customers are on site learning about, that it's almost impossible for them to back away. Because, you know, they've now LinkedIn so far, that they they almost, it's like a you know, it's like an attractive beam, right? I mean, to be an IT nerd, right. But you suck them in. And that's exactly the whole point. That's the whole game.

[22:57] Shahin Hoda  I love it. I it's sad. I feel like, you know, I feel like if I buy a, I don't know, a cloud security solution from one of the salesperson interactive, and then walk around interactive, you know, all of a sudden, in the middle of that I might buy a disaster recovery plan from the barista I had the, it's like the culture is so strong, like grabbing a cup of coffee, I'm like, oh, yeah, I was like one of those that sounds great. I think the level of maturity that you're talking about is fascinating. 

[23:27] Shahin Hoda  I think a lot of organisations that look at the sales development role or the market development role, look at it from a perspective of, we need somebody to be making calls, and somebody to get in touch with people. And I feel like you've kind of taken it to that next level, where, like, you're infusing the culture in it, and it's hard. That's not an easy task to do, of incorporating culture in not only your SDR, but all the other elements. And a lot of that's the holy grail. That's what a lot of organisations aim for. On that note, if you are going back and you want to reintroduce the MDR team, the marketing development reps into the organisation, is there anything that you would do differently?

[24:18] Darren Reid  I think there's any number of things we do differently. I think, you know, once you've done one thing once you always look back and go, are there all these things I do differently? I think the couple of key things we do differently are, you know, we spent a lot of money on outsourced telesales early on. And I think that's probably where you were sort of hitting a minute ago where, you know, companies have problems ingrained in the culture because a lot of what they do as you say is they go and ask people to dial for dollars. Now just dial and dial and dial and dial and dial. I don't know about you, but how many times do you answer the phone when it says private number? Probably never at all, right? 

[24:51] Darren Reid  If it's a number you don't recognise or you're not sure about probably not at all. And so those reps are trained not to leave voicemails and all that sort of stuff because what's the point right? You just might, you're trying to just get someone on the phone at that moment and when you get them, you're trying to hang on to them for dear life. I think customers in particular, but I think as consumers, we're past that stage. None of us love to hear that stuff, right? And so companies have gone further now, no, use Robocallers, and they use recorded messages. And if you hang on the phone long enough, they'll put you through to someone and, you know, but you hate that. I hate that. And as soon as you hear that connection time, while you're waiting for someone to come along, you go haha, gotcha hang up, you know.

[25:28] Darren Reid  And so, so that, that history of, you know, random people calling you at random times that are generally inappropriate, and generally just not suited to your day or whatever, you're not going to take the time to talk to them. Using where were we instead of the MDR was always that you'd already expressed an interest. You'd already shown and demonstrated behaviors that said to us, you know. You're in the market, or potentially in the market, or you're researching the market, or we've got something that's of interest to you. So there's already, you've already offered that up in a way, right? 

[25:58] Darren Reid  So and so I think what I would say to you, the different things I would do differently is I would never have spent anywhere near the amount of money I spent on outbound telesales, using remote organisations. Partly because of the culture thing. And you know, you can find people who are sort of aligned to you and have a similar story to you, and they can come out and see your premises and whatever. But they don't live it. They're not there every day. You don't have the rep sitting beside them all day, every day. You hear their conversations, them hearing yours. 

[26:24] Darren Reid  And each of you improving the other, just by you know, hey, what are you saying there? That was really interesting. Can you tell me more about that? Or? No? Oh, I really liked what you said there. What was the, you know, how did the customer respond? That, you know that that just becomes a natural byproduct of sitting together. But if you've got a telesales, outbound telesales function, they are by definition, really noisy. So you don't sit them in the middle of the bullpen, you don't sit them in the middle of a floor with finance people and other things, you tend to put them in another building or another part of the building or another floor or in a closed room or whatever.

[26:56] Shahin Hoda  And so out there in the yard. Sit out there.

[27:03] Darren Reid  There's an underground carpark, we've had it for years. But that's the challenge, right? Because they are noisy, because people on the phone all day, naturally get a bit louder and a bit sort of more boisterous. And they you know, and so what ends up happening is they create their own culture, rather than necessarily your culture. And so, you know, I would certainly say, you know, we learn a lot by spending money on telesales externally, we learned a stack from, you know, from list acquisition to how to qualify before the, you know, the tele sales, people are calling the customers or potential prospects know, what the handoff looked like, between them and us, you know, the information that we needed at our end to make sure that our reps, we're confident that there was actually something to go on pursue here. Now, we learned an absolute stack. 

[27:47] Darren Reid  And so from that point of view, the spend was worthwhile in the sense that that enabled us to set our MDR's up for real success. I would say, you know, it took us a while to find the right MDR's too. You know, there were a lot of people who came like, no, I am a telesales person, I know exactly what I'm doing. I punch in 1000 calls a month, or whatever it was, like, yeah, not so much, not what I'm looking for at all, I'm actually looking for someone who can. You know, on their feet craft a conversation to help, you know, it's, it's always more customer said customer service. I mean, the company that I've ever seen do it the best is Marketo actually. We were Marketo customers. 

[28:20] Darren Reid  But I'm not trying to use that as an ad for them. But they insert the MDR really nicely. So they, you go to their website, do a couple of things. The first thing they do is ask you a bunch of questions about your company and things like that. And you actually give freely because you want to try and get to the software. And that immediately tells them that you're in a demographic or you're not, right. So the right level of seniority makes a decision, the company's right size and shape. Well, that's it. So they go right, we're immediately going to divert you, you're either in, in which case, we're going to put you down a sales route path, or you're not really in our frame of reference at the moment. 

[28:51] Darren Reid  So we're gonna put you off to an online demo and some other things, you can have a play over there and just, you know, go and sort yourself out. If you go into the sales function, they take you through a couple of steps, and then an MDR jumps on the phone, and starts taking you through a personal demo of the product. And so this MDR is almost a pre-sales person, right? Like in the way we would think about a traditionally. But they're tailoring the experience now for you. And so when you get through that the next step then is to go to an event or rep or that or whatever. But you've already had this personal, your handcrafted concierge-gish type service. And so you're already feeling fantastic. 

[29:31] Darren Reid  They already know more about you that you would ever let onto a sales rep in the first conversation. Because you know, how do you tell her experience her and software if you're not tell me about your business? Well, he's what I know well, right. And if you want to, do you want to do this? Yeah, I want to do that. I want to think about that. Oh, yeah, I want to think about it. So the whole experience becomes, you know, like a bespoke suit. You know, I'm here, custom tailoring missing, like custom tailoring anything over a set of standard scenarios that they run, right but for you as the customer, you feel like, it is a personalised experience. 

[30:02] Darren Reid  And so we tried to not quite go that far, because you know, they're way better at this than anything that I've ever seen. But we tried to go down that path as well. So our MDR today really has to be a more personable interaction in those initial phases where you're, so in that research stage, you're trying to figure out whether we're right for you and you're right for us. They're there to be really quite personable, and share with you our culture. So that you get that sense of, yeah, actually, these guys could be right for us. These guys, you know, do fit the bill, are the sort of organisation I want to work with. 

[30:31] Darren Reid  Because you and I know like, there's nothing worse than working with people you don't like, right? And you know, and if they have vendors, or if their suppliers, right, you've got the opportunity to say, you know what, I don't like you anymore, I'm going to go on and go to another supplier. So the risk for us as the supplier is that you'd do that, that one day, you go, yeah, I don't like you anymore, for whatever reason, right? For a myriad of reasons. But, you know, our job is to try and prevent that from happening. But more importantly, our job is to try and sit and settle that upfront. 

[30:56] Darren Reid  So before we go through the process of putting an expensive salesperson, you put all your time and effort into a tender, or whatever it might be. You know, let's find out upfront if we're compatible. And then we can worry about how the actual relationship works and what the mechanics are, and you know, who's going to do what and for whom, and how often and you know, all of those sort of relationship, things that you need, but the first thing you got to know is, you know, do I like you? You sort of company that I want to do business with, though? 

[31:20] Darren Reid  Am I happy with you holding my most important data? Or as you said, you know, looking after my cyber security, or, you know, if I gave you my cloud services, what are you gonna do with them? Like, are you someone I can trust? Give me the sense of a place that I feel is important? Am I someone who matters? Or am I just to know that, you know, there was an old joke, I know, the NRMA in Sydney, which is the RACV here in Melbourne, but they had a really funny ad one time they ran an ad that said, you remember not a number. Great ad, great purpose, great sense of place, you know, you're a member you are important. Of course, when you rang them up, the first thing they said was, what's your member number, right?

[32:01] Darren Reid  And so the whole thing was just completely dissonant to the ad, you know. And so, we always tried really carefully, to make sure that, you know, we use you know, we tend not to use stock imagery, we use imagery about people. So, the first thing is, you know, you see an interactive ad, the chances are, you can go and meet that person, right? Because that person works in the place that they work, right. You know, we have our engineers on our ads, we have our cybersecurity team on our ads, we have all sorts of different people from execs all the way down to our baristas in our ads. 

[32:27] Darren Reid  They're all over the website or the photos of the website or of our people. You know, so any of those people on any given day, you could turn up at one of the offices and say I want to meet Eric the engineer and we go well he's based in Sydney 10 of our Sydney office and we'll make sure to meet you know, I want to make 10 you the barista at no problem will tell you the barista is here. Come on Come and meet or you want to meet Yannick the bursary. Melbourne, she'll come and meet him. He's right here. He's a real person. Yes. Yeah. It's not a stock image. It's not a fake. It's not a model. It's not based on real people come and meet I'm sure. You know, and I think the MDR is part of that process. Got it.

[33:00] Shahin Hoda  I want to make these interactive verses man, they sound like a gun. Like they sound, they sound great. But no, that's a really good point. And I again, really like the emphasis that you put on infusing the brand in the SCR team, and then the MDR teams. I think a lot of people give it lip service, and not go that extra mile because it's really hard. Now, before we wrap up, I have a couple of questions, a couple of rapid questions that I want to go through. And I want to ask you that, that it would be great. So the first question is, what is one resource, it could be a book, a blog, podcast, a talk, whatever it is, that fundamentally has changed the way you work or live?

[33:44] Darren Reid  I think there's a book called Crucial Conversations that I read when I was very, very new to management. And it definitely changed the way I was approaching every conversation, actually, to be honest, but very worthwhile, easy to read. The other one is Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni. I think a lot of people have read that. But I always go back to that because it reminds me of when you're hiring people, you've got to hire the right people.

[34:07] Shahin Hoda  I love it. Okay, question number two, if you could, if you could only give one advice to b2b marketers. What would it be? 

[34:15] Darren Reid  You know what you got. So honestly, you know, everyone will tell you that there's data for this and data for that. And we've got data for everything, right? And one of the challenges with all that data is no insights. So my view on that is, if you believe something, don't test it, don't try it. If you think that's true, don't prove it, or prove it not. But don't sit there and vacillate and try and find data that validates your position or doesn't because you'll just find just as much data that invalidates your position. The only way to test it for your market, for your customer base, for your company, is to go and try it.

[34:46] Shahin Hoda  Question number three, what are some of the influences that you follow in the kind of B2B marketing and sales space?

[34:54] Darren Reid  Well, I mentioned a couple obviously Seth Godin, Mark Ritson and all those sorts of guys. Everyone follows those guys, but I really love what Emma Roborgh in her time doing with the B2B Marketers Forum. So I was lucky enough to attend their Sydney event, their Melbourne events coming up I think a little later in the year, but they do webinars all through the year. They bring out some amazing talent in the marketing space, and particularly B2B marketing space for all sorts of different topics. I've got an ABM one coming up now, but lots of different things.

[35:19] Darren Reid  I did one on segmentation a little while ago, not that you want to listen to that one. But, you know, there's lots of much, much smarter people than me doing some really amazing things at all different scales, right? So they'll often get a couple of enterprise marketers along, they'll get a bunch of small medium enterprise marketers along as well. And the challenges are the same. Obviously, the budgets are different. And the way you approach the solutions are different. But it's really interesting to hear how different people are responding to those challenges. And I'd recommend that for sure.

[35:46] Shahin Hoda  Got it. Last question. What's something that excites you about B2B today?

[35:51] Darren Reid  I think the market is ever more sophisticated. And I think the marketing response is ever more sophisticated. And I think, you know, you don't need more brains, you just need to be more willing. And I think that's the thing. I think the opportunities are out there for everybody. I think you just got to be willing to go and have a go at it. And I think if you're willing to have a crack, you know, the chances are, you'll be very successful. Because, you know, people are looking for cut-through marketing, you know what I mean? I used to say to my marketing team, ranking all the time. 

[36:20] Darren Reid  The only measure of our success is did we do good marketing? Because if we didn't do good marketing, what the hell are we doing here, right? And it's good marketing from everything, is it? Do we represent the brand right? Do we bring through good creativity? Do we do the right data segmentation analysis? Do we give a good customer experience? Now do we take them through the buyer's journey? All of those things? Sure. All of those are critically important. But ultimately, at the end of the day, can you sit back and look and go at the time, given all the things that I knew that was the best thing I could have done? Because you don't want to look back and go oh my god, that was horrible. I'll never do that again. Because if you're thinking that then you shouldn't have done it in the first place, right?

[36:51] Shahin Hoda  Yeah.

[36:53] Darren Reid  Everything should be the best that you can be at that moment. So that when you do look back on it, you say, wow, yeah, okay. Well, I wouldn't do that today because I know lots of other things now, but at the time, that was certainly the best I could have done and if you're doing that, you can't lose. 

[37:08] Shahin Hoda  Fantastic, fantastic Darren. I think there's plenty of golden nuggets in this conversation that we had. And I think listeners are gonna probably listen to it multiple times. I know I very much enjoyed our chat and just want to thank you for coming on the podcast. We really appreciate your time.

[37:26] Darren Reid  It's been an absolute pleasure and all the best to your listeners mate. It's a tough gig but a very fulfilling one. 

[37:32] Shahin Hoda  No, thank you so much, again for jumping on. I really appreciate it and we'll look forward to chatting soon as well. 

[37:41] Darren Reid  Absolutely.


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