Win the Call


Sales an activity-centric enterprise. Generally speaking, the more activity you put in, the more value you get out.

But not all activity is equal. A call is not a call is not a call.

This is how our team thinks about high quality activity, and how they can “win every call.”

MDR First Downs #

On the TalentBin sales team, the highest activity folks are our Market Development Reps (“MDRs” for short.)

Our MDRs are part of our sales team’s specialization (more on this in a later post), but are essentially junior sales people who are responsible for engaging with relevant, qualified accounts (whose key business characteristics have been well-modeled, right?!), and setting qualified appointments for our Account Executives to run with.

Ultimately, they are measured on how many of these “demos” they set (and which subsequently hold), but on their way there, they are executing high volume calling, emailing, and follow up.

And while our MDRs are highly trained and expert in technical recruiting and the recruiting space, and as such engage in high quality, consultative conversations with their prospects, it’s rare to get a “one call close” at the initial connect with a Prospect to convert them to a demo.

Rather, there are a number of steps that end up being taken. And at each step in the process, the MDR needs to think about how they’re driving that Prospect down the funnel to their end goal: a qualified, held appointment with the AE.

The problem is, sometimes it can feel like you aren’t necessarily getting anywhere. This is often the problem with mistaking that the goal is immediately attainable – a “one call close” – versus looking at the achievement as a summation of the various steps taken to get there. A 70 yard hail mary touchdown pass, versus a well executed, 7 minute drive.

While a cute fiction that happily aligns with popular mythology of sales people who are so smooth on the phone that they can just close a prospect’s face off if only they could connect (thanks Boiler Room and Glengarry Glen Ross!), this is not reality. It’s more linking lots of bruising 4 yard runs.

Once you realize that Market Development work, just like Account Executive work, is funnel-based (lots of concurrent conversations, being driven down a funnel), you can start adopting a mindset of “winning the call” and “scoring points.”

Do Work. Score Points. #

Once you’re at home with this reality, then it becomes a game of scoring points on each interaction. Winning the call. You may not get the demo out of the interaction, but if you can’t, score points and make progress downfield.

We actually refer to this as “first downs” internally. And there a number of different ways you can achieve them.

Did the prospect open your email? (We use Yesware and ActOn for this).

Did they click on the links in the email you sent them? (Again, Yesware / ActOn)

Were you able to connect with them on the phone?

Did you impress them with your understanding of their business pains you already knew, walking into the call? (because you already had the relevant data in your CRM…)

Even if they weren’t able to chat then, did you have a quality, cordial interaction—framing your solution as inevitable?

If they weren’t the right person, did you get the right person? Did you get that right person’s email? Their desk line?

If they are the right person, but this isn’t the right time, did you get the right time, and set a task for yourself? Did you get their desk line so you can bypass the gatekeeper in the future? Did you verify their email?

Did you send high quality follow up email (templated, of course), with excellent content and lots of hyperlinks to click (so when they open it, click them, and forward to their team, you can see that the Account has lots of interest in your outreach.)

If you got their voicemail, did you leave one? (Even better if you have pre-recorded ones that you can drop off with a click, and you’re on the next call).

Did you send a templated follow up email after the voicemail? Because come on, let’s be honest, no one is going to write down your number and call you back. So the email version is in their inbox so they can just hit “reply.”

If now’s not the right time, did you find out when tools evaluation is happening?

And once the pressure is off, did you find out what tools are in the account? So now you can do a better job of modeling the Account with previously unobservable, but now discovered meta-data?

Scoring first downs is a mindset of the individual staff, but for managers, it means having your staff set up to easily hit these first downs.

If open and click tracking data is important, do you have templates for them set up so they don’t have to re-type everything?

Do you have your CRM full of meta-data so they can impress their prospects?

Cash Those First Downs In #

All this point scoring is for naught if you can’t cash them in. Red zone offense is key here too.

For us at TalentBin, that means paying attention to which accounts have had lots of first downs scored, and focusing activity on them. We do this by looking at custom lead scoring data we’ve rolled up in Salesforce with open and click tracking data from Yesware and ActOn.

It means showing up on Monday and having a dozen tasks in your console that were set by you a month ago – little presents of follow up that say “They’re going to be evaluating tools in April. Follow up then.”

And it means having the processes and infrastructure in place to enable that.

We have reports that our MDRs can look at to see who’s opening and clicking on their emails. We use Salesforce’s Console to consume tasks.

Do you have backcheck reports to flag high value accounts, on which lots of points have been scored, that are languishing?

Well that’s a bummer, because all that effort went in there, and now you’re not cashing it in.

Now Measure the First Downs #

Lastly, you can now measure those first downs and focus efforts on achieving them.

It ceases to be about raw call volume (again, because a call isn’t a call isn’t a call), and instead becomes about calls crossed with emails crossed with connects crossed with LVMs (left voicemails) crossed with retired tasks and so forth.

And when you start measuring that, and presenting that in team dashboards so everyone can see it, your team’s activity funnels into scoring those points, and winning those calls.

Which turns into touchdowns, and winning deals – not just calls.

All of these learnings came from the combined efforts of the TalentBin sales team over the last few years, and I have them to thank for these insights.


Now read this

Referral Recruiting Strip Mining: Methodical Network Recruiting for Early Stage Hiring Gold

This ain’t panning in a stream. We’re mechanized here, son. This post also ran (with less profanity) in First Round Capital’s “First Round Review” [here]( Do you know... Continue →