The Sales Hacker Podcast
The Sales Hacker Podcast

Episode · 1 month ago

185: The Key Is Personalization at Scale


In this episode of the Sales Hacker Podcast, we have Appy Choudhary, Head of Sales Development at Blend, where he has built and leads AE and SDR teams as a sales leader with nearly 15 years of experience. Join us for an authentic conversation about applying sales leadership to building SDR teams — and the role of personalization in generating opportunities.

What You’ll Learn

  1. Personalization makes a difference in prospect response
  2. Video mail and messaging is a huge personalization aid
  3. The SDR role is all about learning and being coachable
  4. Hiring people early to tech sales is ultra rewarding

Show Agenda and Timestamps

  1. About Appy Choudhary & Blend [1:50]
  2. A sales leader’s hiring process [6:02]
  3. Using personalization and creativity to drive responses [9:05]
  4. The unexpected in sales leadership [13:30]
  5. Advice about generating opportunities [19:30]
  6. Paying it forward [20:53]
  7. Sam’s Corner [22:17]

One two one: Three: Three: O everybody welcome to the sale, SACERPODCAST: it's your host, Sam Jacobs, sid on the show, we're talking sales,development and pipeline creation with happy Chowdree, it's a greatconversation and I'm really excited to bring it to before we get there. We'vegot three sponsors. The first is out reach a long time sponsor the showexcited to announce. Only summit series is back this here. Them is the rise ofrevenue. Innovators joined the new cohort of leaders who put buyers at thecenter of their sale. Strategies to drive efficient, predictable growthacross the entire Revenus, get more details and save your spot at some atTotototo, wilsos sponsored by pavilion. Pavilion is the kid getting more out ofyour career or private membership gives you access to thousands of like mind,appears dozens of courses in schools through Pavilion University and overone thousand workbooks template scripts and playbooks to accelerate yourdevelopment. Pavilion members get hired twenty two percent more quickly andpaid fourteen percent more and are promoted. Thirty percent. Thirty fourpercent: more rapid love in their peers, based on so you're recently conductedunlock the core of your dreams by applying to day at joint pavillion andfinally Konga a new sponsor on the show. As doing business becomes increasinglycomplex, it gets harder to do it well. Business is often sacrifice agility andlose sight of the customers, experience, Congos expertise and comprehensivesolution, sweet for commercial operations, transforming the documentsand process around and customer engagement, CP and COM help businessesmeet customer needs, while increasing agility to adapt to change, check himout. Congo fords sales act or no. It is on my conversation with appy child tree.Everybody at Sam Jacob's. Welcome to the Sales Hacker podcast today on theshow were excited to have appy Chaudri appy is a sales leader who has overfourteen years of experience with an NBA and engineering background. He isbuilt and led a e n str sales teams achieved individual revue quotas,developed good. A market strategies manage original sales and recently hasbeen a hiring machine he's hired thirty five reps in the last three years. Appyis a top performer at his current company blend built an SR as dream fromscratch at his previous company, launched darkly and has also been adirector of sales he's well versed in different sales methodology isincluding salar medic and has gone through various sales leadership.Trainings such as Sassy with my friend Matt Cameron, ten bound and closed loophappy welcome to the show High Sam thanks for the won velcome.We're excited to have you so you're, the head of sales development at blendand we're going to dive into your experience at long darkly, but first wewant to understand a little bit more about blend. So what is blunt blend isa digital lending platform that helps banks and credit unions go through themortgage lending process smoother and faster. Oh, I love it awesome. How bigis the company roughly from you know when you can tell us number ofemployees or they are or how are you want to frame it? We just acquired areally big company called title: Three: A D sixty five and after theacquisition were a company with almost two thousand and three hundredemployees. Oh Wow, amazing and you're the head of sales development for forthat entire organization. Yes, exactly well done, sir, how? How big is yourcurrent team? My currentem is the team of fifteen stas, including team, leadmanagers and Yeah we've we've grown the team. Quitea lot. In fact, most of the team is relatively new because we've beenpromoting hiring there's a lot of attrition good, positive attrition onthe team, as this team is also the junior talent pool for our cosorganization. So that's pretty exciting. That is exciting. So, let's, let'sfirst just understand, you know how you got here. I read in your bile. You'vegot fourteen years of experience. You've got an engineering background,an NBA, but how did you get into sales in the first place? How did you findyour wife from engineering into sales? Tell us a little bit about your life,your life story in terms of education, I started off as an engineer and thenslowly got into sales engineering,...

...supporting and consulting techieclients, and that's where I realized that I'm much better off in salesrather than engineering. I started traveling meeting clients traveling togo to conferences and that's what got me in to sales and since then, I'vebeen focused on selling business and closing revenue targets leading salespeople, and here I am so happy. You know you mentioned thatyou were one of the founding members of this company launched darkly, talk tous a little bit about that experience and about building that team, because Iknow it's pretty formative for you yeah. It was an interesting and exciting time,so I was hired by our weep sales, hector and Antis back in the day andHector hired me to build the str function from scratch. It was a seriesB company with twenty five to thirty employees, and I was basically thefourth sales member on the team I joined them built the initiated, thestr playbook after three months when we started getting some outbound and inbounties I started hiring SDRs continued to revamp the playbookunderstand what kind of folks we should be hiring and within a span of twoyears a lot happened. I hired an on boarded over twenty four stars as adirect hiring manager. I led three HR leaders on my team promoted asts withindifferent departments of the company, including says enablement salesoperations account executive, C sm roles. I myself got promoted size, mymanagers changed thrice and on boarded some really cool tools, such as outreeds, Roman for Polo Etcetera. Overall, it was a pretty exciting time where Igot to work for an awesome product with truly amazing and smart people. Whatdid you learn about hiring? You know. You've hired a ton of people at thispoint. Tell us about your hiring process. Your methodology, how you runthe interview process walk through it, walk us through it yeah. So talk aboutthe interview process. It's basically, I do the initial phone screens, it'sthere usually for an hour and then, if they go well, I usually send candidatesin assignment a simple assignment, to check out their writing sample and theninvite them for an on site, which is now virtual, where they meet myself anda couple of leaders in sears on my team and go ahead and extend and offertalking about my metrology on hiring. I look for five to six most importantskills in this role that include someone who's coachable, because thisrole is all about learning and growing. It's a stepping stone for anyone,someone who's organized because, as in star you're dealing with thousands ofleads slack different Google seats sales for reports, Xli EXC, so youreally need to be organized so that you can keep up with your tasks. Someonewho's self motivated and hard working as you'll receive a lot of rejection inthis role. Ninety nine percent of your efforts are going to get a result of noI'm not interested. So you need to be super self motivated and have greatpersistence around your work. Someone who in general is curious, because ifyou're curious, you'll probably really want to know what problems challengesyour prospects are facing and then finally, someone who's creative, as ifyou're creative, you can think about creative messaging think aboutdifferent ways of out reach and connecting with your prospects. Sothese are the five to six things. I look in candidates when I aminterviewing them. Let me ask you about...

...well, for I have a couple questions,because you are a sales development expert. First, how long do you thinksomebody should be an SDR before they're promoted to a count executive,twelve months on the lowest end and eighteen months is basically the Maxfair enough and and because I you know Chris Bertuzzi has commented in thepast that there's some data that if you're promoted before twelve months,often times your failure rate is an acount executive can be very high. Yes,exactly that makes total sense and also depends on what kind of company whatmarket you're selling. In example, at blend, we mostly sell to enterprisefinancial organizations in selling the sale cycles are really long, a lot ofMas red lines and contracts. So you need a lot of experience to sell intothose kind of accounts and that's why usually, you need to be an star foreighteen months, as the learning curve is a good one, but in general twelvemonths is the least I would recommend, because I'm sure you know outreach and sales loft and all ofthese tools are. They are blessing and a curse. They enable people to sendlots and lots of emails all at once, but the issue is that buyers arebecoming inundated and unresponsive to these messages and it's becoming harderand harder to get somebody's attention in a thoughtful way in a way thatenables them to to want to lean in and engage and perhaps become anopportunity to your company. So what do you teach and what are you doing? Whatcreative strategies are using today in order to drive positive responses fromfrom your prospects? So we well said Sam other than just sending thoseregular emails and making those random phone calls. There are a lot of thingsmy team does in reaching out to these prospects that include. We have areally good gifting strategy, so we use Sindo so as a tool to send personalizedgifts and experiences to our prospects to grab their attention and have aconversation with them. We use a video out reach, we've usedcameo in the past, so my rats, they go on twitter research prospects find outwho their prospects follow. What do they like and then find their celebrities on cameo andhave them sent certain videos that gets US quite a bit of traction and thenincluding different social selling strategies in including sending voicenotes on Linden, sending a selfie video on Linden using jiffs in their emails?So all of these creative strategies make their emails, stand out, maketheir cause stand out and help them be successful in their current trol. Thequestion is the feedback you might get from a rap is happy. Listen. I hear youman. I want to send a personalized video. I want to do a selfie thing. Iwant to go on Cameo and do some research on twitter, but my prospectwas just too big and I just don't have the time, given the targets that you'regiving me in terms of twelve to fifteen qualified opportunities every month toto do all of that, prack work. What would you? What is your response tothat? It basically needs to be a balance of your outreach. I ask them. I don't want you do all of this foryour entire prospect list, but I'm not even asking you to not do all of thisand just mass last year prospect list. I help them in prioritization inbreaking their prospect list into different tears and segments. Let'sexample: here one are the biggest most important accounts. They need to breakinto so selecting the top decision makers at each of these accounts andthen focusing on them doing the most...

...personalized out reach to this tar of abunch of people and then it's the second batch with medium kind of person,medium level of personalization and the third tear is basically where they canuse the least amount of personalization and more automation. That makes a lotof sense, and I've heard that from some other folks. So if you're talking aboutt r a right, your very top most important accounts, you know, typically,you know a cold call. You know cold call to opportunity creation- or maybeit's like total cote called. The win rate is like one percent or two percent.But what do you? What should the percentage be? If for your two or aaccounts of your ability to create an opportunity, if you selected themreally well and you've done this level of perciles tion, how many of thoseaccounts should you be able to at least create an opportunity from it's?Usually I mean it depends on quarter to quarter, and I'm sure you understandthat, but it's usually five to eight per cent, where my reps are able togenerate opportunities within these tar. One accounts where they invest a lot oftime and personalization creates specific sequences on out reach and toa ton of research. They also work with their account executives and be buildor charts understanding and finding what's the buying committee, how dothey look like in doing specific out reach accordingly, I like that, so youheard of your folks five ta percent. Tell us you know so you're in yourcurrent role. What's your, I guess: Walk US through your journeyfrom an individual contributor to a leader and what has struck you as thebiggest thing that was sort of unexpected. What did you not expectabout being a leader? That is definitely a part of the job that youweren't, you weren't quite expecting doesn't mean you weren't ready, for itdoesn't mean you're doing a bad job. Just means you weren't quite expectingit. So I started off as an individualcontributor as an st initially and then got into an account executive rolewhere I was closing business by myself and sales back in the day before eightto ten years was very different than competitive, doing sales. Now and afterbeing in that individual contributor role for four and a half years, I gotinto a director of sales role where I was managing account executives whowere responsible for closing business. I did that for three and a half years,and I thought that was the most exciting part back then, and then,after that I moved into specific SD leadership. I wasn't expecting thatthis rule is going to be so challenging, but at the same time it would be sorewarding and so motivating. Personally and the reason I say that is in thisrole, I get an opportunity to higher super talented young people may befresh out of college or their first or second job very early to take sales. So I get an opportunity to hire them,train them and set them up for success for their entire career. I've, oftentime seen where few of my SDRs, who are ss before five to seven years, theyreach out to me, after five to seven years, sharing how successful they are,and they are still using some methodologies or some part of theplaybook I created for them, and that is pretty pretty satisfying it'sexciting and motivating that I had such a big role in their entire salesjourney in their entire career, and I was not expecting this when I got into star leadership, butthat's what I love about this role and then the second piece of it is. Iwasn't expecting this to be so...

...challenging and at the same time,there's so much to learn and grow from every individual. It's very differentwhen you hire an account executive who has three to five years of closingexperience compared to you, hire someone who's flesh out of college orwhen it's their first Texas job. You need to spend a lot more time with aFrench college graduate you need to teach them how to behave in meetings.You need to understand the thought process you needto get there by and you need to explain them small things. So, there's a lot of time. InvestmentTraining, enablement that goes into leading str teams, and I wasn't awareabout this when I was taking this challenge, but I have definitely growninto it. What what are your plans for yourself? You know you're running anSDR team now and a company. That's now. I think you said twenty three hundredpeople. Where do you want your career to go? And you know one of thechallenges. People sometimes comment about. STOUR leadership is that if youmove directly from SDR IC individual contributor to ask your leadership, youdon't get the account executive, closing experience, and so the SDRmanager position cannot be as clearly defined as part of your careerprogression as being like a sales manager for account executives. How areyou managing that challenge? So if it is at even a challenge, you maydisagree that it is a challenge and what are your plans for yourself? Youknow where do you see your career going over the next couple of years, so Idefinitely agreed to your statement around it being a challenge in an idealworld. I think star should move into a closing account executive role, gainthat experience and then try to get into specific management may bestarting from the start or directly getting into a smorit market accountexecutive management role. I certainly agree to that because that's when you,because from an sts perspective, the account executive is the strcustomer and you need to be in the customer sport to understand what doyou need from an SDR or an ATL manager. So I highly recommend folks to get intoan account executive role, gaining experience in that role before gettinginto management. Now the second part of your question, my career plans, it'sinteresting to see how star leadership has become so importantand is becoming more important in the recent three to five years. I rememberwhen I first met David Delany from ten bound. He shared with me before threeto four years that happy at this point of time. I don't see a lot of STAmanager, Sistar leaders, a lot of companies looking for STI leaders, butwithin a span of the next three to five years. You see often that companiesneed a VP level of executive to run this team, and here we are, I see a tonof peers who are in the space as VPS development. I get a ton of recruiteroutres for those kind of rules, and my plants is basically to continue to growwithin this rom and lead different kind of star teams manage frontline managersmanage director of sales development and take it ahead. I love it couplelast questions before we go appy. We talked about this a little bit earlier,and you mentioned a couple really creative strategies for your Tra counts,but let's say I'm: I'm an SDR manager, I'm hiring five raps, I'm under youknow, under a tremendous amount of pressure, to help my company grow andcreate pipeline. What's your piece of advice and we can give a high levelpiece of advice, but also give us like your favorite current tactic in termsof you know, generating opportunities and creating awareness for the company.My advice to them would be to spend...

...some time of their day. Thinking abouthow to solve challenges. Each individual rep is facing on their teamand how can they be really effective in removing those blockers and challengesand if they, if they don't know how to do that, then definitely going aheadand connecting with their leader so that they can well equip them. They cantrain them or they can outsource that training for them so that they are ableto solve those challenges once done, I'm sure their stars would besuccessful in their role. They would be able to hate their quota. They would beable to grow and develop themselves and that would also set the str manager upfor success. I love it happy last question we have for you is really sortof like a pay it. For I question a lot of people have influenced you. You havea lot of mentors. You have a lot of founders. You have a lot of people thatyou are aware of that have helped get you where you want to go. Who are somepeople that you think we should know about my vp of sales from launch darkleyWHO's now at racel? Do I has had a big role in my career journey specially inthe last three to five years. He's helped me grow learn. He explainedme the importance of processes, documentation, hiring the right peopleand supported me, and all of that I also follow a lot of stars and salesleaders, including Sam Nelson Beg, Holland, Jeremy, Donovan and MarkKosovo Awesome happy. I felt to listen to this and I'm sure they're going tohave some some questions for you and maybe want to pick your brain or maybehow you as a consultant, if you're, hopefully allowed to do that with yourcurrent employer, a blend. What's the best for to get in touch with you,Lindon is the best way to get in touch with me. I'm pretty active one Lindenso be free to connect me correct with me on Linden Awesome, happy thanks. Somuch for joining us on the Sol Aca podcast Ray. Thank you. Some wonderfulchat. Thanks again, everybody Sam's corner really enjoyedthat conversation with a e over he's. Clearly a student of the game, and,what's you know he has studied so what does he learn? He's learned thatpersonalization is the key. I know companies that red predictable revenueten years ago and they are convinced that that is the way to do thingsforever and ever and ever and playing text, email, saying who's, the rightperson or are you the right person or those emails where it's like? I I seewho I've been responded and it's like the seven e mail and a thread y'allthat stuff doesn't look anymore. He doesn't work and it shows that you'renot very thoughtful or creative. So you don't want to look like that. You wantto look out fur and creative. You got to personalize, you have to personalizepersonalization that scale W L. I don't know what that means, but you got apersonal lize at these teams. He s video. They use Sindo so to send peoplethings in the mail they use text messaging. They use linkedin voice,memos, they win. They use linked in selfie videos. They use platforms likeBombon or vide, ard to court videos of themselves. A personal appy mentionedin the show that he uses cameo. So the reps have a budget. They go to yourlink in Er, twitter profile, your facebook page or whatever they figureout if you're a buyer, one of the things that you really like for me.It's you know the washing on football team. Unfortunately, washing capitals-maybe some real house wives, but only of Beverly Hills and they'll go out andthey'll get not to read, never do rate. I don't like to read, but I do likeKyle. I do like Kyle Richard She's, a good person married a long time. I LoveMarie Sio she's. An Entrepreneur Agency, I think, is one of the largest realestate agencies in La so here's the...

...point. If Kyle, if I ever got a cameovideo with Kyle cal talking to me about pavilions, I probably respond favorablypoorly SAVANAROLA, but she's not going to show any more. Maybe Tom, sandovalor Tom Schwartz from Vanderpool's. Have you seen sand or walls like mustacheand facial constructions? Weird stuff, but I dig him Tom Toms are resented bar. That's not the point to find hispersonalization in my friend's personalization we're going to have tofind a way to do it. I was just on a conversation with a candidate to workwith me a pavilion, and you know what did I say I said: Bring Your Brain,bring your brain. You got to show up with your brain every day to work.Don't read from the script to her, we don't need robots if you're going to bea robot and you just be robotic I'll, just hire a robot. I don't need a humanbeing with up and down energy and emotions and moods and all that stuff.If you're not going to bring the creativity, the ingenuity, the passion,the authenticity, the humans also bring. That's why we tolerate butinconsistency because you're, a human being so if you're, just going to be a robotpresent present, go on an outrage, sequence and blastine with stupidemails go home, paw go home, get out of here. We don't need it, we're notbuying it, but I am buying its personalization thoughtful outrage,research and just a general sense of compassionate empathy and curiosityfrom the people that reach out to me all right. I'm done! If you want toreach out to me, you can SAMA joint Villino. If you want to thank oursponsors, we have three outreach: transforming the Provett of sellspeople the world over check out their unleash summit series summit that outreach Ao Bazil on the company that I work for Pavilion members get highertwenty two percent lil quickly pay fourteen percent more and promotedthirty five percent more often than their peers, so check him out, unlockthe career of your dreams of Jentell and Konga, really incredible company.They combine customer needs with increasingly agility across customer,indicate Gagement C Pq and cl customer life cycle management to checking out aconomor last sales hacker, otherwise give us five stars on itunes. I saidsomething that upsets you: Don't give us any rating at all. Just be quiet!It's fine go! Do something else today, but if you really like what I said, ifyour fan of or co or kyle or you don't like dread, give us five stars onitunes. Otherwise, my friends, I will talk to you next time. I.

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