The Sales Hacker Podcast
The Sales Hacker Podcast

Episode · 1 year 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, hey everybody, welcome to the Sales Acer podcast. It's your host, Sam Jacobs. Today in the show we're talking sales development and pipeline creation with appy Chowdrey. It's a great conversation and I'm really excited to bring it to you. Before we get there, we've got three sponsors. The first is outreach, a longtime sponsor the show. We're excited to announce unleash summit series is back. This year's theme is the rise of revenue innovators. Join the new cohort of leaders who put buyers at the center of their sales strategies to drive efficient, predictable growth across the entire revenue cycle. Get more details and save your spot at summit. That outreach I owe whilst are sponsored by pavilion. Pavilion is the key to getting more out of your career. Our private membership gives you access to thousands of like minded peers, dozens of courses in schools through Pavilion University and over Onezero workbooks, template scripts and playbooks to accelerate your development. Pavilion members get hired twenty two percent more quickly and paid fourteen percent more, and are promoted thirty percent thirty four percent more rapidly than their peers, based on study recently conducted. Unlock the career of your dreams by applying today at Joint PAVILIONCOM. And finally, Conga, a new sponsor on the show. As doing business becomes increasingly complex, it gets harder to do it well. Business is often sacrifice agility and loose sight of the customers experience. CONGA's expertise and comprehensive solution suite for commercial operations, transforming the documents and process around and customer engagement. CPQ AND CLM help businesses meet customer needs while increasing agility to adapt to change. Check them out. CONGOCOM forward slash salesactor. Now let's listen my conversation with Appy Chaudry. Hey, everybody, it's Sam Jacobs. Welcome to the salesaccer podcast. Today in the show we're excited to have appy choudry. Appy is a sales leader who has over fourteen years of experience with an MBA and engineering background. He is built and led a e Andsdr sales teams, achieved individual revenue quotas, developed go to market strategies, managed regional sales and recently has been a hiring machine. He's hired thirty five reps in the last three years. Appy, as a top performer at his current company, blend, built an strm as Dr Team from scratch at his previous company, launched darkly, and has also been a director of sales. He's well versed in different sales methodologies, including sailor medic, and has gone through various sales leadership trainings such as Sassy with my friend Matt Cameron, ten pound and closed loop. Appy, welcome to the show. Hi Sam, thanks for the warm welcome. We're excited to have you so here the head of sales development at blend, and we're going to dive into your experience at launched darkly, but first we want to understand a little bit more about blend. So what is blend? Blend is a digital lending platform that helps banks and credit unions go through the mortgage lending process smoother and faster. Oh, I love it. Awesome. How big is the company? Roughly from you know, and you can tell us number of employees or they are are, however you want to frame it. We just acquired the early big company called title. Three hundred and sixty five and after the acquisition we're a company with almost two thousand and three hundred employees. Oh Wow, amazing. And you're the head of sales, of elopment for for that entire organization. Yes, exactly. Well done, sir. How how big is your current team? My current team is the team of fifteen st years, including team leads, managers. And Yeah, we've we've grown the team quite a lot. In fact, most of the team is relatively new because we've been promoting hiring. There's a lot of attrition, good positive attition on the team, as this team is also the junior talent pool for our sales organization. So that's pretty exciting. That is exciting. So let's let's first just understand. You know, how you got here. I read in your by you've got fourteen years of experience. You've got an engineering background and MBA. But how did you get into sales in the first place? How did you find your way from engineering in a sales tell us at a bit about your wife, your wife story in terms of education, I started off as an engineer and then slowly got into sales engineering, supporting and consulting...

...techy clients, and that's where I realize that I'm much better off in sales rather than engineering. I started traveling, meeting clients, traveling to go to conferences, and that's what got me into sales and since then I've been focused on selling business and closing revenue targets, leading sales people. And here I am so appy. You know, you mentioned that you're one of the founding members of this company, launched dark way. Talk to us a little bit about that experience and about building that theme, because I know it's pretty formative for you. Yeah, it was an interesting and exciting time. So I was hired by our VP sales, hector hernand is, back in the day and Hector hired me to build the str function from scratch. It was a series B company with twenty five to thirty employees and I was basically the fourth sales member on the team. I joined them, built the initiated the str playbook. After three months, when we started getting some outbound and inbound results, I started hiring strs, continue to revamp the playbook understand what kind of folks we should be hiring and within a span of two years a lot happened. I hired and onboarded over twenty four stars. As a direct hiring manager, I led three SDR leaders on my team, promoted eight strs within different departments of the company, including sales, enable men, sales operations, account executive CSM roles. I myself got promoted SIS my manager change thrice and on boarded some really cool tools such as outread zoom in for Polo exc overall, it was a pretty exciting time where I got to work for an awesome product with truly amazing and smart people. What did you learn about hiring? You know you've hired a ton of people at this point. As about your hiring process, your methodology, how you run the end of your process? Walk through walk us through it. Yeah, so, talking about the interview process, it's basically I do the initial phone screens. It's there, usually for an hour, and then, if they go well, I usually send candidates in assignment, a simple assignment to check out their writing sample and then invite them for an onsite, which is now virtual, where they meet myself and a couple of leaders in strs on my team and go ahead and extend and offer. Talking about my methodology on hiring, I look for five to six most important skills in this role. That include someone who's coach, a bill, because this role is all about learning and growing. It's a stepping stone for anyone. Someone who's organized, because as an STA, you're dealing with thousands of leads, slack, different Google sets, sales force reports, excel files, etc. So you really need to be organized so that you can keep up with your tasks. Someone who's self motivated and hard working, as you'll receive a lot of rejection in this role. Ninety nine percent of your efforts are going to get a result of no, I'm not interested, so you need to be super self motivated and have great persistence around your work. Someone who, in general, is curious, because if you're curious, you'll probably really want to know what problems challenges your prospects are facing. And then, finally, someone who's creative, as if you're creative, you can think about creative messaging, think about different ways of outreach and connecting with your prospects. So these are the five to six things I look in candidates when I am interviewing them. Let me ask you about wfore. I have a couple...

...of questions, because you are selves developed an expert. First, how long do you think somebody should be an str before they're promoted to account executive. Twelve months on the lowest end and eighteen months to is basically the Max Garana and and because I'm you know, Trishper Tu Day has commented in the past that there's some data that if you're promoted before twelve months, oftentimes you're fair. Your Rad as account executive could be very high. Yes, exactly. That makes total sense and also depends on what kind of company what market you're selling in. Example, at blend we mostly sell to enterprise financial organizations and selling the sale cycles are really long. A lot of MSA's red lines and contracts, so you need a lot of experience are selling to those kind of accounts and that's why usually you need to be an Stt for eighteen months, as the learning curve is a good one. But in general twelve months is the least I would recommend, because I'm sure you know, outreach and seals, loft and all these tools are their blessing and a curse. They enable people to send lots and lots of emails all at once, but the issue is that buyers are becoming inundated and unresponsive to these messages. And it's becoming harder and harder to get somebody's attention in the thoughtful way, in a way that enables them to want to lean an engage and perhaps become an opportunity to your company. So what do you teach and what do you do and what creative strategies are using today in order to drive positive responses from from your prospects? So very well said, Sam other than just sending those regular emails and making those random phone calls, there are a lot of things my team does in reaching out to these prospects. That include we have a a really good gifting strategy, so we use send Thoseo as a tool to send personalized gifts and experiences who are prospects, to grab their attention and have a conversation with them. We use a video outreach. We've used cameo in the past, so my reps, they go on twitter, research prospects, find out who their prospects follow, what do they like, and then find their celebrities on cameo and have them send certain videos. That gets US quite a bit of traction. And then including different social selling strategies, including sending voice notes on Linkedin, sending a selfie video on Linkedin, using jifts in their emails. So all of these creative strategies make their emails stand out, make their call stand out and help them be successful in their current role. The question is, the feedback you might get from a wrap is happy. Listen. I hear you, man. I want to send a personalized video, I want to do a selfie thing, I want to go on cameo and do some research on twitter, but my prospect was just too big and I just don't have the time, given the targets that you're giving me in terms of twelve to fifteen qualified opportunities every month, to to do all of that prep work. What would you what is your response to that? It basically needs to be a balance of your outreat I ask them, I don't want you do all of this for your entire prospect list, but I'm not even asking you to not do all of this and just mass blast your prospect list. I help them in prioritization, in breaking their prospect list into different tiers, in segments, let's say, example, tiered one, are the biggest, most important accounts they need to break into. So selecting the top decision makers at each of these accounts and then focusing on them, doing the most personalized outreach... this tear of bunch of people. And then it's the second badge with medium kind of personal medium level of personalization, and the third tier is basically where they can use the least amount of personalization and more automation. That makes a lot of sense and I've heard that from some other folks. So if you're talking about Tier A, right, you're very top most important accounts. You know, typically you know a cold call. You know cold call to opportunity creation, or maybe it's like total could call the win rate is like one person or two percent. But what do you what should the percentage be? If, for your tier a accounts, of your ability to create an opportunity, if you selected them really well and you've done this love of personalization, how many of those accounts 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 understand that, but it's usually five to eight or sent where my reps are able to generate opportunities within these tiered one accounts, where they invest a lot of time and personalization, create specific sequences on outreads and do a ton of research. They also work with their account executives and build build or charts, understanding and finding what's the buying committee? How do they look like in doing specific outreach accordingly? I like that. So you heard it here, folks. Five day percent those you know. So you're in your current role. What's your I guess walkers through your journey from an individual contributor to a leader and what has struck you as the biggest thing that was sort of unexpected? What did you not expect about being a leader? That is definitely a part of a job that you weren't you aren't quite expecting doesn't mean you weren't ready for it. Doesn't mean you're doing a bad job, just means you aren't quite expecting it. So I started off as an individual contributor, as an start initially, and then got into an account executive role where I was closing business by myself, and sales back in the day, before eight to ten years was very different then compared to doing sales now. And after being in that individual contributor role for four and a half years, I got into a director of sales role where I was managing account executives who were 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 str leadership. I wasn't expecting that this role is going to be so challenging but at the same time it would be so rewarding and so motivating personally. And the reason I say that is in this role I get an opportunity to hire super talented young people, maybe fresh 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 oftentimes seen where few of my strs who were strs before five to seven years, they reach out to me after five to seven years sharing how successful they are and they are still using some methodologies or some part of the playbook I created for them, and that is pretty pretty satisfying. It's exciting and motivating that I had such a big role in their entire sales journey, in their entire career, and I was not expecting this when I got into str leadership, but that's what I love about this role. And then the second piece of it is I wasn't expecting this to be... challenging and at the same time, there's so much to learn and grow from every individual. It's very different when you hire an account executive who has three to five years of closing experience compared to you hire someone who's fleshed out of college or when it's their first takes his job. You need to spend a lot more time with a fresh college graduate. You need to teach them how to behave in meetings, you need to understand their thought process, you need to get there by and you need to explain them small things. So there's a lot of time, investment, cleaning, enablement that goes into leading str teams and I wasn't aware about this when I was taking this challenge, but I've definitely grown into it. What a what are your plans for yourself? You know you're running an str team now and a company that's now, I think you said, twenty three hundred people. Where do you want your career to go? And you know, one of the challenges people sometimes comment about us to our leadership is that if you move directly from str I see it if it's a contributor to us, to your leadership. You don't get the account executive closing experience and so the str manager position cannot be as clearly defined as part of your career progression as being like a sales manager for account executives. How are you managing that challenge if it isn't even a challenge? You may disagree that it is a challenge, and what are your plans for yourself? You know, where do you see your career going over the next couple of years? So I definitely agree to your statement around it being a challenge. In an ideal world, I think a str should move into a closing account executive role, gain that experience and then try to get into specific management, maybe starting from the STR team or directly getting into a SMB or midmarket account executive management role. I certainly agree to that, because that's when you because from an STR's perspective, the account executive is the strs customer and you need to be in the customer spot to understand what do you need from an str or an str manager. So I highly recommend folks to get into an account executive role, gaining experience in that role before getting into management. Now the second part of your question, my career plans. It's interesting to see how str leadership has become so important and is becoming more important in the recent three to five years. I remember when I first met David Delany from ten bound. He shared with me before three to four years that happy. At this point of time I don't see a lot of str managers, SDR leaders. A lot of companies looking for str leaders, but within a span of the next three to five years you'll see often that companies need a weepy level of executive to run this team. And here we are. I see a ton of peers who are in the space as vpcs development. I get a ton of recruiter outreach for those kind of roles and my plans is basically to continue to grow within this rim and lead different kind as to our teams. Manage frontline managers, manage director of sales development and take it ahead. I love it. Couple ask questions before we go happy. We talked about this a little bit earlier and you mentioned a couple really creative strategies for your tier accounts. But let's say I'm a I'm an str manager, I'm hiring five Reps. I'm under, you know, under a Truantou amount of pressure to help my company grow and create pipeline. What's your piece of advice? And we can give a high level piece of advice, but also give us like your favorite contactic in terms of, you know, generating opportunities and creating awareness for the company. My advice to them would be to spend some time...

...of their day thinking about how to solve challenges each individual rep is facing on their team and how can they be really effective in removing those blockers and challenges and if they if they don't know how to do that, then definitely going ahead and connecting with their leader so that they can well equip them. They can train them or they can outsource that training for them so that they are able to solve those challenges. Once done, I'm sure their St Gus would be successful in their role, they would be able to hit their Kuta, they would be able to grow and develop themselves and that would also set the str manager up for success. I love it. Happy. Last question we have for you is really sort of like a pay for question. A lot of people have influenced you. You have a lot of mentors, you have a lot of founders. You have a lot of people that you are aware of that have helped get you were where you want to go. Who are some people that you think we should know about? My weep of sales from launch darkly, who's now at traceable dought AI, has had a big role in my career journey, specially in the last three to five years. He's helped me grow learn, he explained me the importance of processes, documentation, hiding the right people and supported me and all of that. I also follow a lot of stas and sales leaders, including Sam Nelson, Beg Holland, Jeremy Donovan and Mark Coast of Globe. Awesome, happy folks for us in the rest and I'm sure they're going to have some some questions for you and maybe want to pick your brain or maybe how you as a consultant, if you're hopefully allowed to do that with your current employer at blend. What's the best were to get in touch with you? Linkedin is the best way to get in touch with me. I'm pretty active on Linkedin, so feel free to connect me correct with me on Linkedin. Awesome, happy thanks so much for joining us on the Selvesycer podcast today. Thank you. Some wonderful chat things again, everybody Sam's corner really enjoyed that conversation with Apach Odre. He's clearly a student of the game and what's what's? You know, he has studied. So what does he learned? He's learned that personalization is the key. I know companies that read predictable revenue ten years ago and they are convinced that that is the way to do things forever and ever and ever and playing text emails saying who's the right person, or my are you the right person, or those emails where it's like, I see you have been responded and it's like the seventh email and a thread y'all that stuff doesn't work anymore. It doesn't work and it shows that you're not very thoughtful or creative. So you don't want to look like that. You want to look thoughtful and creative. You got a personalize. You have to personalize. personalization at scale, well, I don't know what that means, but you got a personalize. At these teams use video, they use Sendoso to send people things in the mail. They use text messaging, they use linkedin voice memos, they learn, they use linkedin selfie videos, they use platforms like bombomb or videyard to a chord videos of themselves. They personal apting mentioned in the show that he uses cameo. So the reps have a budget. They go to your linkedin or twitter profile or facebook page or whatever. They figure out. If you're a buyer, what are the things that you really like? For me it's, you know, the Washington football team, unfortunately, Washington capitals. Maybe some real housewives, but only of Beverly Hills and they'll go out and they'll get not to read. Never to rate. I don't like to rate, but I do like Kyle. I do like Kyle Richard. She's a good person, married a long time. Love Mauricio. He's an entrepreneur agency, I think is one of the largest real estate agencies in La. So here's...

...the point. If Kyle, if I ever got a cameo video with Kyle tyl talking to me about pavilion, I probably respond favorably, or at least Evander Pop Lbpol, but she's not going to show anymore. Maybe Tom Sandoval or Tom Schwartz from vander pump rolls. Have you seen sander vals like mustache and facial constructions, weird stuff, but I dig him. Tom Tom's a reasonably good bar. That's not the point. The finest personalization of my friends personalization. You're going to have to find a way to do it. It was just on a conversation with a candidate to work with me at 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. We don't need robots. If you're going to be a robot and just be robotic, I'll just hire a robot. I don't need a human being 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 that humans also bring. That's why we tolerate the inconsistency, because you're a human being. So if you're just going to be a robot, pressing but pressent, go on an outreach sequence and blasting you with stupid emails, go home, pal go home, get out of here. But we don't need it. We're not buying it, but I am buying it's personalization, thoughtful outreach, research and just a general sense of compassionate empathy and curiosity from the people that reach out to me. All Right, I'm done. If you want to reach out to me, Ken Sam a joint PAVILIONCOM. If you want to thank our sponsors, we have three outreach transforming the productivity of sales people the world over. A check out there unleash summit series. Summit that outreach Oteo Pavilion, the company that I work for. Pavilion members get hired twenty two percent more quickly, paid fourteen percent more and promoted thirty four percent more often than their peers. So check them out unlock the career of your dreams. That joined pivilioncom and Conga really incredible company. They combine customer needs with increasingly agility across customer and engagement, CPQ and CLM, customer life cycle management. To check them out at CONGOCOM forward slash sales hacker. Otherwise, give us five stars on itunes. I said something 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, if you're fan of Maurracio or kyle or you don't like to rate, give us five stars on itunes. Otherwise, my friends, I will talk to you next time.

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