If you’re lucky enough to be at a company that has an SDR team, you already understand that they are the foundation of your pipeline due to jumpstarting the sales process. Now, just as an SDR boosts the efficiency of your sales team, a virtual assistant can boost the efficiency of your SDR. A VA can be leveraged for a variety of list building and lead generation tasks.
A new role is being created in the Predictable Revenue-based sales team: the ‘Data Scientist.’ Don’t worry, the name sounds a lot more expensive than the task might actually cost. Clean data is the hallmark of a dialed-in CRM, sales team, and outbound process. Keeping clean data is hard so leveraging a VA, AKA Data Scientist, might be a quick solution to solve your dirty data issue.
Below are a few tips from my SDRs who are working with VA’s on a daily basis.
1. Love Thy VA
If you're actually utilizing your VA correctly, they are in charge of some pretty darn important information. Whether they're helping you source leads 24/7 or they are sending the initial outbound emails on your behalf, you have to trust them.
How did we create a dependable relationship with our VA?
Communication is key. Throughout the work day, we are constantly communicating with our VA (my SDR does most of the communicating due to how close their roles fall). Skype is our preferred communication medium, and our VA is always able to ask us questions whenever there is a problem and we can typically answer her pretty quickly to keep her work flowing.
If you have high communication levels with your VA you might even find out that they're a real person! We know all about our VA's family and we've even learned a little about her culture. She is still part of the team despite being thousands upon thousands of miles away.
2. VA Tech Stack
Our VA helps us increase our top of the funnel volume. Period. Here’s the tech stack she uses to source leads for me and my team:
Skype - This is our main communication app. We mostly use the text-based messaging but we are able to voice call her if need be. We’ll usually avoid voice calling because her spoken English isn't as strong as her written English. Originally, I thought that the fact that her verbal communication was weak would be a huge ongoing issue. Turns out that it's not, and messaging is perfect because a good chunk of our communication revolves around small quick questions.
Gmail - We rarely email with her at this point because she has most of the Google Docs she needs for her daily flow and Skype messaging is just plain faster.
SalesForce - In my opinion, this is one of the strongest skills our VA has. She is more than capable of entering, categorizing, and making special notes on all of the leads that she generates. Our SDR role is an extremely high volume job and we would not be close to achieving these numbers without her.
Lead Gen Tools:
Rapportive – Helps find people’s email and social media information right within Gmail.
Who.is – Shows who registered specific domains.
ToutApp – She enters new lead data into ToutApp so I can set them up on a drip email campaign.
Goo.gl – We share a lot of links back and forth so this URL shortener keeps things clean.
Google Sheets – She enters ALL lead data on a Google Sheet. I think of Google Sheets as a connector of data. Google Sheets makes the passing of info/data between apps extremely simple.
3. How Can The Flow Work?
Let’s say you have to deliver a high amount of leads per day/week/month/quarter. Here is a sample of an effective workflow for a VA you might try:
1. SDR generates a list of people/businesses that fit your ideal customer profile (ICP) – You can do this in many ways (ie scrapes, buying a list, etc).
2. SDR cleans the list – You want to make sure that most of these leads actually do, in fact, fit your ideal customer profile. If you don’t do this, you will be wasting your VA’s time and your money.
3. Hand off this curated list to your VA
4. Let the VA go to work finding decision makers’ contact info. Have them import the data into CRM and email automation apps.
5. Have your SDR do a general inspection of the work – Sometimes things change and data is incorrectly entered. This doesn’t happen often, but it’s worth the skim to make sure everything is running up to spec. An example is that the VA may source the Director of Ops when you are looking for a Director of Marketing.
6. Attack those leads son!
7. SDR qualifies and un-qualifies leads.
8. Hand off to AE.
9. Rinse and repeat!
Note that several steps are to do with the SDR - who ultimately owns the process - checking that the data is clean, accurate and makes sense. That’s not the VA’s job, within reasonable limits, and maintaining quality at those points is key to making this work.
4. KPI’s And Our Volume Pitfall
It is extremely important for you to have clear expectations and KPI’s for your VA. You are going to want to set concrete goals so they know if/when the job is executed correctly.
In my company, a lead can be sourced from 3 different groups (the VA, the SDR, or the AE). We are a smaller firm so from time to time the AEs still need to do some of their own lead gen. What we found is that leads that were generated by an AE were converting into opportunities well over 50%, leads generated by the SDR converted 15-20%, and the VA…ONLY 3%!
Why was this happening? It's simple. A lead generated by an AE is going to be contacted every single time. The AE knows exactly what they want, and won’t waste time generating a lead that they’re not going to contact. The SDR conversion rate from lead-to-opportunity is high because they are working with the AE’s every day and have a good idea of what the AE’s want. The VA? The VA is kind of like a computer. They’re going to give you an output based on your input. What does that mean? If you give them a crap list, they are going to spit out crap leads.
With our VA, we were basically generating a list with hundreds of uncurated e-commerce leads and shipping it off to our VA. We sent off messy, unsorted piles crap and in return received polished, organized piles of crap. What did we expect? Our VA is a normal person, not some magician capable of reading minds.
How We Fixed The Problem:
Rather than generating some huge list and just letting our VA go to work, our SDR cleaned the list up. He generated the list, got rid of all the crap, and then sent it off. What did this do? We saved our VA wasted time sourcing unqualified low-quality leads - and we were able to more than double her lead-to-opportunity conversion rates!
VA’s are a must for every company looking to scale. In high volume sales teams VA’s are crucial to fill in the gaps of your team and help you crank the number of leads you need to hit your lofty growth goals. VA’s should be treated like every other member of your sales team. You must invest and train them in order for them to produce at the highest level.
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About the Author
Matt Smith is VP of Sales StackCommerce. In this role he scaled the company from $0 to $30M/YR in revenue. In Matt's free time he helps train sales professionals via his site Full Stack Sales: The Store for Sales Professionals.More Content by Matt Smith