Software Sales Tips by Matt Wolach

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Scale Your SaaS

Massive Lead Gen with an Effective SDR Team – with Gabe Lullo

EPISODE SUMMARY

In this episode of Scale Your SaaS, host and B2B SaaS Sales Coach Matt Wolach sits down with the CEO of Alleyoop.io, Gabe Lullo to discuss the intricacies of scaling your Software as a Service (SaaS) business. If you want to generate leads, close deals, and master the art of team scaling, you’re in the right place.

PODCAST-AT-A-GLANCE

Podcast: Scale Your SaaS with Matt Wolach

Episode: Episode No. 303, “Massive Lead Gen with an Effective SDR Team – with Gabe Lullo”

Guest: Gabe Lullo, CEO at Alleyoop.io

Host: Matt Wolach, a B2B SaaS Sales Coach, Entrepreneur, and Investor

Sponsored by: Leadfeeder

 

TOP TIPS FROM THIS EPISODE

Specialization in SDR Training: Understanding the Fundamentals

Gabe emphasizes the distinction between Sales Development Representative (SDR) and full-cycle sales training. The SDR role is unique, requiring a specialized focus on fundamentals, objection handling, and mastering key conversations. To apply this, Gabe suggests that you break down objections into 10 categories, simplifying the training process and enhancing the SDRs’ ability to secure appointments.

The Power of Specialty: Lead Generation vs. Closing

The significance of specialization within the sales process was proven. Gabe then parallels the assembly line model, emphasizing the need for specialization between lead generation (SDRs) and closing (Account Executives). He shares insights into companies’ challenges when their sales teams are burdened with prospecting and closing responsibilities. The recommendation is clear – allowing individuals to specialize in their roles creates a more efficient and effective software sales process.

Selling the Next Step: The Trailer to the Movie

Gabe introduces a compelling analogy, likening the SDR role to the trailer of a movie. The focus is creating a punchy, high-level pitch that entices prospects to take the next step – booking a demo. The key is not to reveal all the details (or the movie’s ending) during the initial interaction. This approach aligns with selling the next step rather than overwhelming prospects with product features too soon.

Strategic Technology Implementation: The Third Pillar

Third is the importance of leveraging best-in-class technology and incorporating it into the SaaS sales process. He stresses the need for software founders and leaders to inspect what they expect, emphasizing the role of data-driven decisions. With a focus on people, processes, and technology, you can ensure that SDRs have the tools to drive success.

Founders as the Best Salespeople: The Winning Approach

Both Matt and Gabe advocate for software founders and leaders to initially take the lead in sales. Gabe shares the story of Henry Shuck, CEO of ZoomInfo, who actively participated in the sales process when building the company. The consensus is clear – founders possess a unique understanding of their product and market, making them the best salespeople in the early stages. Once you have the process built out and practiced to be perfect, you can bring the right team members on board. 

EPISODE HIGHLIGHTS

From Executive Staffing to SDR Leadership

Gabe initially owned his executive staffing firm. Seeking a change due to impending and exciting fatherhood, Gabe discovered Inside Sales Team, a company specializing in full-cycle sales outsourcing. 

Recognizing the emergence of the Sales Development Representative (SDR) role, Gabe joined forces with the company, later rebranded as Alleyoop.io. Over the last decade, Gabe has played a pivotal role in Alleyoop’s growth, ascending to CEO in the past year. Other software founders can learn from this story and grow their SaaS.

Advice for SaaS Scaling: Start Small, Focus on the Process & Leverage Technology

Gabe offers valuable advice for those navigating the complex landscape of scaling SaaS sales teams. He emphasizes the importance of starting small, refining the process, and strategically leveraging technology. The goal is to create a repeatable and data-driven process that can be scaled effectively as the business grows. 

In conclusion, Gabe’s insights provide a roadmap for SaaS entrepreneurs and leaders looking to scale their businesses. Companies can build a robust foundation for success in the dynamic SaaS landscape by embracing specialization, prioritizing strategic training, nurturing their sales team, and leveraging technology intelligently.

TOP QUOTES

Gabe Lullo

[07:30] “The SDR role is the trailer to the movie. It’s punchy, fast, high-level, and the entire function is to get someone to sit down for the demo.”

[18:20] “Inspect what you expect, make sure that part of that technology piece is giving you those reports and those data points to make data-driven decisions.”

Matt Wolach

[18:11] “Let the SDRs focus on prospecting. Let the full cycle sales focus on selling and negotiating closing deals.”

[22:04] “Specialty is critical. Get somebody purely focused on generating leads, and get somebody purely focused on closing those leads.”

LEARN MORE

To learn more about Alleyoop.io, visit: https://alleyoop.io/ 

You can also find Gabe Lullo on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/lullo/ 

For more about how Matt Wolach helps software companies achieve maximum growth, visit https://mattwolach.com.

Head over to leadfeeder.com and sign up for a 14-day (no strings attached) free trial: https://www.leadfeeder.com/ 

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Check out the whole transcript of the episode here:

Matt Wolach  00:04

And welcome to Scale Your SaaS. Thank you very much for being here. I am delighted to have you here because we are going to help you scale your SaaS. That’s exactly what we’re here for on this show. If this is your first time, we want to make sure you generate a whole ton of leads, we want to make sure you know how to close those leads, and you understand how to scale a team who can do this for you. If you don’t not want that leave right now. But if you do want that, hit the subscribe button. That way, you’ll get all of our episodes so you understand the best ways to scale your SaaS and you’re going to learn from the best in the industry. We bring experts on every week who can share their expertise with you and give you their knowledge. And one of those experts. This guy’s amazing. I’ve got Gabe Lullo with me, Gabe, how you doing? 

Gabe Lullo  00:43

Doing awesome, Matt. I’m a First off, I’m a huge fan of yours. I’m a huge fan of the podcast, and I love what you do. And I’m really excited to be here. So thanks for having me.

Matt Wolach  00:51

Oh, that’s awesome. Making my day gave already. I appreciate that. I’m super glad to have you here. What you’ve been doing has been really phenomenal. And I’ve been watching from afar. So I’m glad to meet you and glad to jump into this. And I want to just make sure everybody knows who you are and what you’re doing. So Gabe, he’s the CEO at Alleyoop.io. And basically, this guy is the man he has trained over 8000 salespeople across diverse businesses. And during his tenure at Allianz, he’s personally hired and manage more than 1500 SDRS (Sales Development Rep). That’s a lot folks. And with over two decades of experience in sales, marketing and executive recruitment, his strategies have significantly driven alliums growth and shaped its corporate culture. Alleyoop.io helps companies maximize ROI through lead generation, relationship management, event support and marketing. So Gabe absolutely knows his stuff. And we’re delighted to have him. Thanks for being here. Gabe.

Gabe Lullo  01:43

Thank you so much, Matt. Yeah, it’s gonna be a great show. We’re really proud of what we’ve done over the last 15 years. And we’re really excited, you know, Ally has been a phenomenal leader in the marketplace. And we’re growing aggressively right now. And so we’re having a lot of fun doing it

Matt Wolach  01:59

is always super fun. I want to go back, though, how did it all get started? Where did you come from?

Gabe Lullo  02:04

Yeah, for sure. So I actually own my own executive staffing firm right out of school, and did that for 10 years and was on the road all the time. And so my personal story is funny, I actually was looking for a company I was about to be a dad and I had need to be not on the road all the time. And so I found a company called inside sales team. And if you judge a book by its cover, that’s exactly what it is. Right? That literally was the name of the company, two brothers started it. And they were doing full cycle sales, outsource full cycle sales teams. And they saw the industry developing this role called SDR. And that’s really obviously it was born in the SaaS and tech world, small company called discover org contacted them and now zoominfo and said they need their first two ever SDRS to join that team. And I was one of those people. So I came on board and said, Hey, I’m going to do inside sales, we created a new program rebranded to Alleyoop. And we’ve doubled down on the SDR function for the last decade and moved up to CEO got to the CEO role last year. And we are doing some great things. Can we just talk real quick about I mean, I hope everybody just heard he kind of skim through that because he’s very modest. And he’s such a badass, but you went from SDR to CEO, I want to hear about that journey. That’s incredible.  Yeah, for sure. Um, you know, I took a step back, you know, from running a staffing firm to come into this company, you know, I humbled myself, and I said, Hey, listen, in order for me to be home and be close, I need to start over in order for me to help co lead this company, I needed to really do the role. And I never recruited for SDRS, before I was recruiting for executives. And so you may say, Oh, it’s a lot easier to recruit for maybe a lower pain or more entry level role. But it’s a very different world, right. And so I said to the founder, I said, Hey, if I can come in and prove myself and show you what I got, I’d love to build you a team. And that was his goal is they really wanted to build a huge SDR function. And so within 90 days, I was at the director of people role moved up to VP and then I did leave the company to do what you’ve done. I actually ran a software company for two and a half years. And the founder called me up and said, Hey, I’m looking to take a step back and get another businesses and kind of semi retire here. He’s got five kids. And so I said, Okay, what’s what’s, what’s the call about? And he said, Will you come run the company for me? And so it came back and that was two and a half years ago.

Matt Wolach  04:43

Such a cool journey. I love that and I’m sure along the way, you’ve just gained an immense amount of experience and knowledge.

Gabe Lullo  04:50

Yeah, I mean, it’s the clients we get to work with. What’s interesting about our space is we you know, have really been the founding SDR team for some of the most iconic brands that everyone’s heard of And we, as Alleyoop, the whole point of the name, right? We’re basketball fans for sure. But it’s the it’s the concept of, we do the perfect set, we set it up perfectly for the client to come in and slam dunk and get the crowd and get the win and, and be the deal. And that is our approach to the market and ad industry truly the definition of an SDR role, right. And so, you know, companies like zoominfo, outreach.io, SalesLoft, RingCentral, Adobe sign, front spin, Orem, all of those companies, and many, many more, we are their founding SDR team, no one knows it. But you know, we were the ones that started those SDR teams. And now they’ve brought that in house. And we help facilitate that process as well. So, yeah, a little bit of our brag book, but definitely something that we’ve been excited to do over the last decade.

Matt Wolach  05:52

Yeah, that’s phenomenal. I mean, those are some awesome logos to be able to tie your hat to. And I think if you think about if everybody looks at that, like those are some great companies now. But if they didn’t have those initial wins back when they were trying to build and they may not have ever gotten there, and how many companies could have been amazing if they just could have gotten over that initial hump. So what I want to ask you, Gabe is, why do so many leaders, especially in the software world struggle when trying to build an SDR team from the ground up? Why are they hurting?

Gabe Lullo  06:23

Yeah. And Vic, the founder lead said, I was asked this question last week. And it was interesting. People are always thinking, Oh, as a founder, I need to hire a VP of sales. And that VP of sales will do everything, build everything and run it and self just as good as me. The reality is, is that’s not my approach. I recommend building an SDR function by for us, of course, for you as the founder and getting you the ability, because you’re going to be the best salesperson. Now if you’re a founder that you’re a product guy, and you’re a developer like and your sales is not your strong suit. No offense, let’s just get out of the way. But if you can go ahead and truly articulate the message, you’re going to be able to sell better than anyone else. So let’s funnel those meetings and not have you prospect into your calendar to get to a point where we know product market fit. We know the metrics, we know the KPIs, we know all the predictable revenue numbers. But most importantly, we then have the revenue to then facilitate that VP of sales, because here’s what’s going to happen. The first thing that VP of sales is going to say after you hire them is I need a team of SDRS. And so you’re going to do it anyway. But it’s just going to cost you a lot more money to do it. So I would say if that’s what you’re questioning when you’re starting up, that’s how I would recommend doing it. And by the way, you know, Henry shuck was in the rotation when we were booking meetings. So I can and he was just talking about that on a podcast, we could go on SaaStr. So I can tell you for sure, that that those founders of those companies were selling just like their AES (Account Executives) were.

Matt Wolach  07:57

Yeah, Henry is the CEO and founder of zoominfo, just everybody is on the same page there. So I  want to touch on that because you’re preaching to the choir here, Gabe. If longtime listeners of the show, they’re like, oh, Matt’s told us that a long time founder led sales is the way to start for sure. Because, like Gabe said, you sell it better. But then also, when you sell first, if you’re the founder, if you sell first, you get so many advantages. First of all, you’re talking directly to your market, you can hear what they’re telling you, which means you can develop your product towards that market and their needs. You can make your marketing messaging match what fits for them, you can make your sales process align with what’s going to work with your market. So you gain so many advantages. That’s one big thing. But then the second one is when you do get some capability and you get some revenue in place. And you know, you can hire somebody to come in and run it for you. Well, you know if they’re doing it right or wrong, I talked to so many founders, and I’m sure you’ve seen this as well Gabe where they’re like, Yeah, I just hired the VP of sales, like you said, but the problem is they don’t know the market. They don’t know this or they don’t know that or they don’t know your product or your history, your company. And they fail and they didn’t have a good leg to stand on. And so if you can hand it off to somebody already knowing the process already ready to go, it makes it so much easier. And you know if they’re doing it right, because you’ve done it, it’s just amazing, right? 

Gabe Lullo  09:22

It is I mean we have three pillars here in order people, process, technology. We supply the best SDRs in the world. Why do I say that? Because they have to go through me before they’re hired. I mean, many organizations in our space don’t have the CEO doing the final interviews for all the SDRS we reason why we do that is because that literally is our product. We don’t have widgets, we don’t have warehouses, we don’t have inventory. We’re not a SaaS company. We are a service company. So our SDRS literally are our product, so they have to be best in class. So that’s people, but to your point processes is the second thing, and let’s figure that process out as a founder led sales organization So we can again, pass that over to a VP of sales, and then they can go execute. And then you can go take what you’ve learned and develop that product or create partnerships or get funding. Another thing to double down is, many clients come to us with zero intention of having revenue and close deals as the number one priority, where it is, what are those metrics? What’s the product market fit? What is the market telling your SDRS? Right that I need to know to develop my product, more features do this or that, and then also using those all those metrics and KPIs, to bring it to investors, VCs, and they can go ahead and then fund those companies based on those data points. And that is a super huge overlooked thing, mostly when working with a firm like ours is because all of that information you can use to go get more funding, which is usually what the founders are looking to do anyway, right? 

Matt Wolach  10:53

Yeah for sure. I love it. And I know that we talked about it earlier in the intro, but you’ve played a significant role in training 8000 Salespeople. What principles would you emphasize in your training programs, and just to make sure that you can ensure that success?

Gabe Lullo  11:09

Well, I’ll leave the AE (Account Executive) training to you and I was just doing a post on this and LinkedIn, it’ll be coming out next week, as you know, sales development training, and full cycle sales training is very different. And I think a lot of times companies who just you know, bring in an AE, or bring in a VP of sales, full cycle people, and they’re the ones responsible to train the SDRS, like leave the full cycle sales and closing to you, the sales rep, and leave the SDR type training to experts that are knowing the str function, because getting someone to say yes to a 30 minute appointment is a lot different than being a subject matter expert and sales engineer and closing deals and negotiating contracts, right. So what we do is we focus on a training and fundamentals of how to get people to say yes to a meeting. And just here’s a little bit of the secret sauce, we’ve broken down every SDR objection into 10 categories. So you’re going to hear a million things when you’re trying to get someone to say yes to an appointment. But we have figured out that we can Rolodex, every single thing you ever hear into 10 buckets. So if you can master how to respond to 10 conversations, essentially, you’re going to increase your batting average of getting meetings on the calendar. So we just have to really respect your role, before you understand how to train for it. Our role, the role of a sales development rep is different than marketing, and more definitely different than sales engineers, AES or even CS (Customer Success). So you just have to treat it differently. And that’s what we train. 

Matt Wolach  12:40

Yeah, I love that. And it’s so cool hearing from an expert like yourself about all these different things, the 10 different this and that. And that shows that there’s so much experience and systems behind it. That just makes it so powerful. I mean, so many times I hear people like, I don’t know, we just hired a guy and said, “Go call some people”. And it’s just the lack of process, compared to what you guys are doing is amazing. One thing I want to ask you and get your take on because I feel really strongly about it is I believe in within the sales process within the sales team specialty is critical. Because I have these people and they’re like, So we have a couple of sales guys. And either they don’t generate the leads, or they don’t work hard to close the leads. And I’m like, What are they doing everything you want them to like generate leads and close? And like, yeah, well guess what, that’s so hard for a human brain to do. Like, oh, I’m working on this thing. I’m trying to solve this, oh, wait, now I need to stop and go do this other thing. And generate leads. And what ends up happening is, let’s say once they get busy, let’s say to do a great job at generating the leads. And then they start working on the closing well, they’re gonna spend more time on that. And then they don’t generate leads, they don’t know the future. And so having someone do all of it from lead generation all the way through close becomes very, very difficult, especially if it starts working, which is crazy. I’m a big believer in specialty get somebody purely focused on generating leads. So they continue to drive the funnel, and get somebody purely focused on closing those leads. What do you think?

Gabe Lullo  14:12

Yeah, I’m a car guy, right? I like motorcycles. I like cars, like going fast. And I can tell you that when Henry Ford figured out the assembly line, it changed the game. And it’s the same process in the sales, right? You know, if you’re trying to have a guy build the entire engine, put everything together and do it like they used to. It’s just not going to be as effective. And in the same we look at the sales cycle, right or the funnel, however you want to call it. But that’s the same process here. Let the SDRS focus on prospecting. Let the you know full cycle sales focus on selling and negotiating closing deals. The reality is, is when we meet with teams, and we asked them Do they have an SDR team? They say no. And it’s okay great. How many sellers you have, they say 5 And then we interview the sellers. And we ask them what’s your percentage of prospecting throughout the day? They’re saying 70% Most of the time, they’re spending 60 to 70% of their day prospecting. So I say, Okay owner of the company, you’re having your five sellers spend 70% of their time prospecting. And you’re paying them to be closers. You’re paying them to be subject matter experts, you’re paying them for revenue. They’re very, very well paid. And yet they’re spending all their time trying to get people to say yes to a demo. What are you doing? I mean, there’s 790,000 profiles on LinkedIn right now for the for the title of SDR. So still, again, companies even in SaaS, even though this was a position that was born in SaaS, still don’t do it, or are doing it wrong, or more importantly, are now wiping out SDR teams and putting that pressure back on the AE teams for economic reasons due to the downturn. And so yeah, there’s a better way and it is to your point, specialty, make sure that you know your role, know what you’re good at, pass the baton, and do it the right way and put that process to your to your point in place.

Matt Wolach  16:03

I love it. And I was actually just working with my clients yesterday, and something you said very important a few minutes ago, a lot of times people struggle, because they’re trying to sell the product when doing cold outreach, right. So they’re trying to, hey, we have an amazing thing. It’s so cool. You need to you need to, you know, get in and let’s talk. And my big thing is, don’t sell the product, just sell the next step. And you said it perfectly, you said that they’re purely focused on getting people on to a demo. And that’s exactly how it should be if we think about the entire funnel, if you drive someone to the website. First of all, if you make an ad like on Google ads, your whole goal is just to click the link and go to the website. And then once they’re on the landing page, the whole goal is to click the CTA. And then once they’re at that next page, the whole goal is to fill out the information. Now you don’t have to sell the product, which feels like a big effort to somebody who’s cold, just sell that next step and Gabe you you illustrated that perfectly. Your team is finely tuned and focused on how do we just get someone on to the call. Now, when we’re on the call, we’re trying to sell the next step, whether that’s looking a time with the CEO or something or getting a close whatever it is. But let’s just get that next step. And it sounds like you guys are doing that great.

Gabe Lullo  17:14

Yeah, there’s another analogy to double down on it. We did a post on it recently, too. And this was one of the most engaged posts I’ve ever done, because it just resonates and it just makes sense. The SDR role is the trailer to the movie, right? So when you watch a trailer to the movie, it’s punchy, it’s fast, it’s quick, it’s high level, it’s 30 seconds, by the way, and it’s entire function is to get someone to sit down for the movie. Now, of course, the demo was the movie, right? But the reality is, is you don’t talk about the ending to the movie in the trailer, you don’t talk about everyone dies at the end of the movie in the trailer, you’re ruining the movie. And so you don’t do that. And that’s what that process is, is the whole point of that role that next step is to get them into the demo. And the biggest thing clients ask us all the time is like, Well, how would I know that your SDRS will be knowledgeable enough about my product, to go ahead and bring it to market and I will tell them two things. One, they will be they’ll probably be more knowledgeable than yours, frankly, with with an onboarding that we do, but not to be rude, I say it, we don’t want them to be. You don’t want an SDR not because we don’t want to be knowledgeable. We don’t want that call to be filled with product, product, product and features, features features. What’s the point of booking a demo if you’re doing the demo in the invitation. And by the way, they’re gonna backfire and never sit down and make a judgment call and then a decision before they even see it. That’s like saying, I’m not gonna go check out a movie and you don’t know anything about it. And so, again, you gauge the interest in the demo, not on the on the invitation call.

Matt Wolach  18:52

Yeah, I love that. This is This is amazing stuff. And unfortunately, we are getting close. But can you share some advice? If someone’s like, Okay, this sounds great, I really need to start thinking about how I’m going to structure my sales team on the whole or build my SDR team and start doing some good outreach. Can you share some advice for somebody who’s in that stage trying to figure this out?

Gabe Lullo  19:13

Well call Matt. So you can learn exactly how to how to close deals if you’re not a leader or founder who’s been closing deals yet. That’s that’s first thing. But second thing is really find a team that you want to do it in house or find something that is going to allow you to build a structure around the entire process that we’ve been talking about on this call. You know, putting that process in place is so so important. And and then also making sure that you’re using and leveraging best in class technology. I think that’s the third piece to this whole puzzle. There’s so many tools and technology out there that it’s daunting and overwhelming. I mean, most of us are all in the technology business as software companies, right. But at the end of the day, you know, you want to make sure you’re stacking and supporting those people throughout that process. Test too many times we see people, you know, come in, like you said, hey, they’re just making calls or, you know, they’re booking meetings. And, you know, here’s a list and there’s no organization. So start small, don’t fill it with a lot of people, because that’s when it’s going to break, and bring in a handful of people, but work on the process. And then once that’s done, you can just multiply and scale from there, that would be my recommendation. 

Matt Wolach  20:25

I love that it’s a great piece. I’m glad you added that. I think it’s so funny, because those of us in software sales know that if you’ve done it long enough, you’ve talked to teams who are super frustrated, because they have bad technology. That’s why we come in to try and help them with whatever we’re trying to sell. And so we sometimes forget about our own team might have that same experience with what we’re giving them. And it’s so frustrating for somebody on a team to be using bad technology. And so you’re absolutely right, if you can get them leveled up on the technology side, all the better.

Gabe Lullo  20:56

Yep, absolutely. And inspect what you expect, you know, make sure that part of that technology piece is giving you those reports and those data points to make data driven decisions. Don’t trust your gut on this one. You know, this is about data driven decisions. It’s about a repeatable process. And it’s about you know, being fanatical about the metrics. And once you’re there, you could do with two people, right? You could do with literally two people seller and an AE, once you’re there, or sorry, an SDR and an AE. And then you go from wherever you want to go. I think zoominfo has over 600 SDRS right now, just SDR. So you can see how how that goes. 

Matt Wolach  21:36

Yeah for sure. Okay, well, this has been amazing, Gabe, and I’ve really loved it. And by the way, if you’re out there like hey, what do I do? I’m not sure how to handle this hole SDR thing, call gate like you need to get in touch with Gabe and Alleyoop because they are the experts at it, they can make this happen. So Gabe, what’s the best way for our audience to learn more about you and tell you?

Gabe Lullo  21:55

I’m hyper responsive on LinkedIn. So reach out to me, Gabriel Lullo on LinkedIn, I respond to every direct message. Good, bad or ugly. So if you’re pitching me, you got to give it a good one. But, and then of course, our website Alleyoop.io

Matt Wolach  22:11

Okay, perfect. We’ll put all that in the show notes. So if you’re watching or listening, definitely check that out. So you can see all that good stuff. But Gabe, this has been fantastic. Thanks so much for coming on and sharing all your knowledge.

Gabe Lullo  22:20

Thank you so much, Matt. It’s been a pleasure. 

Matt Wolach  22:23

Likewise. and everybody out there thank you for being here. Make sure that if you like this, if you thought this was awesome, not only subscribe, but we’re looking for reviews as well go ahead and put a review in there. I will be very grateful to but also other people who are looking for helpful content they will be grateful to as well. So thank you for being here. We’ll see you next time. Take care.