🎙️ Transcript: Prospecting Days - How to Boost Pipeline and Team Morale

🎙️ Transcript: Prospecting Days - How to Boost Pipeline and Team Morale

The Close Mode Podcast
"Prospecting Days: How to Boost Pipeline and Team Morale"
Brian Dietmeyer, Ralph Barsi
January 5, 2024

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Brian Dietmeyer:
Welcome back to another episode of Close Mode, the Enterprise Sales Show. I am Brian Dietmeyer, and I am really lucky to be chatting with Ralph Barsi today, who is VP of Sales at Kahua. Ralph, welcome to the show.

Ralph Barsi:
Thanks, Brian. Great to be here.

So, having...a little side note...having been married to a Hawaiian woman for 20 years who's very active and nationally competitive hula dancer, I have to ask you about Kahua. That sounds Hawaiian to me.

It is. Kahua means "platform" in Hawaiian. Our company serves the construction industry in providing a project management platform that solves a myriad of problems for construction owners. So yes, Kahua means platform and we're proud of that name.

I have to assume that somewhere, some senior leader in the company traveled to Hawaii at somewhere and brought that word in because it's cool. I dunno, I've seen Hawaiian and any other company name.

Well, you can't rival the spirit of aloha, as you know. So, if we can include it in the spirit and culture of our company, we're going to do it all day.

Yep. So, in the pre-interview, we talked about a lot of things and you had mentioned this Prospecting Day that you've done a couple times, and I had mentioned to you that, yeah, I heard of this, I've seen it done, and your approach was so detailed that that's what we're going to talk about today is Prospecting Day.

So, let's start with, so why is it important? Why even do a Prospecting Day beyond the obvious? What are your thoughts on that?

Awesome. So yeah, there's this...you know this as well as I do...that there's a number of different problems that a Prospecting Day can solve. And just to define Prospecting Day, this is a collective effort done really by the whole company.

So, it requires effort, attention, dedication from a number of different business units on one specific day, focused on prospecting into the marketplace.

And some of the problems it solves include, there's never enough pipeline, for example. And pipeline, as we know, at least good, viable pipeline yields revenue - and revenue is known to solve all problems.

So, there's never enough pipeline, never enough revenue. So it ticks that box. We know that the buying cycle is often vague, so it involves a lot of different stakeholders and processes, et cetera, and requires trusted advisors to help buyers navigate through that process.

And if the buyers don't know you or your company or the stakeholders within your company, it's going to be rough for both parties.

So a Prospecting Day kind of gets you out in the field in front of people.

And then lastly, fish. If you go into a fishing boat on the lake, fish, don't just jump into the boat. You know what I mean? You've got to have the right bait.

You've got to go out to the right location on the lake at the right time of day, drop your line in the right spot, be patient, be diligent about it, and guess what? You're going to start catching fish. Same applies to prospecting.

Yep. It's so funny you say that. We just had that discussion here the other day about which pond should we fish in? We have our fishing tackle already, but we have to choose the pond.

So, to keep that metaphor going, you have a really detailed five step approach, which we'll share in the show notes, but I want to hit at a high level, all five steps. Can we start with step one? Give me a high level of kickoff.

Sure. So just to zoom out a little bit, these five steps really represent pre-Prospecting Day efforts versus during Prospecting Day versus post.

So, the first three represent pre-Prospecting Day, and the very first step is determine the why and the how.

So, that is driven from Simon Sinek's "Golden Circle" where he says, leaders who are really effective are always starting with the purpose, always starting with the why and the center of the bullseye, and then the outer ring is the how, and then finally the what.

So, as a company, we really want to determine the why are we even doing this in the first place? Why does prospecting make sense? And then we get into the tactics of how it works. So that's at a high level what step one is.

Got it. So if I am reading it right, the next step is team prep, which to me is really interesting because I imagine this is terrifying for some. So talk to me a little bit about team prep.

Yeah, that's well said. It is. So, we have to plan the day. We have to set a date for when Prospecting Day is going to be. So we will typically announce a Prospecting Day a good four to six weeks out from when it's happening.

So, that helps quell the fears of the non-sales folks who are not used to this type of exercise. And it helps us really provide context and some suggested tactics for how everybody could really get involved.

Everyone from sales engineers to marketing folks to people on the partner team right up to the C-suite. Everybody wants to be involved. Everybody understands for the most part why we need revenue, pipeline and revenue. At the end of the day, they just want to play a part.

And so this is where planning really gets critical because you really need to orchestrate who's doing what, why they're doing it, give them suggestions, et cetera. And we can go into some detail if you'd like.

Yeah, yeah. It feels like a side benefit would be to...sales sometimes...I don't want to say has a bad name in companies, but people are like, "Oh, they're cocky. The salespeople have got it made. They make too much money."

I imagine there's a little bit of an appreciation for the sales team for non-sales people who participate in Prospecting Day. Is that fair?

It is fair. But the feeling's mutual. It works as a two-way street. There's a lot of work that, for example, customer success managers do that salespeople are unfamiliar with and they feel like, "oh, you just tend to the account wait for the renewal," when that's not it at all.

There are so many deep mechanics that go into their work that it's educational and informative for everybody as well.

Absolutely. So, let's talk to a little bit about operations on Prospecting Day. So we have the why, we had some prep, and now this thing's going live. It's launch day. What's going on that day?

Yeah, so on launch day, obviously in that pre-Prospecting Day period, you want to start lathering up the morale and you really want to start getting people fired up to be successful that day.

If whoever's orchestrating the Prospecting Day, it's typically a CRO or a sales leader, or sometimes it's someone from the C-suite, but it's rare.

If it's a smaller company, you're going to see C-suite, reps, and execs leading a Prospecting Day. But once you get everybody fired up about what's ahead, and expecting to be successful that day, now comes down to breaking the day up into rounds.

So you could have four 90 minute rounds with a nice break. You've got a Salesforce dashboard, for example, that's framed up, that is going to be monitoring and managing the metrics that you want to be tracking throughout the day.

So at the end of a given round, you can communicate by way of maybe a Slack channel, or maybe you get on a quick Zoom call with the team, or maybe a recorded video goes out to the company saying, "Hey, it's 10:00 AM local time.

Here's some of the spikes that we've seen in today's activity. Here's what the pipeline has looked like since we kicked things off this morning, looking forward Round Two, Round Three, et cetera.

And then essentially we'll have a happy hour, maybe at the end of the day or the end of the week, to celebrate and recognize all the great work and results that were realized on Prospecting Day."

And I'm curious how many rounds are there, because I'm wondering how long you go before you give people a breather. And I love the idea of the share in between the rounds, if I heard that right.

That's part of that ongoing revving people up as well. So yeah, two questions: How many rounds and talk a little bit more about the motivation level of the share between rounds.

Sure. So typically a day in the life might go like this: From 8:45 to 9, just a 15-minute call happens to kick things off, as we talked about, and get everybody fired up.

And then rounds typically last between 60 and 90 minutes, so maybe Round One, and it'd be a total of four rounds. So Round One would go from 9am to 10am.

And if you're in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and I'm in Danville, California, I'm sorry, 9 to 10am would be Eastern for you would be Pacific for me, that'd be Round One.

You as, let's say an account executive would be focused solely for that one hour on, well, I have a list of target accounts or key contacts within those target accounts that I want to reach out to, and that's how you'd invest that time.

And then there's a half hour break, and then that's when we could send a video message as to how the round went based on the results we've seen in the dashboard, because a lot of this activity does need to be logged into Salesforce.

So some companies can report on it in real time, some companies might need a day to aggregate the data - let people log in their activities - and then they can share results maybe a day or two later, it's fine. It still accomplishes what we're trying to get done.

And then, yeah, 10:30 to 12 would be Round Two; 12 to 1 would be a lunch; 1-2:30, Round Three; 3-4:30, Round Four; and then at 4:30 you have a happy hour.

"Hey, Brian really crushed it today. He made x number of calls. Here's some great success stories we have"...and you get that collective effort and that collective spirit riled up.

So you make me think, I want to back up a little bit to the prep. So I'm wondering two part question: one, what sort of practice are there, is there for people who are new to this? And then the other part is how do you scrub and come up with good lists?

Oh, okay. So let's start with the second one first. Obviously that's going to come down to what your ICP is. That's going to come down to if you're an account executive or a CSM, for example, owning a specific patch or territory.

Let's say, in the US, oftentimes you want to look at what we call the "NFL cities." What are the major metropolitan areas? What companies, or people within those areas, really fit within our ICP?

And that's how we start to generate our lists...is who we want to proactively go after and who we want to attract to us at the same time. The first part was, what was the first part?

Well, it's about practice. I just wondered if there's any kind of rehearsal or role play or anything, especially for the new players.

Yep. So yes, and oftentimes on Prospecting Day, because you want to see such lift in a short amount of time, there's a lot of prep work that can go into it.

For example, you could send a lot of preemptive emails to target accounts and to key contacts to say, "Hey, we'd love to meet with you on Wednesday at 10am local time," or, "If I call between this time and this time, these are the three specific things I'd like to talk with you about."

And you're going to notice the probability of them actually booking that call is a lot higher than if you were cold calling them.

But again, I don't shy away from cold calling. I have no problem with picking up a phone and talking with somebody out of the blue, but there's a lot of dry runs that must happen if the sentiment of a specific team or business unit is low and they're not confident about the upcoming Prospecting Day.

Well, their leaders need to take responsibility and own kind of the preparation and planning for that specific team.

I'm curious about the structure of the calls. You can get in there and do a pitch, do a demo. How do you set up, what are they actually talking to folks about when they're banging the phones?

It's a wide range, Brian. So our sales engineers or solutions consultants may conduct a demo and that counts as Prospecting Day.

It's a demo they booked with their account executive for that specific day they conduct the demo. That's awesome. That's a meaningful conversation for us. It allows us to gauge whether or not we've got a real prospect here and a real active buying cycle happening.

There's...customer success reps, for example, might have a conversation with an existing customer about, "Hey, these were the three problems we aimed to solve at the beginning of our relationship. How have we done? What could we improve on? What's coming down the pike in terms of maybe annual initiatives that we can be helping with, et cetera?"

Or if it's a really established relationship with a customer, "Hey, who else should we be talking to that we're not? Are there any companies or people out there in the marketplace that don't know about us yet? And would you mind warming up an introduction for us?"

So it really runs the gamut in terms of how you can engage the market on a Prospecting Day.

Yeah, that's really interesting to me, the notion of custom scripts that didn't enter my mind, and that makes complete sense.

I also wonder about the folks who are on the receiving end of this, and if they're getting a call from someone who typically doesn't make sales call, is there a customer reaction to, I wonder, I don't want to lead the witness, but I wonder if some people don't enjoy it who are actually getting the call and appreciate what's happening on this day. What's the customer reaction to that?

That is a great question. It's a real risk, Brian. So anybody listening who's entertaining a Prospecting Day, think about the outreach message and think about this, whether it's Prospecting Day or not, if you want that customer or prospect or potential partner to get the warm and fuzzies about having a conversation about their business and moving the needle for them, they can't wait to talk to you.

So it's all a matter of how you reach out to them. If instead you reach out and say, "Hey, Brian, Wednesday the 9th is what we call Prospecting Day, and I kind of have to go down this list of people and you're on the list. Can I talk to you for five minutes?"

I wouldn't feel comfortable on the receiving end of that. So be mindful and cognizant of how you're reaching out to people in the first place. And you can set the tone right from the get go.

So let's talk about mistakes or the hardest part. What if you were to call somebody up? And again, your list which people will get is really thorough. But yeah, what's the mistakes people should avoid that you learned in building out this approach?

Not having an owner is a big problem. A lot of people think everybody on sales...on the sales team...is going to take care of this, and that's not always the case.

You need a single orchestrator, conductor, project manager to see this thing through. And you need somebody who is very organized, is a clear communicator, adopts all vehicles of communicating to get the messages across to all the different business units because we all pick up information and absorb it differently.

So being aware of how people pick up that information, again, goes back to why we're doing this in the first place.

Help illustrate a vision of what's ahead and what it is that we can build together if we can pull off successful Prospecting Days.

And then if you want to reel in the rain clouds, you start talking about, "Hey, every system's perfectly designed to get the results it gets.

So if you're kind of frustrated today, it's probably because of things you did not do three months ago.

So what we're going to do is we're going to ignore and avoid distractions, and we're going to focus for one day on prospecting into our marketplace, and I think we're going to surprise ourselves as to what we can accomplish as a team."

And now there's a broader benefit, and that is you've got that morale going, the spirit, the teamwork, a collective effort. People feel like they're heading north together with their company, and that's invaluable. You can't even put words to that.

Yeah, that's actually a great lead into another question I had about results. So there's business results, and then I wanted to talk to you about maybe we call 'em the soft results or the morale results. So yeah, can you hit on both of those a little more?

Sure. Yeah. The hard results, Brian, could obviously point to, well, "what's the pipeline we generated of the target accounts, the high value target accounts that we own?" "What percentage of those accounts did we engage? How many activities did we conduct on this single day?"

Those are kind of the hard metrics that you can track. The soft metrics, especially when you do Prospecting Days consistently are, I mean, they're infinite.

So for example, you start to build a culture of proactivity, of people who take initiative, of people who hold themselves accountable, of a team that has high standards and high expectations, knowing that, well, maybe that Prospecting Day didn't go so well, but I know we're going to have another one in the next six to eight weeks, so I'm going to be even better.

Sales reps like to point fingers at their SDRs or their BDRs for not producing enough pipeline, but they rarely put themselves on their list of excuses.

And a Prospecting Day holds them accountable as well for turning over all the stones in their territory. Or maybe there's an account in your pipeline that's been sitting there for six months and is inactive and has not been engaged in some time. So a Prospecting Day is going to prompt you to get moving.

There's a big difference - James Clear talks about this a lot in his book, Atomic Habits - between planning and acting. It's one thing as a company to say, "You know what? I love this whole Prospecting Day concept. We're going to do one of these."

But then there's a big difference when you actually do one, fall on your face, fix it, do another one a month or two later. That's a big, big deal for companies, and I guarantee it's going to drive those hard metrics we talked about at the start.

And I believe in your report, you reported on pipeline adds. What were some of the actual hard metrics you had?

I did. So just for some clarity, the report that Brian and I are talking about, it's a report that I produced for Scale Venture Partners, and it's essentially on how to generate pipeline for your organization through Prospecting Days.

So I've had the privilege of working for small companies as well as large companies. I've employed Prospecting Day at all these different companies that I've worked for.

And some hard metrics we've seen is we've engaged over 25%, for example, of our target accounts, which is a big deal. And by engaged, it doesn't just mean I reached out to them, but we actually heard back from them: corresponded, had a conversation, had a demo, et cetera.

So that's a big deal. We added millions of dollars to the pipeline. And some businesses can argue, well, that's great that it was millions of dollars in the early days. Pipeline matures, a lot of things fall off the vine, et cetera.

Yeah, but it wasn't there a day before Prospecting Day. So that's a huge benefit to see. And then of course, it's a lot of the soft stuff we talked about where you get a whole team fired up and heading in the same direction.

That part's pretty cool. What's the timeline for someone thinking about doing this from sort of, "I got the idea" to Prospecting Day.

Love it. So if you really want to keep things real, you could do Prospecting Day tomorrow if you want.

Put a quick checklist together, identify who's the owner, what do we want to accomplish tomorrow? What are the desired and quantifiable outcomes that we're after? Who are our stakeholders? What are the communications going to be? Let's rock and roll.

You could sit and talk about it all day long and think, "Oh man, latter half of the year we're going to do our first one." Do you know how much pipeline you could have generated by the time the latter half of the year shows up?

So it all comes down to the leadership team. It all comes down to the need, and it all comes down to who's going to take action in this company and get things moving.

Are there ongoing reports? It would seem to me it'd be pretty motivational if you got leads or warm leads and two months after there's reporting about, "Hey, this thing just turned into this opportunity."

Yeah, absolutely. And that goes back to how the different business units play a part. We've got our demand gen team, for example, and they're responsible for investing in leads to be produced.

And so maybe they're measuring twice and cutting once in terms of preparing a campaign that's going to roll right into Prospecting Day.

It could be about a specific vertical that you're targeting or a specific geo territory that you're targeting. They can play a part in that. And then you asked another question about the actual, I think it was the value of the leads or the makeup of the leads.

Yeah. Well, it's more about the reporting. Two months after maybe one of these turns into a big win. I imagine you report those out and that's a shot in the arm to the people who participated.

A hundred percent. So for example, at Kahua, we will hold a weekly revenue meeting on Friday morning, and so many different people are on that call.

It's an opportune time for us to tout all the work and the results that we realized from Prospecting Day. And we'll call out some of the people who did really well. We'll call out some of the metrics that we talked about, those hard metrics.

And then we'll circle back in a quarter. If we convene as a sales team for maybe our mid-year kickoff, we'll talk about what became of those opportunities and leads that were produced on Prospecting Day, just like you would a daily traditional pipeline.

You want to see what's become of the meetings and what's become of the opportunities. If they fell out, why did they fall out? If they moved forward, why did they move forward? et cetera. So yeah, there's a lot of impact that you're going to see down the track.

That's cool. So are there any points you wanted to cover today that I missed in my questions? Any really important piece that you feel like you didn't have a chance to get out there?

Sure. Just that more businesses than you think are already doing this and are very active and focused on Prospecting Day. They do it regularly.

I'm not the first one here to invent the wheel in talking about Prospecting Day or publishing a paper, but I know it's effective, I've seen it work, like I said, in companies large and small.

So yeah, if you've not done it yet, welcome. The fact that you're still listening to Brian and me talk about it means you've probably got a viable interest in making one happen.

Well, know that because it's been done and is being done by so many, there's a lot of help and there's a lot of resources, Brian and I included, that can help you get started because that's always tough to do.

Yep, no it's cool. I love the business results and the team building part. I think that the soft part is kind of a big deal to have everybody involved in growth. So I appreciate – go ahead...

On that note: So we've talked a couple times about the C-suite. So the leaders of the organization have such rich and robust networks that oftentimes they know people in the target accounts that we're trying to engage, but they might not know that it's even on our list.

So we have to do our due diligence to find out, well, "who is it that they already know in this organization? And let me tee up maybe an email, a warm introduction that they can then tailor and edit and forward to this contact."

And when that happens and we get a connection or an engagement, now they're all fired up.

Now they see the benefit and the advantages that we're gaining from a Prospecting Day, and of course, they're dying to know when the next one is and what it is they could do to roll up their sleeves and be part of it. And that's super fun.

Yep. No, I love all of it. Like I said, upfront, I was excited to talk about, because you're right, if people haven't done it, the outline you have is super detailed with checklists, which will help quite a bit.

And also really appreciate your time. I mean, we're all slammed. It's the first of the year, and your willingness to share all of this is really appreciated.

Oh, that's awesome. Thanks, Brian. It was great to be here. For anybody listening now, at the start of the year, decide to be a big success this year in everything that you do.

We've got an abundance of opportunity in front of us. Let's go get it. Make sure you are focused more on attracting the opportunities versus pursuing them, and it's going to be a great, great year for all of you.

Yep, I'm ready to go hit the phones. Thanks, man. I appreciate that.