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Enterprise Class Sales Development: An Interview With Liz Cain

TOPO is committed to bringing the sales development community the latest trends, data, and best practices from the fastest-growing companies in the world. Today, we interview Liz Cain, the Senior Director of Global Business Development at NetSuite. She’ll share her thoughts on sales development best practices, goals, challenges, technology, and metrics.

Editor’s note: NetSuite refers to their sales development team as “business development”. We left NetSuite’s terminology in Liz’ answers including the acronym BDR (Business Development Rep).

Use outbound prospecting tactics on every lead including marketing generated leads

Question 1: What decision did you made that had the biggest impact on your sales development team’s success?

Specialization has had the biggest impact on our business development team’s success. We’ve moved away from the generalist model and specialized our team both in terms of inbound/outbound focus and industry alignment. Our BDR team is divided between people focused on inbound lead qualification and outbound prospecting. We advocate prospecting for EVERY single lead and ask our team to seek out a minimum of 3 contacts on a marketing generated account. While everyone on the business development team is doing their own prospecting, the specialization has given us the ability to focus on speed of touch when it comes to high quality inbound leads.

Liz Cain

In order to align with our sales team, we have also verticalized our group. Each BDR is assigned to a sales team and is tasked with becoming an expert in their industry – software, manufacturing, retail, etc. This level of specialization has increased productivity and allows our BDRs to perfect their messaging.

Use automated routing and nurturing to manage high volumes of marketing leads

Question 2: What is the biggest challenge your sales development team is facing in 2015?

The volume of marketing leads is the biggest challenge we face in 2015. NetSuite has an amazing marketing machine. Our demand gen and industry marketing teams are filling the top of the funnel and we are partnering to figure out the best follow up strategy. Our goal is to get to every lead as fast possible, but when we do large imports, attend trade shows or host events, we end up with an influx of leads. Managing the daily lead flow from our website and campaigns, in addition to these spurts of high volume, has proven difficult while maintaining the speed of touch and consistent high-touch prospecting plan we strive for with all leads. We’re leveraging automated routing and nurture programs to augment the work of the BDR team and will continue to refine the approach this year.

Make sales enablement interactive and accessible

Question 3: What are the sales development team’s biggest initiatives for 2015?

Our team grew fast. We launched the program in 2012 and have grown to over 100 people worldwide. With a globally distributed workforce and rapid hiring (our BDRs average <12 months in seat before promotion, which means constant promotions and limited tenure across the team), making sure that everyone has the information they need at their fingertips is key.  If you run a large team, you know these challenges – process inefficiencies, silos of information, multiple word docs circulating, version control issues, and a constant flurry of emails. We found that our team was no longer consuming the information and the processes we designed were not being adopted in the way we expected.

Millennials consume information differently and we needed to adapt our approach to make the content more interactive and accessible. We spent Q1 designing and implementing a new internal website that will act as a quick reference guide for our team and replace the many emails and word docs circulating across offices. Over the course of the year, we will augment our first release with enhanced FAQs, a call recording library, marketing assets and substantial product and industry training.

Use metrics to measure quantity, quality, and activity

Question 4: What are the top 3 metrics you use to measure your sales development team’s performance?

Our team was founded on dual goals and we measure our performance against both:

  • To accelerate lead generation for our direct sales team
  • To build a pipeline of talent to promote into our sales organization

From a lead standpoint, we look at both leading and lagging indicators. We recently moved to routing 100% of inbound leads through our BDR team. With this change, we’ve put an increased focus on consistency – adding 3 contacts to every lead, following a strict high-touch prospecting plan, and revisiting leads regularly. While our ultimate goal is still to contribute to the company’s pipeline and subsequently revenue number, we want our frontline team laser-focused on the metrics they can influence day to day. These include:

  • Measure quantity: number of qualified leads promoted to the direct sales team
  • Measure quality: conversion rate of leads promoted to prospect (sales accepts the lead)
  • Measure activity: adherence to lead touch plans including # of contacts worked, # of dials/emails, # of connects

When it comes to evaluating talent, the measurement is more subjective but is tantamount to growing our sales organization. We have to hire to plan, develop the individuals on our team, find the right promotion paths and retain talent year over year. These are the discussions I am having with my management team every week.

Live by the motto: “If it isn’t in the CRM, it doesn’t exist”

Question 5: What technology is having the biggest impact on your sales development team’s performance?

Our CRM usage has had the biggest impact on our team’s performance. You had to know this was coming…NetSuite is the leading provider of cloud-based business management software and we drink the kool-aid internally. My team lives in NetSuite’s CRM. From lead and contact management to activity tracking and scheduling, our team motto is – “If it isn’t in NetSuite, it doesn’t exist”.

We publish a dashboard to our team to create visibility into key metrics and transparency across the offices. Our dashboards cover 3 key areas:

  • Reminders/to dos/checklist for the day
  • Performance & attainment
  • Activity tracking & leading indicators

NetSuite’s CRM gives us a true 360 degree view of the customer and allows us to track downstream influence on pipeline and revenue in real time.

Today’s Author:  Liz Cain is the Senior Director of Global Business Development at NetSuite (NYSE:N), the industry’s leading provider of cloud-based financials / ERP and omnichannel commerce software suites. Liz’s team is responsible for recruiting, hiring, and onboarding regular classes of business development representatives and managing the daily operations of the 100+ person BDR program including inbound lead qualification, outbound prospecting, the development and administration of product, sales, business and industry training, and coordination of campaign. In 2014, The American Association of Inside Sales Professionals selected Liz as the “Spirit Award” winner for her enthusiasm and advocacy for advancing the profession of inside sales.

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