AI For Sales In A COVID World With Jakob Thusgaard
Jakob Thusgaard might have stumbled upon sales accidentally, but he knew that from then on, he wouldn’t be contented staying within Denmark alone. Thus, YourSales was born. In this COVID world that we live in now, sales has pretty much taken a dramatic turn, which is why Jakob shares his insights about how SDR/BDR outsourcing has changed adapted with Chad Burmeister. In this episode, Jakob discusses what has changed in sales in the first 60 days since COVID and where he predicts the industry is headed next. He also talks about the role that sales outsourcing plays in the new age of touch-free business.
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AI For Sales In A COVID World With Jakob Thusgaard
I'm here with Jakob. I'm not going to pronounce his last name, I’ll let him do that. It’s as hard as mine, Burmeister. Jakob, let's hear your last name.
I'm Jakob with YourSales. I've done so much it's a national business that I've forgotten about having people pronounce that last name. It doesn't matter.
Jakob with YourSales. I assume that's your email address Jakob@YourSales.com?
I'm excited to have Jakob here because both of us are in a similar industry. We help companies build and grow their pipelines and we're both seeing what's going on with COVID and how that's impacting people's selling philosophies and strategies. Do they outsource? Do they insource? We're going to peel it all back. Hang on for the ride. Great to see you again. Let's get this going. The topic is AI for Sales in a COVID World. We're not saying post-COVID world notice because we believe that there are another 12, 18 months ahead. Nobody knows where, how long the changes will be felt. We're going to appeal into that with a series of questions. Let's go ahead and get started. Jakob, we already got your name so YourSales, tell us a little bit about your company and where'd you grow up.
I now live outside of Amsterdam in the Netherlands. I am Danish by region. I grew up in Denmark but as soon as I could from a professional perspective of wanting to go into national and not wanting to change from doing business in Denmark to doing business internationally. I figured out the best way of being able to learn other cultures would be to move outside of Denmark. I moved away from Denmark in 2000 and I've been doing international business ever since. In 2012, I launched YourSales and with YourSales I help companies around the world with their sales growth. That can be done by providing me lead generation, or the dedicated reps. We deliver sales development reps, BDRs, any kind of rep, account executives, account managers, and customer success, which I believe is part of sales. For new and old reps, they're all part of what we deliver to companies anywhere in the world. We've delivered our services to customers in the hunt for sales in North America, South America, all of Europe, Asia, Asia Pacific, and all over the place. I'm all into B2B sales and it's all I've ever done. It's all I'm ever going to going to do.
You've got a little bit of experience here. Denmark is where you're born. What'd you do after that? You went to college or where'd you go?
I have a Business degree from a college in Denmark and moved into the business after that. I ended up in sales by coincidence, came in working, and saying a student in an office where they sold video conferencing and worked physically close to a team that was understaffed. Quickly they said, "We can use this guy to maybe answer the phone." I was talking about answering the phone and soon enough I was doing short demos. After that, I was handling my own customers and going out to provide demos of these video conferencing boxes is back in the day. We were talking about the '90s. There was no Skype for business. There was no Zoom, forget all that stuff. It was a video conferencing system with screens that were about as deep as they were wide. It was a completely different line, no broadband internet lines. It was all ISDN and regular telephone lines.
Think about if this pandemic would have happened in 1995, we wouldn't have been with you.
We’d have gone mad long ago. That would have been terrible. That would have been a true nightmare.
There's always a silver lining, at least we have our Zoom video.
Anything that we do now would've taken much longer. I would have been inefficient. If it's about the internet lines, the bandwidth, and the software that we have now, it's way more efficient. Any of the cloud-based software that we have now did not exist back then. It didn't have the SalesFlare, Pipedrive, Salesforces, any of those CRM systems, they didn't exist back then.
You think of the place where that became live meeting that became Microsoft Teams is what it might be called now. All of those things spawned off of the place where invention. That's interesting. Let's get into that. Let's do two things. I want to move forward to this one first, because how have things changed with COVID-19? We talked about 100% of people now have been moved to the home. Everybody's an inside salesperson, that's one. I'm also seeing new, cool, products come out and services. Let's peel this one back. If you were to say, what are the top 2 or 3 things in sales that have changed since COVID-19? What would you say those would be?
We saw already before COVID-19 back then we saw that people are starting to use social networking as a starting point for relationship building much more than in a contribution to also telephone and email so your telephone still works. Unfortunately, we see that some people that these are assumptions flying around that we now have COVID-19. Some of the ways of outreach that have worked in the past don't work anymore which are erroneous at best and disastrous at worst. We still can reach out to people in many of the same ways that we could pre COVID-19. It's that people make these assumptions that the methods of old don't work anymore. Part of the transition is that people are getting increasingly used to using things, especially with LinkedIn or searching for new clients, but also for outreach. That's being accelerated by COVID-19.
That's something that we can see safely for most of what we've seen during the COVID-19 situation and is acceleration rather than revolution. We see an acceleration of evolution rather than a revolution in COVID-19. We've always been talking about the ways that we can do everything remotely and we could do everything that we do in sales. Actions that we could have taken remotely for the past 10, 15 years it's that we have always been more comfortable moving into an office and doing things from that. Now that we are forced to work from home, things are starting to adapt more rapidly and people are getting increasingly used to work from home doing everything from home. We're seeing this evolution acceleration that is certainly good for companies that are enabling that transition.
That's a good point. Technology companies have had inside sales for a long time. Most of the time, from my experience anyway, over the last decade or so is that we as managers and leaders always wanted to have our people in the office to be able to manage activities, sales calls and quality assurance. With the advent of tools like Chorus and Gong and ExecVision and other CRM in sales, acceleration technology I'm seeing a productivity improvement with people that we work with and our sellers. Would you say the same thing? Can it enhance and improve the results by moving to a home environment?
It certainly can. It's not a given that it will. There are some sales professionals that'll need a little personal development in order to be a good fit for being a remote worker whilst others will work more productively in that situation. It depends a little bit on the personality type and how well of a fit they're in that particular situation. Some of the things that I've seen is that not everybody is going to be performing well in a remote scenario. They simply need employees or colleagues to ramp up them in order to feel motivated and driven towards success whilst others will be thankful for the peace and quiet that they now have to focus on the task at hand, which you are, and depend on your personality.
One of the great things of this situation is that we finally realized that there's a subset of people which are plus the 30 years of age that will start to have kids will maybe want to meet their families once in a while and then you didn't get to know the children and all this. Working from home makes that possible. We saw that already pre COVID-19 and you see it even more now that we have called the COVID-19 situation. That an increasing amount of people are starting to perform at work and also stopped posting funny Instagrams with their kids invading their "office space" during the COVID-19 situation that’s getting the best of both and starting to see how they can work remotely.
The other thing I'm seeing and I wonder if you're seeing this on the other side of the planet as well is that traditional industries that have been belly-to-belly selling, let's say. Other industries like insurance, I spoke with the head of inside sales from a company that has been around since 1955. They have thousands of sellers in the world. After that many years, they're saying, "We better learn how to play with the new rules." Are you seeing other industries outside of technology finally embrace the art of inside selling and remote selling?
Most of the clients that we have with yourselves are technology companies in some shape or form. What's interesting though, is that some of the industries that they are selling to, where you might have said that some of them are more traditional industries and also from a buying perspective and would prefer a belly-to-belly sales process this you put it, they seem to be now more keen to do any buying that specifically face-to-face. For instance, we have a couple of insurance tech companies, and then it's interesting, you mentioned insurance. A couple of tech companies that we're doing the sales funnel for and they are seeing great results. In fact, that seems surprisingly good results. We were happy to get them on board and happy to get going. Now that they are there, that we're completely hitting it out of the park for those companies and that wasn't a surprise given the industry that they're selling to.
We talked about it moved to inside sales, other industries. What about the tools and technologies that are changing? I like to ask it this way. What's your favorite sales technology that most people may not have heard about yet? Is there something that you're using? Maybe I can share one for you. SalesIntel is a data provider and right at the beginning of COVID, we did a couple of tests and it was taken 50 to 70 to 1 dial the connect. If you call the switchboard, a lot of these companies hadn't bought RingCentral phones, or they hadn't hooked up Avaya to autoroute from their office something to their mobile. In the early days, it was from 50 to 170 to 1, in some cases. We discovered SalesIntel has a column in their data called the Work Mobile Number. These are mobile numbers that were scanned off of business cards. We know it's a valid, legit recent number. We got it down to a 10 to 1 dial the connect. Four, five, or seven times more effective than calling switchboard. That was a big hack we found in this post-COVID world. Any big eye-opening moments for you that you've discovered?
Some are enough for me, not so much during COVID. What you're mentioning is the biggest one because the biggest challenge that we've had so far out as an industry that we've had is that calling the switchboard didn't make any sense anymore because there was nobody home. Finding the mobile numbers has been the biggest challenge for what's worked best for me has been to rework sequences so that they need to be multichannel either way. Reworking sequences to use combinations of LinkedIn, connecting with people on LinkedIn, working with content on LinkedIn, and using email in order to get that final piece of the puzzle that we can use to reach out to people and getting an engaging conversation, that's been working well. Pre-COVID and also during COVID, I'm more surprised during COVID. I'm amazed at how many people have not discovered sales automation yet where you got to explain what things like Sapio are. Meanwhile, you would think that Sapio is making any API integration from one piece of software to another piece of software would be basic. It's not state-of-the-art anymore.
It's a business person who can drag and drop. Little technical assistance is even required. You might have someone technical there to overlook your shoulder.
Eventually, you should have that this should indeed be a sales operations team that ends up taking full responsibility for those things certainly as organizations grow that is highly recommendable. If we're talking about having thoughts on what might be possible if we have this year's trigger, what can we do with it and being a little bit creative? I keep being a little surprised at what people don't know. For sellers of technology and consultants in the sales space, there's a huge opportunity to educate people with regard to the business needs and the positive business impact of having alternate automation and AI in your business. That is to focus on solving the problems of the sales funnel, maximizing the sales time for sales reps, and having AI and sales automation tools to take care of maximizing that time is incredibly important.
Last question. This has been an interesting conversation, while we're in the thick of things, it's always good to pick your head up, look around, see and hear what other people are doing and we've shared some of that. This is a trick question read it as such, how should a sales pro decide what tools are valid for him or her? I've always been a bleeding-edge technologist whether I was a rep, a manager, VP, or now CEO, it doesn't matter. I'm always going to go out, test, measure, and try new things so I could be different and be more competitive than the average person. A lot of salespeople if we empowered every single salesperson to be a rogue lone wolf I don't know if that would work either. How do you balance that when you say, "There are 5,000 tools you could go buy, I need you to use these 2 or 3 CRM, LinkedIn Navigator, or telephone?" How do you balance those two equations and still encourage your people to be creative and yet also stay within the guidelines of what the company tells them they should be focused on?
As an organization, this is about having an understanding of what your clients need to buy? What are the elements that play a role in them making a decision and what do they need from you in order for them to be able to make that decision? If you can build a process that delivers that and see where you can automate that and stay on top of how to continuously evolve that process, that's a good step forward. That's put the sales tools that salespeople need in their hands and help them remain productive and competitive.
Don't chase the tools, but chase the business problem and then bring in tools that are a part of it.
If a sales rep uses a tool and has no process so no aim, that tool in particular if it's a tool that automates anything, there's a real risk that it'll take them to a dark place quickly. Whereas if you think things through and you've deployed tools in a way that is aligned with your strategy and tactically sound, that's a much higher chance that you'll produce some desirable results. We will have the situation at times where whilst the organization is doing its best to also provide sales tools through salespeople that they need. Salespeople are supposed to be the masters of their own craft, they're supposed to know what tools are out there. That's how the organization gets to know of these tools. That's how I see it. Every single salesperson should try themselves of being the one who tells the organization that there's now something else emerging that the organization might want to deploy in the meantime, should the organization decide to not do that? I think it is up to the sales professional to decide whether or not they knew who they dated for themselves.
An example could be schedulers, something super simple that is free to use in that way too many organizations totally ignore it. Sending over a link for any schedule it doesn't matter which one. There are many automatic schedulers out there, many are using Calendly, but there's Cogsworth and YouCanBook.me and God knows whatever else. There are many, there's a full list of them over at the YourSales website. Many don't use them. I still come across people that have never seen a scheduler before and thinking it's a smart way to book, timing each other's agenda without friction yet, why aren't organizations providing the sales professionals with this tools that were simple? In those situations, sales professionals should go up there and either use the free versions themselves, make it easier for their customers to engage or they should go ahead and buy if that's what it takes.
Spend the $40. It's worth it. The latest one I've seen is called X.ai and not to be confused with the company ScaleX but X.ai lets you do a group schedule. Think of the complexity. Now you can all public your calendars and figure out what's the best time. That's cool stuff.
That's an example of one of those tools. As a sales rep, when you come onboard, you work into your salary negotiations, a small budget that you will have available to use for sales tech, negotiate $50 a month that you can get covered by your company, "These are the sales tools that I need when you guys don't do that."
You nailed it. I'd say, why stop at $50? If I was going to go into an enterprise rep role SMB role doesn't matter, "You give me a $500 budget and if my quote is $500,000 for the year, I'll take on plus $100,000." Whatever the number you need. In the past it was hard to fund a headcount, a full-time SDR, like a $100,000 SDR, you'd have to take a $500,000 quota. Now, you can use tools like we've been talking about the Calendly tool, an AI that does email, an AI that does social, a dialer that lets you talk to more people. There are many things you can bring in because they're not asked for a higher quota in return for the company buying those tools for you.
It's a fraction of the total cost. Some people would say that it adds a huge cost to the total cost of sales tech but if you factor in also the cost of a rep, that's not performing to its fullest potential. The cost of adding on a few $100 per year or even a month in sales tech is quite small. If you factor in that the rebels will get several $1,000 a month for their work it should be part of the deal. Most sales reps could benefit from having the policy that they will work with companies that will equip them with the right tools. That should be the way companies attract sales reps as well. We will give you what you need to become successful.
That's a fabulous discussion, Jakob. I appreciate you joining us. Thanks for reading. If people want to get a hold of you, visit YourSales.com. Jakob will click the LinkedIn URL under this session as well.
Thanks a lot, Chad. Thanks for the catch-up. Have a good one and good selling.
Thank you, Jakob.