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Bye Bye SDR, Hello Full-Cycle Salesperson

Mary Grothe March 30 2022

Meet Host, Mary Grothe

Mary Grothe is a former #1 MidMarket B2B Sales Rep who after selling millions and breaking multiple records, formed House of Revenue®, a Denver-based firm of fractional Revenue Leaders who currently lead the marketing, sales, customer success, and RevOps departments for 10 companies nationwide. In the past year, they've helped multiple 2nd stage growth companies between $5M - $20M, on average, double their MRR within 10 months, resulting in an average ROI of 1,454% and an average annual revenue growth eclipsing $3.2 million.


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Mary Grothe: Hey everyone, this is Mary Grothe - Founder and CEO - and you're listening to the Revenue Radio® podcast brought to you by House of Revenue®. Each week, we'll talk about common revenue challenges and how to get past them, share real-world experiences, and get a glimpse into my life as a CEO scaling my own business. If you're a struggling entrepreneur, or just an entrepreneur looking to be inspired, this podcast is for you. I'll give you honest, unfiltered, and practical insights into growing your business and getting past your revenue plateau.

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I am dedicating this entire episode to bringing back the full-cycle sales rep. At least consider it, maybe. What is the full-cycle sales rep? A full-cycle sales rep handles the entire lifecycle of the sales process. They may do their own prospecting, networking, soliciting client referrals, email, or use the telephone, social media, or even respond to inbound marketing inquiries. This full-cycle salesperson owns the conversation from the first time, the buyer's first impression of your company. Then, they take the sales process through a smooth handoff into operations, implementation, client services, whatever you call it when you are post-purchase there in your Bowtie Funnel.

What has happened? Okay, storytime. When I was selling for paychecks, I was a full-cycle salesperson. My first stint at the company was from 2006 to 2011, and my second was from 2014 to 2017. In the eight years that I had with the company, I was responsible for the customer relationship. The first touchpoint from initiating the conversation was onboarding them, ensuring that their implementation was smooth. FYI, payroll implementations are tricky. They're not smooth. They, especially with the market I was selling to, those implementations can have hundreds, if not 1000s, of lines of data.

Then, you get into a really tight timeline for QA. You have to work within cutting over on a certain payroll period. You don't have a lot of time to check the data. It's not an easy industry, and implementations could quickly go wrong. Therefore, I made it a point to stay a part of the process, even though it was not in my job description, to see a part of the process through implementing and processing their first payroll. Afterward, to upsell. I could augment the revenue and solicit referrals. Ultimately, I also wanted to maintain a relationship because when they changed companies, not if, but when that contact I had a relationship with changed companies, they would take me with them.

I looked at my territory because year one would be pretty rigorous work with outbound prospecting. I created a lead source chart that required me to spend time in seven or eight lead sources, including networking events, telemarketing, email marketing, direct mailers. I hand-addressed myself and sent them to the mailroom, not to mention social media. I would hold my own events. I also did partner networking, partner referral, and not networking like traditional networking events at the chamber. I had a relationship with a broker, a CPA, and a banker. These were my three refers, and we would just tag each other business all day long. So that was that partner group.

Another thing is soliciting referrals. Like every sales rep, unintentionally forgets about soliciting referrals. Client referrals were my eighth lead source. I built my own sales activity plan for those eight lead sources to ensure that I was hitting the mark on all eight of those. Then, I decided to cut through the noise of traditional spammy prospecting. I focused on quality over quantity. I sold in the mid and upmarket. Therefore, that meant the employers that I was selling to were roughly, in the middle of it, it was 50 employees and maybe 500. Then, the upmarket was 500 and above. Regardless, I made sure that I had 20 top targets each week. That was it.

Then, I would identify four or five key contacts, decision-makers, influencers, department heads, and end-users. On Mondays, I would profile. I would go online, look at their LinkedIn profile, company website, figure out as much about them as possible. I'd ping my partners, the banker, the CPA, and the broker, ask if anyone had any relationship with those 20 companies, and name the people. If I did, I would ask them to make a warm introduction for me, which would maybe happen to one or two out of the 20.

The other remaining companies, I would write a handwritten letter explaining why I was interested in meeting with them. It took time. It took half of my day to write these letters and put in client testimonial letters specifically about my work on Monday. I created my own marketing letter. I would include my own marketing collateral, copy and paste or cut and paste, I should say, off of various pieces on the Paychex website. We didn't have marketing for the bid market segment. Everything that Paychex was putting out at that time was for small businesses. That didn't pertain to the kind of company I sold to, so I created my own. I'm sure it could have used some TLC, but it worked.

I started my prospecting on Monday. I would hand-address those, take them to the mailroom, and get them sent out. I would bet that they would be delivered Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday. I would send a LinkedIn connection to all of them, let them know I dropped something in the mail for them, and keep their eye out for a package later in the week.

I'd send an email introducing myself from Tuesday and not in a wasted space way. I have a whole philosophy on email marketing. You never want to spend the first two sentences of the email saying, "I'm emailing to introduce myself." That's not what I'm talking about here. I would just make my name known, ask them a question, let them know a package is being delivered. If I was interested, I follow-up with them on their interest level. Then Wednesday, I would make a phone call. If I hadn't heard back yet, Thursday would be the triple - phone call, email, and LinkedIn message. I would let Friday stay dormant. If I didn't hear from somebody, I would go into the following week.

They would go into week two of my prospecting cadence for them. At this point, I would usually hear back from somebody. It was a very tried and true method of 20 companies having four or five people at each company. Also, by having the social message, email, and phone calls, there was a very good chance that one of those four or five people would respond to me. I would do that to every single person on the list. Somebody would typically answer the phone, or somebody would reply to me, even if it was, "Hey, we just switched to ADP, happy, or we're not evaluating this till the fall."

I was getting a response. I was able to qualify them in, qualify them out, or just put them on the table for now. I did this twice, FYI, because I had two different stints. I would usually follow the third rule on the third: don't ever talk to me again. A third would be, "Not now, yeah, we can have some dialogue." That is the process that I would follow, and it worked well during my first year in the territory.

I always chalked up to prospecting, prospecting, and prospecting the first year. I had such a heavy emphasis on qualifying 20 companies a week and doing this outbound process because then I was building a pipeline. I was building my CRM to have future tasks because many people said, "We just switched." or "We're evaluating this in the fall." I would put a reminder of "Hey, call them back at this time."

You do this for a year, and guess what? By year two, I was just showing up to my job. I had preset tasks for myself. Thank you. That was a gift for my future self that was already set up and ready to go. That also meant I had a year's worth of business that I sold. Now I have more client referrals. I had more relationships, more networking with my partners. The more deals I sold, the more I could make referrals from our partners.

By year two, the job became pretty easy. I was prospecting maybe 50% of the time maybe. Then, by my third year, prospecting was only something that had to happen when I had a low pipeline. I can't remember. I think I used a 5x measurement in my pipeline at all times. I should have five times what I want to sell for that month. Over time, I reduced that because my close rate went up to something ridiculous, the highest in my career. I know it was over 50%, I think, by the end of my sales career, it was close and close to 70, or 75%. I should know that number. I can go back and look. With that, I didn't need a 5x pipeline.

I was able to pour myself into being a consultative rep. I was working on bigger, more complex deals. I had learned so much about different types of industries, nuance and market triggers, and how these bigger installs used the product and service. Therefore, the quality of conversation I was bringing and helping people solve their problems was second to none. I would immerse myself in the projects as if I truly were a consultant and wanted to solve their problems. I think that's a buzz phrase I see all over LinkedIn from sales trainers. Be a consultant, an advisor, not a salesperson.

I don't think these salespeople really understand what it's like to be in a prospect's office for 10 to 12 hours, going through spreadsheets of founders' information, doing a cost calculation analysis of their spending, helping them see the efficiencies in their labor costs, walking the floor of their manufacturing warehouse, being able to look at how Labor's been assigned byline, who's missing shifts and working over. I mean, the work that I did was so concentrated that companies would look at me and look at the other payroll sales rep I'd be competing against. It wasn't even a competition. They knew they wanted to do business with me, so my close rate was so high in the end.

I was pregnant in my last year of selling as a full-cycle salesperson. I had my baby. I worked maybe 20 hours a week, okay, maybe 20 hours a week. I was so large and pregnant in the summer. My feet were so swollen, I just couldn't even walk. I barely got off the couch during the last month of my pregnancy. I sold like 120,000 in revenue that month, which was like a six of my number, or a fifth of my annual number. It was just all based on relationships.

I ended up the year that I only worked, you know, I had my kid, I didn't work a full year. Trust me, I was not working more than 20 hours a week. I finished number seven in the country out of 3000 reps. It was a lot. It was 300 in the midmarket but then 3000 in the company. We sold the biggest deals. That's an amazing number to look at. If you look at the fruits of the labor of that territory, and that was in the third year.

My second stint was in the third year. I was there from 2014 to 2017. I share this with you because this is a tried and true method. Somewhere along the way, in the mid-2010s, predictable revenue became super popular. Everybody started hiring BDR as SDRs. Suddenly, we created a significant amount of friction for the buyer and a fragmented process that's super expensive, with extra overhead.

In my opinion, in most industries, it is unnecessary. I can make an argument for BDRs and SDRs, use cases specific, not general. It is not the general model that we should be following anymore. I don't know why so many companies think they need BDRs and SDRs. They don't. Account executives, outside salespeople, full-cycle sales reps, whatever you want to call them, would be able to handle from start to finish if they were appropriately trained, held accountable properly, had the right playbook, and of course, making sure you have the right person in that role. They are out there. Just like in the past, they can be trained.

Do you have a training program if you're not finding the right person to step in? Do you have an internal coach or mentor that can handhold this person and allow them to ramp in their role? I am a fan of the full-cycle sales rep. I would love to see this get brought back truly. Get brought back. I will advocate for this about 85 to 90% of the time. There are just a few tiny use cases where an SDR and BDR seem to be appropriate.

One area that appears to be appropriate is when you have a high-growth company or one with a considerable sales force. The way for career progression to take place is they're recruiting out of college like EMC, Dell bought them. It's not on my resume. I worked there for nine months before going back to Paychex in 2014. They had level one of their huge corporate campuses in Boston. Maybe it was the basement. I don't know where these college kids worked. Through college fairs, recruiting fairs, job fairs, the recruiters for EMC secure great, great college talent. They bring them in, put them through a rigorous 6 to 12-month program, teaching them the ins and outs of sales.

They take an inside sales role in the more minor business division. The first thing they had to do was appointment setting to teach them the basics. Then, they would graduate from that and move up to the next floor. Then, they'd move up to the next floor. I kid you not. It was literally the floors of the building. I can't remember how it was, but once you got to the second, third, or fourth floor, you were elevated in your career. They would create a very clear four or five-year career progression plan. That is a huge global company publicly traded. I think they're publicly traded, maybe not. They need a lot of salespeople.

They also have name brand recognition in the current market penetration. If you have a mediocre salesperson, it's kind of forgiven because people will buy the product no matter what. It's not dependent on a great salesperson. In your organization, is this transferable? Are you a smaller, medium-sized business that doesn't have a brand reputation whose sales are actually dependent upon a really great first impression from your sales team?

If you are putting junior or rookie people in front of a buyer who's spending more than $1,000, I'm telling you, you need to consider the full-cycle sales rep. I think that reducing the friction in the process will be extremely life-giving to the efficiency and effectiveness of your sales process in your pipeline. My vote is to bring back the full-cycle salesperson.

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Thanks for listening to today's episode. If you're interested in being on our show or want to learn more about how we can help you scale your company, connect with us at or with me Mary Grothe spelled G-R-O-T-H-E on LinkedIn, Twitter, or Instagram.

Connect with House of Revenue® on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram.

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