B2B SaaS Demand Generation 2021: Is Telemarketing Dead?

B2B SaaS demand generation is tough.  Sales teams rely upon marketing to provide leads for over half of their opportunities.  Unless you are lucky enough to have an award-winning solution that sells itself like the mythical product-led growth companies (Slack, Dropbox, and Expensify), you have to grind it out like everyone else.  Marketing teams use a portfolio of tactics to drive new leads – content marketing, pay-per-click advertising, LinkedIn ads, email blasts, and webinars.  Most SaaS companies use teams of sales development reps to do outbound prospecting as well.  In 2021 is outbound telemarketing for lead generation dead?

SaaS Demand Generation in 2021

In 2021 The Bridge Group, Sales Hacker, and Modern Sales Pros partnered to conduct a study on SaaS sales enablement.  You can download the entire report here for free.  The survey included responses from:

The Ultimate Sales Enablement Guide demographic's

The Ultimate Sales Enablement Guide

The Ultimate Sales Enablement Guide demographic's

The Ultimate Sales Enablement Guide

Office Phones For Executives Are Becoming Scarce

The Ultimate Sales Enablement Guide Execs don't have office phones

The Ultimate Sales Enablement Guide

The Majority of People Don’t Want Business Solicitations on Their Mobile Phones

The Ultimate Sales Enablement Guide

The Ultimate Sales Enablement Guide

The Ultimate Sales Enablement Guide LinkedIn

The Ultimate Sales Enablement Guide

The Ultimate Sales Enablement Guide LinkedIn

The Ultimate Sales Enablement Guide

The Ultimate Sales Enablement Guide

The Ultimate Sales Enablement Guide

1 on 1 Video is Executives Last Choice

The Ultimate Sales Enablement Guide

The Ultimate Sales Enablement Guide

There is a Big Generational Difference in Media Preferences

The Ultimate Sales Enablement Guide

The Ultimate Sales Enablement Guide

The Ultimate Sales Enablement Guide

The Ultimate Sales Enablement Guide

The Sweatshop of B2B Saas Demand Generation: Sales Development Reps

In 2021, Sales Development Reps have become a standard tool for B2B SaaS demand generation. Simply put, it is very hard work.  The following is from Freshworks blog A Day in the Life of a Freshworks SDR.   Freshworks, who just went public on NASDAQ and is now worth over $10 billion.

A day in the life of Nawin

Nawin works for the US shift and has made over 5000 cold calls in one year as an SDR at Freshworks. Here’s a description of what a typical workday looks like for Nawin in his own words.

8:00 AM: Arrive at the office

As soon as I reach the office, I grab a cup of hot coffee, catch up with my colleagues and head to our daily scrum. Here we discuss what’s in our pipeline and the accounts we are going to target that day. Of course, we also celebrate small wins to keep us pumped and motivated.

Once a week, I talk to my Account Executive (AE) and strategize on the verticals to target, accounts to focus on and provide updates on the progress of interested prospects.

8:20 AM: Check and respond to emails

Check Freshsales CRM for prospects who have responded to my earlier email. If they are requesting for additional product information, I immediately send a reply with the required documents. At times, prospects ask me to remove them from my mailing list or aren’t interested in continuing the conversation further. So I quickly add a note and take them off my list so that I don’t contact them again.

8:40 AM: Plan my day

Now it’s time to prioritize my activities for the day. I open my calendar and check for calls scheduled on that day. This is really important as even the most seasoned SDRs miss appointments with prospects because they weren’t aware of the call scheduled, or they rush for one at the last minute. So I make it a point to check if I have any meetings lined up for the day and be prepared for it.

Sales Development Representative's calendar

8:45 AM: Follow-up with hot/warm leads

Next, I reach out to my hot leads — those who I had earlier reached out to and have requested for a demo or signed up for a trial. I follow up with them (if I’ve any for the day) over the phone after which I start focusing on the rest of my sales pipeline.

9:00 AM: Cold calling time!

Now it’s time for some hardcore cold calling. The best time to cold call, and what’s worked for me is 1 hour in the morning, exactly after an hour I reach the office, and 2 hours before I leave office. In the first slot, I make about 20 calls and get about 3-4 proper 4-5 minute conversations. It’s a myth that the best days to cold call and set-up meetings is Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday because I’ve called prospects and had opportunities on Mondays and Fridays as well.

10:00 AM: Send follow up email to prospects

I quickly send a follow-up email to prospects with whom I had a conversation, either by summing up our discussion and confirming the appointment or with documents they requested.

follow up email in Freshsales

10:15 AM: Break!

After the first round of cold calling, I take a break for a cup of coffee and snacks. In this time, I catch up on industry news, what’s new in the competitor software and read other sales-related articles.

10:45 AM: LinkedIn prospecting

It’s time to start my LinkedIn prospecting. I use LinkedIn Sales Navigator to get a list of my ideal customers by filtering based on industry, geography, department and job title. Once I have the list of prospects, who are primarily decision makers, I send a connection request with a note that explains why I would like to connect with them.

sales development representative Linkedin prospecting Freshsales

12:00 PM: Break for lunch

After sending about 100 LinkedIn connection requests, I take a break, relax and grab lunch.

1:00 PM: Send personalized emails

After lunch, I send personalized cold emails to C-level Executives, VPs and Directors. I try to send at least 20 personalized emails; most of my research from LinkedIn.

personalized cold email Freshsales

2:00 PM: Cold calling time again

Now I start the next round of calls. This is the best time to cold call because there’s a high chance that you might end up talking to people who you’ve missed in your first round of calling, and also because they are most likely to be available post lunch. In this slot — between 2 PM to 4 PM — I make around 30 calls with an assured 4-5 conversations with prospects.

4:00 PM: Check LinkedIn

Towards the end of the day, I check my LinkedIn to see if I’ve had my connection requests accepted and send a detailed message on what we do and why I offered a connection.

Freshsales SDR LinkedIn message

4:20 PM: Prepare for the next day

I start preparing for the next day by organizing my Accounts. For instance, if I’m going to target a particular vertical, I work on getting the list of prospects to call and email tomorrow.

5:00 PM: Wrap up, go home

After all the hard work done, I now pack my bags, go home and relax.

Some Interesting Stats About SDR’s

Every year, The Bridge Group publishes research on SDRs. Here are some relevant extracts from their Sales Development (SDR) Metrics & Comp Report: Benchmark data from 406 B2B companies

SDRs Average 106 Activities a Day

The Bridge Group Sales Development (SDR) Metrics & Comp Report: Benchmark data from 406 B2B companies

The Bridge Group

SDRs Average 4.4 Quality Conversations a Day

The Bridge Group Sales Development (SDR) Metrics & Comp Report: Benchmark data from 406 B2B companies

The Bridge Group

It Takes Dramatically More Effort to Have a Quality Conversation

The Bridge Group Sales Development (SDR) Metrics & Comp Report: Benchmark data from 406 B2B companies

The Bridge Group

How Can You Succeed in B2B SaaS Demand Generation in 2021?

A few years ago Don Welch, the CIO at Penn State University, penned a great article titled “An Open Letter to Vendors”.  Don is the ideal target for many SaaS companies.  The article gave great advice about what not to do and what works for him

Don’t Send E-Mails

“Don’t bother with e-mails. If it looks like a sales e-mail I delete it without reading it. If what shows in the preview bar does catch my eye, it is for the wrong reason. Impassioned pleas for me not to miss this opportunity and increasing annoyance at my failure to reply really annoy me.”

“The single sales approach that sends me over the edge is an email that says I’m a moron and have been ripping off my employer by taking my salary.  They are worded something like, “did you know ransomware is costing companies like yours thousands of dollars?” No kidding? Sometimes, “we found a vulnerability in your network, would you like to know what it is?” Only one? Give me a little credit for being competent.”

“If you send a customized email, at least try to make it accurate. For example, a company that wants me to use them for background checks sent me a customized email to me saying what a great job they can do for the University of Michigan… wait for it…which I left 2 years ago… wait for it…which they sent to my Penn State email.  Yep, those are the people I want doing my background checks.”

Don’t Cold Call

Don’t cold call. Most of my day is booked. If I get some desk time I’m not answering an external or unknown number. My voicemail says to not bother leaving a message if you are a vendor we don’t already work with. Don’t leave a voicemail explaining how you are different, I won’t get 10 seconds into it before I delete it and I’m annoyed at you for not following instructions.”

Don’t Send Crap Through Delivery Services

“Don’t send me crap through delivery services. I’ve received SWAG I don’t want and ask my admin to give away without caring who sent it. I once wasted an hour dealing with Federal Express to get a package delivered to the right address that was a box of air with a postcard in it. I didn’t think it would take that long (yea FedEx) and I couldn’t confirm who it was from until the very end. Then I wanted it delivered so that I knew who I was never going to consider buying from.”

Let Them Learn on Their Own Time

“How do you introduce your product that is going to revolutionize security to me? I want to learn about it on my time. Advertise in podcasts or security websites. “Publish white papers and don’t require me to register just so that you can annoy me later.  I listen and read when I get the chance. Times like those I’m not reacting and I’m open to learning.

“Have a booth or presentation at a conference. Once again, this is when I’m in learning mode. So when I come by your booth I’m going to look at your signs and see what you do. Make them informative.”

Final Thoughts

Prospects like Don are looking for credible content.  They need to learn new things that can make their business better.  Tactics like inundating a prospect with emails, LinkedIn requests and webinar invites after a single download are counter-productive.  In Don’s words:

I’ve got a job to do too and very low on my priority list is helping sales staff make their numbers.

Don’t tell me you have no competition, that your product revolutionizes security or that it is magic. Let me come to that conclusion and there is a good chance we’ll buy it. Tell me it’s magic and I’ll tell you why I think you are a moron.

I know I’m difficult to deal with, but I could spend 1-2 hours a day reading/replying to vendor e-mails and listening/replying to vendor calls. That is not a good use of my time. When I’m ready then I’ll listen


Also published on Medium.