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Vivid Learning Systems is an online safety training company that delivers interactive online safety training courses to help customers protect their workforce and go beyond regulatory requirements.
Director of Sales and Marketing James Moss has been with Vivid Learning Systems for over 15 years. In that time, he has watched Vivid morph from a startup shipping physical product into the leading provider of online courses designed to keep employees in a variety of industries safe at work.
“Vivid has been in business for 22 years,” Moss explained. “We used to sell our courses on CD ROMs and DVDs, and we primarily worked with Federal Government in the beginning. We put product online when I joined the company in 2002. Now we work primarily with utility companies, manufacturers and the like. Most of them are small to medium-sized industrial companies, but we also work with large corporations such as Ingersoll Rand, Kraft and Nestle.”
Working in such a unique sector creates an interesting challenge for the Account Executives on Moss’s team.
“Making life easier for safety professionals is what we do. So, we’re calling on people whose job for a living is to make sure all their employees go home alive at the end of the day,” Moss said. “They’re hard to get engaged, but they’re fairly serious and responsive once you have their attention. Unfortunately, they’re not the ones who make the money decisions, however. They don’t always have the budget, so we have to educate them on how to sell the idea to the people at their company who hold the purse strings.”
Based on this scenario, what became apparent to Moss over time was that while his AE’s were highly skilled closers, opening wasn’t their strong suit.
“A couple of years ago we were getting to the point where it became really obvious that our AE team had a really specific skillset around deal structuring, consulting and closing, but they weren’t great at opening,” Moss recalled. “It became apparent that we needed a BDR team who would focus exclusively on taking leads from our SDRs and convert them into meetings with our AEs.”
So, in 2015, that’s exactly what Moss did. But he also knew that to create a successful BDR team, they’d need sales engagement software to help them excel.
“We knew that we didn’t want to start a BDR program without a sales acceleration platform,” Moss remembered, "It just didn’t make sense. We’re talking about people who are just starting out in their careers in many cases or coming from another industry where it was completely different. They needed an established workflow to be successful."
The program Moss decided to utilize initially was SalesLoft. But he quickly realized that its shortcomings were keeping his team from performing to the best of their ability.
“We’d been using SalesLoft for about a year and a half,” Moss recalled. “One of Outreach’s SDRs called me in January or February of 2017, and the timing was right. I was already in the pre-discovery phase, looking for something new that would better suit our goals."
But why was Moss looking for a new platform? The lack of customization features in SalesLoft workflows was a big concern.
“We wanted to give our BDR manager the ability to govern the sequences that her team was executing very specifically,” Moss said. “With SalesLoft, each BDR was creating their own hybrid cadences that were all over the board. Some of them were really wacky and were clogging up our pipeline so we weren’t able to throughput the number of leads that we needed.”
But the biggest reason Moss decided to jump from SalesLoft to Outreach was an issue he holds near and dear: customer support. “The number one issue I had with SalesLoft was their customer service,” Moss said. “We have a really, really high goal for our own internal customer service — one that’s almost impossible to reach — and we hold our vendors to that same standard. Our internal mantra for response time is “right now” — anything else is failure. SalesLoft wasn’t coming anywhere close to that.”
Sometimes too much of a good thing can seem daunting. But once Moss decided to pull the trigger and give Outreach a shot, he was immediately impressed with the level of engagement and responsiveness that he and his team received from Outreach customer service during the implementation process, and continue to receive on a daily basis.
“When we did our first Outreach demo, my BDR manager and my demand generation folks felt like there might be TOO many options, which would make it more complex than Salesloft. But because of the step up in customer service and governance, we decided to take the plunge anyway. We decided that since we have smart people, they would figure it out and make it happen. But what ended up happening is that once we got into the implementation process with our Outreach CSR, we were able to tailor it so that a new BDR could figure it out by the end of their first week. That’s how simple it is — the proof is in the pudding.”
With that auspicious start, Moss and team went to work building and streamlining the processes that would eventually lead to fine-tuned workflows geared for success.
“There were a couple of other things that made us stick harder with Outreach once we implemented the program. It comes back to the reason we implemented a sales acceleration platform in the first place, and that’s workflow.”
In the same way that Vivid’s unique clientele requires a unique sales process, the way that leads are distributed to his BDRs is different than most organizations as well.
“Our marketing manager is responsible for demand generation,” Moss explained. “The way that we have it set up is the marketing team generates qualified leads. We’re very heavy into SEO and SEM, so we’re finding people who are looking for us. That means our MQLs are EXTREMELY high quality leads, and our BDRs have to earn the right to get them. I realize that’s a little backwards from a lot of organizations — they have their BDRs cut their teeth on MQLs — but I believe that’s because their MQLs are weak. If you have strong MQLs, those are your best leads, and you want your best people on them.”
With that competitive process in place, Moss’s BDR manager leveraged Outreach’s analytics tools to help determine the top performers who had earned the right to work those MQLs.
“From an organizational standpoint,” Moss said, “we’re using Outreach to maximize the potential of our individual BDRs and level the playing field so we can make accurate measurements across the board.”
Beyond the completion for MQLs, the data Moss and his BDR manager have gleaned have helped them fine-tune their process to help the entire BDR team be more successful at their jobs.
“We tweaked our process a bit after implementing Outreach as far as when the leads are entering the process,” Moss recalled. “Before, they were entering from the suspect stage. Now we’re not entering them until an opportunity is identified. Our BDRs aren’t hunting, they’re not prospecting, they’re provided with the leads, and the assumption is those are the right people with the right titles. So we’re comping our people on conversion metrics. The number of people you get to show up in the face of a Zoom meeting with an AE — that’s what’s important to us, and Outreach is helping them do more of that.”
As far as results are concerned, to say Moss found them both immediate and dramatic is an understatement.
“In month one after implementation with Outreach, our activity metrics went up by 40 percent across the board, both emails and calls,” Moss marveled. “Two months later, we were still maintaining that level of activity."
“I talked to a couple of our ‘power users’ who are super savvy with software and were able to master Outreach really quickly, and asked them why they felt they were able to make such a leap. They said it’s simply because they have no guesswork. They come in in the morning, they push their email steps to the end, and go! It’s dial, talk, leave a message, click, dial, boom, boom, boom. There’s no ‘What am I supposed to do next.’ So even though with Salesloft all that stuff was there, it wasn’t as easy from a workflow perspective to process all that data, so that’s really what Outreach has done for us.”
Since implementing the platform at the beginning of the year, feedback from BDRs has confirmed that Outreach helps them process more leads, more efficiently and accurately. Moss has been so thrilled with the results he’s considering expanding Outreach usage beyond BDRs.
But how has his hands-on experience with Outreach been so far? The short — and rather surprising — answer is, “It hasn’t”!
“I have never logged onto the platform myself,” Moss laughed, “and I won’t!” I am the guy who’s interested in the output and the feedback I get. “I’ve literally never logged onto Outreach, and I am Outreach’s biggest fan. I have daily visibility into my activity metrics for what the team is producing — the KPIs, the conversion metrics, etc. — and what I know is that those numbers all went up by 40 percent in month one. So if you ask me what my favorite feature is, it’s that we’re able to sell more stuff!”