On this episode of the Sales Hacker podcast, we talk to Joe Venuti, VP of Inside Sales at Sendoso, on how to maintain a healthy work culture in a remote environment and why direct mail is effective in the digital world.
If you missed episode 159, check it out here: How to Have a Satisfying Career with Tiffany Heimpel
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Show Agenda and Timestamps
- Lessons in leadership from life as a card shark [6:49]
- The unexpected skill you need to develop to be a manager [8:05]
- COVID’s impact on building a long-term sales organization [9:56]
- How to maintain a healthy culture in a remote environment [14:26]
- The value of physical artifacts in a digital world [16:27]
- Who sales development should report to [22:16]
- Sam’s Corner [29:33]
Show Introduction [00:10]
Sam Jacobs: Today on the show we’ve got Joe Venuti, Vice President of Inside Sales for Sendoso. Joe is an incredible sales leader who is also good at building out teams in the Arizona area. Arizona is a hotbed of sales talent now, so many companies like Sendoso have opened great offices there. Joe is also very familiar with leading large organizations and talented sellers.
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Lessons in leadership from life as a card shark [6:49]
Sam Jacobs: What have you learned from being a professional card player that you bring into the business world?
Joe Venuti: The ability to read people. I think that’s a big one. I think that’s something that translates well.
Understand what levers to pull and push when you’re having conversations. That’s especially important when a rep or a colleague might be having an emotional reaction or something going on.
The ability to be patient and process things quickly and pivot based on needs is important.
Overall it’s taught me to be more patient.
In poker, you’re folding 80-90% of the hands that you dealt in, and in sales and in any business, I always want to move a million miles an hour. But poker taught me to wait, to pick and choose my spots, and try to understand the big picture. So try to pick and choose your battles just like at a poker table, you would pick and choose what pots you get involved in and what’s the maximum value of each chip you put in the middle.
The unexpected skill you need to develop to be a manager [8:05]
Sam Jacobs: What are some of the things that have helped you become a great sales manager and leader of inside teams? And what’s the biggest unexpected skill you needed to develop when you were moving from being an individual contributor to a manager?
Joe Venuti: It’s not really anything that you can prepare for, especially if you’re being promoted at your current company. I experienced this back at By Appointment Only, going from being a peer to boss pretty much overnight.
That’s a really tough transition, especially when you’re working in startups where you’re a pretty relaxed culture in a lot of cases. We’re pretty tight-knit. And now all of a sudden you’re going to be the person to temper some of those events or get people back and focused and then minimize the distractions. Three weeks ago you might’ve been the biggest distraction on the floor.
And then obviously your job changes. It’s just managing different expectations. It’s a very different world worrying about five or 10 or 20 or 60 different people versus just, “What can I do to hit my number?”
It’s the ability to wear a lot of different hats. Some days you’re going to be the boss and really push hard. And some days you’ve got to understand that people are stressed and then take on more of a friend, and sometimes you gotta be a mentor and sometimes it feels like you have to be a therapist.
Really get good at understanding what each individual responds best to and also what each individual situation calls for.
COVID’s impact on building a long-term sales organization [9:56]
Sam Jacobs: What’s your point of view on the long-term impact of COVID on building out an inside sales organization?
Joe Venuti: If you would’ve asked me 18 months ago,”Can you take an inside sales team or a sales development team and make them fully remote and be as successful as you can be in the office?” With no hesitation, I would have told you, “Absolutely not. Can’t be done. You need the energy. You need the comradery.”
However, when your hand is forced it’s amazing what you can accomplish. After being home now for 13 months, I think that there is a need to go back to the office in some ways. But I think the days of Monday to Friday 9:00 to 5:00 are gone.
The other thing that COVID impacted is hiring strategies. We needed a little bit of a different candidate profile because training and onboarding is harder, but also it opened up a really, really large talent pool.
We were hiring exclusively in Scottsdale because everybody was in office. I’ve now been able to expand that search across the country and brought in some really amazing talent that quite frankly if we were only in office and not looking remotely never would have interviewed.
But I also think that long-term the office is a good thing, especially for newer reps, for onboarding, for ramping, things like that. As people get tenured and a little more comfortable and have a repeatable process down, it’s probably not as necessary.
How to maintain a healthy culture in a remote environment [14:26]
Sam Jacobs: I’m sure you’ve adopted certain tactics or strategies over the last 13 months. What have you done to maintain culture while you’re in a completely remote world?
Joe Venuti: When I came into Sendoso, I talked a lot about building culture from the ground up. It’s my number one thing that I’m looking for in these interviews. I let a lot of really, really good sales talent walk out of interviews without offers, because quite frankly they would have been a nightmare on the sales floor. It’s much easier when you have a cohesive unit and everybody’s pulling in the same direction. Little did I know that when COVID hit, the fact that we had structured the team so much around our culture would be the greatest asset to me.
The team gets along well. The biggest complaint I hear about work from home is, “I miss my friends.”
I always make the joke that I did too good of a job of culture because there were a lot of those happy hours that turned into happy mornings. But I guess I would rather that than have that environment where people are sharking each other’s leads and no one’s talking.
The value of physical artifacts in a digital world [16:27]
Sam Jacobs: What about the business of Sendoso? I would love to hear some data and some perspective on how the business of sending people things in the mail exploded or stayed the same over the course of 13 months of people being trapped in their homes.
Joe Venuti: We actually just released a state of sending report that talks a lot about this.
Cold emails increased by 62%, virtual events disappeared, and cold calls increased by 28%. All of that just became overwhelming, and it factors into this digital fatigue. That becomes a huge barrier in either customer engagement or prospect engagement.
Sendoso gives people a way to really sell to the human. 91% of the people that responded to our survey said that a human connection is more important now than it was.
That’s what Sendoso does that makes selling human again. A sales rep takes the time to do a little bit of research, find out where you went to school, and what your favorite sports team is. And then they deliver some really thoughtful personalized messaging along with it — whether it’s a mug or a hat or some sort of catchy pun — that’s going to catch your attention over another one of those 600 automated emails that hit your inbox today.
Sam Jacobs: What’s your perspective on the medium and long-term future for getting stuff in the mail from companies that are trying to sell you other stuff?
Joe Venuti: 100% — it’s here to stay. Another one of the stats from the State of Sending is direct mail is the number one tactic that sales and marketing leaders are planning to use in 2021. I think it amplified quickly because of COVID and the work from home environment, but it was already climbing before.
And it’s not something that’s going to go away because at the end of the day, you can’t argue when you have a 60 or 70% response rate. Find me an email cadence or sequence that’s going to do that for you. It’s not.
But if you have a well thought out ABM and ABM process in play, are leveraging sending in the right places to the right prospects, and you’re garnering a 70% response rate and that’s turning into meaningful conversations, which turns into pipeline and revenue — you can’t afford to cut that out because the people that are using it are going to run past you.
Who sales development should report to [22:16]
Sam Jacobs: What are your thoughts on the SDR team, the BDR team? Who should they report to? Marketing, to make sure that they got the right messaging? Or sales because that’s the future of their careers?
Joe Venuti: One of my favorite topics. And I don’t know that this is the most popular opinion, but I personally believe that sales development is moving in a direction of becoming its own pillar. It’s not sales. It’s not marketing. It’s the bridge between the two in a lot of ways.
Sam’s Corner [29:33]
Sam Jacobs: Hey everybody. Sam’s Corner. I really enjoyed that conversation with Joe Venuti on everything that’s been happening with direct mail.
We’re all living at home, how do you stand out when everybody’s on Zooms all day? And one of the ways that you do that is through tactile engagement with physical artifacts, and that’s what Sendoso does.
It’s great because we used to think of direct mail as like mailers from real estate agents, that stuff up your mailbox.That’s still the majority of the mail I receive. But Sendoso can really change the game because all of a sudden now you’re receiving actual physical goods.
We use them at Revenue Collective. Every new member who’s an executive that signs up for an annual plan gets a water bottle, a book by Latané Conant the chief marketing officer at 6sense, and a handwritten note from me all within a custom-designed box. All of that comes from Sendoso.
Don’t miss episode #161!
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