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Tell us about your role at Plaid

I am the new business lead at Plaid. Our team is responsible for generating revenue pipeline. We split our team into groups: inbound and outbound.

Our inbound team is responsible for working with prospects who have expressed some form of intent: signed up, testing our APIs, filled out a contact sales form, etc.

Our outbound team is looking for companies who have a key pain that Plaid can help them with. We are reaching out to companies to educate them about Plaid.

How do you segment your inbound team?

We break down the inbound team into three groups.

First, we released live chat recently on the website so that we can make sure that those who eagerly need to talk to a sales person have that opportunity.

Second, we've got a team that's focused on responding to the contact sales form. So if you submit a form, we try to get back to you within a couple of hours.

Third, we have a team that's focused on people who are more casually learning, investigating. These leads need more nurturing and education.

What’s the a-ha moment for your customers?

For Plaid, the best thing for us to do is get the API in the hands of the developer. It’s hard for someone to imagine what’s possible if it’s not the world you live in. We want the developer to see the magic of our platform. Once they see how easily they can make great experiences for their customers, they’re hooked.

I saw the same thing at Twilio where I led a similar team. The power of a Product-Led model is that product is your advantage. As a salesperson at a product-led company, your job is to educate and evangelize. Your role is to accelerate the sale and ensure that your customers are successful.

What’s the role of a SDR in a Product-Led company?

One of our core principles on the team is ABH, which is a play on the old sales adage ABC: Always Be Closing.

ABH means “Always Be Helping”. We need to first think about how we help our customers. And so what that means is we deal with folks across a spectrum of awareness and education.

Sometimes we are working with people who are new to this space. Maybe they’ve just signed up and are looking to learn more.  We need to offer knowledge and expertise to make these people successful.

Other times people come to us and they say: “I have a fire in my house. Please help me solve it.” And so we respond to them urgently and get them set up with the resources they need to start building the plan immediately.

The BDR needs to figure out what’s needed in that situation and respond accordingly.

What qualities do you look for when hiring BDRs?

For a product like ours, technical aptitude, obviously, first and foremost.

Now, this doesn't mean they have had to go be a software developer previously. You don't have to be able to do that, but we want to know that you have the ability to communicate complex ideas to a variety of different audiences.

Second, Emotional intelligence is really important for us. People are dynamic. People are different. You have to be able to read your context, situations and emotions of your audience to deliver what they need.

So once you’ve hired a BDR, how do you make them successful?

We train you up, We focus on product, processes, and people in the organization.  We go through a rigorous certification process to make sure that we are delivering our A game to our customers.

We do mock calls. We record them and give feedback afterwards. Once someone has got that down, you move on to live calls. We record those too, and do coaching afterwards.

The BDR role is often someone's first sales role. Our goal is to give you a solid foundation for your long-term career. I am passionate about the role of the BDR org as a talent pipeline for the rest of the company.

So after they’ve been trained, what’s next for a BDR in your org?

Once someone's mastered fundamental sales skills and mastered the product, then we start conversations about what’s next. What skills and experiences do they want and how can we help them get there in the next 12 to 18 months.

We're working together to help them verify that those are actually things they might want to do or continue to do. Maybe you say, actually, I hate doing this. That’s good to find out early in your career.

Most of the BDRs graduate into other Sales roles: AEs or AMs. Some find that their passions are in adjacent orgs like Sales Ops or Marketing. We’ve even had some move into areas like Product.

That’s impressive. How are you able to grow talent like that?

It's also a matter of staying connected to different functional leaders to see what is your appetite for talent. While they may be junior in their career, we’ve equipped them with a unique skill.

Our team is some of the most knowledgeable product experts in the company and who know the most about our customers. The BDR role is at the intersection of what the market demands and what our product offers.

And that knowledge sets people apart. It’s something that other teams and leaders want to tap. It’s a win-win for the organization.

In the last 10 years, have you seen any changes in what you look for in reps?

What's interesting is that ten years ago people thought the greatest AEs had to be the ones who are the loudest in the room. And I'm super excited to see that has shifted. It’s now more assist, don't sell. Educate, don't pitch.

Even enterprise AEs are taking that approach. Maybe they have different skills in navigating an organization, but in many ways these BDR roles are the training grounds. This role helps you mature as a sales professional.