Even before the pandemic, Jeremy Camilloni embraced the concept of having a remote sales force instead of in-house employees for prospecting for potential new customers.
As CEO of airSales, Jeremy helps B2B companies implement these virtual sales systems, which he says can deliver even better results than working in an office under direct supervision of a sales manager.
But success in remote selling is far from assured. It all starts with, what else, the people. Jeremy shares his hiring secrets, explains what he looks for in a new salesperson (it’s not what you might think), and more.
Tune in to discover…
- The right messaging you need to set a meeting (and the quickest way to “turn off” a prospect)
- Common prospect objections during a sales call… and how to overcome them
- Why he recommends “closers” stay in-house
- What you can automate in the sales process – and what has to be done “manually”
- And more
Mentioned in this episode:
Steffen Horst: Welcome to the Performance Delivered Insider Secrets for Digital Marketing Success Podcast, where we talk with marketing and agency executives and learn how they built successful businesses and their personal brand. I’m your host, Steffen Horst. Today, we’re going to talk about remote selling. Here to speak with me about the topic is Jeremy Camilloni who is the CEO at airSales. AirSales practically builds and fuels companies’ pipelines with qualified prospects that drive meetings and growth for their business. Jeremy, welcome to Performance Delivered.
Jeremy Camilloni: Thanks for having me. Happy to be here.
Steffen: Before we talk about remote selling, Jeremy, tell our listeners a little bit more about yourself.
The Conception of airSales
Jeremy: Sure. Yeah. So I’m originally from New York. So I moved to Los Angeles about seven years ago. Growing up, my grandmother, she had a retail business so I was always, you know, kind of working in her shop. I’ve always kind of had an entrepreneurial spirit from a young age. So it’s always been a dream to kind of just own my own company, be an entrepreneur, be my own boss. So that’s always been what I wanted to do. So when I originally moved to Los Angeles, I had a marketing job and I was working a nine to five.
And really what I did was just kind of work side projects until eventually, something started working for me. And what that was, was a digital marketing agency. So basically, what I was doing was social media marketing for small businesses. And when you’re doing that, you need to figure out a way to drive new business. So that was kind of how airSales started was we were looking for ways to secure sales meetings with small, medium-sized companies and we were doing it using these virtual sales representatives. So that was sort of the dawn of airSales and kind of the beginning of my entrepreneurial career here in LA.
Steffen: Great. So you just said, you know, you started using virtual sales representatives. So what is remote selling or virtual selling?
Jeremy: Yeah, so remote selling, and there’s different parts of the sales process, where I focus mostly when it comes to the virtual space is the prospecting aspect. But remote selling is essentially the same thing as in house selling. So you’re getting the same benefit of having a live person handle the communication and the sales process. And you’re oftentimes, you know, getting equal results or even better results. The main difference is that oftentimes, these individuals tend to be independent contractors versus in house employees.
So there’s obviously, you know, there’s different benefits there. And then they’re usually working remotely, obviously, too. So that’s kind of the ongoing trend that we’re seeing across the board right now. But that’s been the model when it comes to remote selling for a long time where they’re working remotely, they’re not in an office, you know, being managed by a sales manager under one roof.
Steffen: How do you control quality? When you work with contractors, freelancers, how do you control the quality that, of results that these individuals deliver to your client?
Jeremy: Yeah, that’s a very good question. I get asked that quite a bit. And really, the best answer to that is just time. So we’ve been vetting a network of sales specialists for, you know, over the last four years with different projects that we’ve been working on. So really, you know, you start to create this network over time just through a vetting process.
You can, you know, see whether or not someone’s a performer or not pretty quickly. And then since you’re an independent contractor, you’re often, you know, you’re able to kind of cut ties with those individuals quickly instead of having to sink more resources into them where you might do that if it were to be an in-house employee.
Steffen: Yeah. You know, as you said, you probably interviewed quite a few people and you identified what the traits are that makes a good remote salesperson or a bad one. Without giving away the secrets of airSales, What are the traits that you are looking for and you would recommend even companies that might say, you know what, this sounds interesting. I want to actually build out a remote sales team. What are the traits they should look for when they interview salespeople?
What to Look for in a Salesperson
Jeremy: Right. Yeah. So there’s two things that we really look for. Its objection handling. So being able to kind of twist the conversation and being able to control the conversation because oftentimes, people will want more information. When they’re prospecting, they’ll say, hey, shoot me over a marketing deck.
Oftentimes, you shoot over information, it gets lost in the stack or in their inbox somewhere and they’ll never talk to you again. So we’re training our representatives to basically handle those objections in a way where they’re able to convert that back into a possible sales meeting. So, people who are good at objection handling, that’s number one. Number two is just being able to secure contact information and a meeting time. So there’s different ways of, you know, being able to secure that information. But the best way to do it is manually.
I know a lot of people like to send out a Calendly link. But what that does is it puts it back into the prospect’s hand and you’re relying on them to actually schedule that meeting. You’re essentially giving them a job to do. What we do is we look for people who are able to secure that information manually, just within conversation, and then they can control the process and actually set up the booking that way,
Steffen: Need to be a little bit more clear on that when you say, managing that manually. What do you mean? At the end of the day, you still have to send an email out, right? To say, you know, we agreed on Friday, August, I don’t know if it’s the 29th, at 10 am? Is that what you mean? Or if that’s not the case, what do you mean?
Jeremy: No, that’s exactly it. It’s just handling that process instead of sending a link and letting the prospect handle it on their own. Yeah, just handling that and being in control of that process will increase the chances of securing that meeting.
Steffen: It’s kind of when you’re in a sales meeting, or on a sales call, that you shouldn’t leave a sales call without kind of almost agreeing the next step, right? The next step in an initial engagement is you want to get that meeting in place, right? So you brought them, like, so when does it work for you? When can we talk? And that’s how we finish the call at the end of the day.
Jeremy: Yeah, you always need an objective. You know, at the end of the call, there should always be some type of call to action. You should know what your next steps are, and you should be working to get to those next steps. So yeah, that’s always the process and that’s the process that we follow on our end as well.
Steffen: How’s the training part on your end? When you get a new client and they are in a specific industry, they have specific challenges, so, therefore, they’re looking for specific prospects, how does that come into, how do you handle that in order to get the best results for these people and also find the right salespeople for them?
Jeremy: Yeah, what we basically do is we look for a virtual sales representative that has had experience within that vertical or that space. So they’re going to be familiar with the terminology and the words that the prospects are going to be using. Number two is we’ve developed best practices that kind of work across most verticals. So when we first bring on a client, what we do is we’ll have a strategy call with them.
So it’s usually an hour-long call where we’ll really dive into their service. We’ll put together a targeting spec sheet as well. So we basically dissect their value props. We work it into a structure that we already know works, on LinkedIn and also email. And then what we’ll do is we’ll refine the targeting as we go. So there’s usually an optimization process, you know, and once we get things fully dialed in, which usually takes, you know, between 60 to 90 days, then you really start seeing the full impact.
Steffen: In order to keep at least a little bit of control and keep the salespeople in certain parameters, did you have to work with sales scripts, email scripts and things like that?
Jeremy: Exactly, yeah. The initial messaging is all worked out with the client first. So we go back and forth, and we put some messaging together that we think will work and then the client will also approve. And then once we have that, it’s really just sticking to the objection handling and securing that meeting time.
So we’re really focusing on positive responses. We’re not twisting anyone’s arm. So, you know, if there’s someone that’s not interested, that’s okay. We’re going to go on to the next person who’s looking to have a meeting. Once we find that positive response, you know, we’ll then go and, we’ll set, you know, we’ll set the meeting up by securing their email address and then, you know, finding a time that works for both parties.
Steffen: Yeah. So what mediums do you use in order to engage with prospects? Call email, LinkedIn, any other channels?
Jeremy: Yeah, so our primary outlet is LinkedIn. And we’re also using email. So it’s a tandem approach where we’re both, you know, we’re using LinkedIn and email. But LinkedIn, we’re getting better results. So the email world, it’s definitely still definitely a good avenue for people to be using. It’s very inexpensive. So if you do it right, you can get really good results with email. But it’s nothing like having an actual face to the conversation in that profile there.
There’s a lot of additional information on LinkedIn that they can research on the company when you’re reaching out which also helps increase you know, reply rates and things like that. So to answer your question, you know, we focus mainly on LinkedIn, but we’re also using email.
Steffen: So that’s actually interesting. Obviously, I’m not the only one who gets a lot of emails from companies that say, Hey, you know what, we can create a lot of leads for you through LinkedIn. What I always feel is like, you know, people connect with me on LinkedIn. And the moment you connect, the next thing I get is a sales message. How are you guys handling that? I mean, I can’t imagine that you guys don’t have the time to start chit-chatting with someone that you just reached out to or someone you connected with, right? So how do you navigate around that?
Jeremy: Yeah, so, and this, in the space that we’re working in, it’s a little bit of a volume thing. So, you know, we get around the social selling aspect by making the conversation a little bit light in the beginning. We’re not pitching them on the initial connection request. We kind of ease into the conversation a little bit. So we do have kind of a ramp-up style of how we approach the prospect with our messaging and we try to make it as authentic and genuine as possible. But at the end of the day, we are trying to get these people on a sales call or, you know, take an intro call or discovery call with us.
So we eventually do need to pop the question. So it’s just kind of a, it’s an art. You know, you get better at it over time. We’ve been doing this for a while. So we’ve really, you know, we have our messaging really dialed in at this point. But you’re right. You don’t want to start off the conversation with a pitch. You do want to ease into that and, you know, seem genuine with your approach.
Steffen: Technology, how important is technology for remote selling? In general, but also, you know, as you just started talking about LinkedIn, prospecting, how important is that for that?
Jeremy: Yeah, it’s very important. I mean, especially just with managing your team. You know, you want to be able to have messaging applications like Slack and things like that in order to keep a close grip on your team. And then just in regards to the prospecting itself there, you know, there are tools out there that can help expedite the process and, you know, speed up for you. Not everything, you know, can be automated. And there are, you know, there are different policies and things that you want to be aware of on these platforms that you don’t want to violate.
But certain things, you know, using Zapier and, you know, different plugins, you are able to kind of automate some things to make your life a little bit easier. And the more of that, that you can do, the better. You know, the way the world’s going right now, everything’s going towards automation, efficiency. So if you can, you know, make it, if you can innovate in find ways to do that within your business model, no matter what it is, I would always say, you know, do that. I would say it’s very important, especially with remote selling.
Steffen: Yeah. So obviously, remote selling is nothing new, right? But I would probably think, during today’s time or during the current situation, you know, COVID-19, this must-have kind of picked up and accelerate a lot. Would you agree?
Restarting the Engine After the Shock
Jeremy: Yeah. So being kind of in the thick of it in the lead gen space, we noticed, you know, when COVID-19 first kind of came to our shores and the initial shock kind of hit, we did see a decrease in revenue just because, you know, everybody was just thinking the world was going to end and no one really knew what was going to happen. Once that initial shock wore off, you know, sales is the heartbeat of every business. If you’re not bringing in new business, you know, you’re kind of sitting there in the water.
So eventually, people, you know, need to restart the engine and with, you know, there being kind of limitations and different restrictions on things right now, hiring SDRs isn’t, it’s not the most appealing thing to be doing right now. So if you can find some type of virtual or alternative that can, you know, offer you the same result that might also have, you know, other benefits as well, you know, why not? And I think that’s what a lot of these b2b companies are transitioning to right now.
Steffen: Yeah, I mean, I would imagine that there are a lot of salespeople out there to moment a can’t to their normal job because they are doing, or have been doing the traditional sales, you know, where there’s lot of FaceTime required or you go to trade shows, or you go to places where your target audience is and start mingling with them, building relationships and those kind of things. Are those kind of salespeople, is it easy for them to transition from the traditional approach to kind of the remote selling?
Jeremy: Well, I think for some, yes. I think for some maybe not. You know, everybody has a different kind of adaptation process. Some people are better at it than others. So I think some people will adapt easily. You know, everybody, especially, you know, people that are just getting into sales, this will be an easier transition for them because they’re, you know, they haven’t been in the game that long, you know? For your veterans out there who have been in sales, you know, for 20-plus years, this might be a harder transition.
But at the end of the day, I think everybody is getting more and more used to technology, people are getting more and more used to using these social platforms. And that’s the trend that everything was going in anyway. So I think this is just a catalyst that might be speeding it up. But, you know, I’m not gonna lie, there will be some people that get left by the wayside. I think, just because some of these more traditional styles or methods maybe, you know, might not be a great channel for the foreseeable future.
Steffen: Yeah. Do you see a different success rate from remote selling leads to kind of leads that were generated or that exist when you have more one to one or face to face approach?
Jeremy: Yeah, well, I would say when you meet someone in person face to face, that’s always going to convert at a higher rate. When you’re, you know, you’re building that connection in that relationship much faster when you’re actually in the room with the person But with that being said, you know, even though it might not convert at a higher rate.
You have much higher numbers on the internet when you’re able to create a targeted lead list and go after, you know, a subset of people each day and you’re consistently feeding that funnel. So you kind of make up for that with numbers. But yeah, the face to face, you really can’t beat that face to face, you know?
Steffen: Yeah, yeah. So you might not like what I’m saying now. So is it more quantity over quality remote selling?
Remote Selling: Quantity vs Quality
Jeremy: Well, I think it depends. I think, you know, it depends on your business. You know, some businesses have a wider net that they can cast and it is strictly a numbers game. And then there’s some that have a very targeted niche where they can only go after specific companies based on a software application that they use or something else. So it can go either way. But for us, I think most of our clients, their services cater to a wide variety of different companies. So for us, it is a little bit more of a numbers game, but it doesn’t need to be that way for everybody. It really depends on what you’re looking to achieve.
Steffen: How about sales triggers? When you do the remote selling the way how you guys do that, are you using sales triggers? Or is that, it’s really as you said, it’s more quality? Let’s find companies that are in industry or that fit the profile that the client gave you.
Jeremy: Right. Yeah. So we’re not really using too many sales triggers. Most of this is based on the conversations that we’re having with our clients. So, you know, that strategy call that I mentioned before, that’s really where we’re putting that targeting together. And we’re going out and creating these lead lists and then getting them approved by the client. So we’re not tying into, you know, individuals who are maybe visiting their website or anything like that. This is traditional, old school outreach done in a new and modern way.
Steffen: That’s a nice way to put it. So for the people that are listening was like, You know what, this sounds interesting. We really should probably try this. Whether hiring a company like airSales or trying to build out a remote sales team themselves, what are the best practices that they should implement when doing it themselves? Or what are the best practices that you recommend people should look out for? Because there obviously are a lot of companies out there do the same thing and they might not all be the same.
Jeremy: Right. Yeah, for best practices, you know, what you want to make sure you’re doing as you’re structuring your team right. You want to figure out, you know, which part of your sales team you want to be virtual because you may not want your entire team to be virtual. For us, you know, what we think makes sense at airSales is virtualizing the SDR role, so the sales development representative, and having your closers still be in house.
So, you know, that way, you know, when you’re getting on the actual pitch call, or even the discovery call, you have that control and you know the individual who’s paying taking that call is a good closer because you don’t want to be feeding leads to, you know, a new remote seller that you, you know, you haven’t vetted yet. You know, you want to make sure that your closers have been vetted and that they’re able to actually close deals.
So a best practice and kind of some advice, if you are, you know, going to start your own virtual salesforce would be just starting with the SDRs. And once you’ve vetted out enough SDRs and they’re starting to perform, you might want to, you know, promote them, you know, to a virtual AE. And that would be, you know, the process that I would follow and really the best advice that I can give to anyone who would, you know, be trying to start something like this.
Steffen: That makes sense. Is it difficult to manage a remote sales team?
Jeremy: It’s not the easiest, obviously, because whenever something’s virtual and remote, there are additional challenges when it comes to managing people. So it’s definitely easier to manage a team when you’re all in the same room. I’m not going to say that it’s not. But there are definitely ways to do it remotely as well. So using, you know, tools and software, different messaging applications.
You can monitor and keep a really close eye on how your team’s performing. There’s even, you know, spreadsheet templates that you can use to monitor daily performance and make sure everything’s staying on track. There are ways to do it. You just need to make sure that you have your operations completely dialed in if you’re going to do it remotely,
Steffen: From your perspective, so what’s the future of sales development? I mean, we’re basically talking about so far, just to clarify that for the listeners is, we’re talking about the first step in sales, right? Where you need to identify your prospects. And then you want those prospects to show an interest in kind of accepting, you know, a meeting or phone call from you so that you can talk about the service that you can offer them and the solution they will get.
The Big Remote Experiment
Jeremy: Yeah. So, I mean, the future, I think right now, I mean, we’re in a big experiment. I think COVID-19 was a catalyst for it. So, you know, I think there was a trend going towards remote selling, but I don’t think there was anything pushing companies and forcing companies to really have to consider it as a realistic option.
So I think what companies will soon realize is that they can, you know, reap the benefits of having a live human interaction driving new business and new leads without having to have a lot of the risk and reducing costs as well. So I think that, you know, we’re experimenting with right it now. And, you know, as we continue to go down this path, it’s just going to make more viable sense for companies have virtualize parts of their sales team.
Steffen: You said earlier that, you know, one of the benefits of working potentially with an outside provider for the SDR part, so for identifying prospects and getting the initial meetings call in place is obviously, if they don’t work, you don’t have them as full time. you can switch them out and have the next person come on board. And are there any other, you know, advantages or benefits that you can see people should consider or should look at?
Jeremy: Yeah, yeah. So I mean, there’s obviously a cost factor here. So I think 2017 San Francisco salaries all-in costs for an SDR working at a tech company comes in at $80,000 per year. And that’s cost to the business. So that’s including, you know, insurance training, laptop, computer software, everything.
So when you’re working in, you know, if you’re working with an agency, or if you’re going to even, you know, build out your own sales team, what a VSR costs the business on a yearly basis is $20,000. So, you know, you’re reducing that to a fourth. So you’re paying a fraction of the price and essentially getting the same result because typically, you know, an SDR will, you know, yield, you know, eight meetings per month on average across most verticals, and a virtual sales representative will do the same.
So you’re able to get that same resolve, that same impact, but, you know, pay a fraction of the price. You’re also foregoing that hiring process. So you don’t have to worry about, you know, hiring and vetting individuals if you go the agency route. If you’re building out your own team, of course, you still need to do that. And another benefit is that, you know, you get quick results.
So typically, you know, when you’re training individual, it’s going to, there’s going to be a ramp-up period and that can be up to 90 days. You know, when you’re using an agency, at least, if you’re building a remote sales team yourself, again, you’re going to have some of the same hurdles. But if you’re going with a lead gen service or an agency who already has a vetted network, you’re going to be able to hit the ground running and they’re going to be able to get you results quick.
And then the last benefit that I was seeing is that the turnover rate with salespeople is pretty high. There’s a 34% or 34% turnover rate with salespeople. So you could sink investment, you know, and training into an individual and then there’s a 34% chance that they might walk on you. So you might have to start all over again. So yeah, so there’s obviously, there’s a lot of benefits. So I like to put it as less risk, less investment, equal or better results.
Steffen: How do you achieve that saving, right? Does that mean you, the person only works a third of the time or a fourth of the time on a client account? Or is that, where do the savings come from?
Jeremy: Good question. Yeah, so what we’re able to do is we’re able to expedite a lot of the prospecting process. So a lot of the time spent with an SDR in house is actually used finding leads, actually going and building lists. We’re able to do that very quickly. So we’re able to expedite the prospecting process and create these lists in advance.
And then our reps are strictly focusing on positive responses each day. So when they’re logging in, they’re going to be just focusing on the people who want to talk to them and setting up those meetings. So we’re speeding up the process and we’re eliminating a lot of waste of time and that’s where the savings are coming from.
Steffen: Yeah. How does an agency like you charge for the service?
Jeremy: Yeah, so our service is very basic. So we have a month to month billing plan. So unlike a lot of other lead generation services, they like to tie you into at least a six-month contract, or sometimes longer. They like to pitch you on this very long ramp-up period. We’ve really, you know, streamlined the whole prospecting process. And our best practices work across most verticals. So we’re able to kind of plug and play and get things up and running and get results out of the gate.
So our month to month plan starts at 1500 dollars a month. If you want to sign up with one rep, you can do that and then you can scale up, you know, if you need to add reps and kind of scale up as you go. Or if you want to start out, you know, with an entire team, now we have some clients who have over 20 virtual sales reps and they’re all linked up to a different account executive within that sales team. So it’s very customizable and it’s flexible, you know, based on your company size and the results that you’re looking to achieve.
Steffen: Okay. Well, Jeremy, we’ve come to the end of today’s podcast episode. Thank you so much for joining me on the Performance Delivered Podcast and sharing your knowledge on remote selling. If people want to find out more about you and say, You know what, I couldn’t build this out myself, but let’s talk to Jimmy, you know? Let’s give him a call. Let’s see what he can do for us. How can they get in touch?
Jeremy: Yeah, yeah, really easy. So just go to airsales.io. You can go there on our website, it’s really easy to just schedule a call directly through our website right there. We’ll get you on our sales calendar and someone from our sales team will be happy to talk to you.
Steffen: Well, thanks everyone for listening. If you like the Performance Delivered Podcast, please subscribe to us and leave us a review on iTunes or your favorite podcast application. If you want to find out more about Symphonic Digital, you can visit us at symphonicdigital.com or follow us on Twitter at Symphonic HQ. Thanks again and see you next time.