How to Manage a BDR Team Virtually

The transition to remote work because of COVID-19 has been a major shake-up for a lot of companies. Drift included.

As a sales guy, this has been especially strange, as I’ve always loved the energy of the sales floor.

But despite these new barriers to our team, I feel nothing but fortunate. Here’s why:

  • I have a job at a company that can support remote work.
  • I have a first-class BDR team backing me up.
  • The BDR team’s expansion across states has prepared us to work well together even when we’re not sitting side-by-side.

So, if you catch me smiling at our next Zoom meeting, you’ll know why: Everything considered, I feel pretty lucky. But that’s not to say there haven’t been some hurdles along the way. And we’re still learning as we go.

To help other BDR managers and teams in the same position, I decided to share how we’ve transitioned to a totally remote BDR team ?

The Growing Drift BDR Team – and How it Prepared Me for Virtual Management

The BDR team at Drift has always been spread across at least two offices – Boston and San Francisco. In that sense, we’ve always been somewhat virtual.

More recently, we’ve added a third office in Tampa, Florida, and we’re growing our BDR team there as well. To help build out that team, I actually relocated from Boston.

Since that move, we’ve hired and onboarded nine BDRs.

To help keep everyone connected from coast-to-coast, we created a “virtual cadence.” This includes daily and weekly meetings, as well as a very active Slack presence where we share strategies with each other.

This was pivotal pre-COVID and is even more important now that the team has gone totally remote.

A Day-in-the-Life of a Remote BDR Manager & Team

No commute and no shared table means that typical communication in this new normal is anything but. That said, there are some rituals and routines that stay with you, whether in-office or remote.

Run Weekly & Daily Meetings

To stay connected, we hold both weekly and daily meetings:

  • Monday meetings: Monday meetings are all about setting the tone and energy for the week and learning something new. Here’s what I mean by that ?
    • Morale boost: First, we start by going over team values. Giving your team a reminder of your core mission helps maintain morale and remind people that we’re working towards a goal.
    • Persona research and customer proof point: Every BDR has insights they learn with each call they log and email they send. On Monday, we make it a point to review a new persona every week, plus a customer proof point.
    • Quota and forecasting: Finally, we go into quota attainment and how we’re tracking for the month. We close with a forecast for the upcoming week.

  • Daily kick-off: We kick off every morning at 8:30 with a stand-up meeting over Zoom. The agenda for these virtual meetings include:
    • Reviewing yesterday’s progress
    • Addressing any announcements for the day
    • Going around and talking about what everyone’s priorities are and why

We always prioritize presentation and preparedness during these stand-ups. I encourage everyone to come prepared to talk through their activities for the day and offer any tips or suggestions for others.

Don’t Make it All About Work

One of the downsides of being remote is that now we tend to only talk to our co-workers about work-related things. This void outside of work can be a big drain for people. Especially as social distancing often means the only real socializing you get is with your co-workers.

For BDRs and salespeople, talking is like breathing. And our BDR team is a social bunch ?

So, whenever we do meet, or whenever I can on Slack, I try to ask personal questions or introduce non-work related conversations into the mix.

Employee experience is super important right now, just like any strategy session. As a BDR manager, it’s your job to introduce these cultural pieces where you can.

Stay Connected & Share on Slack

Slack is mission-critical for a lot of teams right now. But that’s always been the case with us.

I mentioned earlier how important sharing insights is during our meetings. And Drift’s #bdr channel is no different.

Almost every hour you’ll find someone discussing email outreach, using video, and more.

For example, one of our BDRs, Fernando, has been sending “breaking the ice” videos where he literally records himself breaking ice up in a bowl before introducing himself.

It’s funny, but it’s also been really effective in starting conversations with buyers.

And on that note, to end things here, I want to quickly talk about how the BDR team has been shifting our messaging for this new world we live in.

A Note on BDR Outreach Cadence During COVID-19

We’ve spent a lot of time at Drift thinking about outreach and messaging over the last few weeks. Specifically, we are prioritizing empathy and relevance over everything.

The tone of our outreach has certainly changed and we’re being more thoughtful about some of the industries we’re reaching out to right now.

That said, I’m trying not to overcompensate here.

The safest way to avoid backlash when prospecting is to be sharp, add value and know what you’re talking about.

If you do this, the best, most personal, relevant and educational email that worked two months ago will still work today.

If you’re good – genuinely and truly good at prospecting – I don’t think you need to change much about your approach during this pandemic. Just don’t avoid the elephant in the room. Don’t be afraid to call out that things are weird and be sure to continue doing your research before reaching out to avoid coming off as tone-deaf.

Buyers might not always take a meeting or buy from you, but no one is going to be bothered by a well-written, valuable and brief message.

In addition to this, we always try to promote creativity in outreach, and the current state of the world is forcing us to double down here.

The team is relying on Drift Video to cut through the noise and be human. From Fernando’s “break the ice” video to BDRs sending videos of their dogs or sharing their work stations at home to peel back the curtain – the best outreach is the kind that humanizes you.

Don’t be afraid to change things up and get more personal with your outreach. That’s the content people want right now.

If you’re interested in learning how your BDR team can break through the noise, you’re in luck. We wrote a whole book about it. Learn more here, or download it now by clicking the image below.