With tougher phone conversations and emails, how can one compete in the current market?
In order to stand out in the present marketplace, one should have a targeted message for a particular individual that has been researched, use personalization, target the appropriate people, and use LinkedIn as a tool to interact with people in a clever and unique way.
What actions does Ashley Gerber take to promote teamwork inside her organization?
In addition to holding weekly one-on-one meetings to review the top 10 accounts, holding war rooms to present and discuss strategy, and encouraging team brainstorming, Ashley Gerber focuses on implementing solid pipelines. In addition to scheduling meetings for account executives, her team enjoys bringing in fresh logos.
Is there a culture of community in prospecting or within the roles?
A community culture is starting to emerge inside roles and prospects, according to Ashley Gerber, but it wasn't always there. She has been coaching people to assist them enter high tech, and she has established an internal referral network for Israeli women working in high tech to help them get over their fear of approaching strangers at work.
Ricky Pearl: Today on a Couple of Pointers Podcast, we're lucky enough to have Ashley Gerber, who's the BDR team lead at Zesty and the founder of ReferHer. Welcome to the show.
Ashley Gerber: Thank you. I'm so excited to be here.
Ricky Pearl: I've been wanting to talk to you for so long. I've got a lot of questions.
How long have you been the team lead?
Ricky Pearl: Let's start with just BDR stuff in general, how long have you been the, how long have you been the team lead?
Ashley Gerber: So I've been at Zesty for the past year and a half managing the team.
Have you found in that year and a half the practices that BDRs have has significantly changed or is it still pretty much the same thing?
Ricky Pearl: And have you found in that year and a half the practices that BDRs have has significantly changed, or is it still pretty much the same thing when you started?
Ashley Gerber: I think that the from when I started, I think that there's been slight changes. Obviously people are not picking up the phones necessarily as much as they were during Covid or even right after Covid, I think that emails are getting a little bit harder to get through to people and break through the space.
A lot of people are now, they know the tips they know to work with personalization. So you need to be really creative.
What's the cut through? Like what's the secret sauce there? Like how do you compete?
Ricky Pearl: That's so interesting. So you've just said [00:01:00] phones have gotten a bit tougher. People aren't picking up as much as they were during Covid email's gotten a bit tougher cuz everyone's doing it. What's the cut through? Like what's the secret sauce there? Like how do you compete?
Ashley Gerber: So I think as I mentioned, like making sure you're having a very specific message to someone that you've researched doing personalization, making sure you're targeting the right people, you're not just praying and praying. And I think LinkedIn is also has always been something that anyone could fall back on, but I think now it's gonna be even more important going into the new year.
Ricky Pearl: And I've found that the LinkedIn channels become extremely difficult as well. Like during Covid you could just connect with anyone and you'd have at least a 50% acceptance rate, and that's just now like maybe 30% or 25%. It's really becoming tougher too.
Ashley Gerber: I definitely agree. However, I think even when I was a BDR and that was like also before Covid, a bit of, during Covid I don't know, maybe people just didn't like me. I'd only have a 30% acceptance rate back then.
Ricky Pearl: Alright. I, what I take out [00:02:00] of this is it's the quality that needs to now be front and center, regardless of if it's calls or emails or LinkedIn. Like the only way you can differentiate yourself from the spam is like phenomenal personalization, really clever and creative approaches.
Have you tried anything that's pretty out there, pretty creative and did or didn't work?
Ricky Pearl: Have you seen any ha, have you guys tried anything that's pretty out there, pretty creative and did or didn't work?
Ashley Gerber: At this rate, I don't think there's anything that's super out there that we've tried. We've tried video messaging. We've tried like having more of a sense of humor. I push my team to try and use their personalities when they're on LinkedIn and emailing. I think that being human can add points to your content.
Ricky Pearl: Yeah.
Ashley Gerber: So we do like lots of gifts.
But yeah it's tough out there.
How did you find video? Did video give you a major uptick, or again, was it just about the quality?
Ricky Pearl: On that personality how did you find video? Did video give you a major uptick, or again, was it just about the quality?
Ashley Gerber: Wow. Okay. I really had high hopes for video cause I keep hearing things about Vidyard. Maybe we didn't put it out there as well as we could have. But I thought my team's videos looked great. Like I was excited by them.[00:03:00] But again, bias cuz I manage them. And people were definitely like clicking on the video, but nothing was going beyond the initial like openings.
Ricky Pearl: Oh, wow. So one of the reasons I don't like video is because of how it impacts your email deliverability for those first cold outreaches. But you're saying though, they were clicking on it, so you were getting over the delivery issues and they were clicking on good quality video, and then it's still not converting.
Ashley Gerber: So we were also sending them over LinkedIn.
Ricky Pearl: Okay.
Ashley Gerber: Excuse me.
Ricky Pearl: No, it's all right. You need a coffee? That's
Ashley Gerber: Yeah this 8:00 AM
Ricky Pearl: Oh, wow. Yeah, I forgot about that. It's the time zone thing. We'll get into the we'll get into that early mornings. Cause I see quite a lot about some of your non work routine. And that's always been inspirational for me too. So just on this video so you're, they're going over LinkedIn, you're getting the statistics cuz LinkedIn is the right approach for video.
Have you cut back a bit on your videos?
Ricky Pearl: It's gonna get delivered and didn't work. So have you cut back a bit on your videos?
Ashley Gerber: Yeah, we actually decided to pull back from videos for now. And try and make sure that the main three channels that like [00:04:00] everyone uses are really getting the attention and making sure they're strong. So we've been focusing a lot on improving our email sequences and like making sure LinkedIn best practices are being shared.
Working on phone calls, always constantly coaching on that. And once we continue to see like an uptick in there, then maybe we'll go back to video.
Ricky Pearl: Yeah I genuinely love that, right? There's no secrets. There's no special hack. There's no like growth hack in it. It's the basics done exceptionally well.
Ashley Gerber: Yeah, it really is.
Ricky Pearl: And I like the first person who's, who said this to me. And I know it's true. And this approach we had, we take at pointer as well.
Everyone's, great emails are fad. This is a fad. Whatever works for a week. But it's the basics. It's the, does your average performer know what your top performers doing to get different results and can you uplift a whole team? Like all of those things. And this is why I'm excited to talk to you like you're on the frontline doing it.
What are some of the things you do to help that collaboration across your team?
Ricky Pearl: What are some of the things you do to help that collaboration, like across your team?
Ashley Gerber: Definitely. So one of the things that we've been, I've been big on implementing is, first of all, [00:05:00] pipeline is important. It's super important. No matter how much, how many activities you're doing in a day, how many tasks you're completing, you're not gonna get anywhere if you don't have a strong pipeline.
So I've been really focusing on helping my team, make sure they have strong pipelines, learn to forecast their pipelines a bit. That being said, we have weekly one-on-ones, and so in our one-on-ones we go over like their top 10 accounts I have every month. They put like the 10 accounts they believe they'll be able to bring to demo.
So we go through that. We brainstorm. We had a war room with the whole team where they presented like I think a few days ago actually for the month of January. The 10 accounts they're gonna be going after, how they're gonna go after them. We talk about strategy and then from there, We make sure to talk about what they're doing messaging wise, how they're reaching out, what are they saying on the phone, if they've had a touchpoint already, how are they gonna use that referral?
How are they going to talk about the company and the industry that they're reaching out into on LinkedIn? What are they gonna do on their email? How are they gonna personalize it? And really just making sure that they understand how they should be approaching [00:06:00] things or if they get stuck brainstorming as a team, because I'm one person.
I like to think I have all the answers, but I definitely am not messaging daily like they are. And so it's good to hear what's working from other people on the team as well.
Ricky Pearl: It's. That's brilliant, right? That really is brilliant facilitating that kind of collaboration. And it sounds to me like your team has a little bit of ex extreme accountability when you have to bring, it's one thing to say, oh, I've got a million prospects. The world is my oyster. I've got an infinite total addressable markets.
But when you say, show me 10, what are the 10? What are you doing for these 10? You can't hide within that. You rarely have to bring it.
Ashley Gerber: Definitely. And also I think it's good. It's important because I can't work on with my entire team on all of their pipelines. It's not feasible. So this way they know that like whatever, I talk to them and what we work on as a team, on those 10 accounts, they can apply to the rest the other like 300 accounts they have.
Ricky Pearl: Yeah. Now you talk about pipeline. Now for a BDR that's typically just booked demos, right? Like just booked meetings, is that the [00:07:00] focus or are your BDRs following through and seeing that pipeline actually turn into revenue?
Ashley Gerber: No, so my team is they are very much booking the meetings for the account executives, but despite not having revenue targets or seeing it through, it is important to my team when they bring in new logos, like it's huge. And we celebrate it as a company. So they do care about that.
Ricky Pearl: it's awesome. Listen, I'm all, my, my whole team's booked on attended meetings, right? To me that's their job, right? I'm never gonna hold 'em accountable for pieces of the puzzle that they aren't responsible for. Now if we were, we spoke about earlier, about this being eight o'clock in the morning for you.
What are you seeing on the ground there?
Ricky Pearl: Let's talk a little bit about mental health within sales and particularly within BDR roles. It's tough out there. It's a tough gig and I've always looked to Israel as the I don't know, of like the north star of BDR mentalities because it's such a resilient culture. What are you seeing on the ground there?
Ashley Gerber: I would have to agree I think that for BDR culture, Israel's the place to do it. Again, I [00:08:00] guess I don't really have the knowledge of how it looks in the US. I've only ever worked in Israel, but I think that we're very, we understand you need to take time off. You need to take time off. No one questions.
it The team, at least my team, they know, like they need to have some sort of outlet that's very important to me. So if times are getting tough, I ask them like, okay, like what can we do to help you both on the BDR front, but like outside of work, what are you doing? Are you going to your soccer games?
Are you going to the gym? Are you meeting up with friends? Do you have an outlet or are you just in this cycle of constantly thinking about work, canceling plans, getting more stressed, coming to work, being like almost burnt out?
Ricky Pearl: Yeah. And what I love seeing that from leaders, right? Because like how you perform at work has a strong correlation with how you come to work, like what you bring.
In your one-on-ones, is that like part of the topics or is it more just a general theme?
Ricky Pearl: And so in your one-on-ones, is that like part of the topics or is it more just a general theme?
Ashley Gerber: I think it's a general theme. I think that definitely on some, one-on-ones with my team, it comes up more, especially if I believe [00:09:00] we have a really open line of communication, and so when they express to me that they're really stressed about something, that's when I start asking like, what are you doing outside of work as well to maintain some sort of balance in your life.
Ricky Pearl: And yeah, I guess are there other factors that you feel like the company maybe adds or takes away when it comes to that stress?
Do they ever relieve the pressure in terms of quota or, look at it that way? Or is there always just a focus on you have to fix this pressure, the stress, because the job's stressful, you have to find external outlets to release?
Ricky Pearl: Do they ever relieve the pressure in terms of quota or, look at it that way? Or is there always just a focus on you have to fix this pressure, the stress, because the job's stressful, you have to find external outlets to release?
Ashley Gerber: I think that there's definitely things in which the company does. I don't know if intentionally to relieve stress, but for example, happy hours or team nights out or just like bonding activities, just like fun things that you can do to step away from your desk and socialize with others that maybe aren't on your team definitely always are. It's nice to not think about all the rejection rejections you're getting constantly. But I do think it's something that is done outside of work. I think that [00:10:00] if you don't have that and you're not taking care of that, or you don't have a leader that's making sure that you are, you have your outlet, you are taking care of yourself, it's gonna be really difficult to perform no matter what the company does.
Ricky Pearl: Now one of the other things that I think helps mental the mindsets at least, is a lot of people thinking this isn't permanent. This is a path forward towards my future and I'm willing to eat sand right now knowing that I'll be eating steak next year.
Is there a big focus on that professional development?
Ricky Pearl: Is there a big focus on that professional development?
Ashley Gerber: I believe there is it's being a BDR it's really hard to be a BDR lifer. Like I admire people who can do this forever. But a lot of people see it as this is my year and a half, two years max of like grit work where I'm gonna learn a ton and get a lot of experience quickly, but I'm also gonna be working like a wild animal, and then there's going to be that light at the end of the tunnel, which is some promotion to wherever they wanna end up going. But yeah, I think that definitely makes [00:11:00] it a bit easier.
How much of your focus as a leader is on skilling them up for the job they have now versus skilling them up for the job they want in a year's time?
Ricky Pearl: And then like on that, how much of your focus as a leader is on skilling them up for the job they have now versus skilling them up for the job they want in a year's time?
Ashley Gerber: That's actually a really good question. So my focus is very much on skilling them up for the job they have now because I believe that those skills can really help in the future. However, once they hit around their one year mark, that's when we start having conversations about where they wanna be moving to in the company, and I start giving them goals.
For example, I have two guys on my team that are gonna be promoted to AE and I told them back at there a few months ago at a feedback review we had that I want them to start learning how to pitch and demo and start doing things even though it's not like officially a goal of theirs. It's something I want them to start working on.
I think also like the pipeline reviews that we do helps prepare them for forecasting. That's an important thing to be able to do as an account executive. Um, So once I find out what they're interested in, I try and give them more [00:12:00] tasks and responsibilities that will prepare them.
Ricky Pearl: Yeah. And when they say what they're interested in is not sales, that's a little bit of a red flag. Always get that. I'm thinking. I think I would be interested in marketing. No, I'm joking. But yeah I see that a lot like when I see pictures of you on LinkedIn with your whole team and all those social events and all of the training, and I also, I've also noticed, and tell me if I've noticed incorrectly, I often see that you're interacting with other BDRs, other BDR leaders from other organizations.
Is there like a community culture there within prospecting or within the roles?
Ricky Pearl: Is there like a community culture there within prospecting or within the roles?
Ashley Gerber: So there is now starting to be a community. When I first started, there wasn't a community at all. It was more I had never managed before and I had a bit of imposter syndrome and I wanted to make sure that Zesty saw me as a manager, so I didn't wanna just ask constantly questions to my manager. So I was asking around to other people.
I like literally out bounded people and was like, Hey, like I see that you've been a leader in this space for X years. Can we have a chat? I'm looking for a mentor and tons of [00:13:00] people accepted and we're helping me along the way. SDR rally came up.
Ricky Pearl: Yeah.
Ashley Gerber: The past few months from right bound and they've really created a community. So that's also helped. We have a Slack channel and
Ricky Pearl: So now I wanted to segue into your new company. Talk me through that.
Ashley Gerber: Sure. So I've been doing a lot of mentoring on the side, trying to help people get into high tech. I feel like as a BDR team lead part of my role is hiring inevitably. So I've done hundreds of interviews over the past year and a half. So I can tell what makes a good candidate, what doesn't, what people are looking for.
Also, like I've spoken in these communities of team leads, hearing from them what they like and don't like in interviews. So I was like, how can I give back? Like I feel like I'm in a place where I'm doing well in my career. I know what I need to do for my team so I can take on the extra load of mentoring.
And a lot of the people I'm mentoring, especially women, were having some trouble reaching out to people at companies that they don't know to ask for an internal [00:14:00] referral. At least in Tel Aviv, the easiest way to get a landed interview is through an internal referral. So what you would do is you just reach out to someone at the company.
We all have these incentives to refer a friend and we're happily like able to refer 'em for the position and they'll get the interview way easier if they're qualified.
Ricky Pearl: That is just so clever. I've just, it's just clicked for me right now. I would always hear, and I'd always recommend, hey, speak to people in the company to get advice, to see if they can put your name forward. But I've never thought about that internal referral benefits and how you can align with that. Wow. Okay. Alright. Just light bulb went off there. Sorry. Carry on.
Ashley Gerber: No. It's okay. I, so yeah, it's like, of course they're gonna wanna refer you cuz they can, if you get hired within three months, they'll get a bonus. But a lot of the women specifically were a bit like stressed out or anxious about reaching out to people they didn't know at companies.
Ricky Pearl: And that's that's a massive challenge, not just in Israel. That's a challenge all over the world. Like men are more likely to overestimate their capabilities. They're more likely to ask for a [00:15:00] promotion, ask for a raise, even if they're less deserving of it.
Ashley Gerber: Exactly. So I was like, what can I do to make this easier? And that's when I thought like, why don't I create an internal referral network for women in high tech? It's for now here in Israel. Hopefully if it's successful, it'll expand. But that way women already know, like they can see the profiles of women who are willing to refer them for their companies and they can see the companies they might be interested in and feel more comfortable reaching out cuz the person's already please reach out to me.
And that way also the women get the credit for the referrals.
Ricky Pearl: And I'd imagine as well, there's there's a lot of that bro culture in sales. So you really want to get an inside an inside view of the culture of their company and an honest review of the culture of their company.
Ashley Gerber: Exactly. And also I believe it can help create role models in the company. If you see someone in a role, you can ask them to mentor you and could lead to a very positive relationship once you get hired.
Ricky Pearl: I absolutely love it. I really do love it. And so how, like, how does that work as a business? I understand the concept and it's a, I understand the need, like a genuine need and I understand the benefits now to [00:16:00] both the company as well. Cause ultimately they land up with better talents to the re the referrer and the referee, everyone benefits.
How does the business benefit your business?
Ricky Pearl: How do you, how does the business benefit your business?
Ashley Gerber: So right now it's a free tool. I think that it's important to just get it out in the world. I have thoughts of creating revenue streams by going and have a, "for the company" kind of a page and kind of reach out to hrs at various companies and promote it. Have a job board where they can pay to be listed, maybe give some talks about why it's important to have diversity, how to hit diversity quotas if they have them et cetera.
But right now I'm more just focused on having this out in the world so that it can help people.
Ricky Pearl: Yeah, that, that makes a lot of sense. And I hope there is a way to monetize it because we would hate for something like this to not be around simply because you couldn't put in the effort into it. If somebody wanted to be a part of that. At the moment you mentioned it's only Israel.
If somebody's listening to this, loves the idea who wants to, should they just reach out to you on LinkedIn?
Ricky Pearl: So if somebody's listening to this, loves the idea who wants to, should they just reach out to you on LinkedIn?
Ashley Gerber: So we [00:17:00] actually have a website. It's referher.co. And you can just sign up to be a job. We call them job seekers or referers. So if you already have a job in high tech, you can sign up as a referer, takes a minute, and then you can already start referring people. It's all through LinkedIn. So we have templates for refers on how to respond and also for people, job seekers on how to reach out so they can just copy and paste the templates and fill in the, like names and whatever they need. And yeah,
Ricky Pearl: Brilliant.
Ashley Gerber: Pretty easy.
Ricky Pearl: Yeah, it's such a great concept. I, it's really it's gr and it all just clicked for me today, like on this interview talking to you like, oh, I didn't realize the benefits. And now I do. It's a rarely yawn to something here. And hope, I hope it comes to Australia. I hope it does.
Ashley Gerber: I hope it's popular enough to grow because honestly, my goal for 2023 is to bring more women into tech. Not only through mentoring efforts, but hopefully through referer and yeah it's crazy to see. I didn't realize until I started really researching there's only like [00:18:00] 26 or 27% of women in tech, and the rest is like male dominated.
Ricky Pearl: It is. There's some shocking statistics and I'll tell you, and it's starting at that ground level. I'll post a job advert. I recently did I had 134 job applicants within 24 hours. So like I got flooded. And I'm also quite interested, I'll talk to you another time about your hiring process and your interview process and the things you're looking for.
But out of the 134 applicants I had less than 30% of those applicants being female. Previously it used to be even lower than that because part of my application process was that they needed to submit a video. And I realized th that was a barrier. So you'll know the tools, like all those very, there's lots of those different tools.
So it was a, an asynchronous video interview. I asked five questions. I'd answer those five questions. I'd get to see them talk. I'd get to see them how they, communicate. And it was great. So it saved me a fortune of time, but I was missing out on talent because our, what I discovered, somebody educated me to the fact that females are less likely to apply because they may be subconscious, self-conscious [00:19:00] at that point and don't feel qualified. And so I took that part of the process out and it has increased the amount of female applicants I have. I still have it as part of the process, but now I've been able to at least say, look, I've looked at your resume and I really think you would make a fantastic candidate, and I'd love for you to progress through this stage so that we can have an in-person interview and there's no fall off at that point. Yeah, there's a desperate need to bring more female into the fold.
Ashley Gerber: Yeah.
Ricky Pearl: Because if they're starting off at this point at only 30% representation in applying for the roles imagine how that dwindles down to the point where you're now having to choose leadership positions.
Ashley Gerber: Yeah.
Ricky Pearl: It'll become a self perpetuating problem if we don't fix it.
Honestly super tough to organizations like yours. And if there's anything we can do to support you or not myself, or if there's anyone else I can introduce you to in Australia you just ask, we'll definitely support.
Ashley Gerber: Thank you so much. Ricky, really means a lot.
Ricky Pearl: Yeah I'm it's a great idea and I'd love for anyone watching this reach out to you and just talk about it.
Ashley Gerber: Definitely
Quick tips for how they should go about applying for a job
Ricky Pearl: One. If you were to give any parting advice to any female [00:20:00] or male, I guess looking to get into high tech space in Israel or anywhere else in the world, give me like one or two quick advi tips for how they should go about applying for a job.
Ashley Gerber: So I tell everyone I mentor don't apply to the job on the site. Always ask someone to refer you internally and don't just message them being like, Hey, can you refer me for this position? You gotta have some like tact. You have to reach out to them with a good message, BDR yourself even if you're not looking to go into customer facing and be like, Hey, I noticed you're on this team.
The posi I'm looking at this position at your company looks really interesting. Do you have a few minutes to speak tomorrow? I'd love to ask you a few questions. Most people will say, yes, people love to talk about themselves. And then from there, once you speak to them and they understand you as a person, then ask them for the internal referral.
And a lot of these internal referrals. Like within companies there's sometimes polls or like questions that you submit along with the cv that's like, how well do you know the person or whatever. And that kind of [00:21:00] helps get you vetted past that stage instead of being like they're a stranger, they can be like, oh, I have a feel for this person.
Ricky Pearl: Interesting.
Ashley Gerber: Can vouch for them more.
Ricky Pearl: Out of the 134 people that have recently applied for a role this week, zero did that. And I can promise you if anyone had, they would've been top of the pile guaranteed. So top advice over there. Seriously, thank you so much for taking the time to talk to me today and her.co connect with you on LinkedIn and just follow your advice once your LinkedIn profiles back up.
Ashley Gerber: Yeah. Oh my goodness. I'm so upset. If anyone knows how to get unlocked out of LinkedIn or have my posts be posted, let me know.
Ricky Pearl: I'm gonna post about this tomorrow. I know a few people who have landed up in LinkedIn jail and managed to get out of it. So we are gonna f we're gonna fix this
Ashley Gerber: Cool. Thank you. I can't believe I'm in LinkedIn jail. Ah.
Ricky Pearl: No, it's it's a real thing. It's a real thing. LinkedIn jail. Apparently you have to go to Twitter to message LinkedIn to get some responses, but no we'll figure this out.
Ashley Gerber: Yeah. I will happily create a [00:22:00] Twitter profile just to message LinkedIn and then delete it if I have to.
Ricky Pearl: Yeah, no automations on LinkedIn is not worth the risk.
Ashley Gerber: Yeah.
Ricky Pearl: Anyway, listen, I'd love to also chat to you again sometime later this year. I want to hear how Referher is going and I'd got a hell of a lot to learn still about BDR management, so we want to get that from you too.
Ashley Gerber: Definitely. Thank you so much again for having me. This is still so exciting and it was really nice speaking to you and hearing
Ricky Pearl: from you.
Yeah. We'll chat again soon. Thanks for being on.
Ashley Gerber: Thank you.