Recruiting Corner: What Makes A Great BDR
A discussion with the managers of the EMEA BDR team to learn about what a BDR does, what the interview process involves, and what they look for.
Thank you for tuning in. This is the EMEA Recruiting Corner on Cloudflare TV and this is today's segment.
We're going to be looking at what makes a great BDR. So before we get into it, why don't we have a quick moment just to introduce ourselves.
So my name is Lee, I'm part of the EMEA Recruiting Team.
I've been with Cloudflare just over two years.
Anna. Hi everyone, I'm Anna. I'm working alongside Lee as part of the Recruitment Team.
I joined just about a year ago, back in April last year.
All right, Chris. Hi everyone, my name is Chris. I currently manage the outbound segment for the EMEA region for the BDR team.
I've been at Cloudflare for just shy of four years.
Anil. Yeah, and so I am Anil and I head up the EMEA BDR organization.
I have been here just a little shy of three years now. So yeah. Sweet.
So you guys are both well tenured then. Yeah, we're part of the miniature. Yeah.
And Chris, you used to be based in a different office before moving to London, right?
Yeah, I moved just late January. So prior to that, I was working out of San Francisco, heading up a similar outbound team out there.
So BDR has been going very fast across all regions.
Great stuff. So I thought for the next 30 minutes would be cool if we could like just share from your experiences, what exactly does a BDR do for the benefit of somebody who maybe doesn't quite understand what the role involves or would like to maybe apply to the role sometime in the future and build some of the skills that you look for.
But Chris, what does a BDR actually do at Cloudflare?
Sure. Yeah. I'd probably actually start with like what our mandate is, which is something that we basically spread across all BDR teams.
And it's twofold.
One is to be an incubator of talent across the org. And two is to bring qualified pipeline throughout a lot of the deals or conversations that we're having with customers, either current customers or prospective customers.
So the way I would describe what the team looks like at a high level is there's three sub-teams of the BDR organization.
One is an inbound channel. The inbound team takes what would be maybe other companies coming to the website and saying, hey, Cloudflare looks interesting to purchase.
I want to learn more about that. So there's a few different ways they might engage.
They might call our sales line and that's a BDR on the other end picking up and saying, hey, welcome to Cloudflare.
How can I help?
There's web forms as well. So they might fill out maybe just with some pertinent information.
So it gives the BDR a chance to prepare for a little bit more of a conversation as to why they might be contacting us.
So that's more of the inbound function.
The expansion function or self-serve is focused on upsell and growing current customers.
So for anyone who studied Cloudflare, they might see that we work with upwards of 28 million web properties to date across a few million customers, which means that team is consistently working with our current customers to make sure they're satisfied, happy with their current plans and if they need to use anything more regarding some upper tier support, security, performance, that team handles that.
The third team is the outbound team and that's the team that I spend more time with on a day-to-day basis.
And our job is to sell the Cloudflare story to people who've never heard it before.
Either never heard it, maybe they've moved companies from a previous experience, but they're not currently using us today.
So I find it to be an exciting challenge to convince people to consider Cloudflare's technology as a very exciting company that's looking to help speed up and secure the likes of many different web properties on the Internet.
So that's a general spread of how I define it. I don't know if Anil, you'd cover anything else or if I missed anything.
Yeah, I think you've covered pretty much most of it.
I think as you said before, I think it's a team that generates pipeline for the sales team and that's why opportunities in Salesforce.
And obviously, we care about the pipeline and we care about the pipeline converting to close one revenue as well.
So that's an important factor. We qualify all leads where possible to as much to bank qualified method.
And that stands for budget, authority, need and timeline.
And we work very, very closely with the account executives who are our salespeople and solutions engineers.
And obviously, we work very much sort of territory based as well.
So between all those teams, we have the added complication of covering different territories, different countries, and sort of covering lots of different languages as well.
So the team is made up of very, very diverse and people from lots of different backgrounds as well.
So yeah, that's how I would say BBR is. And for someone that hasn't worked in business development yet, what would you say a day to day looks like for a business development representative?
So I think it depends what team that they work in.
Typically, if you're in inbound, then you will be working on leads that are coming into your queue.
So people that go to our website, who fill in a web form and want to get more details on Cloudflare's offerings and services, they will then reach out to those people, see what kind of information they're looking for, qualify them, as we said, on the band methodology, and kind of see if it could lead to a possible deal for the sales guys.
So the inbound team typically would work on those kind of leads, they would also handle chat queues as well.
So they would deal with people that jump on our website and reach out to us on chat.
They also deal with a lot of phone calls as well.
So they will deal with anyone who's calling into the sales hotline and asking for more information.
And the inbound team will deal with that.
I think on the on the self serve expansion team, what they will do is obviously they will work with our existing customers on a pay as you go plans.
And they will try to upgrade them to one of our enterprise plans. They will also look at the enterprise plans and see if they can add more services and cross sell upsell within those bases as well.
And then I think outbound, I think I'll let Chris dive into this a bit more.
Chris, you want to take the outbound side? Sure.
Yeah. outbound. It takes a lot of organization for successful BDRs to kind of figure out their voice in outbound.
But what we try and do is we huddle as a team, you know, on a weekly cadence.
In this kind of pandemic, it's more of like a daily stand up, and we'll set our tone in our day basically thinking about what are some of the initiatives or stories that we want to tell customers.
So when I talk to a lot of candidates in the interview process, I try to actually veer away from the term sales.
I think if we're doing our jobs right, we're more consultants or more, you know, storytellers at the end of the day.
So we think about what narratives or stories do you think customers are resonating with.
So you can imagine, you know, with the pandemic right now, outbound shifted a lot of their efforts to think about, you know, how can we tell the story of how Cloudflare can help during this time where people are either, you know, becoming forced to work in a remote environment, where, you know, they might have no solution in place for say, like, you know, a VPN, or some sort of security that allows them to get in their internal systems.
So Cloudflare access one of our products would have been a good fit there. For fast scaling applications, you know, ones that can't handle a lot of web traffic, we think about how can we align with the stories of customers we work with before.
So we use a lot of like, you know, our case study content, you know, with our product marketing team, we work with our marketing, you know, team, in general with, you know, a lot of their lead general pay for and help kind of procure the right contacts for the right reasons for us.
We work with our account executive stakeholders.
So they'll actually identify, you know, some focus accounts or places or companies that we think we can really, really hit the nail on helping out there.
And like, you know, Neil said, the engineering team as well and think about, you know, how can we go back to product engineering and think about the right crafty way of selling quite a technical product to a technical audience.
So it's kind of like you do everything across the board of working with a lot of different teams every day.
But the way I translate that into day to day is getting organized, you know, getting your notes in a line and getting your stories in the line and really think about what what prospective customers could benefit from Cloudflare.
And we'll do, you know, common communication methods like, you know, emails, calling, and different mediums to get in front of the clients ultimately with our stories.
And you actually touched on this a couple of times, Neil, that you mentioned the BANT method as the way that your BDRs kind of qualify a lead.
And you did explain what that acronym stood for.
But I think it would be good to maybe just go in a bit more detail, just for somebody who maybe is not in sales, kind of what how somebody would use the BANT method to qualify a lead.
Yeah, absolutely. Great question.
So in terms of the BANT methodology, it's one of many different methodologies that we use.
But primarily in this organization, BANT is what we use. So budget, if we start off with that is kind of to figure out if our prospect has any budget for the project that they're looking at.
So if they're actually looking at sort of, you know, our services and offerings, do they have the budget for it?
Is the project budgeted?
You know, and and sort of what are they kind of looking at in terms of that?
Who are they looking at in terms of our competitors as well, because that helps us sort of qualify the budget as well.
If they're looking at some of our competitors that we compete with, then we can get an idea of what their budget sort of looks like.
Secondly, in terms of authority, we would look at sort of, you know, who is the decision maker in the organization?
Or how is the decision making process handled?
Who are the key people? How do they make the decisions on whether they would go with us or another vendor?
What's the criteria around it? So those are the things we look for in the authority.
I think in the need, it's more around, you know, what kind of solution are we looking to sort of plug a hole with?
What are the pain points that they're having at the moment? What's actually brought them to Cloudflare?
You know, are they currently under attack? Do they have a need?
Are they finishing with a current vendor and they're not happy with their services?
What kind of things have they come to us with in terms of the pain points?
Is there certain product features or something that specific that they're after?
And sort of, just generally, how do we fit into the equation?
And do we have, you know, the solutions and offerings to actually fulfill those needs?
And timeline is more around sort of, when are they looking to implement something if they were to go ahead?
Is it sort of now? Is it sort of in three months from now?
Is it in sort of, you know, six months from now? Those kind of things will give us an idea of how long we have in terms of trying to see if we fit the solution that they're looking for.
So those four kind of talking points essentially just help a BDR when they're speaking to a prospect to ensure, you know, that they cover all the bases, they get all the necessary information, that they're not wasting their time speaking to somebody who either can't afford it, or they can't make a decision.
You know, those kind of things, right? That's right. Yeah.
And if we try to at least answer all of those four areas, and it's always possible that we don't always get the answers for all four of those areas.
But if we can, it definitely helps the sales team in terms of trying to move forward in terms of the next steps.
They will also do their own discovery and try and figure out sort of a bit more in detail as to the specific needs and wants.
And, you know, what the process looks like time wise, and budget wise, etc.
And they'll look into that with a bit more detail.
But it gives us a starting foundation of, you know, what the prospect may be looking for and how they fit into our ecosystem.
Yeah. And, Anna, you've obviously been working really closely over the past few months with Anil, Chris and the rest of the team on hiring for the whole BDR team.
You've even helped them kind of get started in France, building the team there.
What would, you know, what advice would you give to somebody who's wanting to apply for a BDR role?
And what would they, what would you advise them to expect when going through the interview process?
Yeah, that's a good question. I was actually also about to follow up on the band methodology Anil had mentioned, because I think, from what I've seen, and from what I've seen, what candidates are successful when going through the process.
Because just to give you an overview, we're not only focusing or hiring candidates that have years of years of experience in business development.
But we're actually also open to candidates that haven't had the experience yet, but have a strong interest in moving into a business development position and maybe starting a career within sales at Cloudflare or the tech industry.
So one of the areas that proved to be useful for candidates, and obviously candidates were successful in the process, was definitely preparation.
And this is preparation for all things Cloudflare.
So understanding our price plans, understanding our product portfolio, and how Cloudflare as a company works.
We do and aim to provide enough information to candidates to help them prep.
But also preparation in terms of business development. So for instance, do they know what a band methodology is?
Maybe they haven't worked with it, but have they taken the effort to research more around what band means?
Or maybe what a cold call is?
Or what are the typical teams a business development is working with internally?
And usually this works out very well. So if someone is able to prove they're taking the effort to prepare themselves, but is also able to have a structured and clear communication and conversation with the different interviewers, this is typically one of the more successful candidates.
Obviously, we try to also test and focus on different areas while a candidate is going through the process.
So they would have an initial chat with one of the teammates. We would also do a mock call with the candidate where they receive a preparation and given time to prepare and sort of do a run through a cold call or do a run through a warm call with one of the teammates.
And then later on in what used to be our face to face interviews on site in an office, which we now do virtually, we then cover up different areas.
For instance, one of them would be their product and sales knowledge.
Chris is, for instance, frequently talking to with candidates where we deep dive into their understanding.
And how many people would they speak with or interview with at that stage?
So at that stage, our virtual face to face stage, they would speak to four members of the team, which I always say to candidates, obviously, given the current extraordinary circumstances is also a great opportunity for them to know to get to know other folks, and not only have an interview or to share their experience, but also ask questions to the interviewers and to get a sense of what kind of environment they will be working with.
So at this stage, they meet four members of the team.
Yeah. And Chris, so obviously, Anna touched on the fact that, you know, prep is like really, really important and, you know, getting to know our products.
But we've got a ton of products. We've got a lot of products.
And obviously, it's not possible for somebody to know them all in a great amount of detail.
When you're carrying out interviews, Chris, you know, how much are you expecting a candidate to know?
Like, say, if you asked a candidate to explain CDM, for example, what would you feel was a good answer for that?
Yeah. So before even answering the CDM question, the way I think about the way that I see successful candidates describe Cloudflare's network is actually what Anna touched on.
It's understanding what Cloudflare is as a company. So and more importantly, we care a lot more about what we call like a value cell versus say, like a point solution or like a more contractual cell.
Understand the value of what Cloudflare does, as opposed to say, like the nitty gritty of the technology, I think is 10 times more valuable to say, like an email or myself in the interview process.
To me, it means that, you know, they get like why customers come to us every day.
And it's actually quite easy to marshal the right resources when you start getting nitty gritty, you know, in the day to day job.
Because I'd say BDRs are quite technical, like they learn on a day to day basis, you know, what it's like to really sell the technology.
But it can be intimidating sometimes and I get it because I mean, everyone I think on this call came from maybe not infrastructure backgrounds, nearly as heavy, at least when I joined.
So it takes time to learn. Yeah.
In terms of that specific question, Lee, like what is a CDN if I were to kind of expect it?
I'd expect they understand, you know, the concept of, you know, Cloudflare being a distributed network that has built out, you know, these data centers kind of twofold.
One is to absorb, you know, DDoS or denial of service threats at its closest point of presence where the traffic is originating.
And its benefit is to accelerate web traffic to local data centers.
Typically, an example is actually like the, you know, best received.
So I'll describe this to candidates if maybe, you know, they're lacking a little bit and see the answer.
But using the example for me is like, you know, I go to some of my favorite websites in San Francisco, where there might be posted.
Accessing them from London might be a little bit far in how the Internet is developed historically.
Cloudflare has this amazing solution where I can actually present the content locally in London and accelerate maybe traffic that I wouldn't want to see locally, you know, temporarily store in London to access that.
So I think understanding through like an example, maybe through a customer and definitely just why it matters to me more than say, maybe overstudying what the technology or the concept of Cloudflare's products might be.
I mean, Lee and I will support you pre hiring and beat the candidates for the process.
But obviously, given the fact that, as I mentioned earlier, when we're not only hiring folks that have years and years of experience in sales, but also folks that are strong and are very keen to make a career in business development, what happens once they hire it?
In order for them to gain all that information? What are we doing in order to ramp them up successfully?
Yeah, sure. So it depends sort of where they've come from.
And so we will make a sort of judgment call once we've hired them and kind of see sort of how much experience they have or don't have in the case.
As you mentioned, we will hire anyone from graduates to, you know, fully experienced reps who have been a BDR for a number of years.
So it really depends where they where they come from and what sort of background they have.
Typically, what will happen is that we have a very good structured onboarding process.
So which is done by our sales enablement team. So the first two weeks is typically onboarding from them.
And that's really sort of an introduction to the company and the different departments and the products and things like that.
And then also includes, you know, really good sales enablement week as well, which is the second week more around, you know, sourcing accounts, writing personalized emails, and understanding the value proposition and products and things like that.
And then the third week is kind of just really around, you know, training people to speak cybersecurity and performance over the phone.
So we'll do like mock call training.
So similar to part of the interview process where they do one mock call, this is an opportunity to do a mock call with as many BDRs in the team as possible.
And this acts twofold. One is you get to know each of the BDRs in the team.
So you can put a name to the face. And so you get to know each other and make some friendships that way.
The other way is also that you get a lot of feedback in each of the calls that you do.
And so each feedback you get, you incorporate that into your next call.
And then from there, you get better and better at doing these calls.
And it's all about confidence from there. And pretty much from week four is just getting into the job.
Now, we've got two avenues in which they will start.
They will either start an inbound team, where if it's somebody who's maybe less experienced in the BDR world, we'll start off in inbound and learn the ropes there.
And in inbound, it's a little bit easier in terms of the leads are coming to you, people are calling in and you're qualifying the things there.
Or if we feel that the person has prior experience in terms of outbounding or any prior sales experience, we will put them directly into the outbound team and we'll put them on a ramping program in the outbound team.
And what that will involve is they will source accounts and leads.
They'll learn how to do these personalized emails to a greater extent.
They will start actually bringing in some leads as well within the first five, six weeks of them ramping.
And this also helps them to pick up the pace and learn about how things happen on the outbound world.
And then kind of like eventually they'll move into the next quarter where they'll carry a quota and things like that as well.
So we have a lot of structured training. We have a lot of online courses as well from Litmus and things like that.
We have our own internal wiki, which has a lot of information as well.
And of course, we regularly do training sessions every two weeks with the BDR team.
And that we can be anything from soft skills in terms of negotiating skills and just general prospecting skills to product specific skills and things like that.
And a lot of those sessions are recorded so they can look through the videos of those as well.
So very, very structured in terms of how we onboard people and kind of what they do after they've joined.
And you've had quite a few members of your team in the past 12 months, kind of, you know, develop their careers and move out of the BDR team onto other things, which I think is a great thing, a great kind of attraction point.
You know, what are the typical career paths or career opportunities for somebody that joins a BDR team and does well?
Yeah, absolutely. So typically what we would normally expect is, depends where they've kind of joined.
So typically if they've joined in the inbound team, usually the route of progression is they'll spend maybe the first three to six months in the inbound team.
They will then possibly move into our self-serve expansion team if they want to go down a customer success route.
So there is a possibility for them to be a customer success manager that way.
The more successful route we've had over here is down the AE route, so working their way into sales.
And so the route to get there is by the outbound team. So then they'll spend the next three to 18 months in the outbound team and then progress to hopefully an account executive from there.
We've had a number of people who have been promoted, which has been fantastic for us, and they're doing extremely well in the sales organization, which is so great to see.
And we're actually invested quite heavily in terms of people's development.
We don't want to hold people back in terms of where they want to go.
We want to help them as much as possible. And so what we would typically do is after 12 months, we'll build a career template to kind of see where they want to go.
If they say they want to go down the sales route, we'll kind of look at where are the gaps that we need to fill in their skill set.
So do they know any sales methodologies?
Have they taken a few deals close to closure?
Have they shadowed an AE, et cetera? So we'll look at those kind of things and maybe add those into the templates where we feel they'll succeed with.
And then we'll work on that for the next six months. And then hopefully somewhere around the 18 to 24 month mark, we can hopefully move them into their next role and the role they really want to move to.
And then see the success that they deliver from there.
But those are the core routes that we have. But we also have non -core routes as well.
So they could move to sales operations. They could move to marketing.
They could move to our solutions engineering team. So it could move in any direction.
We've had one or two people also move in the product management direction as well.
So that's been really good. So yeah, I guess really moving to any roles and I guess also moving any offices is also a possibility in the longer term.
So after 12 months of service, people can move around to a different role at that point.
Great. I think we're about to wrap up. So very quick question to both of you.
Obviously, I've shared what I think it takes to be successful in the interview process.
But is there like one key you say, okay, this struck me as the most important part of a candidate being successful in the interview process or any advice you would give to candidates that are about to apply or currently interview with us for the business development role?
Yeah, I mean, the two things that I'd say like we unanimously look for in the VDR org and honestly, it's a very kind of Cloudflare value is curiosity and empathy.
So expressing both of those in the interview process through the stories or experience that you've had through the like the genuine interest in joining a company like Cloudflare for you know, growth reasons to learn technically to learn about you know, what it's like to be an infrastructure company that's changing on the Internet develops daily.
We like to see that passion like to see that, you know, curiosity and, and ultimately, I'd say it's a weird piece of feedback.
But some of my favorite interviews I had, I felt like the interviewers are actually quite interviewing us for this being like their next home.
And you could feel that through some of the questions being asked at the end of the interview or just how they respond in general.
Yeah, they're just very thoughtful and well prepared answers. Yeah.
And I think just just from my side, just to add to it is that this is, this is not just an organization, this is a family.
And so for us, we look for people who are going to be part of that family.
And the biggest thing for me is sort of, you know, teamwork collaboration.
Because I believe every single person in the team does excessively well in terms of collaborating with each other and helping each other whenever needed, but also drive and hunger.
You know, to add to that curiosity, you know, people who just have the drive and motivation to just go for it.
And those are the kind of people we we look for all the time. Yeah. Thank you. Lee, I think we're about to wrap up.
Yeah, I think we're finishing right on time. So yeah, I'll let you just close us out.
Thanks, everyone, for joining. Obviously, also Neil and Chris for sharing your experience and thoughts.
If you have any further questions, don't hesitate to send them over and we'll answer them over email as well.
And otherwise, you'll find all of the business development positions posted on our career website.
Thanks, everyone. Bye.