2.5: Create an SDR:AE Relationship Where Everyone Wins (Amanda Chiang and Gabrielle Marrocco)

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This is a podcast episode titled, 2.5: Create an SDR:AE Relationship Where Everyone Wins (Amanda Chiang and Gabrielle Marrocco). The summary for this episode is: <p>Last week, Drift's Tate Knapp took us through his experiences working as a CDR, SDR, and an AE. He shared the key characteristics he thinks make up a strong SDR and AE relationship. This week, we said decided to take it a step further and have both an AE and an SDR on the show. </p><p><br></p><p>Amanda Chiang has been an account executive at Drift for about three years, but it's only been 6 months since she started working with sales development rep, Gabrielle Marrocco. Still, the two have managed to quickly build a relationship where everyone - the AE, SDR, and the customer - wins.</p><p><br></p><p>In the episode, Amanda and Gabby discuss what their first meetings looked like, how they maintain constant communication, and how they provide feedback to each other.</p><p><br></p><p>Like this episode? We'd love it if you could leave us a ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ review! And make sure to subscribe, so you never miss an opportunity to learn more about starting conversations in the Revenue Era.</p><p><br></p><p>You can connect with Sammi on Twitter @sammireinstein and @DriftPodcasts and Amanda and Gabby on LinkedIn.</p>

Sammi Reinstein: Hey, this is Sammi Reinstein and you're listening to Conversation Starters. On this show, we talk all about bringing conversations back to B2B marketing and selling, because if there's one thing we know about doing business in the revenue era, it's that the best customer experience wins. Through the power of our own conversations with Drifters, customers, and special guests, we'll learn how to deliver a sales and marketing experience that puts the buyer first. Let's get into it.

Elizabeth: Hey Sammi, it's good to see you. It's been a minute.

Sammi Reinstein: Been a minute, it's good to see you too, Elizabeth.

Elizabeth: I realized our listeners may not know that while we do this podcast together, we're not actually on the direct same marketing team. Drift Marketing's 50 people at this point. Obviously, there's a lot of teams within there and I am technically on the media team; blog, newsletters, podcast, YouTube and Sammi is on product education. So we don't have those weekly meetings. I mean, we have our broader biweekly marketing meetings that can be a whole episode or blog for a later date of how our marketing team works. But something that's really important to us is having strong communication as I'm working on outreach for the episodes and scheduling, making sure I'm aligned with what Sammi's working on, what's top of mind for her, and making sure you have the information you need to get on a podcast and have a good conversation with the guest.

Sammi Reinstein: Yeah, Elizabeth does so much and she always makes me look good.

Elizabeth: I mean, it's not hard to do, please.

Sammi Reinstein: It's just been amazing. It's a really good working relationship.

Elizabeth: Working relationships are so important. This isn't a flex on our relationship, we've definitely had our fair share of learnings along the way.

Sammi Reinstein: You mean like when my video crashes and we have to restart?

Elizabeth: Maybe that, just one thing. But yeah, working relationships is something we really want to highlight on this show because it's so important to making sure that you're always having the right conversations with your buyers, with your customers, whether that's an internal customer, if you're on a company success team, or an external prospect or buyer.

Sammi Reinstein: Yeah, and that's why on this episode, I'm so happy to have Amanda Chiang and Gabby Marrocco. Amanda is a mid- market account executive at Drift and Gabby is a sales development rep, and they work hand in hand to create great buying experiences. And there has to be really close communication, just like Elizabeth and I, in making sure that the right information is getting to Amanda and that they're aligned on accounts and all that jazz. So we're going to dive into all of it today and they're going to give some great tips on how to have a great AE and SDR relationship. Amanda, Gabby, thank you so much for coming on Conversation Starters.

Amanda Chiang: Thanks for having us.

Gabby Marrocco: So excited, big fan of the pod.

Sammi Reinstein: Thank you. So I gave the audience a little bit of a background on both of you and your roles here. Amanda, you're a mid- market account executive, and Gabby, you were a chat development rep, CDR, turned SDR. And Gabby and Amanda work hand in hand together creating great sales experiences. Before we jump into the questions, chat development rep is a very Drift sort of role that is now hopefully getting adopted by a lot of types of companies. Gabby, can you give a little bit of background on what a CDR or chat development rep is and what you do?

Gabby Marrocco: Yeah, so chat development rep. Whoever would come on the website and chat in through the chat bot, if the bot wasn't handling it, I was on the other side. I could kind of tap whenever I wanted to, but it was all about having those fun conversations, and ultimately trying to book a meeting, or just put them in the right direction, get them some content they needed. Just point them where they're trying to go.

Sammi Reinstein: Yeah. One of my favorite things to do at Drift in my downtime is jump into where our chats are and jump in specifically to the CDR inbox, because the way that you all navigate chats is so impressive. First the hook, jumping in, using the context of the conversation, getting them to where they need to go, and then furthering that conversation. It's very fun to watch live and it's very fun to go into the closed chats as well.

Gabby Marrocco: I know, I do the same thing now that I'm an SDR. Sometimes I pop back in. A lot of my accounts is on the site and I'll go through their conversations. I've definitely gotten a few crazy funny ones.

Sammi Reinstein: Yeah. Yeah. I think I saw one, one time it was someone, I don't even know, they were ordering food or something along those lines. And they came in, someone was like," No, this is, this is Drift. Are you looking for something else?" Yeah. Those are fun. Amanda and Gabby, like we said, you work together as SDR and account executive, and you started working together in February. So when you two found out that you were going to be working together, what did those initial meetings look like? What did you want to make sure that you covered in your working relationship?

Amanda Chiang: Yeah. So when we first got aligned, I reached out to Gabby over Slack and just threw some time on her calendar. The first couple meetings, honestly, I use the analogy it's kind of like dating. You're just getting to know somebody and figuring out what Gabby's strengths are, where she thinks that I could come in and be helping her, not just going after accounts but even coaching. And then we built out my top accounts. So I built that out, tiered them off, and then we talked a little bit more about who goes after who within the account.

Sammi Reinstein: And in terms of those accounts, the top accounts, what are you looking at to identify those top accounts?

Amanda Chiang: Yeah, for me, I've been here for a couple of years now. I think what I've seen be the most successful, is one, just tech stack. So we work really well with B2B SaaS companies, but especially when they use the Salesforce, Marketos, Pardots, HubSpots of the world. Any type of experience where you're seeing the website have a lot of friction, and that requires me to do a little bit more digging, that's a really good mid to high account, because there's probably a challenge there. So that's how I would tier it off. But personally for me, tech stack is one of the best things that we can look at here at Drift.

Sammi Reinstein: Yeah.

Amanda Chiang: Yeah.

Sammi Reinstein: And so let's say you have your top, maybe 20 accounts or whatever that may look like, and you and Gabby come together. How do you align on those accounts and the strategy to go into those accounts?

Gabby Marrocco: Yeah. So Amanda pretty much gives me, after she kind of gave me her list, she basically just gives me free rein on which accounts to go after. And I love that because it kind of just holds me accountable and also gets me some practice into doing that type of stuff as well. But so my usual process, every morning I'll hop on to Drift prospector. I have a really great filter that's set on there that filters out high intent buyers. So if they're on the pricing page or a demo page or wanting to book a meeting, it filters out that way, so I can really find those high intent buyers. So I'll hit those first. And then, I usually do look for previous opportunities that maybe didn't close. I look to see if employees worked at other Drift customers so that they're familiar with Drift. And then, kind of like Amanda was saying, just checking out the site, seeing where we can help type of thing.

Sammi Reinstein: Awesome. And Amanda, you mentioned people, contacts within a given account. When are you deciding," okay. These types of contacts, I'm going to go after these people. And'Hey Gabby, there's these contacts. They've been looking at our site. Go after these people.'" What's the strategy for the actual contacts?

Amanda Chiang: Yeah. So I actually think it's great giving SDRs full reign, even going after VPs and C levels. Because at the end of the day, that's where a lot of, I think, my practice and confidence came from as a BDR. The way that we tag team those higher types of contacts though, is by me getting on LinkedIn, sending over a Drift video, seeing if we have any other executive connections from our end here at Drift. But honestly, I think it's really empowering to just give your SDR a lot of that ownership, account ownership, literally account ownership. And so that's where they can go after anyone there, but it's my responsibility to come in and see who can I maybe craft messages that are a little bit different than Gabby in a different channel that would be attacking from different angles.

Sammi Reinstein: Yeah. I love hearing that. I think that's amazing for SDRs to get that experience. Gabby, what has been the most effective method of getting one of those, maybe a higher level executive or a director, to respond to one of your messages?

Gabby Marrocco: What me and Amanda have been doing, is if I see some traction on an account or getting a lot of opens on my emails, I'll let Amanda know and she'll either help me craft messaging or say," Why don't you send over a video instead of an email? Kind of sometimes can work better." Or she'll just herself touch the account again, whether like she said, email, LinkedIn, video, just to get kind of a little more traction there.

Amanda Chiang: Yeah.

Sammi Reinstein: That's awesome. I love receiving videos, even internally. So I'm sure it's really nice when an executive is going through their email and they have the same type of cold emails coming at them to all of a sudden see a gif or a video. I'm sure is nice to break through the noise that way. And internal communication, I think it's very important. It sounds like you guys have great communication between the two of you and that helps start the conversation about what this prospect's needs are, what they're looking for, and making sure that you're telling a cohesive story throughout. So with that internal communication, how are you communicating messages, holding each other accountable in communicating what you're learning throughout the buying process?

Amanda Chiang: Yeah. So we have a weekly cadence on Mondays, which is important for me just to get my week going strong. Personally, I also need accountability. And then we're pretty active on Slack together so Gabby and I will chat probably almost every day. I think that's our main form of communication. And just she was mentioning, with any type of accounts that are showing signals, that's where she'll Slack me instantly. Or if we book a meeting, she's like," Let's go." So it's fun, it's a good way for us to stay in touch throughout the week. And if anything big comes up during the week, we'll just hop on Zoom, very casual there. Yeah.

Sammi Reinstein: Yeah. And Amanda, you've been at Drift for what is it? Two years?

Amanda Chiang: Almost three, girl, almost three.

Sammi Reinstein: Wow. Three years. So you must have seen the SDR structure change a bit, the sales structure change a bit. What lessons have you learned in those three years, and what types of structures learned best? And then I'm also curious about how you deal with those changes and roll with those punches?

Amanda Chiang: Yeah, that's a great question. I think what I've learned, first and foremost, is success reciprocity, meaning that Gabby's success is my success and my success is her success. And if AEs have a hard time seeing that, and it's just like," That's almost my admin or something or someone who's just working for me," it's not a great partnership. So I think that's really where, when you look at a lot of the top AEs here at Drift, that's been the pattern which is really beautiful. That's great. And then I think the other piece is just back to ownership. If Gabby can own her book of business and really believe in," This is what's going to make me successful," then I also see success there because that's directly tied to me. So I think those are the two things that I've learned the most. Also, I'll say this very candidly, I think it's really important just to get to know your SDR and it's really important for her to get to know me as well. Now there's a working relationship versus just like," I'm assigned to you and you're assigned to me." Feels very surface level at that point. To answer your second question though, just through all the changes that have happened, I think a lot of it... I think in sales, for one, it's keeping our head above water. So whenever changes are happening, just making sure that we understand that's inevitable in any sales organization, but what do I have control over? And then it comes back to the relationship with your SDR, even if it's a new one. Very candidly, I've had a few different SDRs here at Drift, with all the changes that have happened. And it was really rollercoastery for a minute, but I think for me it was figuring out what was the consistent pattern within each of them. And a lot of it was me mapping my own accounts out and then giving them ownership and asking them what else do you need help with? That's where the teamwork play comes in.

Sammi Reinstein: Yeah. You can only control what you can control so find what has been working and try to replicate that.

Amanda Chiang: Yeah, exactly.

Sammi Reinstein: Do you have any tips for providing feedback to your SDRs? You've had a few SDRs. Feedback meaning just in the communication style or how they're going after accounts. Anything along those lines.

Amanda Chiang: I think there's two ways to give feedback between an AE SDR relationship. The first one is kind of like what Gabby was mentioning earlier. We had an account respond back to us and she had a great email response, but I just told her, maybe the next one try video. Because I think there's something there where it breaks through the noise, even with an inaudible handle. And she took that really well.

Sammi Reinstein: Yeah.

Amanda Chiang: And then I think the other form of feedback is it should be aligned to what they want in their next step.

Sammi Reinstein: Right.

Amanda Chiang: If Gabby wants to be an AE or a CSM next, there's other ways of coaching and giving feedback that's directly aligned to their end goal, which again is really important in the partnership. But yeah, I think we have a pretty good form of communication between the two of us. Not just going after accounts, but areas that she's even telling me to go after certain people and I'm just helping with wording or tactics.

Sammi Reinstein: It sounds like the feedback that you're giving is rooted in empowerment and the feedback is helping towards that next step rather than micromanaging what type of things are going out.

Amanda Chiang: Yeah, I hate being micromanaged so I try not to. Yeah, it doesn't feel as... It doesn't feel good, I guess, in a lot of different ways. And I think, honestly, just women empowering women is another big part like, what do you want to do as your next step? If I can be part of that journey with you, then I would love to be.

Sammi Reinstein: Yeah. Gabby, I'm going to throw the question to you too, because I think that it can sometimes be hard for an SDR to provide feedback to their AE. Maybe communication style or the amount of times that they want to meet a week, or whatever that may be. Do you have any tips for SDRs to give feedback to their AEs?

Gabby Marrocco: Yeah, I think it's all about establishing that initial relationship. Me and Amanda, like she has said, have just established a good work and personal relationship, where for me it's not awkward or doesn't feel weird for me to give feedback or tell her that, oh, she should reach out to this person. It just feels very natural. So I think it just goes back to having that relationship with your AE and having those weekly conversations that can build up to daily and just an open form of communication.

Sammi Reinstein: Awesome. Well, I feel like you two are an ideal AE SDR relationship. So I hope lots of people listen to this and they get inspired and they replicate this. Okay. And now, I want to put all of this into practice, this internal communication. And now I want to give you maybe somewhat of a role play. So, Gabby, you're in chat and someone comes in and you're like," Oh, this person's amazing. I've been wanting to get after this person. I can't wait to chat." So let's say they've been, I don't know, they downloaded an ebook and you then jump into chat. You work your magic in chat as you are so good at doing. And oh my gosh, they're ready to book a meeting. You drop a group calendar, you get a meeting on Amanda's calendar. So what's that first message you're sending to Amanda to fill her in?

Gabby Marrocco: "LFG, just booked." But it's usually something like that, something hype. And I love doing that with Amanda because she's always so excited and hypes me up and she's like," Great job, way to get that person." So she's my hype woman. But yeah, that's usually the initial message

Sammi Reinstein: We love LFGs. Lots of emojis going out. And what information are you making sure that Amanda is aware of before she goes into that meeting with the buyer?

Gabby Marrocco: Yeah, the really great thing about Drift and chat is if I had a really great chat, that's so easy to just send over to Amanda. Or if I had a really great phone conversation with a lot of context, I can send that over to her. Email chains as well, just providing her with as much context as we can. And then before I'm even prospecting to accounts, I'm doing as much research as I can there too, and on the contacts as well. So just sending over basically whatever I have that'll be helpful for her.

Sammi Reinstein: Yeah. And then Amanda, how are you taking that information and bringing it into that first conversation you're having with the buyer?

Amanda Chiang: I'll usually say something like," Hey, I heard you spoke to Gabby or saw you spoke to Gabby about X, Y, or Z." And then my first question on all my discos is the same thing, it's what's going on in the business that has us talking today. But there's some context, I think it's important to always share it because then the customer feels heard. But then for us, as AEs, it's always important to get to the business case and business goal as well. So it's a good platform up to get to that conversation.

Sammi Reinstein: Yeah. Yeah. And it makes them feel like they're not starting a conversation from scratch. They've been talking to Drift, even though it's a new person, we're still the same company. It's still the same message. So it just helps connect those dots in continuing the conversation, not starting some net new conversation.

Amanda Chiang: Yeah. I love it.

Sammi Reinstein: Okay. To wrap up, I want you each to provide some listeners with some advice. You've already imparted lots of great advice, but while I have you, I just want to pick as much of your brains as possible. So Amanda, first to you, what are three top tips you have for an account executive who is just getting started working with a new SDR?

Amanda Chiang: Three. That's a lot. No, I'm just kidding. The first one is probably back to relationship building, which for people in sales, should be a no brainer. So Gabby and I actually went out to Boston for kickoff and I took her out for coffee and we just talked about family, she's a recent grad, what life has been, she's moving. I know that she's moving apartments. She's going to be in Southie. Very small things. But I think it's really important if you can take your SDR out in person do it, or buy them a coffee and sit on Zoom for 30 minutes and just talk. I think the other piece too is just goes back to ownership. If I can trust Gabby and know her strengths. Gabby's actually very organized, much more organized than I am. That's one of my weaknesses. And so I get to lean on Gabby of going after certain accounts and know that she has who she's going after, account, context, and then for me it's more about, where do you need me to come in? So I think that's more of the team play there. And I think lastly, as an AE, I'll say this very candidly, we have a lot of ownership to make sure that our SDRs are successful. So what that looks for me is mapping out my accounts from top 20 high, mid, low, absolutely not, like let's not waste our time. That empowers Gabby now to say like," Amanda cares the most about these accounts, these ones are still really good fits, and these ones I don't need to waste my time on." And I think that's where for me, I'm setting her up for success, which again, ultimately comes back to my success if we can book those meetings. So those are probably my three, hopefully that's helpful.

Sammi Reinstein: Thank you, Amanda. And Gabby, we're going to pick your brain now. Doesn't have to be three, but what are your top tips for someone just starting out as an SDR?

Gabby Marrocco: Just keeping my activity up. In one day or one week, you can crush it and book a bunch of meetings, get a bunch of opportunities coming in, and the next week it could be radio silence. As long as you keep your activity up, it just ebbs and flows and it'll come eventually. I think also I book most of my meetings over the phone. So I think it's always just a good idea to pick up the phone and call someone. Especially if you're seeing a lot of traction over email, don't wait for them to email you back, just pick up the phone. And I think just echoing what we've said, this whole conversation is just having that relationship with your AE to help with... I've leaned on Amanda with messaging and things like that, and ultimately, has book meetings. So definitely have a relationship there.

Sammi Reinstein: I love it. Having that relationship, it helps start conversations with buyers, it helps continue the relationships with buyers, and ultimately hopefully, they buy and it helps continue the relationship from the AE to CSM, which we do have an episode on in season one. If you want to go back and listen, I'll link it in the show notes. Amanda, Gabby, thank you so much for coming on Conversation starters. I really enjoyed hearing from the two of you. Amanda, if they want to find you or a little bit more about Drift, where can they go?

Amanda Chiang: You can add me on LinkedIn. It's just Amanda Chiang. Chiang with an I, C- H- I- A- N- G. Yeah, that's probably the best way to connect with me.

Sammi Reinstein: Awesome. And Gabby?

Gabby Marrocco: Same here. Gabby Marrocco on LinkedIn.

Sammi Reinstein: All right. Well thank you both.

Amanda Chiang: Thanks, Sammi.

Gabby Marrocco: Thanks. This was so much fun. Loved it.

Elizabeth: So I was going to say that Amanda and Gabby's relationship is like peanut butter and jelly, but I don't actually like peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. However, I do like peanut butter and banana. So I'm going to pivot and say that they are like peanut butter and banana.

Sammi Reinstein: Like peanut butter and banana, I like that. Yeah.

Elizabeth: Yeah. I think it applies to them. I think they have a really great relationship that they showcased. Especially, it's not like they've been working together for years by any means, but I loved what Amanda had to say about really getting to know the SDR that you're working with beyond just that working environment.

Sammi Reinstein: Right.

Elizabeth: Because that really does build more trust and then it's easier to give the feedback she was talking about when you have that relationship.

Sammi Reinstein: Right. Yeah. When you know that the feedback you're getting is rooted in trust and wanting the best for you, it's a lot easier for the end person getting the feedback to take and actually implement. And I really liked hearing how they work together and how Amanda puts a lot of empowerment into Gabby to sort of let her do her own thing and reach out to those higher level executives and take free rein over what that account strategy may look like.

Elizabeth: Definitely. So we hope you enjoyed the episode too and learned a lot. If you are an SDR or AE listening and you've learned some great tips and tricks through your relationship, definitely let us know. You can chat us on Twitter or LinkedIn or the bot on the podcast landing page. You can talk to us there.

Sammi Reinstein: Thanks so much for listening to Conversation Starters. If you liked this episode, please leave us a six star of you by clicking the link in the show notes, and hit subscribe so you never miss another one. You can connect with me on Twitter at Sammi Reinstein and follow all of our shows at Drift podcasts.


Last week, Drift's Tate Knapp took us through his experiences working as a CDR, SDR, and an AE. He shared the key characteristics he thinks make up a strong SDR and AE relationship. This week, we said decided to take it a step further and have both an AE and an SDR on the show.

Amanda Chiang has been an account executive at Drift for about three years, but it's only been 6 months since she started working with sales development rep, Gabrielle Marrocco. Still, the two have managed to quickly build a relationship where everyone - the AE, SDR, and the customer - wins.

In the episode, Amanda and Gabby discuss what their first meetings looked like, how they maintain constant communication, and how they provide feedback to each other.

The Highlights:

  • (3:42) Gabby’s role as a CDR
  • (5:28) How Amanda and Gabby kicked off their working relationship
  • (6:12) How Amanda and Gabby determine what their top accounts are
  • (7:02) How Amanda and Gabby align on the strategy to break into their top accounts
  • (9:39) Gabby’s top engagement strategies for getting c-level executives to respond
  • (11:03) How Amanda and Gabby maintain transparent internal communication throughout the buying process
  • (12:11) What Amanda has learned from her three years on the Drift sales team
  • (14:25) Amanda’s tips for providing feedback to SDRs as an AE
  • (16:15) Gabby’s tips for providing feedback to AEs as an SDR
  • (17:49) The first message Gabby sends to Amanda when she books a meeting
  • (19:06) How Amanda uses Gabby’s information in her first conversations with the buyer
  • (20:18) Amanda’s 3 tips to AEs getting started working with a new SDR
  • (22:13) Gabby’s 3 tips for anyone just starting out as an SDR

Missed last week's episode? Listen here

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