The Ascent of a Startup’s ABSD Rate to the Peak of the Initial Public Offering

Many companies are getting their funds these days, and it is happening in Silicon Valley.

Youve left 900 of the 1,000 companies in your class behind if you can reach a $5M run rate in two years.

You are now one of the 10 out of 1,000 start-ups that have reached this point. You’ve shown investors you’re solving a common pain point and were able to execute with your small team.

In order to grow from a $100 million company to a billion dollar one by the year 10, you need an executive team that aligns around objectives and key results (OKRs), has built a culture of diversity and inclusion, is profitable or still has access to deep pockets on Sand Hill Road. You are now the only startup left in your cohort out of 1,000 companies. Its exciting but it can be lonely being at this point.

One of the hardest parts about an IPO is making sure everything comes together, and that it all happens at just the right time. Making predictions for when you’ll be ready to go public is hard because there are so many factors involved.

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  • A company in the Financial Services or Banking industry
  • Who have more than 10 employees
  • That spend money on Adwords
  • Who use Hubspot
  • Who currently have job openings for marketing help
  • With the role of HR Manager
  • That has only been in this role for less than 1 year
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The Road to an Initial Public Offering: Pipeline, Pipeline, and More Pipeline

As I think back on the four times I’ve gone through an IPO, and now with what is happening at Cloudera, it’s clear that pipeline is king. Article: The first time you go to your favorite restaurant after a long hiatus there will be many dishes you can’t recall how they taste or even what they are called.

Not only do investors look for clear evidence of growth quarter-over-quarter and year-over-year, they also seek healthy, predictable pipeline to fuel and grow the revenue engine.

A company can’t grow if it doesn’t have enough quality pipeline to support growth. Building a well-tuned engine around generating more pipeline is the only way in this competitive market.

Find the Deal, Fill the Pipe

The hardest part of closing any deal is finding it, so the saying goes.

So, how do you fill your pipe?

A compelling content marketing strategy that is able to reach out and grab the attention of people can bring in more registrations, inquiries, and eyeballs.

If youre going the partnership route, it can take a long time to build an ecosystem of resellers, integrators and consultants who work with your business. Most start-ups will tell you that it takes five years or more before this is established.

Start-ups prefer to do direct sales with many different models: inside, outside, outsourced and contract.

It is important to build out an inside sales development team in order for the company to control what happens with that pipeline.

With the right SDR, they can fill up to three other salespeoples quotas by focusing on pipeline building.

And let’s be honest: quota-carrying field reps would rather sell and negotiate instead of cold calling. That is the heavy lifting that SDRs are trained to do better than anybody else in the business.

Today, we have CRM and SFA tools that can increase the efficiency of sales people.

Today, half the art is building the right technology stack to automate and optimize your selling motions. The other half is authoring a structured selling process that guides your reps to closed-won the quickest way possible or qualify out a bad deal early in the cycle.

To successfully scale your sales organization, you need to execute and iterate on the technologies and processes. Sales operations professionals are indispensable in terms of company growth.

The 1,000-Horsepower Pipeline Engine from Cloudera: ABSD

Cloudera have been able to get good at pipeline generation by looking for out-of-the box thinking and a lot of trial and error. Cloudera’s SDR team pioneered ABSD rate techniques because we segmented our go-to-market strategy into three tiers so that they could focus on the accounts in each tier.

When they realized that a lot of the leads coming in were not our target market, it became clear to us that sales reps were spending too much time on those type of inquiries.

When they realized that the best way to motivate employees was through base pay and lucrative commissions, it made sense.

With the ABSD rate Methodology, our SDRs feel empowered to reach out and connect with potential prospects. They know they need to wait for a response and be patient when it comes.

We learned so much on this journey. We were surprised by the double digit percentage email reply rates when we first started out, but then again that’s because our outreach was cold at first.

The email content appealed to the recipients desire for more money, a promotion because they solved problems, or their fear of missing out on something big and valuable if they don’t do anything. We tailor our message to tap into those powerful emotions.

So as not to be left out, they replied with details of their pains and needs. We were able to help them easily because we had the technologies available.

One of the things that makes our ABSD rate approach so successful is due to Karan Singh and Dominick Pelusi, who have built a technology stack for sales operations professionals. The five SDR managers and one Sales Enablement Manager also did an excellent job in stitching all of the processes together.

Weve chosen to invest in people that are creating a sophisticated demand generation engine. This is one of the most advanced engines on the planet and we keep learning, iterating, and getting better at it.

Cloudera’s Key Insights On How To Launch A Successful ABSD Rate Campaign

ABSD Rate Key Insight #1: Select accounts based on Buying Signals, not on a hunch.

We used to pick our accounts randomly. We would either choose the largest ones in our market or we’d listen to what account managers said.

We’re using tools to identify Buying Signals and target the accounts we should be working with. It’s been a game changer for us recently.

Marketing and sales development are now collaborating more closely than ever before.

A few examples include:

Eloqua Profiler: Our SDRs now receive email alerts and we can monitor their marketing emails, website visits and forms filled.

Demandbases Sales Accelerator plugin tracks the types of pages visited by our target accounts. We look for greenfield prospects with no pipeline opportunities, and then target them in an outbound ABSD campaign based on their web content viewing history.

With our own technology, we are able to see the trends in interest for certain topics. If an account is interested in Cloudera or Hadoop, then it will be a priority.

Figure 1: Bombora Intent Data joined with Cloudera Salesforce Data, visualized in Tableau. Filters applied show a company that has annual revenue of more than $5B and no prospects or opportunities.

We even use a few free tools that have been really successful for us:

With Google Alerts, you can receive an email alert every time a story about the company or topic that interests you is published.

Job alerts are when you get an email about a new job that is relevant to your skills. A lot of websites will send them out, and its usually for jobs in the company or with similar companies.

ABSD Rate Key Insight #2: Outbound contact list quality is more important than quantity.

The old way we found leads was to export the contacts from our CRM and then supplement it by combing through LinkedIn for relevant buyers.

Some of our efforts would best be described as “spray and pray.” We cast a wide net, but we were blocked by accounts that could detect when we sent an email in rapid succession.

We discovered that “information security” is a more nebulous term than we originally thought. An “analyst” and an “analytics professional”, for example, are different jobs.

Weve created a spreadsheet that is crowdsourced and constantly updated with keywords for LinkedIn and DiscoverOrg searches in order to find the most relevant prospects.

ABSD Rate Key Insight #3: Utilize engaging, time-sensitive information to appeal to the consumer personas’ needs and desires.

Cloudera’s product is complex and powerful, so our SDRs spent a lot of time explaining how it works. However, this doesn’t always result in positive responses from target personas. There are two important factors to elicit a response:

  • The content should be tailored to the department, title and seniority.

The content must be tailored to the title, department, and seniority.

If you are targeting a VP-level or above, your message should be three to four sentences at the most. If you are targeting someone in data warehousing and business intelligence, for example, then their needs will differ from those of an IT director.

  • When we have a limited amount of time to do something, it becomes more important and interesting.

Time-bound events are compelling.

It’s always better to tie content, like a case study or white paper, with time-sensitive events.

There are a few examples of how this can go wrong.

Mr. Marketing decision-maker, we just released a new success story from one of your competitors showing how they acquired 10 percent more customers after adopting our platform.

People may fear they will lose their jobs if they dont do anything.

Mr. IT architecture professional, your CEO was quoted recently stating that digital transformation was a board-level initiative in 2017. Other customers in your space have come to us for their digital transformation projects. Would you like to learn more?

The professional’s career needle may move if they achieve this initiative.

ABSD Rate Key Insight #4: Short and sweet notes can boost reply rates.

We want to show people that were passionate about our work and the limitless potential it provides. Our first message on the website is We solve mysteries of the universe, which demonstrates this.

Our salespeople used to spend hours researching accounts, finding relevant content and building eloquent email messages that would explain how Cloudera could help the customer.

While we tried to focus on diversity during the hiring process, it was hard for us. Sometimes people in positions of power just ignored us.

These decision makers are bombarded with solicitation emails, and it’s easy for them to delete an email rather than spend time reading.

Make sure you give a compelling reason for the person to talk to you and include the ask in your message. If there are too many steps with long content, it will be less likely that they will read them all or respond.

ABSD Rate Key Insight #5: Maximize your email open, reply, and correct contact rate.

Before, we would send out 3-4 emails every 2.5 days and not think about it much more than that. Now with the data and experience of knowing when is best to call or email someone, our salespeople are smarter about how they spend their time.

Use your sequence automation tool to schedule emails and calls at the right times, like when you know people are most likely to be available. And remember that different time zones may affect availability.

The Future of ABSD Rate

In the future, I see a company that is aligned with ABSD. This means marketing and operations will work together to build out targeted strategies based on account-based data.

ABI will realize the dream of true collaboration between sales and marketing in order to make informed decisions about who they should sell to based on buying signals, not just by guessing. This is something that I hope for – gone are the days where an account rep or marketer can randomly pick out target accounts without looking at what prospects want.

One More Thing

Cloudera sales uses its own technology to ingest and visualize data.

I want to point out that the consequences of “eating our own dog food” or “drinking our own champagne” have been very profound.

Cloudera is a company that helps companies with their data and analytics needs. They’re one of the leaders in this area.

Our company has built a platform using Apache Hadoop and Spark, which is ideal for businesses with large amounts of data.

  • Pull in data from many different sources.
  • You can join any data sources together, and you don’t have to throw away the original information. You can then ask any question that your business intelligence needs.
  • Self-service BI democratizes data.

Our Marketing and Sales Teams had a dashboard for global insights from our data science team, all on one screen.

The impact has been two-fold:

  • We use better tactics, not more. Between the self-service and visualizations, an SDR can identify a “hot” account quickly.
  • Cross-functional collaboration is great because of the open lines of communication across departments. Our organization operates more smoothly.

Need Help Automating Your Sales Prospecting Process?

LeadFuze gives you all the data you need to find ideal leads, including full contact information.

Go through a variety of filters to zero in on the leads you want to reach. This is crazy specific, but you could find all the people that match the following:Ā 

  • A company in the Financial Services or Banking industry
  • Who have more than 10 employees
  • That spend money on Adwords
  • Who use Hubspot
  • Who currently have job openings for marketing help
  • With the role of HR Manager
  • That has only been in this role for less than 1 year
Just to give you an idea. šŸ˜€
Editors Note:

Want to help contribute to future articles? Have data-backed and tactical advice to share? Iā€™d love to hear from you!

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Justin McGill
About Author: Justin McGill
Justin McGill is the Founder of LeadFuze - a lead generation platform that discovers new leads for you automatically. Get 25 leads free.