Is your pipeline less than desired? What if you could fix that? What if there was a hack you could implement to make better use of your time? What if a simple approach to time management could dramatically increase your results and optimize your productivity?

In this episode of INSIDE Inside Sales, Darryl is joined by author and CEO of The Sales Developers, Ryan Reisert. Darryl and Ryan discuss the importance of using buckets to keep you organized, on track, and above all, optimizing your time for maximum effectiveness! Increase your capacity and success simply by having a listen and putting this tried and tested system in place! All this and much more, only on this episode of INSIDE Inside Sales!

Not in the mood to listen? No problem, you can read the transcriptions below.

Host:  Darryl PraillVanillaSoft

Guest: Ryan Reisert, The Sales Developers


Darryl Praill: Oh my goodness, Lord. Let me tell you folks, it’s been one of those weeks. It’s been a good week, in all honesty, if I share with you, if I’m honest, if I’m straightforward, if I’m transparent. But it has been one of those weeks. You know those weeks you have where it’s like everything is coming to the fore? You’ve got your day job to do, and then you’ve got this project on the side, then you’ve got this family obligation, and then you’ve got this professional networking thing going on.

Darryl Praill: I have done more networking in this last week than I can imagine. And right about now, trade show season is again upon us, and I’m hitting the road hard, hitting all these shows. And it’s been nuts. I’m literally heading out again today. I’m off this time to Inbound. You guys ever been to Inbound? It’s like the world’s biggest show for marketers. It’s in Boston. I think I’ve been in Boston like four times in the last month. And the only good side for me is that Boston is a one way hop on the plane. I don’t have to do a connection, which is rare. I hate connections.

Darryl Praill: My goodness. I have so many buckets going on in my life. It’s crazy. Got the work bucket, the networking bucket, I got the life bucket. How about you guys? You guys got lots of buckets going on in your life? How do you manage that balance? You know what’s kind of cool about buckets? Buckets are these things that are … They kind of let us allocate tasks. Like I said, there’s the work bucket, and that’s just work related. And then there’s the family life bucket, and that’s just family life. And you can kind of keep them separate, and you can work each bucket independently, and you’re not distracted. That’s kind of cool. I like that.

Darryl Praill: Sometimes, if you’re like me, my buckets, they overfloweth. And sometimes they get intermixed. It’s kind of like doing the wash. You got the colors, you got the whites, and sometimes that red shirt makes the rest of your clothes, your white shirt, pink if you don’t watch your buckets. So, it’s all about buckets. And I got to thinking that means something. What is it I’m thinking of? Then I remembered: this is Sales Developers.

Darryl Praill: You guys check these guys out? These guys are like fricking everywhere. I tell you man, previously on the show we had Shawn Sease, Sales Developers. If you haven’t checked out that episode, do it. I love Shawn. I saw him recently at Tenbound, the sales development conference. Shawn is so distinctive. He’s got this long beard. He reminds me, and I’m sure he gets it all the time, and hopefully I’m not upsetting him, he reminds me a little bit of ZZ Top. I was teasing him, and I said, “Dude, you’ve got this wonderful ZZ Top-esque beard, and you got no skin art going on, no tats, no sleeves. What is up, dude? You’re breaking the image.” So, we chuckled about that. And, of course, on the webinars we’ve had Martin MacArthur before. Check him out, he’s a brilliant success story. But these guys, I see them everywhere. I ran into Rex Biberston there. Rex, he’s a cool cat.

Darryl Praill: But more than anything, I was pulled aside, I’m not making this up, Chris Beall. Now, if you don’t know Chris Beall, you got to listen to the episode I did with Chris. This is potentially, either him or Benjamin Dennehy, I can’t remember which one, are they highest ranked podcasts that the show INSIDE Inside Sales has, consistently downloaded over and over again. Chris pulled me aside and he says, “Darryl, that podcast we did,” he goes, “I share it with everybody.” He goes, “People just rave about it.” In that podcast, we go into that you’re the problem. You’re the disruption when you’re cold calling, and you’ve got 27 seconds to fix that disruption. And Chris and I nail it.

Darryl Praill: But he pulls me aside at the Sales Development Conference, and he says, “Have you ever done anything with Ryan Reisert from The Sales Developers?” I’m like, “No, he’s been on my hit list.” And he’s like, “Dude,” he goes, “I do the dog and pony circuit like you. I’m on the panels like you.” He goes, “Ryan is the one guy who gave me a run for my money. This guy, just his energy, it was flying. It was going nuts.” He goes, “You got to get him on.” And I said, “Okay.” If Chris Beall says you need to get Ryan Reisert on your show, then you’ve got to get Ryan Reisert on your show.

Darryl Praill: I wasted no time, and here we are days later. And on the other end of the phone, on the other end of the line, other end of the interweb, listening in to me riff with you guys right now is the one, the only, Ryan Reisert. Ryan, welcome to the show.

Ryan Reisert: Well, that’s quite an intro, and I guess I have a lot to live up to. I’m pretty excited for today’s conversation here.

Darryl Praill: Ryan and I, we jammed, as I do with all my guests, about what do we want to talk about? And you guys know I’m really particular. I want to make sure that you’re all getting something that you can apply, you can action right away. That’s my big thing. I want you to be 1% marginally better after this show than you were before it. So, I shared this with Ryan. I’m like, “So dude, what do you think? What is it you’re passionate about that will help my audience be that 1% marginally better?” His response to me was, I kept saying, “Do you have any ideas?” And he was like, “Buckets.” Actually, I got to get this right: #buckets. And of course me, like a moron, I’m like, “Yeah, I’m sure there’s a lot. But you got to narrow it down for me. I can’t do it all.” He’s like, “Darryl, you’ve obviously not read our book.” If you haven’t seen his book, go to Amazon right now. Outbound Sales, No Fluff. That’s what it’s called. It’s with him and Rex, they co-authored this together.

Darryl Praill: And I’m like, “Oh, sugar. You’re right. Okay, it all makes sense now.” So, we’re going to talk today about your pipeline. In fact, I would ask you this question. This is why you should be listening. Is your pipeline, your bucket that your pipeline resides in, is it overflowing? Are you happy with your pipeline? I would contend that if you’re not, and it’s okay that most of you are not happy. Even those of you who have killer pipelines, I suspect, are still not happy. You still want more. So, I would say maybe you’re using the wrong bucket. Ryan is going to walk us through this incredible system they document in their book, and they use at The Sales Developers. They educate all their clients on it because it works. So, that’s what we’re going to do today. Ryan, before we get into the buckets, is there anything else we need to do to set the stage for the audience?

Ryan Reisert: No, that’s a really, really good kickoff here. Obviously, I’m excited to bring the energy. For most organizations today, if you’re in sales, they’ve hired you off the street. Maybe you’ve had some experience coming in before. You come into an initial bootcamp. They tell you a little bit about the product or service. They might have you shadow another rep, and they say, “Hey, here’s your territory. Go.” Right?

Ryan Reisert: What we’re excited about with this process, it gives you a simple methodology that you can bring to any organization, regardless of if you’ve been trained or not. Pick it up and start having a ton of success at the top of the funnel. So that’s what I’m excited to talk about today.

Darryl Praill: All right, so bucket one is your cold bucket. Go into detail on what that means.

Ryan Reisert: Yeah. To take a step back, Bucketing Leads for Success, that’s the name of the chapter in the book, it’s a simple methodology that we’ve created for everybody in sales to maximize their time spent prospecting. If you think about sales, sales training, there’s a lot of systems or processes that have been created for us to sit across the table from one another. And, I know how to take a lead from introduction, discovery, presentation, proposal, negotiation, close. Each of those stages have definitions and exit criteria that I can follow.

Ryan Reisert: There’s never really been a system created for how to get somebody across the table. I have never seen a formal methodology to say, hey, here’s how you select the accounts that you should be going after next. Here within those accounts are the people you need to be talking to. And once you understand that, here’s how you take them from first conversation to getting them across the table. That’s what buckets is. It’s a simple process, a simple methodology for us to have clear stage definitions and exit criteria to start deriving leads from: you don’t even know me, to: let’s get into a conversation together.

Darryl Praill: I really like that aspect of the exit criteria. It’s not even just starting to fill your bucket, but when do I leave this bucket and go to the next bucket? A lot of people don’t think about: what’s my exit criteria. But that really drives focus, and that helps you visualize where you need to get to with each of these.

Darryl Praill: I know whenever we, as reps, are tasked with a territory or what have you, they kind of say, “Here’s your ICP. Here’s your ideal customer profile, go forth and get your leads.” So this bucket to me, that cold bucket where you’re actually helping to work that list of accounts and contacts and meet that ICP, to me, this is so foundational. In fact, I almost think this is the most important. Because if you start off with the wrong leads, then you’re going to waste a crap load of cycles chasing something that’s never going to happen for you. So tell me more about this.

Ryan Reisert: Absolutely. That’s exactly the point of the process. If you think about all the things that we can be doing, or the system, all the things we can be doing as a rep every single day, time becomes our biggest enemy. We only have maybe 20 business days. We only have maybe eight business hours, depending on where we’re selling, what territory you’re at, a day. How do we maximize the time, energy, and effort we’re putting into having the next meaningful sales conversation? It starts with bucket one. It starts with making sure that we spend zero time moving a lead to the next stage by ensuring that the leads in the first place are exactly in what we call your swim lane. You’re saying ICP. Swim lane is not too big, not too small.

Ryan Reisert: It’s kind of like the, what’s this, Goldilocks and the Three Bears methodology: just right. This is that ICP nailed on the account side and the one person at the organization that we want to be talking to. We want to stay in our lane. If anything’s outside of that lane, we don’t say, well, maybe if … No, we want to be perfect. If it doesn’t meet our criteria, that lead is no longer in. It gets kicked out to nurture, and we begin to move forward into the next bucket.

Ryan Reisert: So bucket one, cold, is every single account inside your swim lane. It needs to have contact channels that we can start to engage: phone, email, social. And then we can start to move it into the next bucket.

Darryl Praill: What I really find important about this stage is a couple of things. You touched on it, and you even give an example of this in the book, which is you’re ruthless about saying who is and who is not. So for example, I’m throwing this out there. Let’s say part of your ICP, or part of your swim lane, is a certain revenue size. I’m making this up, less than a hundred million dollars. And in your patch, maybe in your backyard, is IBM. Dang. I know people at IBM, I hang out with them, I play sports with them, I go to church with them, whatever it might be. That’s not in your swim lane. Don’t fall for that distraction. That’s the first part. You’ve got to be ruthless, and you’re honoring yourself when you do that, and your commitment to success.

Darryl Praill: Second part though, and I love that you make this point, is that just because someone may come into your site and fill out a form on your website, and therefore there’s a conveyance that there is an intent, that there is a desire, and maybe they could be a client, that does not make them a good fit for that bucket as well either. Am I right?

Ryan Reisert: That’s correct. You want to make sure that you’re qualifying out those who are not in your swim lane. And this is really, really hard for startups. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes you’ve got to take those leads and close revenue if you need to get revenue. But 80 to 90% of the time when you do this, when you take that, well, it was kind of a good fit, it doesn’t really end in a great future success.

Ryan Reisert: The difference between them being a good customer and them being a bad customer was identified by the swim lane in the first place. All of a sudden, the age-old saying, the crap falls downhill. You start to see those challenges in onboarding, in enablement, and over time you’ll see that those customers aren’t a good fit either. So just because they are coming to you does not mean they have to be your customer. This is really, really important. And don’t get me wrong, we still struggle with that today. We’re a year and a half into building the Sales Developers, and we still fall to that sometimes. But if you are ruthless about staying in your swim lane, everything else gets easier with time.

Darryl Praill: So bucket one is as simple as this, folks. It’s knowing who you’re targeting, all right, and going after them relentlessly. Once you’ve got that, we go on to bucket number two. That’s our working bucket, right?

Ryan Reisert: Yeah, that’s right. This is where the work comes in via today. Working bucket is defined as leads that, remember exit criteria. They need to be in your swim lane, and they have a channel you’re starting to work, meaning the phone, email, social, whatever channels you’re using for outreach. To get into bucket two, we have done an outbound attempt. We’ve picked up the phone, we’ve called the number, and we document the path. If the number gets to you, “Hey, this is Ryan,” your voicemail, “Hey this is Ryan. Sorry I missed your phone today. Give me a call back,” or an admin, some sort of person that identifies that you can get through to them but they may not be available. “Ryan’s not available. Can I take a message?” That’s working number, it’s continued to stay in working. We call that a validated phone number.

Ryan Reisert: You can keep calling that number. You need to document the path, that very first attempt, and you’re taking that time to also put in any additional notes into your CRM that’s really relevant for your future follow up. This is really, really interesting because we’re talking about hacking time this entire … That’s what this process is all about. Did you know that if you just document the phone tree path … An average dial attempt can take about two to three minutes. By documenting the path, press four, five. If it’s a last name, you actually document three, four, seven, pound. You cut that dial time down to about 30 seconds. So if you have a list of a hundred numbers, you can now get through that in about an hour, hour and a half, versus maybe a whole day or two.

Ryan Reisert: So this hacking of time and documenting the path, getting through numbers faster is what this is all about. You’re trying to ensure that you’re only working validated channels. Same thing with email here. A lot of folks spend a ton of time on their very first email sending out some sort of personalized email. They’re spending a ton of time, doing a bunch of research, and trying to send out this perfect email only for it to bounce. Or even worse, it delivers, but no one ever even opens it. Working, you want to focus your time, and energy, and effort just to validate that that channel is going to work. Social media, check the dang profile. Are they active, or are they just using it as a resume? And you can tell. Especially with Navigator, it will tell you if they’ve been active. But look, are they someone who comments and posts on feeds? Do they have a full profile? Do they post articles, things like that?

[bctt tweet=”A lot of folks spend a ton of time on their very first email…spending a ton of time and research to try and send out this perfect email only for it to bounce. ~ @rreisert #SalesTips” username=”VanillaSoft”]

Ryan Reisert: If they’re not active, it’s a good chance that that’s not a channel you should be spending time, and energy, and effort on. So getting into working, you’re working through your first attempts, you’re doing your initial research, you’re gathering all their information you need, you’re documenting all their information, and you’re getting them ready to move to the next bucket.

Darryl Praill: So if I’m clear on this, if I have a Cadence, say classic sales engagement, maybe I’m going to do the classic seven touches in seven days, whatever it might be. I don’t care, you name it. Is this working bucket, bucket number two, is this only that first attempt, or this could be the first two or three attempts, or what?

Ryan Reisert: You’re going to be in working until you actually get somebody to reply, or to answer the phone, or to connect on social. That actually is going to move you to the next bucket, or you’re going to identify that that channel doesn’t work. So channel validation will exit out of your steps.

Ryan Reisert: Let’s use your Cadence platform as an example here. So many reps will take a lead from bucket one, they’ll load it into the Cadence tool that has call, email, social, all maybe within the first day. That’s great, you should do that. But as soon as you identify that that phone number doesn’t work, that lead should not keep going through a multi touch Cadence that has phone included. Because every time you get to a phone call, you can’t make that phone call.

Ryan Reisert: I’ll tell you what, especially with folks who work more than just a small patch, they’re going to keep going to that number, looking, maybe even attempting that number, like, oh yeah, the number is bad. Whoops. Or they’re skipping the task. Even just seeing that task pop up when there’s no number to call, what’s that doing? It’s wasting time. Seconds become minutes, minutes becomes hours in a week, in a month. Hours become that next conversation you could have had, and now you don’t have. And that next conversation could have been that appointment you need. That appointment could have been that deal you close.

Ryan Reisert: All of that starts to stack up. If you just do it in the very, very beginning, just like getting the leads out, you want to get the channels out so you’re only working your time, energy, and effort in the channels that are valid.

Darryl Praill: So what I really like about what you were saying is that you were doing two things. You were really being wise about the fact that, if you can’t call or a certain channel, phone or email, whatever is not working, bail that. You’re right. In the sales engagement systems, you’ve got to bail on that. And I love the concept, it sounds crazy, of recording the call tree, four or five pound or whatever it might be, so that next time I’m saving those seconds. They all add up. That is incredibly brilliant. But that does lead to a point, is that it’s not just going to be one Cadence is it, because of this?

Ryan Reisert: No. Exactly. So in the working bucket, exit criteria is either you’ve connected with them, which is going to move you into priority, bucket three, or you’ve actually eliminated that channel. It’s not validated. The phone doesn’t get to you, your voicemail, or your admin. The phone gets to some sort of generic voicemail, something of that nature. The emails bounce, the emails are not being open, et cetera. So these are really important to pay attention to because when we get to the final here, when we get into our prioritizing our time, we don’t get back to leads that are not technically working, which means we’re not wasting time on channels that are likely to not get us into an engagement.

Darryl Praill: So I want everybody to think about that. When you’re doing your bucketing process now in your pipeline, how much time are you wasting on doing stuff that is a waste of time? And how much are you not prioritizing or have an optimal chance of connection? That’s what it’s all about. This is a huge bucket, and this is where you’re probably going to spend a lot of your time every day.

Darryl Praill: This alone is that 1% marginal gain right here. So if your systems don’t work that way, you need to go back to your revenue ops people and say, “What can we do to make this work?” Or maybe you yourself need to develop a system to make sure that’s the case.

Darryl Praill: All right, we’re going to take a very quick break. We’ll be back in one second. Don’t go anywhere. We have two more buckets to go through, and we’re going to go lightning fast. Hold on, we’ll be right back.

Darryl Praill: Okay, so now we’re back. So that’s bucket two. So when do I move from bucket two to bucket three, and what’s bucket three?

Ryan Reisert: Great. So bucket three is those that you’ve actually started a conversation with on the phone. They’ve picked up, you know they pick up the phone. So, if you call back, you can have a conversation. They’ve replied via email. They’re actually an inbound lead, so go back to that inbound conversation, an inbound lead in your swim lane. All right. They’ve raised their hand and said, “Let’s talk.” So these are bucket three’s priorities.

Ryan Reisert: In this bucket, these are folks that you’ve engaged with. They come inbound. These are your what we like to call hot leads in some capacity. That’s why the name: your priorities. If you’re going to start your day, these are the people that you want to spend trying to get in front of first before you move back into working. And so these are scheduled tasked events, or net new leads coming in that are in that swim lane.

Ryan Reisert: You want to pay attention to these leads and focus on these leads first and foremost. These might be referrals, got off the phone with somebody that referred me to someone else. This is now a priority. I can name drop. These are people at events that you might have engaged with. You want to get back in front of them after some face time, your hot leads, your priority leads where there’s already some familiarity and awareness.

Ryan Reisert: The difference between working and priority is that now your name or your company’s name is on their mind when you’re working those folks, and you know what channel you started that engagement with. If it’s over the phone, probably use the phone to follow up. If it’s over email, they might prefer email, so on and so forth, social, etc.

Darryl Praill: So another way of thinking with that is, if the bucket number two, the working bucket, that was my cold bucket. Whereas bucket number three, my priority, that’s my warm bucket. Like you say, they know me. I talked to them in bucket two, or I talked to them at a show, or they sought me out as an inbound lead. But they know me, and they know what I’m about. Is that a fair statement?

Ryan Reisert: You’re hoping that’s what they are. There’s a clear definition. Because that’s a good definition outside of the fact that sometimes you might cold call somebody, and you don’t get a lot of information from them. They don’t really get a lot of information from you, like, “Hey, I’m not interested.” Click. That’s still a priority because if they’re in your swim lane, you’re not going to give up on that lead. They may not quite know you yet, but you do know that the channel works for them. They pick up the phone. But all other things that you said are spot on in terms of what a priority is.

Darryl Praill: All right. So what’s so special, other than they have some familiarity with us, on this bucket versus the last bucket? What makes this bucket kick ass?

Ryan Reisert: Well you’ve actually validated, or verified rather, that that channel is active. So I know if I make a dial, this person picks up the phone. Whereas, in working, if I make a dial, these are cold. I’ve never spoken to them before. I don’t know if they’re going to pick up the phone yet. Data shows we make hundreds of thousands of dials.

Ryan Reisert: I’ve made millions of dials in my career over the last decade using tools like Connect and Sell and being an inside sales leader at companies that have just had huge dial floors. Millions of dials, over 50% of leads will never pick up the phone. It doesn’t matter how many times you call them. So what makes this bucket special is, again, we’re looking at hacking time. I don’t want to make phone calls to people that don’t pick up their phone. I don’t want to make phone calls to numbers I’ve never called before if I have numbers I’ve called before first knowing that they’re working.

Ryan Reisert: I’m trying to get to the leads that are closest to conversation first. And so this bucket is super important because if they’re in swim lane, remember that’s very, very … and they’re in my patch as a high value potential future prospect. This bucket is super important because that channel is validated. If it’s an email, and they replied in the past, I could spend more time personalizing. Because I know that, if they replied before, there’s a good chance they might reply again. Which means it gives a great chance that they read their emails, which means it’s my time to shine, same thing with social.

Darryl Praill: All right, so bucket two’s about working that cold list, the working bucket, the initial research to find the optimal way to connect with them. And bucket three is about, okay, now I’ve connected with them, now to move this deal forward. Two very different approaches, and then you’re just going super focused. How do I get to bucket four, and what do I do there?

Ryan Reisert: Yeah. So bucket four is meetings scheduled or scheduled. You have a calendared event. So this one’s really straightforward. I’ve spoken to you. You’ve agreed to meet with me. I was at an event. Let’s follow up. I got an email response. So bucket four, this is where let’s say the money’s made. If I do nothing else to start my day, what I want to do is confirm that those conversations are going to show up. That’s very, very straightforward, bucket four, scheduled event.

[bctt tweet=”If I do nothing else to start my day, what I want to do is confirm that those conversations are going to show up. ~ @rreisert #B2BSales #SalesTips” username=”VanillaSoft”]

Ryan Reisert: Now, what makes this process really, really simple when it comes to lead management, these four buckets are where we spend our time, energy, and effort as a rep. There might be other buckets like nurture and unqualified things like that, but this is my pipeline above my pipeline, my what we like to call the funnel above the funnel. If I have these buckets clearly defined and ready to rock and roll every single day, what I do to show up in the morning is I start to work my buckets backwards, confirm all my meetings.

Ryan Reisert: Then once I’ve confirmed all my meetings, I go to my priorities and I get my priority activities in there. I’m going to do my personalization. I work on making those callbacks, I leave those voicemails, I do those things that our great reps typically understand. But, I’m not doing it to all my leads, just my priority leads because I know that those channels are validated and it makes sense for me to do that.

Ryan Reisert: When I’m done with all those, then I move to my workings. This is where you can do your power hour dialing sessions and get 100,000 in an hour. This is where you can load up a list into tools like VanillaSoft, or Connect and Sell, some of these other power dialers, and really get some value out of it. Because you’ve got great numbers to work, and every single number should be working, and you’re just getting through. If they connect, you know you’re going to move forward into your priorities to building your next bucket.

Ryan Reisert: And then finally, if I finish all of that, then I can go and start to research and build my uncontacted, and start my first final attempts to start filling my workings. So I want to be filling my buckets every day as the last thing I do, and I want to prioritize moving my buckets from bottom up everyday when I start my sessions.

Darryl Praill: So this is a brilliant approach, folks, to time management and time hacking so that your time is spent in the right place doing the right thing, and you’re continually feeding yourself. I love this approach. It’s all about buckets. I’m telling you guys, go to Amazon right now. You want to get the book, Outbound Sales, No Fluff. Ryan, best way to reach you, is that LinkedIn, I’m guessing, or Twitter, or just email? Talk to me.

Ryan Reisert: Yeah, LinkedIn’s great. LinkedIn’s really great. Actually, if you go on LinkedIn, my phone number is posted there as well. Believe it or not, I prefer phone over most other channels. If you really want to talk to me, pick up the phone, call me, leave a message. I’ll call you back if I miss you. But LinkedIn is also a great place to get ahold of me.

Darryl Praill: All right. So that’s it, Ryan Reisert. It’s all about your buckets, guys. Now, you can reach them at Nice and straight forward, you can’t mess that one up. In the meantime, if you have any questions, reach out to Ryan directly, or hey, reach out to me.

Darryl Praill: With that, we’re out of time, folks. It’s another week. Can you believe it? It’s crazy. I’m on a plane to Boston. Maybe I’ll see you there. If I do, drop on by. If not, I’ll see you right back here again in one week’s time. You take care. We’ll talk to you soon. Bye-bye.