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Modern B2B Cold Calling For Enterprise Tech/SaaS

MariAnne Vanella


The Vanella Group, Inc.

Interview conducted by:

Lynn Fosse, Senior Editor

CEOCFO Magazine

Published – July 17, 2023

CEOCFO: Ms. Vanella, The Vanella Group has an impressive 20 year history, what is the focus at the company today?

Ms. Vanella: We designed a repeatable system of outbound prospecting that can identify sales opportunities and build sales pipelines for enterprise tech solutions with a complex sales cycle. Our approach stands out due to our comprehensive methods of uncovering opportunities, combined with an exceptional level of detail that we uncover. This empowers our clients to implement strategic decisions within their accounts and ensures they are optimally positioned at critical junctures to secure business opportunities and “be in the right place at the right time.”

CEOCFO: How do you do that?  What do you recognize on a fundamental level about how to understand what is going on at a client’s organization?

Ms. Vanella: One of the things that we bring is a highly-specialized approach to engage senior-level stakeholders and influencers and have informal peer-level discussions. Through that open discussion, we find out what is going on within the accounts. We look for any obstacles they might be dealing with, their timelines, and the current stage of planning. The reason that we can do that is because we bring a distinctive level of technical fluency in enterprise infrastructure and how companies buy technology; which in itself is a high-value skill with outsourced marketing services.

We market in the B2B telemarketing space because that is how we are budgeted, what we deliver is much more robust and sophisticated than what a typical B2B outbound telemarketing program would be. This is why we often complement internal SDR teams and we aren’t redundant with their internal organizations.

CEOCFO: Are clients turning to you as they understand the difference upfront or are they sometimes surprised at the level of information you can provide?

Ms. Vanella: Typically, they are looking for outbound B2B telemarketing, appointment setting, or outsourced SDR services (unless it was a referral, and they know what we do.) If they are looking for an outbound program and find us, once we start a dialog with them, they see what we are delivering is unique both from the process standpoint, our deliverable, and how we engage with clients. They are always impressed and can see what we bring is different, that is something they discover once we start talking to them.

CEOCFO: Would you give us a few examples of what you might ask in this process that will get you to an answer that most people might not realize is important?

Ms. Vanella: We conduct a discovery that is very in-depth with clients to understand their solutions. We really want to understand their selling landscape and what is working for them and what challenges they have. We also look to understand their sales team and how they manage and consume information. We are involved in the discovery, delivery, and long-term management of the account detail we uncover so they get the highest ROI from the program.

CEOCFO: After you have done the research, what type of report and services are you providing to your clients?

Ms. Vanella: We have done a study with an organizational psychologist on how information is consumed by sales teams because one of the things we want to make sure of is that even though we uncover all this in-depth information if it goes over to the team and they don’t read it, or are unable to easily access it, it can lead to a relationship breakdown. For example, if they don’t understand the expectation of the prospect and talk about the wrong topics, then the whole relationship we started for them falls apart. That is why we make sure that the delivery process is bulletproof. There are a lot of workflows that we have to support the best outcomes.

The other thing that we do which is unique is that we are experienced in the whole sales and marketing tech ecosystem. We often work in our clients' systems and help them manage prospect information. We make sure it is easily accessible and make it very discoverable for the sales organization. We have robust reporting outside of their systems as well.

CEOCFO: Once you come up with recommendations, how do you help an organization keep from falling back to its old methods?

Ms. Vanella: That is a valid question because a lot of times they do have a process, and this program is creating new workflow in addition to what’s in place today. We make sure that before we even start the program with them that they will be able to execute this program. I get calls from companies that are very early-stage startups and in some cases, they are unable to implement the supporting workflow for us. There is a certain amount of commitment and involvement that they must agree to participate in. I will make it really clear to them that if they are not involved, the program will not work.

I look at our engagement as they are standing up a powerful extension of their sales organization with a very experienced team. We want to make sure they can leverage the potential here. We have clients running these programs for a decade in some cases because it’s consistent, sustainable, and cost-effective.

The information that we gather has a shelf life that we make sure is best utilized. When we set up the workflow, we want to make sure that the reps are always progressing an account to revenue attainment and not spinning cycles doing early-stage discovery calls over and over.

CEOCFO: Do you find that most of the companies you work with follow what you recommend?

Ms. Vanella: Yes. We have done a lot of work internally to fine-tune the process. Culturally, some companies are resistant to change, and they are going a million miles an hour and I really make sure they understand what we bring to the table so the program doesn’t get sidelined just from chaos. I recently released an eBook about executing a successful outsourcing B2B telemarketing program. One of the areas I cover in there is having the program managed by somebody not suitable to do it once it starts; there are all kinds of points along the way where a program can fall apart. If I see a client making those choices, we are pretty proactive to let them know that it will impact what they are doing.

We want to make sure that we are delivering what we promised. If they try to get in and change the program and make changes, we let them know the impact. I have been doing this long enough where I know what is going to work, I know what is not going to work. If they are doing something that is leading us in the wrong direction, we are proactive to let them know.

CEOCFO: Vanella Group does some work with the public sector. Is that a big part of your engagements or something more ancillary?

Ms. Vanella: A lot of companies are selling in the public sector and that is a whole different space to be in, so we have a lot of experience with that, and we are great at engaging and finding out where the opportunity is for our clients. Some companies we work with have public sector programs running concurrent with their enterprise outreach and we are a good fit for that.

CEOCFO: Is there a particular type or size of organization you prefer to work with given a choice?

Ms. Vanella: It is not the size of the company as much as what their solution is and what their sales cycle is like. I might work with a company that is $100 million a year company or a $5 billion a year company, and size of the company is all over the place. The characteristics of their sales cycle and technology are what is important. Where we do not fit in with transactional products, for example, if some companies have a network appliance that’s a $10 thousand deal, we are not a good fit for that. We are also not fit for companies that are fixated on getting appointments and don’t care about deep dive intel on how to penetrate accounts.

Meetings are part of this but there are a lot of other high-value deliverables, and we deliver a very comprehensive sales development program. If a company does not want that, then they are not a good fit for us.

CEOCFO: How has your company changed over time?

Ms. Vanella: Over the years we have changed the most in how we deliver information to clients. I think one of the biggest shifts is within sales organizations and what their tech landscape looks like. We want to make sure we are delivering information that is very presentable within their environment.

When I first started this company, most client did not have automation and a very limited tech stack, so we were delivering information differently than we are today.

As I mentioned, we worked with an organizational psychologist that helped us format our content so that it would get the highest readability score and engagement possible with sales teams. We did a lot to accommodate today's sales team.

As far as the information that we are getting from companies, I have seen shifts in how companies buy technology over time and now there are more stakeholders involved and a lot of initiatives being driven at a business level. There are a lot of things that we are constantly aligning with on that front.

We had a client recently that told us we “elevate everything about sales outreach for them.” They could really see the quality and depth of what we bring and that is from constant alignment with the marketplace.

CEOCFO: Would you tell us about community involvement at The Vanella Group?

Ms. Vanella: We really want to give back to the community and there are organizations that we support. One that I have done a lot with is DonorsChoose. We sponsor a lot of classroom projects across the country. I started doing this because when I went to school there were so many things available to us. There were resources and experiences that provided so much. So many of those budgets have been cut or eliminated even. Then we see areas that were affected by natural disasters, big economic hits and things like that. I find it unfortunate that schools take the brunt of a lot of the budget cutting. DonorsChoose is an organization that lets you sponsor a classroom activity, so where teachers do not have budgets for certain projects or supplies, they can put a project up, and then organizations like The Vanella Group, Inc. can sponsor those projects.

We have done everything from literacy to math and science, art and music, so we are trying to have a big variance in what we are sponsoring. We are sponsoring areas that are limited in resources. We just hit a milestone sponsoring our 40th classroom project. We do a lot with microloans to 3rd world countries; we have done 50 loans to entrepreneurs in numerous countries. And animal rescue as well.

CEOCFO: What does the next year look like for The Vanella Group?

Ms. Vanella: We just launched a new site, and we built it to have a lot of helpful content for companies to improve what they are doing.

Most of us get a ton of sales calls, and most of those are not great calls. They are poorly executed and it creates a lot of noise and annoyance for prospects. So as the B2B selling space gets more noisy, we want to make sure that we are doing something different. We can call somebody and get them to stop what they are doing and have a conversation with us. And we want to uplift the whole activity across the board because it makes it better for all of us to create better experiences for prospects.

CEOCFO: What is the takeaway about Vanella for our readers?

Ms. Vanella: We are committed to doing great work for our clients and we do not look at it like we are just some vender for them that is operating in a black hole somewhere. We are invested in their success and we want long-term relationships. We are there to be a long-term partner for success and elevate their whole sales outreach to be successful with something sustainable, repeatable, and predictable.

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“We are there to be a long-term partner for success and elevate their whole sales outreach to be successful with something sustainable, repeatable, and predictable.”
MariAnne Vanella