David outlines important points to consider when building an SDR program, including leadership, training, coaching, and culture.
David is a sales development expert. He hosts the #1 Sales Development Podcast and is Founder/CEO of Tenbound.
Billy Bateman 0:01
All right, everyone. Welcome to Digital Conversations presented by ChatFunnels. I’m your host, Billy Bateman. And today I’m joined by the great David Dulany. David, thanks for joining me.
David Dulaney 0:13
I’m David. Wow. Yeah, thank you so much for having me on, dude, I appreciate it.
Yeah, I’m excited that we finally got you on. And we’re going to talk about your book, the sales development framework, got my copy right here. If anybody hasn’t read it, and you’re in sales development, I think you should pick it up, and you’re bound to learn something out of it.
Billy Bateman 0:34
But before we get into that, like, for those that don’t know, David, like, can you introduce yourself and Tenbound? And what do you do?
David Dulaney 0:42
Yeah, absolutely. So, I’m here in Silicon Valley. And, in the tech industry, a lot of companies have the sales development teams, right, they call them BDRs, SDRs, etc. I was running sales development programs at a few tech companies.
I went out on my own about five years ago and started Tenbound as a way to help with the performance of those teams. So, we write play books, we do training and consulting, and put on events. So, we run the sales development conference and do a ton of digital events now.
Sales Development Framework
And this book came out of just working with those companies that we’re trying to figure out sales development. and kind of putting in a framework to how to start those programs, run the programs and everything that we’ve learned over the last few years. So, yeah, it’s, it’s been a great ride.
Billy Bateman 1:45
Awesome, awesome. And then, with Tenbound, you guys do a lot of great, great research. We present at conferences all the time, especially in sales development, this is something I’ve always wondered about.
AEs, SDRs, and BDRs
In tech, we have the sales development function, then the AEs, and they work hand in hand. And everyone, everyone, seems to think we got to start these guys up as SDRs or BDR. Is, and then the ones that are good move on up to an E.
And I, I’ve always wondered, like, do the skills really translate like, yeah, if you’re good as an SDR, you might be good as an AE. But you might also just be great as an SDR. But everyone wants to get to that a year old because it usually pays more.
Let’s What do you mean, what, what are your thoughts on? Like, why? Why do we pay more to the AEs?
Sales Development Function
Because if the AEs don’t have any appointments, they’re not going to close any deals, like, I’ve always wondered, like, how can we make this more equal? Because you really need both?
David Dulaney 2:48
Yeah, it’s a really good question, man. I mean, one of the reasons that we started Tenbound and, and put some serious research behind the sales development function was we just felt like it wasn’t really being taken seriously enough. and there’s a lot of people involved, there’s a lot of technology involved. what you’re doing, at your company, and, and there wasn’t sort of enough emphasis on Hey, how do you do this right, like, what are the benchmarks? And what are the ways the top performing companies are doing it?
Take Sales Development Seriously
So really, first and foremost, it’s like, we got to take this seriously, because to your point, if the sales reps don’t have anything on their calendar, as far as new business meetings, and the pipeline is lagging, then there’s some kind of disconnect there. And that’s where that SDR team can come in.
And, yeah, I mean, to your point, like, it’s, it’s kind of looked at as an entry level position. It’s, it’s, it’s sort of an afterthought, at a lot of companies. And a lot of companies, it’s sort of a hot potato position where, one day the marketing manager is in charge of it, and then they leave or it goes off the rails, and now the sales manager is in charge of it, and you’re sure who knows what’s going on over there.
Get out of SDR Job
And, we just think, wow, I mean, with all this investment, like, why would you not take it more seriously? To your point, a lot of people get into it, because it’s sort of seen as the dues paying position. You’d be an SDR for a while and then you become an AP, you double your salary, you’ve got more prestige at the company.
And so, they want to get out of the SDR job as quickly as possible and get promoted. Yeah, it is. I mean, for some people it works great. they come in, they learn to prospect they learn to follow up on inbound leads, they learn the, the ins and outs of the company and the industry and then they’re really poised to become a breakout at
Does it Translate Well?
Right. For some people, it doesn’t translate as well, because the SDR job is just one sliver of the overall job. And so, you could be really good at SDR. But then you fail as an AP. So, we see that happen a lot, actually. Yeah.
It’s a Tough Roll
Yeah, I think it’s a tough roll. there is, just dialing emailing all day. Like, there’s a lot of rejections. So, I really have a lot of respect for anybody that’s doing this or leading a team and has done it for a long time and done it well, because I don’t think it’s easy. I think it’s a pretty challenging position. That probably doesn’t get enough respect, in my opinion.
Hard to Find a Good SDR
Billy Bateman 5:43
100% and it’s, it’s hard to find a great SDR and, and there’s not a lot of people that want to stay in the position for a long time and just continuously crank. I, as a business owner, and somebody who’s looking at it from a strategic perspective, I would love to have an SDR who just you cranked year after year and was always filling the pipeline with qualified meetings. But the way that it’s set up right now that doesn’t happen a lot. I mean, to your point, it’s a really hard job.
David Dulaney 6:16
And people want more money and prestige, you know. so, they want to get out of it and get promoted. But there’s also been an explosion of companies that just provide SDR outsource services, so people are just like, they look at their in-house SDR team as almost as a bench of potential recruits for the A E.
And then they outsource a portion to just companies that focus 100% on SDR work. And so that’s happening a lot out there.
Billy Bateman 6:55
Yeah, it definitely is. Yeah. Okay, man. Well, I want to talk about the book. So, let’s get into the book a little bit. What was let’s just start with like, what was your genesis for writing the book? How long did it take? Yeah, I know writing books is never easy. I’ve been working on one for a while, and I’m not even close. So how did you get started?
SDR Training Programs
David Dulaney 7:20
Yeah, absolutely, man. So, we started doing training programs for SDR managers. and there were a couple, there’s a couple of great programs out there and we wanted to put our own spin on it. There’s a lot of training programs out there for SDRs. And, and not as many for SDR managers, and people running the team.
So, we started doing those, just we’d get we work in San Francisco and, and get some of the up-and-coming SDRs or SDR managers who wanted an overall framework. And we essentially took the training and broke it out into an overall framework. and then each of the chapters in the book is kind of blowing out each section of the framework and being able to double click on that.
So essentially, there’s kind of three audiences. There are executives who want to get an overall view of what a high performance, sales development program could look like. And then there’s the managers who are actually running the team, and they’re needing a guide, a framework to be able to be on track with it. And then there’s the reps who want to become a manager and need to know what it looks like to run a team. So, it’s kind of designed for those audiences.
8 Core Operating Areas
Billy Bateman 8:48
Awesome. Awesome. So, I’ve been going through and reading it. And one of the things I really love is you’ve got your eight kinds of core operating areas for a sales development team. I thought it was really interesting that you started out with culture as the first one. How do you have that defined culture for your SDR team? But, I mean, you’ve learned a lot, you’re the expert in the space WHY, WHY start with culture?
Starting with the Culture
David Dulaney 9:17
Yeah, and so, that’s, it’s kind of a slant that we took on it because, just being around for a long time in the corporate world and the startup world and, and, and looking at really high-performance teams in general, not necessarily sales development programs, but just high-performance sales teams, marketing teams, different specialties. There’s a huge difference.
And I think people if you’ve been around for a while, you feel the difference. When there’s a high-performance defined culture, that’s a positive culture. That’s the sort of the foundational benchmark for this.
Team versus if there’s no culture, there’s no defined culture, and it’s just sort of being defined on the fly. And sometimes you can get into a toxic culture situation that I don’t know if you’ve been there, but I’ve been there and it sucks, you know? So, so and we, we start there. and we go, okay, you’re going to have you’re either inheriting or you’re starting an SDR program, what is the culture that you want to bring? And at least start with a level set that these are going to be the tenants, this is this is this is the mission statement for our team and how we’re going to build it moving forward.
Billy Bateman 10:44
Awesome, awesome. I love that you give that framework for the mission statement and everything in there. Whoa, that was really great. And then after culture, you’ve got leadership is your next system and area to focus on. What’s the key to being like a god SDR leader within that.
David Dulaney 11:03
Yeah, 100%. So, what we see again, people, they skip the culture component, because they’re just like, it’s an SDR team, like, whatever, just make dials and prospects.
Being a Good Manager
Like Shut up, they don’t make your number type of thing. So, they skip over the culture part. And then what we find a lot is because there’s so much technology involved that people go straight into management, right? And, and, you’ve got to be a good manager, you have to be able to set up your dashboards, hold people accountable, make sure that they’re doing the activities and, and everything that’s going to drive results. But there’s not a lot of leadership involved.
Leadership Vs. Management
And so, we go into, hey, what’s the difference between leadership and management? How do you define yourself as a leader, and so a couple of things is like, it, make your culture statement. Then make sure that you’re leading by example, when you’re running the team.
Are Leaders Dialing?
And that’s the main thing because you could write down the tenants of the high performance, culture and everything that you’re striving toward, but the team is going to be looking at you at all times wondering if you’re actually doing it, and, and can we still do it? that, one thing that we see a lot is as soon as people get promoted from SDR, to SDR manager, they’re like, oh, thank God, I never have to make another cold call.
Billy Bateman 12:35
Yeah, I mean, I can see that I’ve never been a full time SDR, an SDR manager. But, dude, I can see that. Yeah, yeah, well, I’ve done my fair share of cold calling. And not even that much. And I’m just like, man, it is not an easy thing to do, or even harder to do well, so it never ends.
David Dulaney 12:55
And you are just I guess the point I’m trying to make is you don’t want to be that ivory tower. In the book, we call it the dashboard, cowboy, where you’re sitting in the back of the room or in your house, just refreshing dashboards all day. And like, kind of whipping people that do more stuff.
You actually have to stay in the game and be running the process and demonstrating that you can do it? For sure, for sure.
Hiring for Sales
Billy Bateman 13:24
And then the next is, you got to get people on the team once you’ve got a leader. So, hiring, I think hiring for sales in general is very challenging to figure out who’s going to work and who’s not.
It’s not as easy as hiring a dev and being like, Yeah, you got all the languages, you got some experience. Let’s plug in and then see, see what happens. So, what do you look for? Like, what advice do you have for people when hiring for this SDR role? What should people be looking for?
What to Look for Hiring SDRs
David Dulaney 13:54
Yeah, I mean, one thing that’s a bit contrary, and that is, kind of a unique slant here is that we really try to emphasize hiring for the culture of the team that you’re trying to put in place, versus stereotype. Or, like, there’s, there’s certain stereotypes in the sales development world, that it’s got to be somebody who’s young, it’s Gotta be somebody who’s fresh out of college, it’s got to be like, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, all these things.
And what we’re trying to do is say, hey, those are those could be important attributes, or wisdom there. But open up your viewpoint to hiring, in this position, it doesn’t necessarily have to be the dogmatic, stereotypical SDR approach. look at your culture that you’re trying to create, and, and really hire toward, that vision of a team that you’re trying to put together on the ground, and that’s unique. to everybody. So, yeah,
Billy Bateman 15:03
you know that that makes a lot of sense. one of our early clients, we worked a lot with their SDR team. And, like, I think he was if he wasn’t a top rep, he was always close to it was an older guy, you know. And by SDR standards, most of those guys are under 30. and I think he was probably in his 40s. Man, the guy just cranked, he knew what to do, like.
So, with coaching, like training and coaching, I think kind of go hand in hand. And those were the next two big points in the book. So, what do you think is the key to doing training for an SDR team? Should you be doing it every day? Every week? Like one on one? Like, what do you think? What do you think we should be doing for training?
Training vs. Coaching
David Dulaney 16:02
Yeah, well, first and foremost, so understanding the difference, kind of like leadership and management, so you got training and coaching.
So training is imparting the knowledge that’s out there that needs to go from your head into the SDR team and given context. and in the old days, it could be in a, in a conference room, now, it’s going to be over Zoom, but it’s like, we have to sit down and do your question. It’s like, at least for half an hour, an hour a week, a structured sit-down program, where we’re going to learn the context of the industry that we’re calling in. or, the personas and the pain points, something, that that is, is new, and that we need to learn that new skill, right.
And so, it’s got to be at least once a week, on the calendar, structured training with the team, maybe more, if they’re newer and stuff like that, at least.
And then with coaching, it’s like, okay, here’s the, here’s the training, go out and use it for the week. get, beat up, take your knocks, and then we’re going to go through, and, and practice, doing role plays and, and bouncing it back and forth.
You know, you call me I’ll pretend to be a prospect, etc. And we’re going to, we’re going to road test the stuff that you learned in the training. And that has to happen at least a few times a week, if not more, because that’s when really the rubber hits and rounds with the team.
Billy Bateman 17:43
Awesome. Awesome. So, let’s go back to the kind of dashboard cowboy idea because the next thing is analysis, yeah, dashboard cowboy loves his loves his charts love looking at the numbers trying to dissect it from the backseat.
David Dulaney 18:00
What should we pay attention to? Or What should an SDR manager be paying attention to? What are the main things they like? Okay. It’s going to be different for everybody, because we’ve all got our own processes, but generally, like, what should I be looking at if I’m an SDR manager?
Blocking and Tackling
Yeah, and, and people, people get kind of crazy with this. So, we try to really boil it down to the blocking and tackling. And this is when all the different channels come into conversations.
So, a conversation where we’re having a chat, social media, cold call, whatever that ends up being, there’s some kind of a conversation happening between two people, conversations, two appointments set. So, they call, they call those you can call those, whatever you want.
But that’s it, there’s an appointment set, either with the SDR and the prospect, or with the A E and the SDR and the prospect, but there’s a sales appointment set, pipeline generated from those sales appointments, and then revenue generated from the pipeline. So, we go through the big four in the book, we call them, like, those are the big four basically, for the team.
And so first and foremost, it’s like, we got to have the dashboards set up to be able to monitor the activity inputs that are going to get in a conversation. And then we’ve got to be able to monitor how we’re converting conversations to appointments, appointments to pipeline and pipeline to revenue, you know?
Align on Revenue
Billy Bateman 19:39
Yeah. I mean, that. I mean, as long as I think everyone’s pointed towards that revenue, number, you’re going to stay pretty aligned. So, 100% Okay. And then with I mean, that leads us into your next, which is really results, what kind of results should we be looking for, should we be expecting, and should we have our as our goals, you know in the SDR world.
David Dulaney 20:03
Yeah, exactly. I mean that that is like, such a hot topic, right? Because it’s, it’s interconnected to the salary. A lot of the time, for the SDR manager and it’s interconnected to the salary of the SDR is right. So, it’s a very hot topic.
Start with the End Goal in Mind
And there’s a lot of confusion out there, in the industry. And if you apply confusion to how people get paid, it’s a recipe for disaster, right? Because people start to get pissed. So, what we try to do here is we start from the end goal of what, what revenue Are you looking for, that’s going to be produced by the SDR team.
Don’t be Passive
And what we’re trying to do here is elevate the SDR leader, to not just be a passive, recipient of like, here’s your quota, right? We’re trying to say that you need to have a conversation with the CFO and the head of sales or the head of marketing, to really determine the slice of the pie. How much are we responsible for and the SDR program of that revenue.
And so, then if you can get that revenue number farther, far enough out, you can start to reverse engineer what your quota should actually be. And so, you can look at the revenue number, reverse it back to the pipeline from the team, reverse it back to the appointment set, and then you can understand how many conversations we’re supposed to be having, and we can drive toward that number.
And then, it all makes sense to everybody in a perfect world. Why are we training? Why we’re coaching, why we’re trying to get to that, because it’s aligned, versus just this mysterious, quota that comes out of an office somewhere.
Understand the Reasoning Behind it
Billy Bateman 22:00
Yeah, yeah. No that, if people going to, I think you’re spot on, if people can understand that this is, the reasoning behind it, rather than, here’s our quota, like, just hit it, they can understand, okay, like, there is some, some math and the logic behind this.
And it’s easier to work towards that, when you’re not getting close to hitting your quota. Because that happens, easy for nav and SDR to kind of be like, what, this quota is never going to happen. I am going to move on and find something else to do, you know? Yeah, don’t understand where it’s coming from, and how they’re expected to achieve that.
Set up the Big Four
David Dulaney 22:41
Exactly. And just really quick on that with the- in the results section, it’s like, if you’ve got some good analysis set up at least those big four, and there’s some red flags, you’re not getting enough conversations, you’re not, driving enough pipeline, etc., you start to see those red flags, then, okay, I have some data now, our results in these areas are not good. Let’s reverse it back to let’s look at our coaching. And look at our training. Let’s look at our hiring. You know what I mean?
Reverse Engineer instead of Finger Pointing
Now we have something to work for, versus, in the sales development world, there’s a lot of fingers pointing, right? Because it sits in between sales and marketing and operations. And it’s, it’s, it’s at this intersection, so instead of finger pointing, let’s reverse engineer, why we’re not achieving the results that we need from this and fix some of these problems.
For sure, for sure. And then the last but definitely not least, reputation, which I thought was really interesting to end on. So, give me your thoughts on why reputation is important.
Yeah, so this, this is kind of the world that we live in today of, hey, if you’re not tooting your own horn to some extent and getting out there and branding yourself, then you might be left behind, or you might not have as many opportunities.
Being an SDR Leader
And there’s a couple things. One is that being a great SDR leader right now is super valuable, because not many people know how to do it. I mean, if you think about our conversation today, this is frickin complicated. And there’s not a lot of people that can produce great results, quarter after quarter. So, you have to understand your value in the marketplace.
And you also got to think about, you could get to a certain level of SDR leadership, and then what’s next, you’ve got to think about do I want, in a few years to run a sales organization, do I want to run a marketing organization? Do I want to become an AE? Like, how do you position yourself in the market?
Get to be ready for those next opportunities and maximize the opportunity that’s there for you with pursuing this.
SDR Career Path
Billy Bateman 25:08
So, we go into that. Awesome, awesome I, I couldn’t agree more on like, hey, you, you can get a lot of places but being good as an SDR either manager or individual, because as long as you’re helping a business close more business and increase revenue, I feel like there’s always a spot for somebody like that. And you’re going to have options and doors open to you so awesome. David, is there anything else I asked you about the book that I’ve missed out on?
Sales Development is not a Dead End
David Dulaney 25:39
Well, I mean, it’s maybe just motivation to read the book. There I wrote a. I saw a thing come across my desk yesterday, a company hiring a director of global sales development at a publicly traded company. So, it’s a big deal. 300-day 300k per year, plus all the perks and benefits. Yeah. Right. So next time somebody tells you sales development, dead end, whatever entry level, just tell them a 300k.
Billy Bateman 26:14
Okay, that’s pretty good money.
David Dulaney 26:17
Yeah, I mean, that’s going to solve a few problems. Right? So that’s why I say like, this is a purple squirrel. They used to be called purple squirrel. Dude, if you’re good at this, you can kind of write your own ticket. So yeah, yeah. I appreciate you being interested and talking about this, because it’s a great opportunity.
Billy Bateman 26:38
Yeah. Dude, thank you so much for being on and if people want to reach out, well, first off, where can they find the book?
David Dulaney 26:47
Yeah, I would just head over to tenbound.com tons of free resources and you can buy it right there.
Billy Bateman 26:57
Cool. And then, if anyone wants to continue the conversation with you, what’s the best way for them to reach out?
David Dulaney 27:04
Yeah, just hit me up on Tenbound, or definitely connect on LinkedIn. So, it’s spelled a little funny, but I’m on LinkedIn all day. So, let’s definitely connect. Oh, hey, David. Thanks so much, and we’ll chat later. Thanks a lot.