EP 160: Prospecting, Inbound, or Pipeline Problems; Should You Hire an SDR?
How are you tracking your pipeline’s success? If you are only looking at one quarter or two, you are missing the larger picture of the attribution. Most of the results are going to be 3, 4, 5, and 6 quarters later. Is it the SDRs, advertising, phone calls made, or conversations you’ve had? If you wait too long to look at where the pipeline is coming from and where it is weak, you may be behind by an additional three to six months at that point. Companies are cutting back on prospecting teams without fully appreciating the long-term effect on the pipeline. David Dulany, Founder and CEO at TenBound, joins Chris and Corey for the first in a three-part series on Market Dominance Guys. In this episode, you’ll hear why a vendor is like someone with one leg of a giraffe and the other of an octopus tentacle. How do you walk with those? Or is it like Wile E Coyote running into the tunnel the Roadrunner painted on the side of the road? Chris sums up this episode, “Failure to prospect today will turn future good times into bad times that are worse than today.” How will you avoid this position? Listen to “Prospecting, Inbound, or Pipeline Problems; Should You Hire an SDR?” to find out.
About David Dulany
He is highly-skilled and knowledgable in the SDR/BDR space. His training courses are personable, easy to understand, and most importantly- actionable. At a strategic level, he has the ability to effectively blueprint the entire Sales Development function. From there, recruit, hire, build, mentor, inspire and lead a team of Sales Development Representatives to exponentially grow new business revenue and new logo attainment for start-ups or more established companies.
He considers himself a lifelong student of this craft.
Tenbound is a Research and Advisory firm focused and dedicated to B2B SaaS GTM Sales Development Performance improvement. The Sales Tech industry has exploded over the past few years; however, expertise in the subject is still rare. Tenbound aims to uplevel the profession through cutting-edge research, high quality events, and highly practical online training programs for all levels of the Sales Development team.
Full episode transcript below:
How are you tracking your pipeline success? If you're only looking at one quarter or two, you're missing the larger picture of attribution. Most of the results are going to be three, four, five, and six quarters later. Is it the SDR's, advertising, phone calls made or conversations you've had? If you wait too long to look at where the pipeline is coming from and where it is weak, you may be behind by an additional three to six months at that point. Companies are cutting back on prospecting teams without fully appreciating the long-term effect on the pipeline.
David Dulany, founder and CEO at TenBound, joins Chris and Corey for the first in a three-part series on Market Dominance Guys. In this episode, you'll hear why a vendor is like someone with one leg of a giraffe and the other of an octopus tentacle. How do you walk with those? Or is it more like Wile E. Coyote running into the tunnel the Roadrunner painted on the side of the road? You'll have to tune in to find out. Chris sums up this episode. "Failure to prospect today will turn future good times into bad times that are worse than today." How will you avoid this position? Listen to Prospecting, Inbound, or Pipeline Problems. Should You Hire an SDR? Tune in to find out.
Corey Frank (01:35):
Alrighty, here we are again. Welcome to another episode of The Market Dominance Guys with Corey Frank and Chris Beall, the sage of sales, the prophet of prophet and my new favorite, Chris, the Stephen Hawking of hawking. And we are here today with David Dulany. David, we were creeping on your profile beforehand. Certainly, we've shared many of the same conferences, but I haven't had the courage enough to introduce myself. This is the first time for me. It's a thrill. Chris, I know you know David for a while, but David is the CEO and the founder of TenBound, which is a research and advisory firm. Certainly, David is one of those rare breeds you find nowadays, Chris, on LinkedIn, where you're not just a poster of content, you are a connoisseur and you are a practitioner. You cut your teeth at Act-On and Cisco and Glassdoor, so you know what you're talking about. And Chris and I on this show, the guests that we have, you have to know what you're talking about to get in the hot seat with the Market Dominance Guys. Welcome, David. Welcome.
David Dulany (02:37):
All right. Thanks for having me on. I'm excited. I've got a PhD in the school of hard knocks, so hopefully I can keep up with you guys.
Corey Frank (02:45):
You can certainly keep up with maybe Chris. We'll see. Depends how many fingers of scotch he has had. It is four. There it is.
David Dulany (02:52):
Corey Frank (02:53):
David Dulany (02:53):
Where's mine? Come on, guys.
Corey Frank (02:55):
That's a custom on the Market Dominance Guys. You have to have... I thought our producer may have got with your producer and crept you for the... So, a research and advisory firm, TenBound. Chris and I have talked about this a couple of times when we've talked with other folks in the research space, and I mean, this in all the endearment possible, but we always say, "Don't rely too much on research because it can be used like a drunkard uses a lamppost, for support rather than illumination." However, looking at some of the downloadable material, a wealth of material, the Gartner of the SDR space, I certainly appreciate the very narrow focus, the trade craft, the juicy nuggets of the SDR world because, as Chris says many, many times, the SDR, the cold call, that is the most athletic part of sales and certainly the most overlooked in a go-to-market channel. So, anyway, welcome to the program. And let's talk a little bit about what TenBound does as a research and advisory firm. And do you support the drunkards or is it more for illumination?
David Dulany (04:01):
That's a good way to put it. I'm happy to be the lamppost. Use it as you wish. From the get-go, we tried to make content that's useful and something that you can print out and have at your desk and actually use to figure out the problems that you're trying to work on. And five years ago, there wasn't a lot of great information for either the practitioner or the executives running an outbound or an inbound SDR team on how to do it and how to do it effectively. So, I had some experience in that and thought that this was a place where we could really help people and add value. And so hopefully peo,ple use it as a force of good versus just something to get a raise or convince the board of something, that type of thing.
Corey Frank (04:52):
Yeah, yeah. Well, Chris, since you've known David a little bit longer than I have, how do you see TenBound right there in prominent in the industry? Talked about everywhere, the conferences, et cetera. The research they do for SDRs, how do you see that really augmenting or raising the bar for what we need sales leaders, CROs, maand rketing folks to understand about inside sales and specifically about the BDR function?
Chris Beall (05:16):
Well, I think there's two things that TenBound's doing. One is by focusing exclusively on the sales development function, therefore on the top part of the funnel. And there's some question as to how far down you end up going, but it's, I'll say, up there somewhere. They're actually addressing the mathematical constraint of almost every business in the world. So, there's a lot of folks out there talk about sales, and what they really talk about is, "Hey, how you, the sales rep, can make more money." And that's really it. I mean, my friends at Outbound even do that. It's like, "What's the pitch?" The pitch is, you want to take home a bigger paycheck. That's the pitch. And then it's like, "Do this, do that or do the other thing and then be brave and strong and all that other good stuff and things will happen." I happen to believe that the math is clear. Fat pipes outperform skinny pipes for one reason, and that is they come with a portfolio effect that lets you, the company, make choices among who your customers are.
And they also allow you to go through difficult times with less stress on your business than folks who have skinny pipes going in. That is, a fat pipe is like a savings account. It's an asset. And that asset yields not obviously in good times, but yields hugely in challenging times, which are where competitions are won and lost. So, you want to find out which football team's the best? Go play in Green Bay in the winter, right? You'll learn a few things. I think that's super important. The other thing that's super important is the whole sales development function became real hot, and things that become hot go insane. And by insane, I mean, they actually lose their minds and you have a flood of money and attention and fads. And fads come and go, and you get what I call not just a breakdown of specialists, but a fragmentation of hopefuls. Everybody's throwing something out there. How many sales development tools are there in the world, David?
David Dulany (07:14):
We can tell you, yeah. Over 500. We have the market map for those. It has been crazy, for sure.
Chris Beall (07:21):
So, what David's doing at TenBound is providing a way to actually talk about that stuff while it's happening, but allow the practitioners over time to guide this into a useful channel. So, the stuff that works and the stuff that's useful actually will end up coming out the other end. And it's not a magical one-second process. It takes years. The third feature of David is, thank God he's willing to hang in there for years doing something that, as I told him... David, you'll forgive me for this, but David's in a business that's somewhat like this. It's got two legs. It's a two-sided marketplace. So, you have on one side you have all the practitioners and companies that SDRs and sales development heads and all that. On the other side you have vendors like us. And it's like waking up every morning and looking down and going, "One of my legs belongs to a giraffe and the other one is the tentacle of an octopus. Now, how am I going to walk today?"
David Dulany (08:16):
Great analogy. Yeah.
Chris Beall (08:17):
So, David, you've decided to do this. So, my question is this. I'll put it politely. What possessed you? Was it the giraffe side, the octopus side, or a vision of a giraffetopus that you had that possessed you to look down into what was either beautiful warm water with bubbles in it to dive into or a painting of the bottom of a swimming pool?
David Dulany (08:47):
It's like when the Roadrunner sets up a painting of the road and the coyote goes right in it?
Chris Beall (08:53):
Yeah. Why'd you plunge into the tunnel there?
David Dulany (08:56):
It's funny that nobody's ever asked me that. That's an interesting question. I had been sort of a wantrepreneur for a long time. A long time. Because I had been in the tech industry and in the working world for 20 years and always read about and thought about entrepreneurship as something that I wanted to do. And as you get older, you get the golden handcuffs. And I had the kids and the mortgage and all that stuff and it becomes harder and harder. But I had an opportunity because I got into two companies in a row. I won't name the names, but very difficult experiences from the get-go.
And I was in between things and I looked at this industry and you hit it right on the head. It's an exciting industry and it's growing and it's very complex. And I saw a lot of opportunity in helping the people on one hand that are trying to figure it out and then working with the tech ecosystem to try to connect them to the audience. And for me, it looked like a great opportunity. And it has been really every day in the last 5+ years that I've been running this, every day I've gotten up with interesting new challenges and it's been amazing. On the flip side, entrepreneurship is really tough and I've got a lot of scars to prove it. And my wife is still around, hopefully somewhere.
Chris Beall (10:25):
Is she over there? Are you waving to her?
David Dulany (10:29):
I'm hoping that. I hope so. It's an amazing experience and we could go in any direction there. But the industry itself, there's a lot of energy behind it and it's fun for me. And so here I am.
Corey Frank (10:41):
So, when you started TenBound... By the way, what does the name come from? I always like to ask, is there a story somewhere?
Chris Beall (10:48):
He counted his toes and then he realized, "Oh my God, they're going to be in my shoes. They're bound up. Oh my God."
David Dulany (10:53):
That was a good one. Yeah, it's funny. And people who know me have heard this, but-
Chris Beall (10:59):
[inaudible 00:10:59] Dead Monkey Handout. Good name.
Corey Frank (11:01):
Dead Monkey Handout.
David Dulany (11:43):
I'm still thinking of those two legs. That's such a great analogy, Chris. But the name, it was interesting because when I thought about outbound prospecting and all the things that we do in sales development, I wanted to call it AllBound because it encompasses everything. But that name was taken. And I was sitting in 10-minute parking at the BART station in Daley City and I said, "I wonder if TenBound is taken?" And also 10x your pipeline, right? By coming to TenBound. So, it was not taken, and-
Corey Frank (12:18):
I took it as 10 fingers to do outbound because you're doing this the old school way, right?
David Dulany (12:24):
Okay. Dialing manually. Yeah.
Corey Frank (12:29):
So, when you started TenBound, I bet you harken back to the first couple of pieces of content or interviews or research would be stuff or germane around the things that you wish you had when you were running those operations at Cisco or Glassdoor or Act-On. Is that a true statement?
David Dulany (12:48):
Yeah, exactly. I mean, the first couple of things that I came up with were a SDR 101 training program. And actually scratch that. Before that it was a SDR manager 101 training program and just a brain dump of everything that I would've needed as coming in as a middle manager. And usually they're promoted from an SDR to an SDR manager after six months. And it's like, now-
Chris Beall (13:20):
Then they get to be LinkedIn influencer shortly after that too.
David Dulany (13:22):
Oh right, right. That's it exactly. I followed that pattern, so exactly. So, that was just a brain dump. And that actually ended up becoming a book that finally we released last year, and it's gotten a good reception. It took way too long to write, but it's out there now.
Corey Frank (13:41):
Did you hear that, Chris? It took way too long to actually write the book.
Chris Beall (13:46):
Oh my God. For the innocent in the audience who haven't been with us for all seven episodes, this podcast is a lameass attempt to write a book, and so far we've got 160 episodes and no book.
David Dulany (13:59):
Oh my God. You guys, I wish I had the silver bullet there, but all I could say is you just got to grind it out, and it took way too long.
Corey Frank (14:09):
Yeah, we're having too much fun talking problems to death versus actually doing the research behind it. It's a different story.
David Dulany (14:14):
There you go.
Corey Frank (14:15):
No, one of the analogies, Chris, I don't know if you've ever talked with David, particularly if SDR manager and leadership and 101, but how about, let's talk about the surfer and the surfboard. We've talked about it several times in our episodes. But David, did you get this impression about how we see the world of an SDR and you coming from a very finely tuned mind on breaking down a methodology? But Chris, what do you think about that? I think David would be interested in hearing that.
Chris Beall (14:42):
Well, the analogy that I came up with, I was watching some people surf one day actually, and what can I say? I was in Southern California and I thought, "This is really interesting. Not one of those people out there surfing made their own surfboard." And if they did, they'd surf pretty poorly, even if they were good surfers. Because making a surfboard is very, very different from surfing. In a way they're unrelated, right? The expert at making the surfboard is drawing on 50, 60, 70, 80 years of tradition, knowledge, material science, what works in what waves. They've learned from masters. But the surfer has to learn to get on the board, use their balance, be courageous, get some artistry in there. And to me, in my narrow analogy, the surfboard is the script and the surfer is the SDR.
But I think there's a bigger analogy, which is that the surfboard is all that's being provided by management and the surfer is the SDR. In my analogy, my original one, it's not that the surfer is the SDR as a human being, it's their voice. The voice is what surfs using the script. But what do you think about that? Because management's job can be a lot of things. Helen Fanucci, my wife, wrote a book called Love Your Team: A Survival Guide for Sales Managers in the Hybrid World. Her view is it's all about the team because she starts from the proposition, they're not on your team unless they know what to do. But I think in the SDR world, we could start at the opposite end, which is they're on your team because they don't know what to do. And-
David Dulany (16:12):
That's a good point.
Chris Beall (16:12):
... hence starting with management training as your first offering. Well, as you think about that, first of all, does the analogy make any sense? Is it management's job to build the surfboard because they know how. If they were a rep three months ago, maybe they don't. So, maybe that's an issue there. But as you think about it, if that analogy is apt, what are the pieces that you think a manager should focus on providing so that their SDR team members can learn how to and eventually actually execute beautiful rides? The conversation is like the ride. It doesn't last long, but it's a thing of beauty when it happens and the audience goes wild.
David Dulany (16:54):
Yeah, it is. It's a good analogy. And I would go one step further, that a lot of SDRs are just sent out into the water with a foam piece and some epoxy and a cutter thing, and they're kind of floating around out there trying to actually shape and create the surfboard so that they can then get a ride. And it depends on the company. And if you're talking about a company that has a sophisticated pipeline generation program set up, then yes, they have a well-made surfboard and guidance and suggestion to go out and catch rides. But if you go to the other end of the spectrum with a startup, you're basically on your own, kid, and there's sharks in the water. You know what I mean?
And when people think about SDRs and pipeline production, I think they come at it with, "I have a problem. We don't have enough meetings on the calendar. The sales reps are not prospecting enough. There's not enough marketing inbound, and we don't have enough pipeline. What do we do? Boom, let's hire an SDR." And then they're, again, depending on the company, either supported or not, to be able to execute on the ride that they're on. And a lot of times they really struggle and come up short. And now in this economy, it's easy to look at that team and go, "Wow. I mean, we're paying a lot of money and paying for a lot of things for this team to be in place and they're not producing the pipeline that we need. So, let's cut them."
Chris Beall (18:31):
Yeah, I have a story about that from today, by the way. From today. So, I spent today, not the entire day but most of it, I also took a little walk down to Marination and had some kimchi fried rice with sexy tofu, as one should, but I spent the rest of the day working on showing one of our customers what their SDRs have actually produced. And it has some shocks in it. And I want to get your opinion about some of these shocking elements. So, here's the number one shocking element that I found. The outbound calling that this team did in 2021, so for those of you listening to this, this is now December 14th of 2022 is the date we recorded this, so in 2021 they had a team of about 12 people, SDRs, and they were using our product, ConnectAndSell. So, they're having a lot of conversations. But the basic impression that management had as they started to look into the future is, "Well, 2021 conversations create 2021 meetings."
So, I went and looked at the 2021 conversations and only looked at the pipeline generated from them in 2022. So, the conversation was last year, or the conversations. Some of them continued. The first conversation was last year, pipeline this year. They had produced, with 12 people, 56 million dollars of directly attributable 2022 pipeline from conversations that started in 2021. So, when you look at that, then this is about out of 98 million dollars of total pipeline created. So, the majority of the pipeline was created from conversations from last year. And yet I would bet the mindset of almost everybody listening to this right now is, "That's not how it works. You call or reach out on email or do something and you get a meeting and the meeting, it's linear. The meeting turns into an opportunity, blah, blah, blah."
But what we see in the real world is these very, very long positive tales from SDRs, and therefore when you fire your SDR team or shrink your SDR team, my opinion, and it was strengthened today, you actually don't know what's going to happen. You don't know how much your future is tied to the tail of what they're producing today, because you're looking for in quarter results, and yet most of the results are going to be three, four, five, six quarters later. Do you see that or am I just the guy with too many numbers in front of me?
David Dulany (21:04):
No. I mean, the charts behind you, right? Attribution is a really tough problem to solve. And knowing what really caused the pipeline to be established and to close, it's really tough. Because you could attach SDRs as one thing. You've got advertising. You've got phone calls that have made. You've got conversations. And so I think in the near term, if you're looking at your pipeline and it's unhealthy, you're almost three to six months too late at that point. That's the thing. With everybody cutting back on these teams and not having anybody doing any prospecting, I think it'll be even scarier in the first couple of quarters because now there's nobody prospecting. And it's like, you think your pipeline is bad right now? Think about it. If you don't put any energy into this activity and it takes three to six months, to your point, to really see the progress being made, then the Q1, Q2 of next year is going to be pretty scary.
Chris Beall (22:08):
You made me think of a phrase. Failure to prospect will turn future good times into bad times that are worse than today.
David Dulany (22:17):
Yeah, exactly. And it's like, "Okay, well what can we control right now?" I think it's taking a step back and looking at your pipeline production process from strategic level and recalculating and putting emphasis back into it versus just cutting the team.
To leave or reply to comments, please download free Podbean or
To leave or reply to comments, please download free Podbean App.