An Interview With David Dulany: How to Build and Continue to Develop a Rockstar SDR Team

By: Teresa Weirich

November 26, 2018

David Dulany, Founder and CEO, Tenbound

After cutting his chops selling sales training programs for more than seven years, David Dulany decided he wanted to make a change to the tech industry since he is based in San Francisco.

“Early in my career, I joined Glassdoor and set up the sales development team there,” David said. “There really weren’t any resources or support available on the SDR side, so it was a lot of trial and error. It was incredibly eye-opening to be on the ground floor of a team like that, and I quickly saw a need in the marketplace that focused on the people and processes of the sales development world.”

David was able to take that idea and turn it into Tenbound, a research, development, and advisory service for SDR teams. He now delivers program assessment, strategic consulting, and training resources to SDR teams and leaders. In the following conversation, he talks about how culture can make a difference, offers best practices for SDRs, and shares an example of a truly unique SDR interaction.

We hope you enjoy the following conversation with David!

What are some company culture traits that can improve your SDR processes?

It all depends on the company, but I would start by looking inward. It’s important to bring your company culture to your team environment, but also establish a unique culture based on your leadership style and the team you want on the ground. Sit down and brainstorm some cultural attributes. Think about the people you admire, how you want to lead your team, and what other successful people at your company are doing. Write down a list of 5 or so attributes, and then really use that list. Make this list a part of how you make everyday decisions. Use it in the job descriptions, meetings, and processes so it’s always top-of-mind.

What are some of the most common coaching tips you share with clients?

I always tell clients to devote at least an hour a week to training. It’s important to continuously grow your team’s skills. From a coaching perspective, try to block off a weekly one-on-one with reps for mock calls and role play. This will help reps learn how to use the training you’ve provided them on the spot. It’s important that reps can make mistakes in a safe environment for a judgment-free experience. This is actually one of the training programs we offer through Tenbound.

When it comes to training, all SDRs need product training, but beyond that, I always start with the buyer. It’s about being fluent with the buyer, in his or her persona and pain points. The biggest mistake I see is when SDRs make their message completely about themselves and their product but they don’t take the time to actually figure out what their prospect is trying to accomplish. If they did, they could craft their message and customize the product to their unique needs.

How can SDRs prove value, pique curiosity, and break through the noise?

Start by going directly to your marketing team or even to your CEO and ask for persona profiles. Once you know who you’re reaching out to, you can confidently build persona-based campaigns. It’s not enough anymore to spray and pray by sending the same message out to 5,000 people. Try to focus your campaigns on the individual needs of your personas and really hone in on the problems they’re trying to solve. Then, you can build sequences that hit on a specific problem in each message. Start sending resources and educational content before even making a mention of a sale. People don’t need products, they need help. You need to turn yourself into the person they turn to for this help.

How can SDRs overcome monotony and set themselves up for success?

Know your energy levels and block your day accordingly. Identify the times when you are ready to crush it and those times when you’re in a slump. Schedule the hardest part of your day when you’re most mentally awake and be ready to hold yourself accountable during these high-energy times. Your easier tasks, like research, should be saved for when you’re in a mental slump.

Additionally, it’s important to own your morning. You have complete control of your morning, and I know I sound like a dad, but I’ll repeat it – own your morning! This is the quietest time of the day before people start coming into the office. Be deliberate about your morning. Get up early, have some quiet time, exercise, journal, organize your to-do list, and have a healthy breakfast. Try to get to the office before everyone else so you can get a head start on your day. Start out by crushing the hard stuff so when people start trickling in, you’re already ahead of the game.

What’s an example of a great SDR process that’s stood out to you?

I’ll call out a guy named Kevin Chambers at Whova who is my personal SDR hero. When he was prospecting me, he did his due diligence and saw we had a conference coming up. Since his software helps with conference logistics, he started sending me useful articles about conference and tradeshow best practices. Eventually, he asked to set up a meeting, but only after establishing a valuable online relationship. He was industrious, never gave up, and we ended up working with them. It was definitely memorable in the best way.

Do you have any resources you can share with our readers?

My original SDR bible is Predictable Revenue. It’s been out there for a while and is a true go-to of mine. I also look to Gary Vaynerchuk for amazing sales advice. Another great book for SDRs is called Economical Growth by Chris Pham. He built the SDR team at Mulesoft and his book is packed with tips about running a sales development team.

I also would suggest the Sales Development Conference, hosted by Tenbound. It’s the only conference of its kind dedicated solely to SDR teams, and it’s a place where people can geek out on sales development. You can learn more about the 2019 conference here.

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    Teresa Weirich

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