This is the letter that many SDRs want to write to their CEO or execs:

To My CEO:

Hi. It's me your SDR. I'm taking a break from my required 50 dials and 100 emails today to write you an important letter.

My goal is to ask for your attention.

Will you come take a look at the details of my job and how our companies does outbound?

I might be new to the workforce, but I know how scarce executive & board attention is. After all, I spend my days asking our target buyers to give me 15 minutes! But, I'm confident that this is worth your time.

I know that you're seeing the metrics. You love the CAC payback. You can drag the spreadsheet columns forward and see it scale each quarter.

But we need your attention a level deeper. Our machine is starting to look a lot like everyone else's machine. And it's tearing a path through our market that could have consequences. Consequences for me and my peers, but more importantly, consequences for our brand and customer experience that will impact our long term goals.

I'm not saying we're in trouble. But, there's another gear we can reach. If we can hit that gear, we can run laps around the competition. We can deliver a differentiated customer experience from the beginning. We can leverage the massive workforce investment in SDRs to drive even more results. And we will not only drive meetings, but we'll build the foundation for our brand in the long-term.

But the thing is, we need your attention down here to shift into that gear.

I'd love to share more. Are you free for 15 minutes tomorrow?

If you're still reading this, I'll assume that you were not eat by an Alligator.

Regards,
Your SDR

How I Got Here

I spent 2 months going from CEO to SDR.

While doing the job, I realized that outbound and the sales development function needs more attention from CEOs.

The people on the ground already feel it. That's why I believe many SDRs, SDR managers, and outbound marketers would like to submit the letter above.

The point of my faux letter is not that SDRs are attention deprived millennials.

The point is that sales dev and outbound deserves attention from the highest level.

Disclaimer: I have no skin in this game. I nothing to sell to CEOs or SDRs or financial incentive for you to care about outbound. I just got really interested in this world. And, I was impressed by so many young SDRs and the people leading the movement. When I see remarkable outbound, I get pumped. I want more of that in the world. So I want to see more attention on the craft.

Why Should CEOs Pay Attention?

It's bigger than cost per meeting.

Two things are happening in most B2B companies:

  1. More and more of the touchpoints that buyers have with your business are coming from your SDR team. The frequency and scope of outbound is growing and this is changing the way buyers experience your brand.
  2. An increasing percentage of your workforce are SDRs. The model typically scales with people and it's leading to a large shift in your employee population.

When you add it up, there's a massive impact on your brand, customer experience, and employee experience. It's a qualitative, long-term impact that can't be measured in cost per meeting or CAC payback.

Every CEO who I've met cares deeply about brand, customer experience, and employee experience. The great CEOs seem to sweat the details on this stuff.

Outbound deserves that treatment.

How Does Outbound Compete for CEO Mindshare?

Here's my question for CEOs looking at their priorities: How does the time you spend on outbound compare with other activities that impact brand, customer experience, and employee experience?

  • Your analyst pitch deck? You probably spend hours reviewing your Forrester story.
  • Your last website redesign? You probably had final veto rights for every word on your homepage.
  • Your company culture deck? Certainly you were one of the authors.
  • Your product on-boarding flow? I bet you got in the weeds with your PM team to make sure it was perfect.
  • The press release when you raised funding? I know put your hands on that one.

Let's go with the press release as a point of comparison.

Your press release probably gets read by a couple thousand people. Maybe a couple hundred of them are potential customers.

Let's say you have 50 SDRs, working 100 contacts per month. That's 15,000 people touched in a quarter. If you follow the "typical" model, each prospect is getting AT LEAST 10 touches via phone, email, social, and direct mail.

That's 150K touches in a quarter. It blows away the press release in potential to either destroy or differentiate your brand.

I'm willing to guess that the investment of attention is not proportional to the impact for most CEOs.

Why Aren't CEOs In The Details?

I think the lack of attention boils down to results - the results are too good.

You can keep cranking the machine without inspecting the details.

Aaron Ross published Predictable Revenue in 2011. Maybe the attention to outbound started earlier, but for me that's when it arrived in my consciousness.

Then a bunch of things happened:

  • Contact data just kept getting cheaper and cheaper. You can now get anyone's email and phone number.
  • AEs started looking sideways at our inbound & content leads and asking us to go on offense and flip the funnel (aka ABM).
  • Sales acceleration tools came into the market. Using Outreach.io first hand as interim SDR I realized how much this changed the game.
  • We got auto-dialers, connect and sell, and tons of tools to make SDRs more efficient. Oh and AI hasn't even fully arrived yet.
  • And of course, VCs continuing investing in SaaS and giving companies permission to have an 18-24 payback.

Put all these things together an you get a pretty attractive CAC! So most companies went 'ham scaling SDRs and cranking the machine.

Now everyone is doing it. And for the most part, everyone is following the same playbook down to the details.

For example, these subject lines are beyond familiar now to any B2B buyer:

  • Quick question
  • Are you the right person?
  • Can I get 15 minutes?
  • Were you eaten by an Alligator?

The channel is quickly getting saturated. Differentiation will be required soon. So why not elevate the conversation and get ahead now?

How Can CEOs Engage?

A little attention will go a long way.

If CEOs give some love to the details, the craft, and the people on the frontlines, I believe the impact will be immediate.

I think there are 4 easy wins to get engaged:

  • Ask for qualitative data. You already get a deck full of metrics - cost per meeting, activity, connections, pipeline, and CAC. Add some opt-out emails, some positive responses, and some sample call recordings. Get a feel for how customers are responding to the specific tactics your team uses. Put your finger on the pulse of the SDR and buyer exchanges and you'll probably get inspired.
  • Be the buyer. Put your phone number and email into the machine. Every CEO has been on the receiving end of both great and poor outbound. When you receive crappy outbound, that company's position is forever diminished in your mind. When you receive exceptional outbound, that company's position is forever raised in your mind. See how it feels to go through your process.
  • Ride along. Sit on some prospecting calls. Look over an SDR's shoulder for a couple cold emails. Or, spend a day in the training program with your latest class of SDRs.
  • Try it. I'm not suggesting that you should be as weird as me and do the SDR job for 2 months, but I'm sure you would enjoy a couple hours. And based on what I've seen, your team would be super motivated.

SDRs, if you like these ideas, then I bet you could sell your CEOs on at least one!

Could Outbound Be Your Competitive Advantage?


While the machine is working today, I'm guessing there is another gear you can hit.

In that next gear, outbound goes beyond next quarter's pipeline. It can be a differentiator for your brand. It can make your customer experience memorable for buyers years before they spend a dollar on your product. It can lead to a unique experience for the massive group of young reps entering your business.

Take a look. It will be worth your attention.

And, you just might fall in love with the craft like I did.

Adam Schoenfeld
Adam Schoenfeld
Adam is CEO and Co-Founder at Siftrock, data geek, golfer, and breakfast enthusiast. He is passionate about data, marketing, and creating simple solutions to big business problems.
Published Tuesday, January 30th 2018