How to build pipeline – part 5

I read Trish Bertuzzi’s book ‘The Sales Development Playbook’ and it was by far one of the best sales books I’ve read in a while.  The book focuses heavily on building pipeline with SDR teams.  This is the fifth post I’ve wrote about this book: there was so much good information that putting it all in one post would be too long.  Below key excerpts from page 161 to the end.




Reps are giving up too quickly.  Studies have found that it takes between six and ten attempts (including at least four by phone calls) to properly prospect a given contact.  The absolute bare minimum number of attempts to contact at least 50 percent of your lead is 6. The average rep’s performance? Between 1.7 and 2.1 attempts before they give up.


Use different methods.  In addition to executing a multi-touch cadence, reps need to vary the media they use. This should include the following:

  1. Voicemail
  2. Email
  3. Other (ghosting*, texting, social media)

*ghosting is calling a prospect, hoping to catch the live, and not leaving a voicemail.


Voicemail and email are equally important. Voicemail and email together are twice as impactful as all the rest combined.  To create pipeline, your reps need to use the phone. An over-reliance on email leaves them with pen pals – not prospects.


Cadence.  Kyle Porter, CEO of SalesLoft, certainly knows about cadence. In fact, his company built a product that help sales development teams execute prospecting. Kyle shared SalesLoft’s 7×7 cadence which includes seven attempts for each new prospect over a span of seven days. The pattern follows:

Day 1- Reps send a personalized email in the morning. Later that day, they’ll reach out via phone and either connect with the prospect or leave a voicemail.

Day 2- It’s a phone call with no voicemail.

Day 3- Another call with voicemail in the morning and then one more call in the afternoon without voice mail. So in the first 3 days, we’ve got 1 email, 2 voicemails, and 2 no-voicemails.

Day 4- It’s another email.

Day 7- Reps sends a final email and try to be original and human. Sales Loft has found humor to be very effective in this touch.


SalesLoft has found that for their market seven touches in seven days works best. For many of my clients it is nine touches in fifteen days. Don’t get hung up on the numbers, you will find your unique formula with trial and error.


Show familiarity.  If you want prospects to listen, your reps have to first show that they’re interested in them. One way to do this is to demonstrate relevancy. For example, your reps could reference something happening in their industry, with their role, at their company, or that they shared in an interview or on Twitter.  Prospects don’t care that your reps made two other attempts. “Haven’t heard back from you after my last call” and “Following up on my recent email” aren’t good enough reasons to call again. Each message should build on the previous and offer something new. Referencing previous attempts wastes precious airtime and often comes off as hostile.


Don’t be deceiving.  Never let reps leave deceiving messages. Too often, I’ll catch reps leaving vague message like “Dana, Pat Smith here. Just have a quick question for you—555.432.1212” or being flat-out dishonest and saying they were referred by the CEO when they weren’t. It may work: reps may get more callbacks. But you’re setting a precedent that will have future implications.


Time is limited.  It is my personal belief that reps shouldn’t take up the beginning of their voicemails saying their name and company name. It wastes valuable real estate, and it makes them sound like everyone else.


Quota.  Since 2007, the average percentage of reps at/above quota (in my research) has bounced between 63 percent and 74 percent. You should also make use of ramped quotas for new reps. Let’s say you determined that quota will be twelve qualified opportunities per rep per month. A ramp-up plan might look like this (see figure 32.2):


NEW SR RAMP 4 7 10 12

Figure 32.2 – Sample four-month ramping quota


…on average, 49 percent of company revenues are sourced by sales development groups.

<$5M 61%
$5-19M 62%
$20-99M 53%
$100-249M 49%
$250M+ 40%

Figure 32.3 – SDR-sourced pipeline by company revenue


No Contact.  An account shouldn’t be marked “no contact” until at least two prospects have said no (or not responded).


The handoff.  Prior to the discovery call, your SDRs need to hand off the lead/opportunity to the account executive. Effective handoff requires calendaring a meeting, introducing all parties, communicating next steps, and setting an agenda for the discovery call.  I am a firm believer in the SDR participating in the discovery call. There is no better training experience than live listening. The reps are able to hear how their account executive counterparts move.  You might object that this takes them off the phone. Yes, it does. Get over it. You should be thrilled that another member of your organization is assisting in developing the skills of your reps.


Next steps.  Closing out a discovery call without a confirmed next step is just a waste, so have a process in place to make sure it does not happen and trach those outcomes.


Metrics.  The Activity metrics you’ll want to measure include the following:

  • Total activities per day
  • Inbound lead response time
  • Attempts per lead
  • # of prospects per account

These are the metrics that leaders can manage and reps can control. Telling reps, “Hit your number; I don’t care how you get there,” is great bravado and terrible management. Informing your reps that x activities will lead to y outcomes and drive z results is real leadership. The Objective metrics you’ll want to measure include the following:

  • # of connects/connect rate
  • # of quality conversations/rate
  • Email response rate
  • “Bad data” rate


The best metric.  I believe that number of quality conversations is one of the most important indicators of rep proficiency. Does a given rep have the ability to arouse curiosity and launch a conversation with a prospect? Or is the rep being shut down and kicked to the curb form the get-go?


Measuring emails. You can also use email response rates as a proxy for messaging effectiveness. I prefer to use reply rates (there are several technologies that can supply this). Email open rates are less valuable (and notoriously unreliable).


No shows.  If you are setting introductory meetings, the cruel truth is that no-shows are a reality. A no-show rate of 15 percent to 20 percent is normal. Any more than that and you should evaluate whether your reps are sparking curiosity or badgering prospects to accept meetings they don’t ever plan on attending.


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