Accelerate! Podcast – Accelerate Revenue By Aligning Marketing And Sales, With Darryl Praill

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Darryl Praill was recently a guest on the Accelerate! podcast with host Andy Paul. In this episode, Darryl talks about how getting Sales and Marketing to work together to generate revenue more effectively will be a trend in 2019. Is there sales and marketing alignment, or is it a turf war? Darryl has been a sales rep, a VP of Sales, and a CMO. He says the heads of sales and marketing must agree on the rules of engagement and understand their own roles. Listen in to learn what the rules are and how you can apply them to your sales and marketing strategy.

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Not in the mood to listen? No problem, you can read the transcriptions below.

Host:  Andy Paul, The Sales House

Guest: Darryl PraillVanillaSoft


Andy Paul: It’s time to accelerate. Hey, friends. This is Andy. Welcome to Episode 699, that’s six nine nine, of Accelerate, the sales podcast of record. How’s everyone’s week going so far? Well, we’ve got another excellent episode for you to take things to the next level for you. Joining me today is Darryl Praill. Darryl is the CMO, Chief Marketing Officer, of VanillaSoft, and today we’re gonna talk about how to accelerate your revenue growth by more perfectly aligning the efforts of your sales and marketing teams. Now, Darryl comes to marketing by way of sales, so his opinions on the whole subject may surprise you just a bit. And by the subject, I’m talking about sales and marketing alignment, which some label as a key or hot sales trend of 2019.

Andy Paul: Now, Darryl’s gonna share his three rules of sales engagement for sales and marketing leaders, and more than anything, these are about defining expectations, which is a useful thing to do in any relationship. We’re also gonna dive into one of the topics that is like the third rail of sales these days, which is who should have responsibility for proactive out-bound lead gen? In other words, who should SDRs and who should BDRs report to? Should it be Sales? Should it be Marketing? Well, you definitely wanna hear this. And we also talk a little bit about maybe it’s just time to blow the whole thing up, knock down the silos, completely redefine the roles and responsibilities in sales and marketing to more perfectly serve our customers. After all, that’s what we’re here for. So anyways, stick around. We’re gonna talk about all that and more.

Andy Paul: Now, before we get to Darryl, I wanna take a quick second to talk about The Sales House. That is, the sales education community for B2B sellers. Now, as sellers, we don’t have control over a lot of the things that have an impact on our jobs, whether that’s our products, pricing, features, customer success. But what we can control is how we conduct ourselves in front of our buyers, and how we invest in making ourselves better at how we do that. Get better at how we connect and build rapport. Get much better at how we engage the interest of buyers, how we build trust, and how we deliver value that inspires buyers to wanna do business with us.

Andy Paul: Now that’s the focus of The Sales House, to enable sellers with the knowledge, the skills, the confidence, and the acumen to become the very best version of you. So invest just 10 minutes a day, just 10 minutes a day of your time in The Sales House, do that for an entire year. You’ll never really worry about hitting quota ever again. So come become the best version of you in The Sales House. Visit That is,

Andy Paul: All right, let’s jump into it with my guest today, Darryl Praill. Darryl, welcome to the show.

Darryl Praill: Thank you, sir. Good to be here, man.

Andy Paul: It’s great to see you. Happy New Year. We are recording this at the beginning of the year.

Darryl Praill: Happy New Year to you, as well.

Andy Paul: You look like you have your holiday decorations behind you, as a matter of fact.

Darryl Praill: Yes. Our studio has the cinematic red curtains.

Andy Paul: That’s right.

Darryl Praill: Which some people suggest may present an alternate … I don’t know what it is … alternative revenue stream during the evening recording hours, and we’ll leave it at that. But I like to think it’s dramatic.

Andy Paul: It is. It is. I like that, as opposed to my not-so-carefully-constructed backdrop here.

Darryl Praill: But I can see your bicycle in the background, there. It looks like … Are you a cyclist?

Andy Paul: Yes. Yes, I enjoy it. And yeah, that is one of them.

Darryl Praill: Have I stumbled across a possible problem you may have?

Andy Paul: Yeah. Yeah. I was trying to … I think we were talking about this before we start recording, the various problems I have. Bicycling being one of them.

Darryl Praill: We all have our vices.

Andy Paul: Yes, I have mine, and you have yours. Let’s just probably not go there. Finding the ideal backpack, travel backpack, that’s the other one.

Darryl Praill: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Andy Paul: So. Yeah, I think I have more backpacks than my wife has purses, so … Which she’s let me know about several times.

Darryl Praill: Wives are good for that, I have observed that.

Andy Paul: Yeah, yeah. She keeps me in line. Well, we’re gonna talk today about sort of the evolving roles of sales and marketing relative to generating revenue. And you and I have spoken about this a little bit in the past, but I really think this is a trend … I think in this evolution, it’s one of the big trends, I think, or will be one of the big trends in 2019 and beyond in sales, is not necessarily establishing the dividing line between sales and marketing, but really just how do they work together more effectively, and perhaps in non-traditional ways as we look going forward? What are considered non-traditional ways to capture the customer.

Darryl Praill: That’s a fantastic idea. Let’s have that conversation.

Andy Paul: Let’s do that conversation. Okay. So I mean to me, it’s interesting. I sit in meetings with CMOs of big companies, or CROs, and I remember this one CMO I was speaking with of a fairly good-size company. Came right out and said, “You know, if it wasn’t for Marketing, Sales wouldn’t close a thing.” And … And I thought, “Well, okay. That’s an interesting point of view to take.” But she was dead serious. They sold large enterprise accounts, and not only considered marketing an integral part of the effort, but actually considered it perhaps the most decisive part of the effort. So there’s this sort of two flows we’ve got going on of sales-marketing alignment, how do we work together, versus this idea that there’s still sort of this turf war out there. So how do we being to reconcile some of that?

Darryl Praill: Well, a couple things. On behalf of my marketing peers, let me apologize on behalf of that young lady. When I hear those comments, when I hear marketers say, “Yeah, if it wasn’t for marketing, you guys wouldn’t do nothing,” that tells me that that marketer has never ever carried a bag or made a cold call. That’s what that tells me, because they don’t … That tells me they just don’t … They simply do not understand the role of sales.

Darryl Praill: So I can tell you how I tackle it, because early on in my career, I also had these disconnects when I was … Because I’ve, as we’ve talked about before, I’ve done both. I’ve carried the bag, I’ve been a sales rep, ultimately I’ve been a VP of Sales twice in two software companies, but my passion is marketing so that’s where you see me today is a CMO. And so I have a unique insight into both sides of the coin. But I did struggle with this as a young marketer, I struggled with this. And I had a lot … Let’s just say I had a lot of conflict. I had Heads of Sales who would just steamroll me because they were like, “Marketing’s useless. I do this all my own.” And they were as moronic … In retrospect, they were as moronic as the young lady you talked about in the marketing role, equally biased and naïve, never had done marketing.

Darryl Praill: But I figured it out eventually. It’s actually not that hard, but you have to be intentional. So this is what I do, and since I started doing this, and I’ve done this in numerous jobs, and I’ve given this advice to many other colleagues, it has made my life so dramatically better. So what I do as a marketing person … And it doesn’t have to be Marketing, Sales can do this too, but the point is is that the two people responsible for revenue, which is usually your Head of Sales and your Head of Marketing, need to sit down and hash out a few things. So this is what I say when I sit down with my colleague.

I figured it out eventually. It's actually not that hard, but you have to be intentional when it comes to #sales and #marketing alignment. ~ @ohpinion8ted Click To Tweet

Darryl Praill: I’ll say, “Let’s … Can we agree to the rules of engagement, how you and I are about to engage, so we understand our roles?” It’s no different than a military battle, an example, or as a professional sports team. We all have assigned roles, and the other players on the team have expectations that you’re gonna do your role. If you do your job and I do my job, then we should achieve the goal. So let’s just put it out there. And so there’s a couple basic things. Rule number one I always say is: What percentage of … So it’s called leads …. leads that are created by the organization, in the umbrella term, are you expecting Marketing to source versus Sales to self-source? Said another way, inbound leads versus outbound leads. All right?

Darryl Praill: And that always prompts a great conversation. If he expects a hundred percent coming from marketing, or she expects a hundred percent coming from marketing, that’s not what I’m expecting, so let’s tackle that discussion. And we may need to get more people involved. Could be a CEO, could be somebody else, but let’s have that conversation. In my mind, it’s kind of 50/50, I firmly believe. Or maybe even 60/40. And I would go 40 percent marketing, 60 percent sales. But we can have those conversations. That’s the first thing. Next thing is, I would say, “Okay, so we’ve determined the split.”

Andy Paul: Right.

Darryl Praill: “Let’s go the next level down. So I’m gonna give you these leads, these 50 percent of the leads. Great. How do you, sales colleague, define a lead? What are you expecting from me?” And this is really important, because a lot of people are just making assumptions. They just assume a lead that you know that I think of a lead as having X characteristics, and therefore, you must as well, and that … So that always prompts a great conversation, and it really has varied. Like you know, I’ll give you an example. Here at VanillaSoft, when I have this conversation, my counterpart, Scott Amerson, simply said, “If you give me a lead that they’ve filled out a form for a piece of content, and the content is relevant to what we do, that’s a lead. I’m done. Give it to me. That’s a marketing-qualified lead.”

Darryl Praill: For other organizations, they say, “No, no, I want … I wanna score them. I wanna grade them. I wanna make sure they’ve been there a dozen times and they’ve done multiple touches, and only them do I wanna take them.” That’s fine. Just figure it freaking out. So the classic case is, “Do you need to know just name and title, or do you need to know the industry, do you need a company size, revenue size, number of employees, certain pain points …” And I understand that the more criteria you need for that lead, the smaller volume I’m going to give you, because a lot of people are going to bounce on those forms.

Darryl Praill: So that’s the first … So what do we agree in the split and how do you define a lead? So that’s kind of me as a marketer passing it off to the sales colleague to say, “This is what you expect of me. Now, let me turn the tables on you. This is what I expect of you, which is when I give you a lead, I expect you will call them or contact them within X minutes, hours, days.” And that always sparks an interesting conversation. And then, “I expect you will physically make X number of touches over a time duration,” which always … Which is … Said another way, is a cadence or a playbook or a sequence. And then the last thing I would say is, “I expect you to call every single lead I give you, and not just arbitrarily say, ‘I called 20 percent, I’m assuming the other 80 percent suck.'”

When I give you a lead, I expect you will ✅ contact them within X timeframe, ✅ make X number of touches, and ✅call every single lead. ~ @ohpinion8ted #SalesCadence #SalesPlaybook Click To Tweet

Darryl Praill: So those are the rules of engagement, and when we have those rules of engagement, we document it and make sure all the stakeholders, including the executive management team, know that so that whenever there’s any kind of discourse at that weekly executive review of the case guys and the progress, we can fall back on that. And also, because we can hold each other accountable in private, which every meeting … The meeting before the meeting, before we have the executive meeting, we’re having our own meeting to say, “Are we in alignment here? There should be no surprises.” And then that drives the dashboards that we both respectively make.

Darryl Praill: When we do that, we have those, again, recap. Kind of like, “What’s the split on leads? How do you define a lead? When will you call a lead? How many call attempts will you make on a lead? And you will call all of my leads.” When we do that, that goes 90 percent of the way to eliminating any of that misalignment. If you don’t do that, then of course you’re gonna have misalignment, because it’s just like a husband and wife, a Mars and Venus. It’s sometimes you think you’re talking about the same thing, but you’re drastically not. It’s not with malice, it’s not with ill intent, it’s just you’re talking about different things. So that’s been the secret to my success. My life has gotten so much better since I’ve done that, and I see so many people still not doing that.

Andy Paul: So let’s go back to a few of those items and look at them in more detail. So when you’re establishing the split, in terms of what percentage is real estate for marketing to develop versus … So inbound versus outbound. What do you base that on? Is that based on historical data, what you’ve done typically? What are the factors that go into it? Because I know that, yeah, there are certain elements in sales that say, “Look, the only good lead is the lead Sales develops,” as you’ve surely experienced that. Which obviously is foolish. So what’s that conversation typically look like, or maybe give people advice on how that conversation should go in terms of how you establish that split?

Darryl Praill: Well, that’s a bit of a black art so to speak, right? Because candidly, you can look at … There are metrics. You can go look at organizations like Gartner or SiriusDecisions, which is now part of Forrester, and others who have benchmarks in these kind of things. So yeah, you can go to other sales organizations like the AA-ISP, et cetera, and they all have stats on this. To me, that’s a starting point. The numbers are fluid. If we look at the case of here at VanillaSoft, historically, the vast majority of our leads, the vast majority of our leads, were inbound generated. And as the company has grown aggressively, we try-

Andy Paul: The vast majority meaning of the deals that closed?

Darryl Praill: Yup.

Andy Paul: The vast majority originated as inbound leads?

Darryl Praill: Correct. So-

Andy Paul: You’re saying like three-quarters, 90 percent … ?

Darryl Praill: Yeah. 80 percent plus.

Andy Paul: Okay.

Darryl Praill: All right? And that’s only because the Sales team composition was maturing. Let’s go with that. It was maturing, right? It was a little bit of legacy, a byproduct of a different time, and it’s also a byproduct of the company growing … Let’s say the company growing, I don’t wanna say cautiously, conservatively. Conservatively, right?

Andy Paul: Sure.

Darryl Praill: So VanillaSoft hasn’t raised millions of dollars. We’ve been self-funded. We’re highly profitable and we’ve got a great install base, but when you’re self-funded, bringing on a Sales individual who might make six figures or more is a big investment, whereas you bring in somebody who makes maybe a third or 40 percent of that salary, and they’re basically just an order-taker, you can scale a lot more. So and then therefore the company’s profitable.

Darryl Praill: So that’s cause-and-effect, so now, of course, we’ve moved aggressively to grow in the last year or so, and the team make up the Sales team, make up roles, responsibilities, SDRs, AEs, everything else dramatically changed along with the associated costs in that account. But now there’s an expectation on both sides. In other words, if I’m gonna pay somebody six figures a year, I expect you to be a kick-ass hunter. And if you’re just gonna be taking the leads that I give you and just close them, you’re not adding any value. You’re not worth six figures a year.

Darryl Praill: So suddenly, does that mean, is it plus 80 percent coming from marketing, or is it now more 50/50? So how I’ve positioned it here in our conversation was I suspect initially … I’m sorry. I suspect ultimately we’re gonna get to a 40/60 split, 40 being Marketing, 60 percent being Sales. Maybe even 70/30 if something really ramps up. However, in the meantime, let’s shoot for 50/50, and let’s just spend the next year and see how that goes. So there is no arbitrary … I am gonna rephrase that. It’s somewhat arbitrary in how we’ve approached this, but we have set what I believe to be … I have the consensus and the team … reasonable milestones to say, “Yes, we should be getting to 50/50, because if our outbound Sales team is not contributing 50 percent of the revenue, then we’ve got some fundamental organizational flaws or training flaws or execution flaws on the outbound side.”

Darryl Praill: So by making that split and making it reasonable, but somewhat a goal, we are forcing the Sales team to execute. We’re giving them something to shoot for, and we’re gonna hold them accountable. Now, if he comes back to me and says, “Hey, Darryl, it’s been a year, and it wasn’t 50/50. In fact, it was 70/30, and it’s still 70 percent marketing as opposed to 80 plus percent,” okay, well we’re headed in the right direction. Let’s just sit down as a team and figure that out, because we do wanna get to 50/50. So to me, it’s just a line in the sand and we draw somewhat arbitrarily, but with some intelligence. And then we all agree to work on getting that. I’m not gonna hold my Sales colleague ransom if he doesn’t hit that number, but I do expect him to be accountable to that number, and to work with me to help him hit that number. So that’s the only way you can work as a team is if you’re all rolling in the same direction, for lack of a better analogy.

Andy Paul: Okay. So we’ve talked about the relative roles of …. You started referring to that specialization as is, so one of the trends we’re seeing increasingly is that really heading to that hundred percent, let’s say, marketing-generated leads, because we’re starting to see more and more the proactive outbound prospecting of the SDRs being under the control of marketing.

Darryl Praill: Yeah. Yeah. It’s funny. So a couple things going on there, Andy, which are kind of interesting. A couple things we’re seeing changed. We’ve noticed is … I mean, it’s been going on for awhile, but to me this really jumped off the page to me, coming the last half of last year, which is two things. I’m seeing SDRs do more and more marketing activities as opposed to … It’s called historical norms. That’s the first thing. And the other part I’m seeing is I’m seeing more … Because marketing owns the stack, in most cases, and marketing is already creating marketing-qualified leads, sales is kind of saying, “Just give us real leads.” In other words, we maybe even won’t have 100 reps, maybe we’ll have 50 reps, but you’re gonna give us a kick-ass lead. So, therefore, let marketing own the entire qualification process. So what does that mean? Let’s explain and break it down real simple. In any kind of organization, you kind of have marketing, then you have sales development representatives and then you have accounting stacks. Now I’m talking generic.

Andy Paul: Sure.

Darryl Praill: All right? And marketing will create a marketing-qualified lead, meaning they hit the high-level stuff. They wanna know name, title, industry, yeah, they’re in there. They pass it off to the SDRs, which is normally, historically, in the sales organization. SDRs take that MQL, and now they sales qualify it, and that’s where they might use a tool like a sales engagement tool like a VanillaSoft or other products out there, and they’re going to call right away, and they get that MQL, and they’re gonna make a dozen call attempts. They’re gonna mix it up between email and phones. And then they’re trying to get the person on the phone or in any kind of conversation, so they can do the classic qualification. I’ll use the example of BANT. You know, Budget, Authority, Need, Time. It could be any methodology you want. I’m not advocating.

Andy Paul: But first pass the qualification. Nothing details.

Darryl Praill: First pass the qualification.

Andy Paul: First pass the qualification, right?

Darryl Praill: So now we know that they’re sales-qualified, which means there’s a real opportunity here. They have budget. They have authority. They have a need. And there’s even a timeline. Okay, great. First pass. Now I’m gonna pass it off to the Account Executive, who is gonna take that, create an opportunity, typically maybe in their CRM, and they’re going to chase that to a win or a loss, but now that opportunity is part of the sales funnel. It’s part … It’s not forecasted, it’s the whole sales process. So really, those first two … Those first three steps, the MQL and the SQL, are all around qualification. It’s all around qualification. And we’re handing that off to Sales. So why don’t we keep that entire qualification stage together?

Darryl Praill: It makes no sense to split it up, because we’re just doing … I mean, what happens if the SDR gets them on the phone, and says, “Oh, you have a need, but you don’t have timeline.” Okay, so you’re not ready. Well, they’re just gonna throw it back into the marketing queue to keep on nurturing. So again, water going back and forth across this wall, let’s just keep that whole mechanism, the qualification, marketing-qualified, sales-qualified, together. And that’s what … So we’re … And we’re starting to see that. We’re starting to see that where that, now, just becomes the domain of sales. I’m sorry, of marketing.

Andy Paul: Of marketing. Right.

Darryl Praill: And marketing’s job is to generate and qualify leads and pass those qualified leads off to sales, where the Account Executive makes it an opportunity immediately, and chases it. And so …

Andy Paul: What I think … And I think it’s really important for people to understand here, because I think this confuses a lot of people, and in a bad way. And it confuses salespeople. So when you talk about marketing-qualified, sales-qualified, handing off a “qualified lead” to an Account Exec, that’s not a qualified buyer. It is a qualified potential prospect. And people just need to understand-

Darryl Praill: Exactly.

Andy Paul: … there’s still more qualification that needs to be done, it’s just qualified sufficiently to say it’s worth Sales’ attention and Account Exec’s attention.

Darryl Praill: That’s right. And that’s literally where the sales professional gets involved and earns their money. And like that CMO you mentioned, now we’re actually … Now we’re selling, and, “Do you have a need?” And they’re probing and they’re listening. And maybe you’re not the right individual in the end, even though you came through the marketing process to us. Maybe it’s your colleague, it’s your peer. But that’s where a salesperson really earns their keep and applies their skill and their expertise. You are nowhere near the negotiating stage, the proposal stage, where I hit that lead.

Andy Paul: Well, you’re at the beginning of qualification, as far as the discovery of qualifications, I call it.

Darryl Praill: You got it.

Andy Paul: So yeah, I … As we look at it as a trend, this, to me … This makes a tremendous amount of sense. I … Maybe I’m unusual in this regard, in terms of sales, but as somebody who’s spent decades in sales and spent the first few years of my career doing heavy, heavy, heavy in-person prospecting and so on, it … Yeah, it became clear to me pretty quickly, it was like, “This really is marketing. I’m creating awareness.”

Darryl Praill: It is.

Andy Paul: “I’m creating awareness with these prospects.” They, for the most part, weren’t aware of who the company was that I was selling or the products that we had, and as I sort of sat back and analyzed it, it’s like, “Well, yeah, theoretically, in an ideal world, this would be done through marketing.” I mean, it was clear even, like I said, decades ago. We had this disconnect that, yeah, sales is spending a disproportionate amount of their time basically creating awareness through prospecting.

Darryl Praill: Yeah.

Andy Paul: And for me, it makes a tremendous amount of sense to look at having it under the control of marketing, as you said.

Darryl Praill: And in fact, this is the part where it kind of even makes more sense now. I’ve made reference to the fact we’re seeing SDRs do more and more marketing, so let’s explore that. So why are we seeing that? Well, we’re seeing that because they’re using tools like VanillaSoft or other products out there on the sales engagement side which fundamentally automate a lot of the routine stuff. In other words, if there’s a sales email drip campaign as part of your nurture, that just happens automatically. The SDR isn’t even doing it, the system just does it for you.

Darryl Praill: So all of a sudden, the SDR, or the Sales Development Rep, is now focused on other aspects. In other words, they’re focused on, “Listen, I need to build my LinkedIn profile a lot more, be a part of the discussion, be part of the visibility, so that I can use that as an excuse to connect with these prospects during the cadence.” And part of that might be sharing content, they may wanna write some content. Part of that’s me appearing on other podcasts or other webinars, but I’m a Sales Development Rep. This is me building my own personal brand, so that when I reach out and try to connect with a marketing-qualified lead, that it’s credible. So they’re building their own personal brand.

Darryl Praill: The other part is they’re crafting their own messages now, so maybe they’re doing a LinkedIn connection request for example, right? And they’re trying to craft the right subject line and the right email body to connect and make sure it’s working. Suddenly, these guys are focused on, “What tips and tricks do I need to do in the subject line? How do I connect with them right away? What’s my call to action?” All of this is marketing, marketing, marketing. And I laugh, because now this never used to happen to me. In the last six months, I’ve noticed this. This is part and parcel of why I started to clue in to this change, is I would send an email broadcast, and when the irony is, of course, because we actually sell to sales and marketing organizations, because it’s a sales engagement tool, so the beauty of that is that I’m talking to other salespeople. And they would receive my emails, and I would get responses back from these people, and I’m not making this up.

Darryl Praill: It’s actually … It’s not for the faint of heart. Being a marketer these days is not for the faint of heart, because in this day, let’s call it of fake news and alternate facts, people are getting pretty unfiltered. And I get responses back saying, “This subject line sucks.” You know? “Who the hell wrote this email? You took too long to get to your point. Oh my goodness.” And then they would, every single time … This is the part I love as a marketer. They would say, “You know, I have an 80 percent overwrite in my sales engagement platform, and if you want my help to make better subject lines in emails, I’m here to help you.” And I’m like, “When? When did all of a sudden salespeople start trying to coach me on how to make better marketing content and marketing campaigns?” And then that’s when I knew it had changed. And that’s one more reason, in my opinion, because the SDRs are doing so much more marketing now. Branding, content, “How do I hook them? What’s my call to action?” They’re looking at their stats, “What’s-”

Andy Paul: Well, that’s the thing, is they have the data to be able to show them.

Darryl Praill: They have the data.

Andy Paul: Right.

Darryl Praill: And they’re competing with their peers. These are all marketing activities. Put them in the marketing team, where they can learn from each other. So that’s, to me, that’s the right trend. We’re actually speaking on this at a show coming up in London, and we’re gonna pilot a session. We’re doing a debate on who owns the team.

Andy Paul: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Darryl Praill: And we’re gonna have a … We’re gonna have myself, and we’re gonna have my Sales counterpart, Scott Amerson, on stage. And we’re gonna have them moderate it by a very vocal British-based influencer. And I’m expecting that to be … That’s gonna be on the main stage. We’re looking forward … I think it’s gonna have a lot of fun, a lot of laughter in the audience. People are gonna relate to it. But we’re doing it because it’s relevant. This is what people are struggling with now. And it’s funny, right? Because salespeople identify with being sales. They’re proud of being in sales. So you sort of put them in marketing and they go, “Whoa, Marketing’s evil.” So I’m not sure culturally we’re all there yet, but I think from our process point of view, it’s the right way to go.

Andy Paul: Yeah, well, I really wonder whether SDRs in many instances really consider themselves to be in sales anyway. Given that for a lot of companies, they really haven’t formulated a career track for the SDRS, that logically would lead into sales. It may often times, and on the show I’ve talked to people such as yourself, senior executives, and a lot of the paths they have carved out for their SDRs go into Customer Success, not necessarily to an AE and so on. So it’s not as if I think you’re actually … The expectation is across-the-board that you’re hiring people that you’re trying to groom to go into a sales function. But that doesn’t mean even if the SDRs report to marketing that you can’t be grooming them for a sales function.

Darryl Praill: And that’s … You make such a brilliant point, and for all you SDRs out there listening to this, take point on what Andy’s saying, because you don’t know what your career is. SDR is a phenomenal, phenomenal training grab, because you get exposed to the … Like we just discussed, you get exposed to a little bit of marketing, a little bit of sales. You start to understand the customer, you start understanding how to qualify, you start to feel the pain of your target audience. And you may determine that, yes, you wanna become an Account Executive some day, or you wanna become a marketer, or you wanna become a Customer Success person. Hell, you may even wanna become a Support person, who knows. But it is a fantastic role to get your feet wet and get into the game. I love the role. And people don’t give that enough credit, that you are fortunate enough to get exposed to everything in that capacity.

Andy Paul: Well, and I think part of that is due to the fact that too many sales leaders look at SDRs as disposable commodities that are gonna last 12 to 14 months, and they’re gonna bring in people to replace them. And it’s unfortunate, as I find too few companies, not that there aren’t any, but I find too few that really have the structured idea about, “We’re hiring high-potential people that we think have a role, undetermined, but it could be in Sales … As you say, Customer Success, could be marketing, and this is just a way we’re bringing these smart, talented people into our company, and this is the way they make a decision about where they wanna go, instead of, as many companies, do is, “This is cannon fodder. We’re gonna bring in. We’re gonna onboard them as quickly as we can, get them up to speed, and if they burn out after 12 months, oh well, we’ll replace them,” which I think is incredibly short-sighted.

Many #SalesLeaders look at #SDRs as disposable commodities that'll last 12 to 14 months, and then they'll replace them. And it's unfortunate. 😔 ~ @realAndyPaul Click To Tweet

Darryl Praill: I was at an event a few months back, and the Head of Sales for IBM … His name slips my mind right now, I apologize. He made an interesting comment. He goes, “You know, listen. 10 years ago, these people were called Inside Sales,” because you know, they were inside. And then he goes, “Around 2012 or so, they started transitioning to Digital Sales, because they were doing social and everything else.” He goes, “Today, they’re just called Sales, because that’s how it’s changed.” But you’re right. There is a lot of individuals out there in sales leadership roles that still have that legacy perspective and bias. And if you’re in a situation … You know, again, talking to SDRs who are listening to this where that’s where you’re at, that’s not … That doesn’t have to be your norm. So if you feel like you’re in a dead-end opportunity, and your boss isn’t grooming you for bigger and better things, that you’re just a disposable commodity, that doesn’t have to be your norm. And there are so many opportunities out there where you could take your skills and be valued and appreciated.

Andy Paul: Yeah, and I think for us, Darryl, is getting into the role. It’s important for them to sort of have a different mindset coming into it. Because it is a tough job, right? I mean, you’ve got these call metrics and contact metrics and everything else that you have to on a daily basis that you have … But it’s not too … I had the same thing when I started my career, it’s just mine happened to be I had to go out and make 40 calls a day in person.

Darryl Praill: I was the same way. I was selling photocopiers door-to-door, and you had to hit, I don’t know, 40 or 50 every single day in person. So you’re in the vehicle. I got the car loaded up with a variety of copiers, from the big-ass things to the little-ass things, and you’re hauling these things out every day, and you’re trying to sell them on the fly. And that was-

Andy Paul: Don’t forget our flip chart portfolios.

Darryl Praill: Yes. The flip chart portfolios. Yes. I love it. Nothing teaching you sales skills like walking up to some greasy mechanic in some strip mall saying, “Hey dude, do you wanna buy this photocopier?”

Andy Paul: Well, absolutely. Well, I tell people, my first sale ever, in my professional career … Because I started off selling women’s shoes in JC Penney. But in my professional career, I worked for a big computer company, but our entry-level people, we sold these antiquated desktop adding machines. And they’re about three times the price of what somebody could buy at a local office supply store, but my first sale was to a guy in a welding shop. And walking into the welding shop was … It was … Walls were covered with soot, it was dark black, the only thing I could see was the guy’s eyes when he was looking at me, basically, because he looked like sort of the pictures you saw of coal miners back in the old days and just covered head-to-toe. And I have no idea why he bought the calculator, but never if I hadn’t been out. It’s like the end of a Friday, and I said, “I’ll just make five more calls,” because I hadn’t had any luck that day, and got one.

Darryl Praill: And that’s … That is sales. And you know I … This is how I would position this. If you’re early in your career, you need to have the right mindset. You need to think of this as, for lack of a better word, an apprenticeship. You’re gonna have some-

Andy Paul: Which it is.

Darryl Praill: It is. It totally is. But people don’t always think of it that way. They think of it as a job 9 to 5, whatever, am I valued? No. You’re … Even when you don’t think you’re valued, even when you’re having a bad day, you’re learning something. And you’re valuing it, and it will pay so many dividends. Andy here you and I are talking about those tough early days we had where we realized, “Oh, if I make just that one more call,” and then, “And I bought it,” and “I’m in the guy’s world with the soot.” So now … That taught you perseverance, persistency, that taught you empathy, that taught you so much. Approachability, relationship skills, but you had to go through that process to develop those skills.

Andy Paul: Yeah, well I think one of the great thing with that … With all the tools that are available today, with the … We talked about the data, that SDRs get them, open rates and everything that comes through the platforms I use as well as tools like conversational intelligence tools, recording calls … It really has … To me, that does two things. One, it sort of accentuates this idea of sales as an apprenticeship, because you’re getting feedback. You’re suddenly not solely relying on your manager to be your mentor. As yes, they have that important role to do that, too, but you also get this independent source of feedback about the effectiveness of what you’re doing. So to me, it almost accelerates the apprenticeship.

Darryl Praill: Could you imagine going back in time for you and I and being in your car before you made that next call, and you get five more you want to do, and all of a sudden artificial intelligence is telling you, “No, Andy, you need to go to the welding shop before you go to the mechanic. While you’re in there, we’re gonna record the entire conversation so that afterwards, you can audit yourself and say you needed to listen more, drop so many “um”s and “ah”s, and this is where, when you made this benefit statement, that’s when they really reacted well, so now when you go to do these other four calls, you’ve got all this knowledge and information, you’re like, ‘I’m a rock star.'” I mean, what an opportunity today versus years ago.

Andy Paul: Yeah. Well, it’s like, I don’t think it makes it easier, but I think it gives you information to help you mature more quickly, which is really the key thing. It’s still tough talking to another person about buying something. That’s always a fraught conversation. But you come armed with more data, which hopefully steers you in the right direction more frequently, perhaps, than we might have done hit-or-miss in the past.

Darryl Praill: Totally agree. Totally agree. It’s a good time to be in sales.

Andy Paul: Well, it is.

Darryl Praill: It’s also a good time to be in marketing, by the way, just to let you know.

Andy Paul: Well, I think that’s implicit in what we’re talking about here today, is that they’re-

Darryl Praill: It totally is. Because they’re totally blurring now. That line, that overlap, has never been more confusing. When does marketing stop and when does sales begin? I had a debate with Dan Disney who’s a big social selling out of UK last year, and he’s like, “Social selling, social selling, social selling,” because it’s from the point of view of a sales rep, and I’m like, “You’re not selling jack crap. You’re doing social marketing. You’re brand building your brand. You’re creating content. You’re reaching out. You created expression of interest. No sales. No selling has taken place.” And that is indicative of that blurring line now that it does that.

Andy Paul: Yeah, it’s almost like we need a new terminology. I mean, it’s almost like we need to blow up sales and marketing, and sort of reconstitute things in a different way, because yeah, you look at large enterprise sales with account-based marketing these days, and much more of an integrated team approach to servicing the account all the way through the sales process with sales and marketing actively involved throughout the whole way is … A lot of the conventional definition of the roles just doesn’t apply.

Darryl Praill: Agreed. And I think it’s also what we’re seeing now, the emergence in the last couple years of the role of a Chief Growth Officer, which is often owning both sales and marketing. And we can have a discussion on the pros and cons of that approach, because I have opinions. But that said, that is an acknowledgment that both teams are necessary to generate the revenue that the company seeks.

Andy Paul: Yeah, and the way that we currently constitute it just maybe doesn’t make sense. Instead of-

Darryl Praill: Right.

Andy Paul: When you’re a marketing person, then you certainly say, “Well, gosh I have to report to Marketing?” It’s like, “No.” I know a company that’s multi-billion dollar company that has no sales function. I don’t think they have marketing function either. So they have no VP of Sales for sure I know. I don’t know if they have VP of Marketing. But they’re rapidly growing. I think they’re close to two billion dollars in revenue last year. But yeah, everything’s team-based.

Darryl Praill: Yeah, it makes sense. That makes sense. You’re all in it together for the same common shared objective.

Andy Paul: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Darryl Praill: Yeah.

Andy Paul: Yeah. And does it … I think sometimes with the way we set things up we sort of create these artificial barriers, just because that’s been the tradition, and I think that’s-

Darryl Praill: You got a big “Amen” from me on that one. That is … You nailed it there. You nailed it there. We’re all on the same team. That is huge.

Andy Paul: Yeah. Yeah. And I think that I would hope one of the trends we’ll see … And I see some companies doing it, like the one I mentioned, but others starting to sort of tiptoe in this direction, which is that we really have to have a more radical rethink of how we structure. Customer acquisition, how we compensate customer acquisition, how we measure the effectiveness and productivity of our customer acquisition. Because in essence, in most cases, the vast … 99 percent plus of the cases, we’re doing it the same way we’ve been doing it for a hundred years.

Darryl Praill: Yup.

Andy Paul: And … Which is nuts, right? Because look, I don’t have to tell anybody how much things are changed, how much they’re gonna continue to change. But what we’re seeing is, and you see the same reports that I do, is CSO Insights and others, Forrester, but it’s saying sales performance is dropping year over year. Productivity, win rates and so on, percent of reps closing or containing quota. Like, “It doesn’t need to be that way.” So if that’s the case given this wealth of technologies we have, like VanillaSoft and others, why aren’t we doing better, not worse?

Darryl Praill: Yeah. And I think a lot of is not everybody is quick to change. So even though you’ve got all these tools available to us and we hear about it because it’s sexy, whether it be sales engagement or conversational analytics or whatever it might be, don’t let the hype fool you and then always fool you, even though it’s … There’s a lot of noise out there, a lot of discussion about it, that doesn’t mean that there’s a lot of people using it still. People are sometimes slow to change.

Andy Paul: Yeah. Well, and I think the other thing though, too, is that people are using the technologies, and this is … And we’ll wrap up with this, because we’re running a little bit over, but … Is that I think the problem is what we’ve seen with the amazing influx of these incredible tools and technologies into the sales space and the marketing space as well, is that for the most part, companies are using them to serve automated, existing processes, as opposed to, say-

Darryl Praill: You’re right. Right. We’re automating our current bad habits, as opposed to re-imagining and reinventing.

Andy Paul: But …

Darryl Praill: Exactly.

Andy Paul: Right. How do we reinvent? And I think this is really the key to digital transformation in general, is that people think they’re digitally transforming just by bringing in these tools, where that’s not … That’s just putting … wrapping up in a bow as opposed to saying, “Yeah, we’re really … We’re gonna rethink everything about what we do and how we can use these technologies to really help us serve our customers better.” And if we do that, we’re gonna win more deals.

Darryl Praill: To me, though, I think it’s also … We are seeing … I think we are seeing a change now, you know? I think the millennials have brought a lot of fresh ideas, and they’ve brought … They’ve dumped some of the baggage, because they don’t wanna be like the previous generation, which I understand. And I think that’s societal as well. I look at US Congress right now, and I see a dramatic shift, shall we say, in the recent midterm, with the diversity and the policies that this next wave are bringing in, which is completely contrarian to historical norms. And so I … I think that’s just a snapshot of society, and I think sales and marketing is in that same boat. So as much as it hasn’t changed for a long time, I think we’re in a really unique time where the technology and the fresh ideas are coming together, and it’s an exciting time to be in this profession.

Andy Paul: Yeah, well I agree. A hundred percent. So. Well, Darryl, thank you very much. Tell people how they can find out more about VanillaSoft and connect with you.

Darryl Praill: No problem. So VanillaSoft, the world’s most established sales engagement platform. Check us out at, just like it sounds. As for me, you can find me, Darryl Praill, on Twitter as ohpinion8ted … Spelled a kind of funky way. Maybe just Google it … as well as on LinkedIn, and I’m prolific in both, often to the detriment of my getting stuff done during the day. So please reach out to me. Connect. I’d love to do that. That’s where all the real fun happens, so check me out.

Andy Paul: All right. Well, Darryl, thank you very much, and we’ll look forward to doing this again.

Darryl Praill: Take care, sir.

Andy Paul: Okay, friends, that was Accelerate for the week. First of all, as always, I wanna thank you for joining me, and I wanna thank my guest, Darryl Praill. Join me again next week, because it’s kind of milestone, it’s Episode #700. Hard to believe. 700 episodes. Joining me to celebrate the occasion will be Tiffani Bova. Tiffani is a growth and innovation evangelist at Salesforce, and author of a very interesting new book titled Growth IQ: Get Smarter About the Choices That Will Make or Break Your Business. So be sure to join us then. Before you go, don’t forget to check out The Sales House, that all-in-one sales education community just for B2B sellers just like you. Visit Thanks again for joining me here. Until next week, I’m your host, Andy Paul. Good selling, everyone.