In our second 10 Minute Series, I was fortunate enough to interview David Dulany, founder of Tenbound and one of Silicon Valley’s Sales Development gurus. With over 15 years of experience in the sales industry, David shared some valuable business and life lessons with me. Regardless of what industry you work in, you will find it highly relevant and will definitely take something away from it!
P.s – if you are looking to build out or turnaround your sales development program, David is running the second annual Sales Development Conference on the 30th August 2018 at The Ritz-Carlton San Francisco! To find out more and register, click here.
- Tell us about your role and how you got here? What pushed you to work in a sales-related industry?
I was running sales development programs in Silicon Valley for about 7 years and before that, I sold sales training and consulting programs for about 7 years. So I’ve been in and around this industry for a long time. 2 years ago I went out on my own and started a company called Tenbound. We specialize in sales development – top of the funnel, outbound programs, and inbound lead qualification. We do consulting and training for sales development teams that are setting up their sales development program or trying to get it back on track. We do research and advisory to help them in that process and then if they need training, either for the managers or the reps, we can also provide that. We offer our services primarily in the Silicon Valley area but also all over the country (US).
- How do customers benefit from using Tenbound?
Right now, there’s not a lot of expertise on sales development in the marketplace and we offer an additional ‘brain’ to help them stay on the right track with their sales development programs. If teams are looking for the latest research and advisory on sales development, we provide that value to them.
- How is Tenbound different from other sales consulting service companies?
We are very niche in the sales development space. We don’t try to pretend to understand how to close deals, run demos, how to do customer success or manage all the other parts of the sales process. We really laser-focus on sales development and all the different aspects that it takes to run a high performing sales development program. But again, we really focus on that niche and because of this, customers feel comfortable that if that’s a problem that they have, we aren’t going to be talking about other parts of the business that aren’t relevant to them.
- What are some of the pain/pressure points you encounter on a daily/ monthly basis?
One pain point that I run into on a daily basis is dealing with the vast amount of opportunities in the marketplace. Currently, in this industry, we are in such a progression – a kind of sustained boom that’s been happening for a number of years. I think it makes prioritization and focus really tough because there are so many shiny objects out there that you want to run after. I would say that this is a really good problem to have because you don’t really know what is going to happen in the next few years, but it does make your prioritization a lot more dissipated.
Another pain point that I encounter is finding and keeping talent. The whole process of recruiting, onboarding and keeping people interested in such a thriving and dynamic marketplace is really tough to keep the top people around. It’s a war for talent, even here in San Francisco! There are a lot of people in the industry but I really find it a real pain point to find and keep those good people.
- How do you try and overcome these pain points?
In terms of focus and prioritization, I think it is really important for leaders to understand their strengths and weaknesses and really double down on their strengths and try to find people to help them shore up their weaknesses. The reason I say this is because my strength is identifying opportunities, finding the latest trends, networking and connecting with people. I am not as good at prioritization and focus as I should be and I have been lucky enough to find a business partner who is extremely good at those things and is able to help me focus and prioritize. The ying to my yang.
And on the talent side, there are a lot of factors. You have to work on your employment brand. Making it ‘cool’ to work at your company and having great people talking about how good it is to work for you and putting their stamp of approval on working with you. If you don’t have that, you’re kind of an unknown company and it’s really hard to find that top talent. That’s why the big companies here spend so much money on offices, fun events, and corporate culture because they know that with positive word of mouth, it’s an upward spiral. So even if you’re a small company, thinking about your brand reputation and building on that is one way that will help alleviate this pain point.
- How do you prepare for a sales meeting?
I sold sales training for 7 years and I’m still working on it! But I have a book that I go to that’s been around for a long time, and I pull it out before each sales meeting and review it again. It’s called “Perfect Selling: Open the Door. Close the Deal” by Linda Richardson (which is funny because she ran our rival company when I was selling sales training!). But it’s a very clear, concise structure that does a really good job to ensure you hit all the right points in your sales meetings.
- What’s your smartest work related shortcut or productivity hack?
I’m going to recommend another book! I’ve started to use this system called “The Miracle Morning: The Not-So-Obvious Secret Guaranteed to Transform Your Life: Before 8AM” by Hal Elrod. He breaks down 5 steps that you should try and do every morning in order to set yourself up for success and have a good day. It’s not easy! It involves getting up really early in the morning (I know that’s tough for some people), and it’s taken me a couple of months to start the habit – but it has helped me tremendously (again) with the focus and prioritization for my day. Getting everything positive before the kids wake up, the emails start coming in and the day gets blown up, at least I know I have been able to complete the foundation for my day.
- In your POV, what is the most important thing a salesperson should be doing in order to have a successful relationship with his/her customers?
I actually teach this in the sales development training that we do. Before you master all the bells and whistles of the product that you are selling, spend as much time, if not more time, really understanding the world of the people that you are selling to. Their vocabulary, their job roles, their job descriptions. Understand what experience it takes to get a job where they work, and all the different things that they are going through so that you can have some sort of understanding of their world and what the context of your product is within it.
What I see a lot, and it’s really bad, are people getting into sales and learning all about their product. And they get a PowerPoint deck and they just start showing people decks and demos, and from the buyer’s side, it is so boring and irritating to keep track of the differences between all the products – it really doesn’t help you as a salesperson at all. But if the salesperson knows anything about me, what I’m dealing with, my pain points – that’s what I want to talk about as a buyer. And then you can have a really good relationship with someone and end up selling a lot more. Doing it the opposite way just doesn’t work anymore and I’m surprised at how many people still sell like that.
- What are you currently reading?
A book called “The One Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results” by Gary Keller. It’s something that is so counter-intuitive to the way we live in 2018. It’s a very simple concept to understand, but it is very difficult to implement on a daily basis. Basically, it boils down to there being ‘one thing’ that you could be doing in various aspects of your life – whether it is your business, in your relationship or with your health. It is about really focusing on it with the hoped outcome that it will have a domino effect on other parts of that particular part of your life. For example, with your business – there’s ‘one thing’ that you can really work on and it will help or even eliminate a number of other things that you are spending a lot of time doing. And so it’s identifying that ‘one thing’ and then setting up your calendar in a way that really helps you to focus on it. This distinguishes between the people that are too busy and going crazy from the people that are tremendously productive and actually have a life.
But as I said, it’s really hard to implement! First, you have to read the book, then you need to identify what your ‘one thing’ is (in the certain aspect of your life), then understand how much time you are spending on this every day, and then finally, trying to increase doing it.
- What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
I have two pieces of advice:
The first is, take 100% accountability for everything in your life. Everything. Even if there are things that you have no control over and things that happen to you. Because 100% accountability gives you 100% control of your attitude about things. And your attitude is really the only thing that you have control over in life. Never blame, never point the finger, never go down that negative path. Take responsibility for what you can control, which is your attitude.
The second is that this is it – right now. This is your life. This moment is all that there really is. The past is an abstraction – a learning process that took you to this point, And the future is also an abstraction because you really have no idea what is going to happen. All you know, is this current moment. And when you think of it like this, that the past is your education and the future is unknown, you can really take a lot of control and have a lot of gratitude for this current moment that we have right now. And you have so much power in the moment that is now. And as a human species, we spend almost all of our time in the past or the future that we forget that actually, this is our life, right now.
- What advice would you give someone who decided to strive to be a founder/for a CEO position?
It depends. If you’re in your twenties and starting out – you have so much time ahead of you. Try out as many things as you can to find something that really gets you excited – that makes you want to wake up early and not go to bed. Try out a bunch of different things that doesn’t necessarily look good on your CV – just try it.
If you’re going to found a company, you’re going to need to know a little bit about a lot of things and you’re going to need to know how to prioritize and delegate to competent employees. So again, get your finger in a lot of different aspects and go ahead and start something. The market will tell you if there is anything there or if it’s not working.
- Tag the one person in the industry whose answers to these questions you would love to read
David Dulany has built high-performance Sales Development programs for Glassdoor, OpenDNS, Infer and Act-On Software. At Tenbound, he helps companies start, optimize and turn around Sales Development programs. For more information, visit daviddulany.com and tenbound.com.
On August 30th, 2018 David is hosting The Sales Development Conference at The Ritz-Carlton San Francisco. This conference brings together VPs, Directors and Managers of Sales Development, along with SDRs, Marketers, C-Level Execs, Owners and VC’s for a day of learning and networking 100% focused on Sales Development with the top minds in our industry.
The conference will include general session presentations, fireside chats, and panel discussions lead by world-renowned Sales Development experts. Anyone involved in Sales Development will gain tremendous value from attending.
As the only conference dedicated 100% to Sales Development, The Sales Development Conference provides a unique opportunity to learn, grow, connect and move our practice forward. Be part of the movement!