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From Zero to Sales Hero: Technical Founders' Blueprint for Outbound Success

· 14 min read
Roy Firestein
CEO at

Are you a technical founder struggling to crack the code on outbound sales? Do you find yourself more comfortable debugging code than dialing for dollars? Fear not, intrepid entrepreneur, for I have the blueprint to take you from zero to sales hero. In this post, I'll share the hard-won lessons I learned while building a high-performing business development representative (BDR) team from scratch. Get ready to level up your sales game and watch your startup soar to new heights.

Do I need an outbound process?

I will not spend much time on this question, but it is important to assess if your product, market, and pricing justify the investment in an outbound process. Generally, you do not need a BDR team if:

  • Your product is B2C
  • Your product costs less than $10,000 per year

BDR Management

With the decision made to build an outbound process, let's dive into the key components, starting with BDR management.

If the company's budget permits, the first step in building a BDR team is to hire a BDR manager. This person should have experience in building outbound processes and managing BDRs. The BDR manager will be responsible for hiring and training the BDRs, and developing the outbound process.

But in a startup, the budget may not permit that. So the sales leader or CEO will have to take on the responsibility of building the outbound process. If the CEO does this, they will have a significant advantage when hiring a BDR manager because they will have a clear vision of what they want, and all the processes and tools will be in place. However, remember never to give your first BDR manager (or any new leader for that matter) free rein to do whatever they want in the first 100 days. Coach them, review their work, and ensure they are aligned with your vision.

Hiring BDRs

With management in place, the next critical step is building out the BDR team itself.

Hiring and training an effective Business Development Representative (BDR) team is crucial for generating a strong sales pipeline, but it requires significant time and effort to do it right. The key is not only to find eager candidates but to provide them with the proper training, motivation, and team structure to excel in the role. When hiring BDRs, it is important to understand that most view the position as a stepping stone to becoming an Account Executive (AE). BDRs that want to stay in the role long-term are extremely rare.

The best sources for BDR candidates tend to be:

  • Recent college graduates, especially from schools with sales programs
  • Sales training bootcamps and schools
  • Referrals from your company's employees (this provides a character reference)

However, finding BDRs is the easy part. The real challenge is teaching them to be effective at the role and motivated to perform. Without proper training and a strong team culture, you will face high turnover and a poor quality pipeline. The first few hires are the hardest, but things get easier once you have a core group of performers to build around.

Sales Training

Once you have your BDR team in place, comprehensive training is essential to set them up for success.

While it may be tempting to assume BDRs already know how to prospect and sell, this is often not the case, especially if you are hiring recent graduates.

The BDR manager should take the lead on training, but the sales leader and even the CEO should be actively involved as well. In the early startup stages, the founders have the deepest knowledge of the product, market, and customers. Their insights will be invaluable in teaching BDRs how to uncover pain points and position the value of your offering.

The training curriculum should cover a wide range of topics, starting with the basics of solution selling and then layering on more advanced techniques. Role-playing exercises are a great way to get the reps comfortable with asking probing questions, handling objections, and moving the conversation forward. Call reviews are also critical for providing feedback and helping the BDRs continually sharpen their skills.

Establishing a regular training cadence, such as weekly sessions, will keep the concepts fresh and create a culture of ongoing development. As the team grows, pair a new hire with a high-performing BDR to shadow calls and learn best practices.

Remember, sales is a discipline that requires continuous coaching. Even experienced reps need reinforcement on the fundamentals. Make training a priority from day one, and your BDRs will develop the confidence and competence to engage prospects and fill the pipeline with qualified opportunities.

The Main Objective

With a trained team in place, it's crucial to ensure everyone is aligned on the primary goal of the BDR role.

Recall the concept of active need vs. latent need from our previous discussion. It is like an iceberg, with active need being just the tip poking out of the water.

However, most of your potential customers are in the latent need stage beneath the surface. They are aware of an issue but are not actively searching for solutions yet. If your BDR dives in without a solid grasp of selling, they might accidentally encounter a few active need prospects near the surface. But to truly exceed your sales goals, you must teach them to uncover those substantial latent needs hidden in the depths.

Landing a few demos may provide a temporary sense of accomplishment, but if your team focuses solely on those quick wins, your pipeline will quickly become depleted. The real success lies in BDRs mastering the art of digging deep, asking the right questions, and illuminating those hidden pain points. That is where the true revenue potential resides.

I know this from personal experience, as I too have been guilty of chasing surface-level demos. However, once I realized the true objective of a BDR is to uncover accounts with the exact business problems we solve, everything changed. So dive in, intrepid sales leader, and ensure your team is equipped to explore the full depths of your market. Your future self and your quota will thank you.

Account Strategy

To effectively uncover those latent needs, BDRs need a well-defined account strategy.

Let's discuss account strategy, as this is where the magic happens. Your BDRs need to be mini-detectives, mapping out the key players in each target account. It is not about simply blasting out generic emails. They need to develop a real strategy to generate opportunities.

BDRs should gather intelligence from multiple people in an account to put together the full picture. It's like assembling a puzzle. They need to talk to different individuals to understand the complete situation and landscape.

I want my BDRs to have a funnel of accounts they are working on. They should be rating and categorizing these accounts based on whether the need is active or latent and the timing. As a manager, you need to check in to ensure your BDRs are actually building out this funnel. It's crucial.

Have your team rate accounts with a system, perhaps a 1-5 scale, on the need and timing. Then track if they are building a healthy pipeline of future accounts that are in the latent need stage. This is where the real skill comes into play. In summary, coach your BDRs to be strategic. Teach them to map out key stakeholders, gather information from multiple sources, and categorize their account funnel. It takes work, but this is how you set your team up for consistent success quarter after quarter. Account strategy is where the BDR game is won or lost.


In addition to a strong account strategy, the tone BDRs use when engaging prospects is equally important.

Tone is one of the most critical skills for a Business Development Representative (BDR) to master when speaking with prospects. The right tone can make the difference between a prospect opening up about their problems and needs or shutting down and ending the conversation abruptly. The key is for the BDR to use a curious, non-threatening tone as if they are a doctor trying to diagnose a patient's ailment. They need to decrease the sales tension and not come across as emotionally attached to making a sale.

Some examples of how to do this:

  • Use a softer, lower tone of voice when probing about problems. Do not pressure them to admit issues.
  • Act out of genuine curiosity and interest in their situation, not with an agenda to push your product.
  • Make it clear through your tone that you are not emotionally attached to the outcome of the call. You are simply trying to mutually discover if they have the problems you solve.
  • Avoid repeating questions or pressuring them. Ask once in a casual way and listen carefully. Repeating questions undermines the easy-going tone.
  • Refrain from labeling it a "sales call," which puts prospects on guard. Position it as an exploratory conversation.

In summary, by using a doctor-like tone of genuine curiosity focused on the prospect's problems, the BDR can get the prospect to open up and share crucial information. Coming across as emotionally detached from the outcome decreases the sales tension and defensiveness. Mastering this disarming tone is an advanced skill that separates great BDRs from average ones. But with training and practice, BDRs can wield tone as a powerful tool to build pipeline.

Sales Methodology

Underlying the account strategy and tone is a solid foundation of sales methodology.

Let us discuss sales methodology, as this is where the rubber meets the road. You must teach your BDRs the foundation of selling, or they will be lost. Solution selling is the core methodology that everything else builds upon. SPIN selling, challenger sale, BANT—these are all variations of solution selling when you break it down. Your BDR manager should own teaching this to the team, but as the sales leader, you need to be involved as well.

Do not simply hand it off completely.

Some key things to cover:

  • The solution selling framework and steps
  • SPIN questions (Situation, Problem, Implication, Need-payoff)
  • Challenger sale techniques
  • BANT qualification (Budget, Authority, Need, Timing)
  • Discovery questions (L1, L2, L3 - getting progressively deeper)

There is much more to cover, but that provides a solid foundation.

I have another post with my favorite sales books and resources I recommend checking out for a deeper dive. The important thing is ensuring your BDRs understand the methodology and how to apply the techniques at each stage. Role-playing is crucial for this. Do not just lecture at them—have them practice and provide feedback.

Investing the time to thoroughly train your BDRs on sales methodology is worthwhile. Having a team that knows how to properly qualify, discover needs, and sell value will make a world of difference in your pipeline. Do not skimp on this step.

Email and Call Scripts

Finally, let's discuss the tactical elements of outreach: email and call scripts.

Avoid using automated sequences for important target accounts. Personalized, relevant outreach should be used for significant target accounts. BDRs should send emails and make calls that are personalized, relevant, and concise.

Outbound Calls

When making outbound calls to prospects, the key is to sound like you are not emotionally attached to the outcome. You need to get to the point quickly and respect their time. If they are not interested, that is fine—simply move on. Do not waste your time trying to convince them.

Here is an example call script:

BDR: Hi, is this Anton?

Prospect: Yeah.

BDR: Anton, you're gonna hate me. This is a sales call. Do you have 30 seconds? Or would you rather hang up right now?

Prospect: Okay. Yeah. Fine.

BDR: So, I know you're a property manager and companies like you usually experience a problem with too many chargebacks. Or they have solutions that are not delivering as promised. Or they just don't have any solutions and do things manual and it's costing them time. Does any of that sound familiar or am I off base here?

Prospect: You know what? Yeah. That sounds familiar.

BDR: Great. So out of the three, is it the chargebacks, the manual work, or solutions not delivering? Which one?

Prospect: It's the chargebacks that are the biggest issue for us.

BDR: Got it. So if we have a solution that can help reduce those chargebacks, would you be open to a quick 15 minute chat to discuss it? If not, no worries at all.

Prospect: Sure, I can spare 15 minutes to hear more.

BDR: Fantastic. I'm going to follow up with an email to schedule a time that works for you. Keep an eye out for that. Talk to you soon!

Notice how the BDR kept it casual but stayed on point. They demonstrated they had done their homework on the prospect's company and industry. Then they presented a few relevant pain points to see if any resonated. Once they identified that hot button issue, they positioned a quick exploratory call to learn more—without a hard sell for a demo. The key is making it about them, not you. Show you have put in the work to understand their world, but do not come across as a desperate salesperson. Keep it conversational and make it easy for them to agree to a chat if they are intrigued. That is how you capture the attention of a busy prospect on a cold call.

Outbound Emails

Email outreach should follow a similar approach to calls—personalized, relevant, and concise.

For email outreach to target accounts, use a short personalized opening line referencing their company or role. Then concisely state the problems you solve, provide a customer example for credibility, and end with a soft call-to-action to discuss their situation. Keep the email to 3-5 sentences maximum so it can be easily read on a mobile phone. The goal is to pique their curiosity enough to agree to a conversation to uncover their potential problems and needs. Avoid pushing for a demo or assuming they need your solution.

Here is an example email script:

Hi Anton,

I briefly spoke with Jim in your organization and it sounds like you may be experiencing some challenges with excessive chargebacks and time-consuming manual work in your property management processes.

We specialize in solving these exact issues for companies like ABC Property Group, EFG Residential and XYZ Rentals.

The reason I'm reaching out is to see if it would make sense to have a quick 15 minute chat about your current situation to determine if we might be able to help you resolve those problems as well.

I'm happy to share more details on how we've assisted similar companies, but I don't want to assume our solution is a fit for you.

Let me know if you're open to a brief introductory call and I'll give you a ring. If not, no worries at all.



The key is to make the outreach about them, not you. Show you have done your homework, but do not be emotionally attached to the outcome. Provide a simple way to move forward with a conversation if they are interested. This personalized approach will get the attention of busy decision-makers.

The Bottom Line

In conclusion, building a high-performing BDR team requires a comprehensive approach that addresses all the key elements we've discussed.

Building an outbound sales process from scratch is no joke, especially for technical founders who are more comfortable with code than cold calls. But with the right team, training, and tools in place, you can turn your scrappy startup into a sales powerhouse.

Remember, your BDRs are the lifeblood of your pipeline. They're the ones out there every day, pounding the pavement and spreading the gospel of your product. Treat them well, invest in their success, and watch your revenue soar.

So what are you waiting for? Go forth and conquer the world of outbound sales! And if you ever need a pep talk or a shoulder to cry on, you know where to find me. Happy selling!