Do you have a plan when you start your daily sales routine? Do you know who you’re going to contact, how you’ll contact them, what you’ll say, and how you’ll respond to their objections? Are you prepared for battle? One does not simply enter the world of sales without having a plan in place. Planning is critical for SDRs, and too many of them are going into battle without a plan, and they’re dying on the battlefield as a result.

On this episode of INSIDE Inside Sales, Darryl brings in Kevin Kelly, Co-Founder of Pace Digital Solutions to discuss the importance of creating a solid plan. From the mindset we need to begin with and covering areas such as the pre-call stage, call execution, and post-meeting documentation. Darryl and Kevin also discuss how to be intentional, and offer suggestions to help you drill down, sort your objectives, and create a solid plan for success!

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

Host:  Darryl PraillVanillaSoft

Guest: Kevin Kelly, Pace Digital Solutions


Darryl Praill: Hey there folks, it’s Darryl Praill with VanillaSoft here for another episode of Inside Inside Sales. The only show where we talk the meat and potatoes, the tactical points of execution that helps you, the sales development professional become a better, more successful, more impactful sales rep. We don’t talk vision, we don’t talk strategy, we just talk tactics.

Darryl Praill: Our outcome, if we are successful, you will have learned something today that you can apply tomorrow and be a rockstar next week, next month, next quarter. That’s our goal here at INSIDE Inside Sales, and we’re off to it. I am, if you’re hearing a lot of the background noise, guys, I am actually at the AA-ISP Leadership summit. If you heard the last episode, you knew I was there as well. So, the beauty of these summits is that you have a lot of really smart people in one place for a short period of time, and if you’re smart, if you’re calculating, you can get them all on your show in one fell swoop.

Darryl Praill: So, I have done exactly that. Joining me today is Kevin Kelly. Kevin is the managing director of Pace Digital Sales. He’s based out of the UK himself, the accent may give it away. He is a multinational organization serving clients across the globe. Kevin, welcome to the show.

Kevin Kelly: It’s great to be here. It’s great to be in Chicago first of all, and it’s magic to be here as well. Obviously with you.

Darryl Praill: The question is, am I what makes it magical?

Kevin Kelly: Well, I was downtown Chicago a couple of days ago and that was pretty magical I have to say. I love Chicago, I love the town, I love the city, but to be part of this is great and you’re kind enough to invite me here and it’s fantastic.

Darryl Praill: Yeah but you were like pleading with me, following me everywhere saying “Please Darryl, can I please be on your show?” And eventually, you wore me down.

Kevin Kelly: This is absolutely correct, but you’re the king of LinkedIn, right? I need to get to there as well.

Darryl Praill: All right, for context, just so our audience kind of knows where you’re coming from, talk to us about what Pace Digital Sales does, and then they’ll know if you’re really one of them, or you’re just a pretender. Are you real? Or are you a pretender?

Kevin Kelly: Okay, so my history has always been a practitioner in Inside Sales. I’ve always been interested, I’ve been attending these events for the last five years, and we built a consultancy model two or three years ago to help support inside sales grow in the UK and in the US. In particular in the UK. So this made us go into different companies and really just help and build their inside sales models. And off the back of that, we had a few clients say “this is not something we want to do, can you do it for us?” So, by default, we set up a business plan and pretty much put our own SDRs in place, and we have a lead generation team, inside sales team, all based in the UK now.

Kevin Kelly: It’s only been up and running I’d say eight months, but really looking forward to it and this is what we do for a living, and this is what we love doing for a living, because nobody else loves to be in this area of sales. In my opinion, I think it’s the hardest, but it’s also the most rewarding, and that’s in that SDR space.

Darryl Praill: How long have you personally been involved in the SDR world?

Kevin Kelly: I think I’ve been involved and interested in SDR since I had the inside sales division for Pitney Bowes, American Multinational, and we built the team in the UK and Europe and supported the US in that as well. So I would say go on about 10 years now. It’s this passion of mine. I think we’ve got a lot of work to do with SDRs and that role in the UK if I’m being brutally honest, it’s a high profile role here in the US, a very credible role. But in the UK, if I’m being honest, we’ve still got to move the bar, we’ve still got to give these guys the respect they deserve, and dare I say it we need to remove them away from being second class citizens because they’re not. They’re highly professional, and we need to give these boys and girls an opportunity I think.

Darryl Praill: And that’s so true, I know we talked about this yesterday, you and I when we were together. It is interesting the cultural differences. If you’re listening and you’re not aware of this, Kevin’s point is valid. There’s a different mindset about the profession in the UK than there is in the US. But I would contend the US has only evolved in the last three to five years to be embracing it as more of a significant real professional credible important role in the company. And I think a lot of that is just because in days of yore, inside sales was often thought of as telemarketing, right? Because real salespeople went and visited the prospects and did the pitches and they were outside sales reps.

Darryl Praill: The role of the outside sales rep has gone the way of the dodo, it just fundamentally doesn’t exist anymore, whereas now, inside sales, no matter if you’re selling a multi-million dollar product or something that sells for just a few simple dollars, everything is done with virtual meetings, it’s done online, it’s done on socials, it’s done on phones, it’s done on texts, and there’s really not the same need to be face to face. The organizations have adapted and now it’s gone from being, if you will, inside sales to just kind of sales.

Kevin Kelly: Yeah, I agree.

Darryl Praill: Why do you think that is? Why has that not changed yet in the UK?

Kevin Kelly: I think it’s changed in certain elements. I think we’ve had great companies, and I mean really great companies like SalesForce, LinkedIn, Microsoft, all these, IBM, all these great companies traditionally have moved and built a lot of their organization from inside sales. SalesForce is a big one in particular, right?

Darryl Praill: Absolutely. And they don’t come to your house, they do it all on the phone and they do it by email.

Kevin Kelly: Absolutely. Even when they’re renewing contracts, they still do that pretty much on the phone. I think the traditional UK companies have pretty much-been door knocking. They’re very much a case of this face to face mentality. And I think they struggle to trust somebody on the phone to be able to drive their revenue here. But I take you back to a point you made, and I think it’s very important we recognize this, is when we start to look at video, for instance, and video conferencing …

Darryl Praill: As opposed to video and email.

Kevin Kelly: Absolutely. And I give a personal example for me, last week, 15 minutes, talked to a chapter president in Toronto, within 15 minutes, and I’m having a conversation like I’m face to face with you right now. So, let’s be honest …

Darryl Praill: That was on a video call?

Kevin Kelly: It was a video call.

Darryl Praill: Like Zoom or whatever.

Kevin Kelly: Yeah, it was on Zoom. And to me, inside sales is face to face. It’s just the UK haven’t got up and running with this yet. Some have, some have adapted, but I also think as well when you have, and you’ve lived the world for field sales and you’ve lived in that world, you want to hold onto your job, right? You want to hold onto your …

Darryl Praill: Yeah, your fiefdom of what you know.

Kevin Kelly: Correct. This is why I come here, actually, as a matter of fact. It’s to learn, it’s to educate myself. I don’t think you’re ever too old to educate yourself, and I think this is something that we really have to look at how we embrace the inside sales process in the UK. And that’s what I’m desperately trying to get at, being obviously the chapter president in the UK of the AA-ISP, it’s a big passion of mine. We’ve a lot of work to do, I think.

Darryl Praill: Now, one of the things that you brought up, which is really the emphasis of today’s conversation, was based on your experience of being in the role for so long, large multinational companies, and smaller companies, and of course now that you’re doing the role on behalf of your clients, you can see how they operate, you’ve noticed that sometimes, and tell me if I’m wrong when I paraphrase this, the things that are holding us back from being successful in our role as sales development reps, inside sales reps, is that we don’t approach our task, we don’t approach our objective, with a plan. We kind of just do it, react. But we’re not being intentional. Is that a fair statement?

Kevin Kelly: I think it’s absolutely crucial. A plan, preparation, another great word. Because when you do this job, this is a hard job, there’s no question how hard this is, but it’s also one of the most rewarding jobs in the world as well. For me, I guess the key thing for an SDR that comes into work every day for instance, there’s got to be a plan on that day, and he’s got to have his personal plan to be able to execute on his goals, right? This is something that we’ve got to work on, a mentality. And dare I say it, I was looking at a stat recently, 93%, I think it was Sales Force. 93% of all sales conversation at the moment is on the telephone, and that’s field and inside sales.

Kevin Kelly: Which is quite incredible, right? But before you make those calls, before you have those engagements on the telephone, I’m a huge fan of just being prepared for those calls. There’s no point in just picking up the phone and I’m going to talk to somebody. It doesn’t work like that, right? You’ve got to have a plan and you’ve got to be very specific in what you’re going to say. So, for me, planning is absolutely crucial for an SDR, and I’m talking about a daily plan here.

[bctt tweet=”There’s no point in just picking up the phone – You’ve got to have a plan and you’ve got to be very specific in what you’re going to say ~ @KevinMKelly7, @pacedigitalsale #Prospecting #SalesStrategy” username=”VanillaSoft”]

Darryl Praill: That’s right. So a couple things you’re doing, right? You’re attacking your day, and then each actual engagement, phone call, email, whatever, you’re attacking that engagement. So it’s kind of layers of a plan, a plan within a plan.

Kevin Kelly: Absolutely. We look at the day, I have seven SDRs at home, back in the UK at the moment, and they know exactly what their … you hope that they come in and, this is very important as well, that they have the right mindset when you walk in that door, right? Let’s be fair.

Darryl Praill: They’ve got their game face on.

Kevin Kelly: Correct. Because this is a job where you’re going to get …

Darryl Praill: You’re going to get beat up.

Kevin Kelly: You’re going to hear one word, and one word all the time, which is “No.”

Darryl Praill: No. And all variations of that. Some are more colorful than others.

Kevin Kelly: I agree. You’ve got to have a certain persistence, a certain attitude, and I would suggest, actually, you’re common enemy. You’re going to say “I’m going to embrace no today, and I’m going to really embrace that word.” Because when that word comes for me, I’m just going to wash it over me and I’m going to get onto the next one. It’s as simple as that, but that’s a strong mentality but you’ve got to come in with that mindset, absolutely at the start of your day.

Darryl Praill: So, let me ask you this.

Kevin Kelly: Yep.

Darryl Praill: How do people know that they don’t have a plan? What are they doing that will be symptomatic that they’re clearly not working their plan?

Kevin Kelly: I think what you tend to find, I guess in our organization and SDRs is you can very easily just go off track completely. It’s very easy to dwindle a day, let a day dwindle on and not be effective and not be productive. I think where it comes to, again, for me, the key is the conversation, right? So we’re looking for quality conversation, that’s our job. Yeah, we need to set appointments, that’s fantastic, but more importantly, we need to generate that quality conversation. How we do that is by making sure that that plan, and I would suggest even a pre-call plan would be absolutely ideal, again, that keeps you on track as well, and that would cover a number of different subjects for your call.

Kevin Kelly: It may sound a little bit that you’re planning every single call, but I believe it’s what’s going to make you effective, what’s going to make you stay on track in particular. Because as I say, hardest job in the world, but, the most rewarding. But as long as you stay on track and on point.

Darryl Praill: All right, so what we’re going to do is we’re going to take a quick little break and when we come back, we’re going to work through the plan, the approach, that you think has been most successful for you and your organization, and maybe why you got there. What mistakes you made before you figured this all out, and how people can implement that. So don’t go anywhere, we’re going to be right back.

Darryl Praill: Okay, so we’re back, and this is the stuff that I love. Full disclosure guys, if you haven’t figured out my formula, I do tend to build up to the commercial break, because all the good stuff’s always after the commercial break. And this is the good stuff. So, talk to me about the plan. When we talked, and I don’t want to put words in your mouth, we talked about the importance of mindset, the importance of a pre-call plan, the importance of call execution, and the importance of post-call documenting.

Kevin Kelly: Yes, correct yes.

Darryl Praill: I got all four right?

Kevin Kelly: You did, on the money.

Darryl Praill: So, you started talking about mindset. So maybe, I guess as part of that plan, how do I address mindset?

Kevin Kelly: I think a mindset is very much a personal thing. And what I wanted to see when I see people coming in the door is just one thing. I want people to show their personality. Everybody’s different, right? Everybody has different ways of showing whether they’re nervous, whether they’re committed to the process, but number one thing that they need when they come in in the morning is I want to see them smile, right? I want to see them laughing, I want to see them joking, I want to see them having a joke. There could be some music on, there could be just anything to lighten the mood. But most importantly, I want to look at them and obviously, we manage these people on a daily basis, so we know their different traits, but I want to see them smile. I want to see that personality before they even hit the phones.

Darryl Praill: And that’s important, right? It sounds stupid, I’ve been blessed to have some formal training for voice-overs, podcasts, I did a lot of voice-over work in the past. And the first thing they say to you, and this is nothing to do with sales, this is voice-overs. Before you start recording, smile.

Kevin Kelly: Yeah, I agree.

Darryl Praill: Because they want you to have … it’s almost like a mental … I don’t know if it’s endorphins going, I don’t know. But if I am physically smiling, I’m going to be much more engaging and approachable and relatable when I connect, just through the sound of my voice let alone the conversation that transpires. The other thing that’s really interesting, I really like your idea about the mindset about you’re going to get a lot of no’s. What I’ve heard work really well, and I agree with this, and full disclosure, I know this is easier said than done. It’s not a no to you. Kevin, no. It’s not that.

Darryl Praill: They may say it that way, but it’s “Kevin, no I don’t want that solution, that product that you’re offering me today.” Yet, when you disconnect, you and I both know that you’ve got a killer product, solution, whatever for them, and it’s their loss. And that’s okay. Because this next person I’m going to call, they’re going to like the fact, or two or three or four or five calls from now, they’re going to go “Man, talk to me, I’ve been looking for this, I have a need for this, I am all in, talk to me.”

Kevin Kelly: I think it’s absolutely crucial. I think people see no as a complete and utter rejection, and actually, it’s not. I wouldn’t say it’s actually an objection either, but the reality is, we’ve got to bounce off the word no. We’ve got to accept it, concede, right? Pivot a little bit, and just redirect somewhere else.

Darryl Praill: It’s true. Is it really a no? It’s a no and then I pivot.

Kevin Kelly: Exactly, and that’s what it is. I think the important part of that, we obviously talk about the pre-call plan, because you’re starting to engage on how you’re going to communicate. Interestingly enough, when you hear this no, the best SDRs in my opinion that I’ve heard that I’ve listened to and relentless amount of calls are the ones that concede very quickly and say “right, I get it.” But they’re straight away pivoting somewhere else and saying “However, maybe this is something you can look at it,” and redirecting somewhere else.

[bctt tweet=”When you hear “No,” the best #SDRs, in my opinion, concede very quickly and say “right, I get it.” and straight away pivot to somewhere else. ~ @KevinMKelly7, @pacedigitalsale #Prospecting #SalesStrategy” username=”VanillaSoft”]

Darryl Praill: Redirecting.

Kevin Kelly: Correct.

Darryl Praill: And that’s a mindset.

Kevin Kelly: Oh yeah.

Darryl Praill: It’s not a no is personal, it’s like “okay, you’ve given me this objection, I’m an artisan, this is my craft, this is my discipline, this is where I pivot, right?” This is exactly what I do, and I’m onto the next tactic. It’s no different than if you have … I’m not a martial arts fighter, but for every move, there’s a counter move, right? There’s an attack and a defend.

Kevin Kelly: What a great example.

Darryl Praill: It just goes back and forth and back and forth and back and forth. And that’s all it is.

Kevin Kelly: And the skilled SDRs as you know, they understand this. Dare I say as well, I’d say they practice this, I’ve seen some accept that right, okay, we certainly do this. Objections is a great one. We put up the objections up on the wall and we’re like …

Darryl Praill: You’re ready, you’re educated.

Kevin Kelly: This is it. And if you’re struggling, your very first thing is to concede. But again, this is a mindset, an understanding that you’re fully in control of what’s going to happen I guess even when somebody says no.

Darryl Praill: So the pre-call plan, am I researching? Is that what that is? What is it?

Kevin Kelly: Not necessarily. I think research is a topic that we could sustain 20 minutes or certainly an hour on its own. Research and how much time you put into research. So that’s a topic in itself. For me, a pre-call plan is really having a crystal clear idea of what you’re going to say, what you’re going to do. Now, I’ll give you an example. The first thing you put on a pre-call plan is what’s the objective of the call? The objective of the call could be “I want the decision maker’s correct name, I want to get his mobile number, I want to get his email address.” And if that’s the objective of the call, excellent. Just write it down very quickly, this is what I want to do.

[bctt tweet=”For me, a pre-call plan is really having a crystal clear idea of what you’re going to say, what you’re going to do – what’s the objective of the call? ~ @KevinMKelly7, @pacedigitalsale #Prospecting #SalesStrategy” username=”VanillaSoft”]

Kevin Kelly: Then after that, I would suggest that you really start maybe just keying in some key objections there quickly. And what I mean by that is if you get to a gatekeeper for instance that might just rebuff you, just some answers back, so you’re preparing for everything here.

Darryl Praill: Right, so it’s almost like you’re visualizing what could transpire, and you’re saying “okay, so if that objection happens, that playbook’s here, and if this happens, that playbook’s there.” And I visualize it and I know it so now when it happens, I don’t have to scramble, I know where it is.

Kevin Kelly: It’s all there. It’s a bit like Tiger Woods going around the Masters. I’m sure he has plenty of different strategies and when things go wrong, he just goes to his default. With an SDR and the skill that they have, I believe it can be practiced. I don’t think it’s a gift. I think it’s an art, I think it’s a skill. They’ve got to practice these things. Okay, so when we look at the gatekeeper and potential gatekeeper push backs, we’ve got to have answers to those, right? And the next is we get onto a decision maker, who may give us some objections. We’ve got to know some of those objections, and we’ve got to have it very clearly on a document, maybe some quick answers or they’re up on the wall, something like that.

Kevin Kelly: Ideally then, after that, and this is the number one thing, is your questions isn’t it. What are you going to say, what questions are you going to ask the client?

Darryl Praill: And I love that. Everything we’ve talked about for now has been a little bit, for lack of a better word, defensive. They gave me that rebuttal, that no, how will I respond? I love that, now you’re going to the offense. How am I going to ask and how am I going to drill down? How am I going to differentiate and how am I going to get their attention?

Kevin Kelly: Correct. And I think questions are absolutely crucial. Here’s the thing, a tip for the guys with the SDRs in particular, is the sooner you get them talking about their own business, the better. Because I’ve seen so many calls where people just talk about … just tell you about Pace Digital Sales. This is what we do, this is how we do it, this is how magnificent we are. Just time out, right? Stop.

[bctt tweet=”Here’s the thing, a tip for the guys with the #SDRs in particular, is the sooner you get them talking about their own business, the better. ~ @KevinMKelly7, @pacedigitalsale #SalesTips” username=”VanillaSoft”]

Darryl Praill: It’s not about you.

Kevin Kelly: It’s not about me, correct.

Darryl Praill: It’s about them.

Kevin Kelly: Correct. Tell me about VanillaSoft, Darryl, and this is what it’s about. Dare I say, I’ve seen your website, what a cool website, by the way. Can you tell me a little bit about how you designed it?

Darryl Praill: Exactly. I’ve given this own feedback to my kids. I say to them, one day you’re going to meet your future father and mother in law. You want to establish a good rapport. The best way to do that is you go and you don’t talk about you. What do you do? What’s your job? What’s your life? What’s your hobby? Tell me more about that. Really? Is that how that works? And just drill down, drill down, drill down, because people are comfortable talking about what they know.

Kevin Kelly: And what they love.

Darryl Praill: And then listen. Listen for reasons to ask another question, but also to build on that. That’s a relationship. Now, talk to me about call execution.

Kevin Kelly: Right, so call execution in my mind should be absolutely seamless. What I mean by that is, you just refer back to the preparation. So, at all stages, you’re referring back to your preparation, you’re trying to get an understanding of preparation, but then you bring in … call execution for me, and I heard quite a few people talking about this today actually, at some of the sessions, is about personality. Just talk to people, just talk to people like you’ve just talked to me right now, and have an interest and be curious about them.

Kevin Kelly: Because if you bring your personality … I’ll give you an example. I’ll give you a football example if you don’t mind Darryl, if you don’t mind this. In the quarter-final of the World Cup, Ronaldo, right? Greatest player in the world, right? He goes up, they’re taking penalties, it’s the European Cup Quarter Finals. They take penalties at the end of the match. Do you know what he doesn’t say to them? Put it into the right top hand corner because the keeper is weak there. He doesn’t give an explanation, he just says “be brave, show your personality.”

Kevin Kelly: I think the phone is very much like that. Yes, we have to help them with our questions and engage with our clients. But call execution is about show me your personality, again, and talk to me. That’s what I look at.

Darryl Praill: That’s so important because people connect through personality, you know? I will hear people tell me over and over again they like my energy.

Kevin Kelly: I agree.

Darryl Praill: That’s just me. I’m not trying to put a façade on, so that’s where you connect. Maybe others connect on another reason, but people pick up on what is authentic about you.

Kevin Kelly: I agree. Can I give you another example? One of your employees, Rachel from the UK, I know Rachel. Rachel has been onto me quite a number of times. Engaging. I challenge anybody to listen to some of her calls and really what a great way to communicate with people but shows her personality every single time. I think this is very important in call execution.

Darryl Praill: I totally agree. All right, so the calls happen, and now we’re at the post-call documenting. What does that mean?

Kevin Kelly: Right, so for me, again, this is again a crucial part. Because if you have a two or three call strategy, you’ve got to know what you’ve said, and you’ve got to know what you do when you make the next call, right?

Darryl Praill: So the post call is really the prep work for the next call.

Kevin Kelly: Exactly. And we all have software, we all have tech stack decks. We all have this type of stuff, and different things, but I think the crucial point here is not necessarily giving the company information, which is very crucial and you’ve got to document stuff, it sets you up for the next call. Every time you take a call or you have a call sequence, I think you need to learn more and more and more.

Darryl Praill: Yeah, you are aggregating. You are building up.

Kevin Kelly: Correct, and this is why it’s so crucial. And again, the best SDRs do this and some people think “okay I’ll wait till the next call, I’ll just go ring them again.” No, document what you hear. Document where you are in the situation. For me, again, post-call documenting is, the small bit about that is you control the call the right way at the end of the call to make sure you’re ready for the next call as well. So controlling the call is very important as well for your post-call documenting as well.

Darryl Praill: And I’ll go back full circle now, because that post call documenting becomes an input into your pre-call plan. What I love about today’s conversation, and guys and gals listen to this, not every one of you are organized. You’ve got to fix that. Everything you’ve heard from Kevin is about being intentional. It’s about knowing your mindset. Boom, is my game face on, am I smiling, do I know what’s happening? It’s about having a pre-call plan, how am I going to respond? Where are my resources? How do I pivot? How do I engage in that battle?

Darryl Praill: And then it’s about executing and actually doing everything that you already planned on doing. Followed by, when it’s done, documenting it again because you’re going to need that information in your next call when you do the pre-call because you’re building a rapport, you’re building your knowledge, you’re building your connection, that is the plan. Have a plan, work the plan, own the plan, and the plan will do you well.

Darryl Praill: Kevin, if they want to get ahold of you, what’s the best way to reach you?

Kevin Kelly: You know, I’ll tell you what it is, and the best SDRs in the world do this, find me on LinkedIn.

Darryl Praill: Find you on LinkedIn. Kevin Kelly, Pace Digital Sales. And what’s your website?

Kevin Kelly: Yeah, so it’s, but from my point of view, please, I’m an avid fan of working video and communicating with people on LinkedIn, I think it’s a fantastic tool to work with people, so please just get in touch with me and I’m more than happy to answer any questions. For me, I would just say be prepared and be productive. They’re the two key modules there in the whole thing.

Darryl Praill: The guy you hear right now folks is the same guy on LinkedIn. He’s engaging, he’s responsive, he is a resource for you. Take advantage of that. We’re out of time, so we’re going to wrap it up from another session here, thank you so much for joining us. My name is Darryl Praill, I have been blessed today to spend time with Kevin Kelly of Pace Digital Sales. Check us out online,, we’ll talk to you soon. Take care, bye bye.