Communicating with Your Pipeline

January 29, 2021

⛄ SDR Symposium | January, 2021

Effective pipeline communication is a crucial skill for SDRs. Master it, and you can set yourself up for future success. Shirk it, and you’ll spend every day sourcing new leads and reinventing the wheel.

Our SDRs were looking for best practices around communicating with and flipping their ISQL (pipeline) accounts, so our training team sprung into action. We put together a Symposium with 3 of our top reps to walk through their own process for communicating with pipeline accounts, share best practices, and field questions from their peers.

The Guests

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Lee Baker

Sr. SDR, Team Lead

Matt Brown.png

Matt Brown

Sr. SDR, Team Lead

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Zach Fenton


Get a highlight video of the event below! And keep scrolling for a full written recap.

Process & Tracking

The first step to effectively communicating with your pipeline accounts is to ensure you have a surefire way of tracking past conversations. Letting these prospects slip through the cracks is detrimental to your overall success as an SDR – so work hard to prevent that!

Our reps all agreed on one thing – leverage your CRM. It’s there to make sure you don’t lose track of your previous conversations and follow-up activities, and remaining diligent about that process is key to long-term success.

Zach brought up a great point about forecasting – if you look at your historical ‘win rate’ with your pipeline accounts, you can essentially pencil in meetings for future months based on past activities. For example, if you regularly convert 60% of your pipeline to booked meetings, and you have 10 follow-up conversations scheduled for the month, you can pencil in 6 booked meetings towards your goal. But that’s only possible if you track it properly!

Note: The average conversion rate for pipeline across all demandDrive clients is 50-60% (depending on industry). But that’s only if you diligently follow-up with these accounts! This is especially important in industries like Cybersecurity and Human Resources where timing plays a real factor in their decision-making and RFPs are more common.

Within your CRM, our panel talked about leveraging the ‘high priority’ function. That way, when the follow-up task shows up on your to-do list, you know that it should be prioritized. You could even set it aside for the time being and block off a chunk of time on your calendar for a ‘pipeline only’ follow-up session. Other tactics for denoting pipeline follow-up include adding an asterisk (*) to the follow-up so it shows up at the top of your list for the day.

You can also leverage LinkedIn to send a connection request or engage with their content prior to your meeting – that way you carve out some space in their brain for your name/brand before reaching out.

Outside of your CRM, our panel brought up an interesting tracking process: A notebook or Google Sheet. Your CRM is great, but it’s often rigid. A Google Sheet, notebook, or whiteboard allows you to track only the most important accounts in a way that works for you. Additionally, it shows you all of your pipeline on one page – great for forecasting and planning your attack. You can even add a blurb/note for those extra special accounts, just to differentiate them even more.

Outside of tracking, another process to keep in mind is diligent follow-up notes – without them, tracking is virtually useless. Lee pointed out the importance of proactive follow-up and detailed notes. He often reconnects with his pipeline earlier than they request to deliver some kind of valuable information – an article, product update, answer to a question they asked online, etc. And if they mention something like a vacation they took or that they like cats or if a tree fell on their car (yes, that really happened), you better take note of it to mention in the next conversation!

Resurfacing a Conversation

When it comes to reconnecting with your pipeline accounts, all 3 of our guests shared a common belief: the conversation you had with your pipeline accounts shouldn’t start from scratch. You already have a working relationship with this prospect, so instead of reinventing the wheel when reaching out, simply continue the conversation from your last point of contact.

Lee mentioned that he resurfaces old emails by responding to the thread instead of starting a new message. That way, the prospect has a record of your previous conversation put in front of them. He also likes to start those threads with a “thanks” instead of a cold email opener (like ‘hope all is well.’) It warms the conversation up and makes it feel like you’re picking up where you left off vs. starting over again. Something that’s worked well for him is to respond to a previous thread with a few dates/times to connect, and to end the message with ‘any thoughts?’ The prospect will either remember you, or they won’t. And if they do remember you, the email works like a charm. If they don’t, then you know you have to do some re-education on your value props.

Matt and Zach agreed. When you have previous conversations in writing, it’s a lot easier to strike a conversation back up. You don’t have to bother reminding them of your last chat, you can just show it to them for a quicker (and more seamless) refresher. Better yet, if you get some kind of next steps in writing – like, ‘ping me after Q2’ – you can use that as a tool to resurface the conversation. Hold the prospect accountable for their request! Zach likes to respond to the previous thread with a simple message: ‘is this still a priority?’ Short and straight to the point!


Nobody likes scheduling, so our panel suggests that you make it as easy as possible for your prospect. This requires a lot of proactivity, assumptions, and leveraging of previous conversations. Why? Prospects are busy, and you have to give them the benefit of the doubt. If you gave up on them after a few missed scheduling opps, you wouldn’t have much of a pipeline to communicate with!

Lee gave a great tip on having your prospect accept the calendar invite while on the phone with them – not just to make sure you lock them into the meeting, but to make sure that you have the correct email address for them. Why is this important? You need to establish next steps with your prospect – and hold them accountable to those steps. Matt made a good point: “prospects don’t owe you anything.” If you give them a chance to get off the hook, chances are this will slip through the cracks and you’ll miss your chance to reconnect.

If you’re having issues locking a time down for that reconnect, Zach offers up a piece of advice: send out a ‘blind’ calendar invite. Sometimes, it’s all the push your prospect needs to get something scheduled for a follow-up. And as long as you frame it as that – a quick chat to follow-up and align on next steps – it’s seen as a proactive way to get something on the calendar.

Leveraging Content & Social Channels

A great channel to use for reconnecting with pipeline is LinkedIn – but only if it makes sense. Common best practices state that you should connect with all of your pipeline and engage with their content on a regular basis. This helps carve out more space in their brain for your name & brand, and it paints you as a credible and authoritative source.

But this only works if your prospects are on LinkedIn. They need to produce content for you to engage with! So how do you stay connected when you can’t use LinkedIn?

Send them content yourself (better yet, create it yourself)! All of our panelists agreed that sending content – whether it’s your own or 3rd party – is a great way to reconnect and resurface a conversation with your prospects. But here’s the catch – it has to be relevant.

Lee talks about using content to show prospects that you have a pulse on the industry. Showcasing credibility and expertise is a great way of standing out from the crowd, and you build trust and authority when you deliver something of value to them. Zach and Matt both agreed – especially on the idea of delivering value. It doesn’t do you any good to dump a case study or whitepaper in their inbox for the sake of delivering content. If it doesn’t help them, it doesn’t make sense for you to send it.

Zach noted that content can come from different sources as well, not just you/your marketing team. Leveraging content from other sources (3rd party content) gives you endless resources to send to your prospects. Pulling content from well-established sites does a couple of things:

  1. You and the prospect know the resource you’re sending out is trustworthy, meaning the information they get will be actionable and/or insightful.

  2. 3rd party resources are inherently unbiased. This allows you to leverage someone else’s point of view when illustrating your point or value to the prospect.

The biggest lessons to learn here are this: SDRs should leverage content when reconnecting with their pipeline (both to resurface the conversation and proactively remind prospects you exist), and that content has to be relevant. LinkedIn is no longer just a job-seeking platform – if SDRs use it correctly, it can work as a lead generation machine.

Don’t Push Buttons – Unless You Have To

Reconnecting with your pipeline isn’t always cut and dry – your SDRs need to think tactfully about the tone of their message. All 3 of our panelists agreed that when it came to the tone of their message, it was best to err on the side of consultative vs. salesy.

Matt brought up a great point on the persona of the prospects you’re reaching out to. In his case, when reaching out to IT and Security professionals he found that getting straight to the point was more effective. They had little time or interest for a casual conversation, and responded better to getting ‘their buttons pushed’ a bit. On the other hand, when reaching out to HR professionals, consultative was definitely the way to go. They were more open to a casual chat and often willingly gave qualification information in these informal conversations.

Zach echoed that sentiment. He found a ton of success in having casual conversations with prospects that were NOT focused on his product/solution. Going back to the process & tracking section, he doubled-down on the importance of diligent notes. It was easy to strike up a casual conversation if you knew the prospect was a fan of your cat or if a tree fell on their car. Building this personal relationship with your prospect can make the act of asking qualification questions much less intrusive, and they’re more than willing to open up to you once you’ve earned their trust.

Getting Out of a Slump

We ended our symposium with a question from the audience: ‘If it’s been a while since you’ve booked a meeting, how do you get yourself out of a slump?” SDRs go through many peaks and valleys during their tenure, and sometimes the valley feels deeper and longer than previous ones. Our panel discussed the different tactics they use to climb out of these valleys and see continued success:

Matt brought up 2 key points: attitude and repetition. The best way to dig yourself out of a slump is to switch things up – repetition is your enemy. It’s easy to go with the flow as an SDR and just settle into a regular motion. You control your own destiny as an SDR, and if you let yourself be controlled by the motions of the role, you’re destined to sit in that valley for a long time. Matt suggests that you speak with your manager and find a way to challenge yourself in an attempt to switch up your regular routine. Targeting a new vertical, territory, or set of target accounts could be a quick and easy way to freshen things up and shake you out of a slump.

In terms of attitude, Matt and Zach share a similar…well, attitude. It has to be positive, no matter what. Why? Not just for positive reinforcement, but a positive attitude shows up in the tone of your messaging. Prospects can tell – whether it’s by phone or email – when you care about what you’re doing and when you don’t. And when it shows that you don’t care, neither will your prospects. Zach suggests that you adopt the ‘today is the day’ mentality every time you pick up the phone. Injecting positivity into your message won’t just show your prospect that you care, but more often than not they’ll match your tone.

On a more tactical note, Lee turns to his peers and to his list as ways of breaking slumps. Learning by osmosis (much like we’re doing with these Symposiums) and seeing what you’re peers are doing can help breathe new life into your prospecting. Leverage your manager as well – they can certainly help you think of a few ways to break a slump. And don’t forget the countless micro-communities of sales reps out there. SDRevolution, RevGenius, Sales Hacker, etc…they all exist to help reps learn new prospecting tactics and implement them effectively. And on top of that, Lee reminds us that you have to be adding new accounts into your cadences on a regular basis. You can’t grow your pipeline if you don’t add new prospects!


Building and maintaining a healthy pipeline is crucial for SDR success. When it comes down to it, knowing how to tactfully communicate with your pipeline accounts will separate a good SDR from a great one – and that’s illustrated by the 3 reps we spoke with here. Matt, Lee, and Zach aren’t top reps through luck, they’re top reps because of the tactics and mindset they shared above. Adopt these practices and see for yourself!

If you’re looking for more tips on pipeline communication or to get in touch with our team, feel free to contact us!

aj alonzo

AJ Alonzo is the Head of Marketing at demandDrive. A former SDR turned marketing leader, he's made it his goal to develop resources for sales reps who are looking to level up and for managers who are looking for guidance. Outside of work you can find him trying to shoot under par at his local disc golf course, sipping on a bourbon on the rocks, or continuing his quest to be the very best like no one ever was.
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