It’s the 11th episode of Meaningful Conversations with Revenue Leaders – No fluff. Meaningful conversations only.

If Danny could be described in a few words it would be someone that mastered the growth mindset. After starting his career in banking and an SDR gig where he fell in love with marketing, Danny joined TigerGraph. After 6 months of crushing his quota as an SDR, Danny landed his dream job in Marketing. What a journey to follow!

Check out the interview highlights as well as the full conversation below!

Highlight 1: How did you go from sales into marketing?

After spending the first 8 years of my career in banking, I decided to take a leap of faith and join my first startup at my previous company. I was a hybrid SDR there - I did a lot of inbound and outbound. After some company changes, I changed from reporting to an SDR Manager to Marketing. With this switch I also started learning more about the marketing tools - Sendoso, Outreach, Salesloft, and I absolutely fell in love with them.

Then I joined TigerGraph, and I had two options - join the outbound team or join the marketing team as inbound SDR, with the opportunity to work on different side projects. Because I knew and had fallen in love with using marketing tools, I took the second option.

Then fast forward to today, I’m getting ready to step into a demand generation role.

Coming from an SDR background, I think it’s easy to really translate some of the skills and some of the techniques that you’ve learned in the past to your new role.

Highlight 2: Why do you think there’s not so much cross-collaboration between marketing and sales?

I feel like there is surely a gap between sales and marketing. One of the things I noticed in the past is that sales and marketing are supposed to work well together - by the end of the day, we have the same goal, but just different quotas.

If marketing is not generating enough leads for sales, that means marketing is underdelivering and it is also going to be harder for sales to be successful.

I would say ego plays a big part in this, too. And it’s just me speaking from my heart, sometimes salespeople will say, “Oh, we don’t need marketing. We have our own way of generating leads”. But at the same time, there’s a reason why SaaS companies hire marketing people - marketing is supposed to generate leads and to help the sales team. By the end of the day, if both parties can win, that means the company is going to do well

Highlight 3: What advice would you give to SDRs who are considering what their next steps in their career will be?

To the SDRs that are thinking about quitting or jumping to another SDR role just to try to get to the next level… Be patient with yourself. By the end of the day, all of us are human beings. As long as you know what type of value you can bring to the company, the leaders can see it. They’re not just doing their job, they’re actually observing everything.

Continue to be yourself and just continue to network. There’s so many people for you to network and learn from on where you want to get to the next step. I think if I never talked to my peers, my team, I don’t know if I’d want to stay in marketing, I’d probably plow on to something else. But I think if you can find what you’re passionate about, at the early stage of your SaaS career, I think that’s going to play such a big role in having a great career.

Want to check the uncut full text? Here's your transcript.

Jan 0:07

Alright. Danny, thanks for being on the show.

Danny 0:13

I appreciate it.

Jan 0:11

Yeah, thanks for coming. I think today it’s really important to speak about things you’re passionate about. I think that was what Devin Devin Reed was recently saying. It’s like, “Listen, you just let the people, let them speak about their passion. And I know that you’re passionate about two things. You’re passionate about, like, sales, but now you’re also very passionate moving into marketing. How did that come? Tell me about your journey.

Danny 0:43

Yeah. So first of all, I just want to say thank you so much, again, for just giving me an opportunity to speak with you. So my journey is quite interesting, I would say. So let me try and make it as simple as possible. So, I spent my first eight years of my career in banking, right, five years under the retail branch level, and four years in corporate and banking. But back in 2019, I hit a plateau where banking wasn’t really as challenging as for me as before. So that’s when I decided to take a leap of faith, join my first startup at my previous company, was SDR there. I would say I was a hybrid SDR where I did a lot of inbound and outbound. At first, we had, I had a reporting SDR manager, but as company changes, there was more things going on around it. So he got laid off. And I started reporting to marketing. And as I started to report to marketing, I learned more about the tools. And I also started collaborating more with the marketing team. Right when I joined, when I first started, right, I’ve always wanted to become a customer success manager, just because I like the aesthetic, how you’re managing a book of business, and you’re making sure that the customers are adopting to the product, and just really ensuring that the customer is happy, you know. But as time went on, start doing more collaboration with the marketing team and start using different softwares where I fell in love with it. Like, for example, I talk about this every single day, and I felt they should pay me - I’m just kidding, but I use Sendoso a lot. It’s a platform where you’re able to customize your gifts. It’s just breaking through the noise by sending customer gifts and looking at, “Hey, I’m not a robot, I want to talk to you. Is there any opportunity to connect with me, you know. Here’s some lunches and coffee”, or sometimes I’ll buy them something from Amazon. And it’s really unexpected, you know. I started using Outreach for a little bit and now I’m using SalesLoft. If you were to tell me “Hey, Danny, this is something that you’re going to be using in banking”, I would have left banking a long time ago. Um, so I was at my previous role for 10 months. Eventually, I got laid off, it was a little disappointing, but I think everything happened for a reason, right. And fast forward a year later. Now, I’m currently an SDR for a company called TigerGraph. When I got hired at TigerGraph, right, I had two options, it was either join the outbound team, or I would join the market team as inbound SDR, but I will also have the opportunity to work on different side projects, because I knew that the first time that I use marking tools, I fell in love with it. And I’m glad that when I joined TigerGraph, they gave me two opportunities. And I knew that I want to step into a marketing role. Then fast forward later now, at the end of this month I’m getting ready to step into a demand generation role. One of the reasons why I also chose role two is because coming from an SDR I think it’s easy for you to really translate some of the skills and some of the techniques that you’ve learned in the past, along with adding it into them in general, because for me, I’m very inquisitive. I’m always curious, how is marketing getting all these leads for our AEs and the SDRs. That’s one thing that I’ve always been like curious about. And I’m glad that I have opportunity now to really collaborate with the SDRs. Because this is how I feel it, Jan - so there is an outbound team of SDRs along with the inbound SDR, which is me only. And I feel like there is like a divided team. But now I think this is going to be a good opportunity for me to finally collaborate with our SDRs and I try not to let the noise break through what I’m doing because sometimes I feel like outbound SDRs think that they’re much better than inbound SDRs, but I don’t think that’s the case. I think it’s for me, everyone has their own project and their own goal right? But by the end of the day, some of the cherry picked meetings that you’re getting, it’s all from marketing so I don’t know why some SDRs think like that, but I try not… I try not to assume. But sometimes that’s what I feel like because I was once in their shoes. So by the end of the day, my goal is just to try to play fair and understand, “Hey, I’m here to help our demand gen team”. So I’m just excited for this opportunity. But that’s one of the reasons why I chose marketing. Because the moment I started using some of the marking tools, I fell in love with it. And I thought that I wanted to get into the customer success side, but out of nowhere now getting so much experience and getting so much, speaking to different teams… I’m starting to like marketing more. Yeah.

Jan 5:41

That’s brilliant, thanks for sharing. Yeah, I think there are two things. But the first thing I would like to follow up on is like, what do you think you learned in your SDR role? Or how do you think your SDR role will help you now moving into marketing.

Danny 5:55

So I think one of the things that I’ve learned the most is the grit. And also, just being patient with yourself, because the thing is, not all marketing leads will convert into opportunity. One of the things I’ve learned a lot about myself is being patient when I get on working leads. One of the things about demand generation that I’ve been reading about is that… Let’s say, for example, there’s a bunch of leads right now, it’s going to be marketing’s turn to really nurture the leads, making sure that we’re talking to the right persona. And eventually, once it gets a little warmer, we’ll pass it over to our SDRs. So I will say grit and just being able to get a lot of different exposure from like LinkedIn, working with digital marketing, working with their marketing operations, just to really understand the workflow because there’s so much segments before we put the leads into Salesforce, and I didn’t realize it is such a long ladder before we actually pass it over to our SDRs and AEs.

Jan 7:02

Yeah, so a bit of a fact is, I love it. And I’m just reading a post from from a guy that I follow, that I admire James at Grant Thornton. And he says that, you know, a lot of salespeople speak to salespeople on LinkedIn, but not so many salespeople speak to marketing people or cross functional teams, sort of say. Why do you think is that and what’s your standpoint around that?

Danny 7:30

First, can you repeat your question one more time, I’m sorry, just make sure I understand correctly.

Jan 7:34

No, no worries. Like, I have the feeling that a lot of the times on LinkedIn, it’s a great platform. But most of the time SDRs will speak to BDRs and marketing people will also speak to marketing people for example. Why do you think that there’s not so much like cross collaboration between you know, marketing people speaking to salespeople, or salespeople speaking to marketing people? Is that a development you’ve also seen on the platform, or? Yeah, something you maybe disagree with or have also seen?

Danny 8:06

This is a good question, Jan. So I know exactly what you’re talking about. I feel like there is a gap for sure, between sales and marketing, because one of the things I noticed in the past at my previous company is that sales and marketing is supposed to work well together, because by the end of the day, we have the same goal, but just different quota. If marketing is not generating enough leads for sales, that means marketing is not doing their job and that means sales is not going to be successful. Although, I know there are a lot of amazing AEs that are really get a cold calling and finding their own leads. But I feel like there is a gap, even here too. And I try not to look at it in a negative way. But the ultimate goal for all of us is just to collaborate together. I would say ego plays a big part too. And it’s just me speaking from my heart, sometimes AEs or sometimes SDRs we have the ego “Oh, we don’t need marketing. We have our own way of generating leads”. You know, but at the same time, there’s a reason why SaaS companies hire marketing people because marketing is supposed to generate leads and to help sales team, because by the end of the day if both parties can win, that means the company’s gonna do well, you know. I think by the end of the day, the gap is missing because of ego, I would say, in some “Oh, I’m better than you, I’m in sales” or sales is not cooperating with marketing. There’s definitely a gap but I hope that eventually, sales and marketing can continue to work well because it’s still a team effort, different goals, but still same finish line you know?

Jan 9:46

Makes, makes a lot of sense. Thanks for sharing. The second point you spoke about is like stuff like Sendoso, right? So really sticking out through the crowd. Why do you think things like Sendoso work so well?

Danny 10:03

I have a lot of things to say about Sendoso, so… The first moment that I used Sendoso back into 2019, I fell in love with it. If you remember the movie Boiler Room with Vin Diesel, you remember back then cold calling was all about doing like 300 to 500 dials, with no technology and it wasn’t really personalization. But I think when Sendoso and other of their competitors came on, it allowed SDRs, it allowed the whole sales team and marketing team to really personalize their gifts. And also, let’s say for example, if you were to get 100 emails, right, but one of the emails says, “Hey, Jan, enjoy a cup of coffee with me. I thought you could use a little pick-me-up today.” If I saw that, I would definitely open the email and say “Who sent me this?” Like, why is it so different compared to other emails that I’ve been getting, especially when it’s the same messaging, how someone is trying to secure a meeting with you? I think that’s one of the beauties about Sendoso because it allows you to break through the noise. And it also allows you to differentiate yourself compared to the other people that try to reach out. That’s one of the beauties. I think personalization is going to be a big part for all of us, especially for marketing. And just to kind of retrace, recap back on why I chose marketing… I get more excited when a customer tells me “Oh yeah, Danny, I received the T-shirt that you sent me” versus if I hit my quota. It’s odd because I spoke to a lot of our friends who are AEs. They’re like, “Dude, aren’t you happy that you met your quota?” I said, “Yeah, I’m happy, but at the same time, I get more excited when customers receive my gifts that I sent them”. It brings a lot of excitement because I’m proud and honored to market for us, for TigerGraph, versus me worrying about a quota, which I know all of us have our own quota, but I get more excited when I see customers happy. Yeah, it’s interesting.

Jan 11:57

Yeah. So listen, like, you’re you’re pretty exceptional, because you like changed from finance to SDR, now you’re moving into marketing. I’m sure there was a moment in your SDR life where you said, “Will I like, will I be able to persevere? Will I be able to, like, bite my way through?” What would you like tell other SDRs that are also on the way maybe to the next position, but are struggling, so to say, to see the light on the tunnel, because sometimes it feels like SDRs are just moving from company to company, but not giving yourselves the time to actually persevere. What do you think about that?

Danny 12:43

So the question that you asked me, Jan. Right when you mentioned it, I had it crash. Can you repeat that question one more time, sorry? My internet is terrible today. And I hate it. I apologize for that.

Jan 12:54

No worries. So I think your story is very exceptional, because you went from finance to SDR, now into marketing. And this is, I feel, with a lot of SDRs, they are sort of using the SDR role to segue, to transition to the next position. Fact is though that a lot of the SDRs will stop or just you know, don’t see the opportunity and will move to another SDR role and not bite themselves through, not persevere. What do you tell these SDRs that are sort of on the verge and considering, you know, “Man, will I be able to take the next step? Or should I go to another company and start all over again?” What do you think about that?

Danny 13:34

So there’s gonna be two pieces of advice because I’ve thought about this a few times already. The first thing that I recommend is be patient with yourself - if you join in company, I would recommend to have weekly one-on-ones with your manager, and continue to show up every day. Like for me, during my time at TigerGraph, I’ve been here since February, right? But within the last six months, what I did was, I crushed my numbers. And at the same time, I also showed a lot of initiatives versus me waiting for my manager saying “Hey, take on this side project”. Because by the end day for us, we have one job as an SDR - to make sure we do well in our role, then eventually, after five o’clock is over, go and ask your manager or your other colleagues, “Hey, Jan, is there anything else that I can try out, I’d love to learn a little more about marketing.” I made sure right when I joined TigerGraph that my team knows I’m very interested in learning, growing with marketing. I thought about leaving TigerGraph a few months ago too, there was some structure changes. And for me, one of the reason why I held back is because of the supporting cast that I have here. My VP of Marketing is super supportive. My Marketing Director is super smart, just pretty much my whole team, because they see the value that I can bring in. If I can give any advice to any SDR that’s thinking about quitting or jumping to another SDR role just to try to get to the next level… Be patient with yourself. By the end of the day, all of us are human beings. As long as you know what type of value you can bring to the company, the leaders can see it. They’re not just doing their job, they’re actually observing everything, especially with a small startup like TigerGraph. We barely have 200 employees, they know what all of us are doing. And the second advice that I can give is - be a sponge. Just because, let’s say for example, if one thing isn’t working for you now, try to mix up the way that you work. For me, I’ve never been really a cold caller, just because I found my niche on LinkedIn. And as long as you’re able to articulate that to your manager, “Hey, Jan, I’m not the greatest person at cold calling. But one of the reasons why I chose LinkedIn is because normally when I would message a prospect, I will have all my resources ready. So if someone gives me suggestions, hey, here’s my answer back.” For me, it’s just… And it allows me to give me more time to understand the question more and give them the best answer. But yeah, my best advice, just be patient with yourself. Because by the end of the day, for me, I want to earn my next promotion, I don’t want to jump ships and get that title when I never really worked for it, you know. I’m speaking on behalf of myself. I’m not trying to speak on behalf of others. But yeah, just finding the right supporting casts, and just being patient with yourself is going to be one of the key factors. And understanding what really makes you happy. That’s the reason why I brought up the whole sales quota versus making customers happy. I get more excited when I see customer happy when they receive a T shirt, a Sendoso gift versus “Oh, yeah, I’m at 100%. My numbers, I’m happy but at the same time, I’m not satisfied, you know?” Yeah. I hope that answered your question, Jan.

Jan 17:01

That was a great answer. And I agree, like, be patient with yourself, like, focus on yourself, focus on your numbers, and then you will get there. But it’s important that you’re vocal about your ambitions as well, and like, show that the willingness to learn, but you also have to deliver, right? You would have never earned a promotion without hitting your numbers, you know, doing extra things and just moving forward. So yeah, I really love that. Um, yeah, so I think then you’re the king of being genuine and finding your own style in your outreach. Right. So like writing as you speak, and you know, being genuine, like really finding yourself in the way you communicate to clients? Like, how did you find success in the way you communicate?

Danny 17:49

So you mentioned his name earlier. So I’ve been following Devin for I would say roughly like just a year, year and a half, not too long. I forgot if he was doing AE, or if he had already joined marketing, but one of the posts that he made that really caught my eye that I shared with you a few weeks ago is - be yourself. No one wants the corporate version of you. So when I first joined my first startup, my previous company, every message and email that I used, just tried different means, there was a bunch of sales pitch, a bunch of marketing pitch. And I noticed that no one ever replies back to me, no one cares about what your product has to offer. People can feel your energy and your intentions through email and LinkedIn. So that’s when I decided, you know what, let me go ahead and be myself. I started making my own gif videos on Drift. Started adding more puns into my messaging, and eventually customers will reengage me. Although some customers might not take a meeting with me, but they know hey, this guy, he’s a real human being. He’s not a robot. He added me on LinkedIn. He’s trying to start a conversation but since he’s not doing any sales yet, you know, so. And for me, normally, whenever I add anyone unto LinkedIn, I don’t try to push the meeting right away. I’ll do it a few days. I will try to start a conversation first to see if there’s any fire. If there is, I would write “Alright, Jan, hey. I found an interesting article that might be relevant for you. What are your thoughts on that?” You know, so I think just being yourself, and speak the way… speak the way that you are as a person and be confident in your style because, like Devin said, no one wants the corporate version of yourself. So I think learning how to speak the way that you speak and just being genuine, yourself. But that’s, that’s the one thing that I’ve learned from my past that made me, that made me choose why I like LinkedIn more. Sorry, I’m like, all over the place right now. Um,

Jan 20:01

No, that’s great. And that’s exactly what the people are interested in, you know, like, it’s easier said than done. So you already touched upon that. How can you book more meetings from LinkedIn? What are your tips, Danny?

Danny 20:15

So there’s actually a few things. So let’s think if, for example, if Walmart is one of your top target accounts, right. One thing that I do is I would check Walmart hashtag on LinkedIn. And after that, I’ll find any interesting articles that I see and after that I’ll be like, “Hey, Jan, I found an interesting article about your company. I’m really curious. Um, can you tell me a little more about it?” Or I’ll also add some puns into my messaging. Like for me, normally when it’s Thursday, I will message someone on LinkedIn and say “Happy Fake Friday”. I’ve got a few interesting responses from a few VPs. And they’re like “That, that’s my first time hearing that, that’s very interesting”. And then looking at their financials on Seeking Alpha is something that I do too, and just really trying to find small talk tracks, and add some puns into it. And by doing that, I found a lot of success. I think one of the biggest things that I love the most is kind of like what you did, how you sent me a video of, I think you put “Hi Danny” or something like that from Vineyard. And I use gifs, so that definitely gets a lot of people’s attention. So that’s what I recommend. Just trying different things. But try and make it as personalized as you can.

Jan 21:41

Great, great tips, Danny. Danny time’s running, do we have anything more to cover, we could speak forever. But I don’t want to take too much of your time. Think this was golden. Really good tips. And so already, thank you so much for for sharing. So anything else you would like to drop? And yeah, let the audience know.

Danny 22:05

Um, no, I can’t really think of anything now. Um, I think one of the biggest things is have weekly one-on-ones with your manager and show that you’re really passionate on where you want to go next. Continue to be yourself. And just continue to network. Like, for example, you and I started talking and I’m excited to learn more about Albacross next week with our call with Mark and my colleague too. So there’s, there’s so much people for you to network and learn from on where you want to get to next step. I think if I never talked to my peers, my team, I don’t know if I’d want to stay in marketing, I’ll plow on to something else. But I think just if you can find what you’re passionate about, at the early stage of your SaaS career, I think that’s going to play such a big role. But yeah, man, thanks for having me. I really appreciate it.

Jan 23:02

Yeah, it was, it was really interesting to speak to you Danny, and you have a lot of things to share. So I’m very much looking forward to following your journey. How did it feel? How was it?

Danny 23:14

I’m actually pretty excited, you know. So the last two weeks of July, so starting August, I’m gonna be stepping into the demand generation specialist role where I’ll be supporting a lot of our partners, part of marketing along with SDRs. Excited to learn more about how to build the best campaigns and drive more revenue for TigerGraph, I think this position will also allow me to think more strategically because you know, for SDRs we are strategic but the same time it’s just meetings, meetings, meetings, but now this position will allow me to see what value can I really bring to TigerGraph, you know, it’s going to open a lot of doors, and I believe we’re hiring a demand generation manager too, and I’m excited to whoever is going to be my next manager. I’m excited to pick their brain and be the best version of myself because I want to be the best marketer ever. Yeah.

Jan 24:07

Awesome. Danny, thank you so much.

Danny 24:10

Yeah, I appreciate it. Yep. Thank you for having me, Jan. I look forward to, I’ll speak with you next week, and Mark too.

More Related Videos

Episode 9: Lauren Wadsworth

VP, Global Sales Development

Episode 10: Kyle Coleman

VP, Revenue Growth & Enablement

Episode 12: Florin Tatulea

Senior Sales Development Manager