The State of Outbound Sales: Rethinking Approaches in 2024 & Beyond

For this report, we researched existing TCPA regulations around robocalls, the latest news around impending AI telemarketing regulations, and leveraged survey data that surveyed 1,000 sales professionals from C-suite to individual contributors to provide an overview of the challenging Sales Development landscape in 2024 and implications for B2B sales teams as they look to drive pipeline efficiently.

By Glen Coco

The State of Outbound Sales: Rethinking Approaches in 2024 & Beyond

Report Contents

1. Executive Summary

2. B2B Industry Stats

3. TCPA Regulations & AI Sales Calls

4. The ROI Math of a Full-Time SDR

5. Thinking in Terms of Cost Per Meeting

6. Phones: The Most Powerful Tool for Sales

7. Challenges with Cold Calls

8. Where Glencoco Comes in

1. Executive Summary

Understanding today’s sales development landscape starts with a story about what Netflix found as they began investing heavily in their own in-house content. At first, the investments worked. For each $1 put into content investment, they found some $X return in engagement/revenue. However, as the absolute money they poured into their own in-house content increased, they found that this $X return for each additional $1 started deteriorating. What was going on? Was the quality of the content produced deteriorating at scale? (No.) The answer had to do with the fact that a Netflix subscriber has a limited number of hours to consume content, and as more content was introduced into the platform, it began cannibalizing the limited available hours to consume content for other Netflix-produced content.

The B2B Sales Development landscape in 2024 has similar parallels. As customer acquisition costs rise, outbound channels (in particular, email and linkedin) get flooded with messaging, and it becomes harder to connect with prospects, organizations need ways to cut through the noise. Everyone is competing for a sliver of limited “attention real estate”.

We leveraged Qualtrics to analyze the results of a blind survey of 1,000 sales professionals across 11 industries about their sales development process, changes in the market, and how they invest in revenue pipeline growth.

The key takeaways we found from these sales organizations were the following:

  • The ROI of SDRs is being increasingly scrutinized given the shift to efficient growth. Turnover is on the rise, leading to an increase in sales labor supply looking for work
  • With advances in scalability and automation, maximizing productivity and pipeline generation is shifting towards an increased focus on data, personalization, and disqualification
  • With the rise of artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies which are exacerbating the competition for email and linkedin “attention real estate”, organizations are increasingly reverting back to a century old technology–the phone.

2. B2B Industry Stats

B2B Industry Stats

  • 54% noted customer acquisition costs increased in the last 12 months
  • 60% say that their quotas have increased
  • 40% say turnover has increased in the last 12 months
  • 10-15 average touchpoints in 2023 to secure a qualified meeting (median is 7-9)
  • 26-50% average and median SDR quota attainment
  • 51% total pipeline for all respondents comes from the phone
  • 58% say pipeline generated from calling has increased in the last 12 months
  • 62% say they've increased calling volume in the last 12 months
  • 8 out of 11 industries surveyed said the phone is the most important outbound tool
  • 11 out of 11 industries surveyed put phones in their top 3 channels for delivering outreach
  • 90% have a coverage ratio of at least 1 SDR per AE
  • 66% expect their SDR headcount to increase in the next 12 months

3. TCPA Regulations & AI Sales Calls

A natural business use case for AI is in sales development. What CRO wouldn’t be interested in at least considering replacing SDRs and BDRs, a high turnover, (relatively) less-technical job function that involves a lot of repetitive messaging and process?

At Glencoco, we directionally agree with this sentiment - but the gotchas are always in the fine print. In this case, the fine print has to do with subtle nuances and legacy regulation known as the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), which was passed by the United States Congress in 1991. We’ve distilled the important highlights of the TCPA here:

  • Yes, the TCPA applies to B2B calling
  • If you are making B2B marketing calls using a prerecorded or artificial voice (including recorded voicemails), you will always need express written consent.
  • If you are making B2B marketing calls using an Automated Telephone Dialing System (ATDS), you will need express written consent to call cell phones, but you will need express written consent, but you can call landlines without concern.
  • The fines for violations start at $500 - for each identified violation (aka call).

So, at the federal level, you CAN safely make unconsented MANUAL B2B calls to numbers you can prove are business lines, and numbers that are not in the Do Not Call (DNC) registry.

Now, aside from the legacy regulation shackles around robocalls, let's look ahead at impending regulatory headwinds. With the 2024 U.S. Presidential elections coming up in November, the Federal Communications Commission is moving to explicitly criminalize unsolicited robocalls that use voices made with artificial intelligence. The proposal would outlaw such robocalls under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, or TCPA, a 1991 law that regulates automated political and marketing calls made without the receivers’ consent.

Key Takeaways

Automated, artificial voice calls into inbound leads who have provided their information and consented to being reached out to are fair game, but automated, artificial voice calls for a typical outbound motion (i.e., a cold call) - cannot effectively scale. Litigation can be both lucrative for lawyers and costly/distracting for businesses. Already, as is the case in any technological arms race (cybersecurity attackers vs. defenders; AI tools vs AI detection tools), businesses selling technologies developed to detect AI calls are cropping up.

4. The ROI Math of a Full-Time SDR

Below is a breakdown of the typical ROI math of hiring a SDR whose job duties include account research, making calls, sending emails/linkedin messages, and securing meetings.


For convenience, we’ve also provided this calculator template that you can clone into which you can plug in your business’ ACV and conversion rates so you can understand both:

  1. How a full-time SDR hire can be ROI positive for your business, and
  2. How a full-time SDR hire may not make sense for your business


What’s important to understand here are uniquely higher shadow costs for SDR teams (high attrition from burnout, constant pruning of underperformers, and hiring manager staffing), which diverts significant operating resources and lead to pipeline unpredictability.

Key Takeaways

With pipeline being the lifeblood of any B2B business, hiring SDRs can be a ROI positive investment, but it requires a significant commitment of time and resources to run efficiently and may not make sense for you at the stage of your business. Here are a few reasons why:

  • You may still be figuring out your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) and haven’t quite calibrated your product/service messaging (figuring this out has to come before increasing sales headcount)
  • Your unit economics (ACV, conversion rates) may not justify a full-time SDR headcount
  • Managing performance in a high turnover role can divert resources and time from other initiatives
  • You’ll need to prepare (as in, actually model in staff coverage or time) just to hire, train, fire, and manage this function

We’ll get into alternative approaches to build outbound pipeline, including hiring outsourced agencies and how to evaluate this initiative in the final chapter of this report.


5. Thinking in Terms of Cost Per Meeting

On average according to our survey, respondents say it takes seven or more touchpoints to land a meeting with prospects. Broken out by job title, VPs and Directors of sales said it actually takes 10-15.


And for all these touchpoints required to generate a meeting, what is the cost per meeting? With a wide variance, 47% of respondents are reporting it costs anywhere from $500-2,000 per meeting - factoring in salary costs, shadow costs for hiring, training, and management, and tools provisioning, which can also add another $2,000-5,000 per rep annually.

What is your cost per meeting?

Modeling this cost can be an interesting and important exercise in B2B business planning. Whether you hire sales reps to outbound, invest in paid social spend and SEO, all channels lead to one desired outcome: convincing a decision maker to evaluate your solution. With this stable unit of measure, it becomes much easier to understand the relative ROI of the spend you’re deploying - whether it’s monthly paid social spend, SDR headcount, or agency spend.

6. Phones: The Most Powerful Tool for Sales

Among our survey respondents, 8/11 industries surveyed selected the phone as their most important outbound tool. Additionally, all eleven industries surveyed put phones in their top three, along with email and social media. To recap,

  • 51% of total pipeline for all respondents come from phone
  • 62% stated calling volume increased in the last 12 months
  • 58% say pipeline generated from calling has increased in the last 12 months
  • 10% say phone-generated pipeline has decreased in the last 12 months

Not only is the majority of pipeline coming from calls across the B2B landscape, but these numbers are expected to grow in the coming months. The more dials reps are able to make, the more opportunities they are creating.

In a world that’s become saturated with automated emails, social media connections, and endless ads, sales organizations are seeking ways to cut through the noise. Direct, human conversations have always been the most effective to succinctly provide value propositions and form relationships. Until recently however, making large amounts of cold calls was not a sustainable practice. It was time-consuming, mundane, and limited the amount of people SDRs could reach.

The use of AI and automations on dialing platforms has reduced manual tasks, and most sales organizations are providing at least one or more dialing option for their reps. When asked to select all the dialing technologies they’re using, every respondent cited at least two.

Quality dialing systems should:

  • Be priced effectively (many are too expensive, charging $600/month per license, or lack critical visibility features on the cheap end of the spectrum)
  • Be easy and fun to use for reps, given the burnout and challenging nature of the job
  • Have robust call disposition workflows (manual or automated via AI), and push these dispositions back into your CRM to clean your data and allow you to prioritize and de-prioritize key accounts

7. Challenges with Cold Calls

When asked about the challenges connected to dialing, 25% cited that getting prospects to pick up was their biggest issue. Lack of response is the biggest issue for any prospecting effort, making this unsurprising. The other top answers include getting reps the right dialing technology, training and getting them excited to call, and providing a sustainable strategy. In short, organizations are looking for platforms that are efficient and can help them build an effective calling culture.

A successful cold call doesn’t necessarily mean a meeting has been booked. As we mentioned previously, numerous touch points are needed to land a meeting. Rather a successful cold call is built upon a positive outcome like a prospect asking for more information, asking you to reconnect later, giving you the name of a coworker, etc. In order to follow up on these positive outcomes, reps need to know how to properly disposition a call.

The good news is that when SDRs are using dialing platforms, they are quickly growing comfortable with dispositioning their calls. Some of these platforms have even automated this dispositioning process, saving reps even more time.When asked whether or not their reps reliability perform quality dispositioning, 94% of respondents said yes.

In short, when given the proper tools and training, SDRs are showing that phones are a dynamic way to create opportunities and build pipeline.


8. Where Glencoco Comes in

To recap in full,

  • Building an outbound SDR team can be ROI positive, but is increasingly challenging
  • AI replacing outbound SDRs is unlikely at scale because of TCPA regulations
  • In B2B, cost per meeting can range from $500-2,000
  • The performance-based nature of the SDR role leads to high churn and burnout, driving up shadow costs for an organization hiring, training, firing, and rehiring SDRs
  • Good messaging enablement, data quality, and performance incentives are critical to standing and scaling up a SDR team
  • Labor supply for available SDRs outpaces hiring demand - there is significant excess capacity in the sales workforce
  • More than 51% of total pipeline for all respondents comes from the phone, and 58% say pipeline generated from calling has increased in the last 12 months

What if there was another way to generate outbound pipeline via phones in a more efficient way?

Glencoco is both an advanced AI dialer and a marketplace. We’ve built a product and platform experience where businesses can:

  • Self-service list on our marketplace. The experience is like setting up an email or linkedin ad campaign
  • Define their ICP and set up a sales training/enablement knowledge base through our unique virtual sales floor product
  • Define a price per qualified meeting, along with the qualification criteria for said meeting
  • Integrate their CRM OR upload a csv list of target leads
  • Optionally enrich leads with mobile numbers through our proprietary database
  • Launch the campaign
  • Select from over 12,000 US, UK and Canada-based sales reps in our network who use our magical software to get certified, set up meetings, and get paid on a purely performance/outcome based model.

How Glencoco is differentiated from other outsourced SDR agencies

  • Instant Setup and Campaign Launches. All the tooling, including our AI-assisted dialer, messaging, calendar scheduling, payments flows, data analytics, and integrations are included. We’ve built it all in-house.
  • No implementation costs, monthly retainer/agency/SaaS fees, or hidden costs. Traditional outsourced SDR agencies will typically charge $5,000-$10,000 per month and be a white-glove, but out-dated process.
  • Name your price - you just set a price per meeting along with the qualification criteria, build out a training/enablement module you can also use for your internal teams, sign off before you launch your campaign, and watch the results come in! Our business model is that we take a standardized 30% take rate for every qualified meeting that’s processed through our platform. No-shows and unqualified meetings do not count for payment, and you’re in control of marking meetings in our system as qualified.
  • Build a pipeline of full-time sales hires - you can actually hire reps you see are performing off of our platform, after reviewing their performance/tracking their stats on our platform at any time, for a 15% first year salary placement fee. This fee is in-line with the typical sales recruiting/hiring agency, but even better, because you’ve de-risked your hiring decision as you start scaling up your function.
  • Our dialer is actually really smart, compliant and powerful - we’ve thoughtfully built our B2B sales-focused auto-dialer with all kinds of robust features, like call recordings, bi-directional integrations with your CRM to view dispositions and activity, and powerful backend algorithms to prioritize interested prospects and quickly deprioritize uninterested prospects to minimize negative experiences from being overcalled.

Rethinking Approaches in 2024 & Beyond

We’re just getting started. In 2024, you can expect additional features like automated emails from your approved domains weaved into our platform, continued investments into AI with the data we are capturing, and increased international support/functionality.

With Glencoco, you can spin up your outbound sales motion within hours, not months, with a pricing model that’s flexible and aligns directly with your pipeline and CAC goals.

At heart, we think that sales is one of the most fundamental human skillsets that anyone can master with the right practice and opportunities. In the long run, we believe that by building this B2B Sales Marketplace, we can create billions of opportunities for people and companies, globally.

We hope this report was insightful and thought-provoking, and if you’re interested in learning more, please visit our website and create an account to explore our marketplace.

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