Breaking out the research function for SDRs

A key piece of intel that should be on the shelf of all Sales Development leaders is “The Sales Development Playbook” by Trish Bertuzzi.  

If you’re a Sales Development professional, or have a Sales Development function at your company you’re seeking to better understand, “The Sales Development Playbook” is a must read. 

The book lays out the foundation for the most important aspects of creating a high-performing Sales Development function, including Strategy, Specialization, Recruiting, Retention and Execution, in a logical and easy to follow format.

After being involved in Sales Development function for several years, I was very impressed with the way the book is laid out, and I see it as an excellent overall framework you can use to implement a winning program, all the while putting your own signature on it.  

Every company and market is different, but Trish does a great job in laying out the framework to follow.  

Breaking out the SDR research function

One of the sections that really stood out for me was the chapter on breaking out your SDR research function.  This is something I’ve been thinking about for a while, and something that bemoans most Sales leaders I talk to about SDR’s.  

The consensus: SDR’s are generally spending way too much time researching and not enough time interacting with prospects.  

It’s about what has been called the “Silent Sales Floor” phenomenon; or the fact that a large percentage of the SDR’s day is now spent doing silent online research on their targets, instead of actually talking with them.  

And even if there is a tremendous amount of activity on the sales floor, is it pointed in the right direction? If if they are making a ton of phone calls, are they calling the right people? Are the people they are connecting with able to buy your product?

While specialization of labor has proven to increase business efficiency for years, that fact is being ignored right now by most SDR organizations. 

Thought leaders in the Sales Development space have been working on this problem for a while, and I believe it’s an issue that should be on the radar screen of all Sales Development leaders.  By being laser focused on the research function, tremendous efficiencies can be unleashed. 

A few years ago, Russ Hearl introduced me to the book “The Goal” by Eli Goldratt, which dives into the Theory of Constraints.  I would recommend this book, at least in cliff notes.  

The basic idea of the book is to focus your attention on your business process, and its inefficiencies, and do everything you can to remove complexity, wasted time and lack of focus on the end goal 

It forces you to look at the SDR workflow system with an eye toward ruthless efficiency and ask the question, does having SDRs skipping around to different tabs throughout the day, taking their eye off the ball of calling people, create a lot of wasted time?

Coming back to the Sales Development Playbook: Trish brings up a great point in the Research chapter; by raising the question: why are SDRs spending so much time silently researching and not talking to prospects? Answer: because they can.

With the proliferation of tools available for them to find emails, find direct phone numbers, find facts they can use in their initial outreach, they can get caught up in it all. All the sudden most of the day has passed looking up the right information to enter into Salesforce, or to craft the perfect email and the SDR hasn’t spoken with anyone.  

Something else Trish mentions in this section is that the Outsourced providers of appointment setting services figured this out a long time ago because they run everything by the numbers.  If they can squeeze more phone calls and conversations into the day of one of their callers, they know they can set up more meetings. 

Meetings equal pipeline, pipeline equals closed business. 

When Aaron Ross first brought up the Sales Development process in Predictable Revenue it was interesting how he broke out inbound, outbound, closing and customer success.  I would say the next big step in structuring SDR programs will be to break out another facet: Research. A team of people whose job is to enable SDRs with the data they need to fill in their sequences with the latest and freshest data.  

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