By Jeff Garon, Senior Researcher, Tenbound
A typical question seen when a company is contemplating a Sales Development program is basic, but very important… Why?
The answer to this varies in every scenario, but it really becomes a discussion of scaling, efficiency, growth and optimization.
First… Should You Even Bother?
There’s a standard reaction to dismiss the value of integrating Sales Development as an unnecessary layer in your organization. We get it… a fully ramped and producing sales team is a thing of beauty. When someone expresses an interest in your products/solution, your team is knowledgeable, helpful and motivated to turn that inquiry into a deal as soon as possible. Those same reps are also hitting the phones, networking and creatively getting in front of new prospects as well to generate pipeline and bust through their targets.
If this is your situation, congratulations! Your team is firing on all ends, and hopefully being compensated accordingly.
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it…
Not necessarily… high performing teams hitting existing goals without a Sales Development layer are almost certainly an ideal scenario in which Sales Development can drastically increase your working pipeline and set you up to scale.
Although your team may be seemingly firing on all cylinders, you are almost surely missing out on some attractive efficiency improvements by segmenting responsibilities through a Sales Development team.
So, if your results are good enough, and you aren’t interested in proven methods of increasing efficiency and pipeline, then Sales Development could be like throwing gas on a wood fire.
Now… When You Definitely Should Care
Assuming the statement above doesn’t describe you (because you don’t want adequate and good enough… you want to be amazing and crush goals), it’s time to think seriously about Sales Development.
Sales Development can in reality be described as a means to sales acceleration and optimization. What you really want is to have your sales team spending their time engaged in quality conversations with qualified prospects. By offloading the lead generation and qualification processes to specialized roles, you free their time up to focus on where they can add the most value for your business.
What Does Sales Development Solve?
Some typical issues facing organizations for which a sales development layer can be a solution include:
- Increased leads through outbound campaigns
- Increased conversion rates for inbound and other warm leads (more attention, more touches, better results)
- Failure of sales representatives to follow up with prospects
- Stagnant growth and inability to break into new accounts
- Low percentage / unqualified leads and opportunities filling your pipeline
- Your prospects are moving to competitors
This doesn’t happen without work, investment, organization and support though. With the right planning and support, your team will be structured for growth and success.
So… Who is Sales Development For?
Sales Development, is an essential layer for any growth focused company to implement. Similar to a manufacturing line that realizes cost reductions and speed/efficiency improvements through segmenting tasks and using specialized processes and tools for each need.
If your Sales team is not swimming in new sales appointments and have a completely full calendar, consider Sales Development.
In a typical start-up, you’ll probably have one or two salespeople handling end-to-end sales. But as the business scales and it gets busy, just having a couple full cycle a salespeople starts to crack.
With leads coming in at the top of the funnel and a sketchy sales process, it becomes increasingly challenging for salespeople to find the time or energy to actively prospect. No judgement here, it just happens as they are busy closing deals. Leads start falling through the cracks.
Not to mention, now nobody is spending the time needed to target and approach target accounts. Symptoms of lacking SDR team in your company:
- Your sales representatives fail to follow up with prospects
- Your sales team isn’t breaking into new accounts
- Your sales pipeline is filled with unqualified leads
- Your prospects are moving to competitors
You’ll need to have a strategy that gets potential buyers in your pipeline and nurtures them, and another sales strategy that closes the sale. At this point, it may be time to split your two primary sales roles in to SDRs and Sales Executives.
SDR (Sales Development Representative) are inside sales representatives who focus solely on sales prospecting by reaching out to new leads, qualifying them and pushing them further down the sales funnel and finally setting up sales qualified appointments. They also focus on cold outreach to target accounts you’d love to break in to.
After setting up sales qualified appointments, sales executives can take it from there and work toward closing the deal.
The role of an SDR is twofold – inbound and outbound sales prospecting:
Inbound SDRs nurture leads who have shown interest in your solution and have already engaged with your company through its marketing channels.
Outbound SDRs reach out to potential customers who have never engaged with your company’s product or solution through cold prospecting.
SDR can help in plenty of ways :
- It will ensure you a healthy sales pipeline with a fast-moving leads through the pipeline and clear of junk and dead leads.
- When your business encounters a growth stage, your SDR is going to have time to classify leads and follow up with warm and cold leads, cross or upsell to existing customers and engage with new customers.
Increase growth with two separate sales roles, your sales representatives have time to follow up with warm and cold leads, cross or upsell to existing customers and engage with new customers.
adopting SDR team will increase productivity and efficiency meaning that your sales executives will solely focus on closing deals and SDR will focus in delivering qualified leads to the sales executives thereby saving time and increasing the overall sales team productivity.
What makes an ideal SDR?
Sales Development Representatives (SDR) have to be quick on their feet, master the sales game, excel in having online conversations, be great content finders, and overcoming bad interactions by having a positive outlook. And all this can be formatted in the following steps:
Prospecting skills: SDRs should be familiar and a master in the language of sales – What are the buying signals to watch out for? What words to use that makes customers buy? When is the right time to ask the right questions?
Art of listening: SDRs should actively listen to each conversation with the prospect, interrupting when they need clarification and ask probing questions that allow them to explore the buyer’s mind.
Product knowledge: Sales representatives should have adequate knowledge about the features, benefits, and weakness of your product before creating effective pitches and connecting customer’s needs to your solution.
Time management: Ability to optimize time improves sales productivity and creates an environment for high performance. This soft skill coupled with CRM Software and other technologies delivers significant ROI for any business.
Communication skills: Good at building rapport and starting a conversation over phone and email. Effective communication also helps prevent objections by providing clarity into how your solution can solve business problems.
Sales team is at the heart of any business. We’ve all heard it before. You can have the best product in the world, but if your sales team dosn’t do any good, you’ll get where you want. Great products don’t sell themselves great salespeople do.
Recruiting top talent requires tremendous effort, but it’s worth it.
Keeping top talent is even more difficult than recruitment because talented people are demanding! You have to make sure they stay motivated, that they continuously learn and see a purpose in what they do.
Becoming a Sales Development Representative (SDR) is often a starting point in a sales career. Which often means that SDR’s are young. Our sales development team is made of people aged between 20-25 years old.
It’s our job to make sure they’re happy so they work with us as long as possible. Especially, recognizing that an average SDR tenure is 1.4 years.
To be able to keep your sales reps happy, you have to be aware of the challenges they face on a daily basis, so you can prevent or at least quickly react to any potential problems.
Now let’s take a look at most of the challenges faced by sales development reps and how to solve them:
- High-performance expectations
One of the challenges that SDR face is setting high-performance expectations. for example, to set their very specific targets at 60 sales qualified leads per month.
If you have not a very experienced SDR, setting such a goal will leave your SDR clueless.
It’s like arriving at a destination you have never been to before and trying to find a hotel that you booked without a map (and no taxis around). A pretty annoying and stressful experience!
Do you see my point?
Solution: You need to create a roadmap or a detailed path to success.
Your SDRs have to know what steps they have to take to reach their ultimate goal to get 50 SQLs in a month. This steps involve many details:
- Finding prospects
- Scheduling emails
- Monitoring replies, etc.
Each step must be assigned a metric, i.e. to get 50 SQL’s, how many prospects they have to find, how many emails they have to send, etc. The more detailed the roadmap, the better. Focus on the small steps – divide the metrics into daily milestones so they are easier to achieve.
- Lack of coaching
Let’s say you have your roadmap ready. Can you just sit back, relax and wait for the money to come? Nope.
Lack of coaching is another obstacle that sales development reps face. They are not robots, they cannot be programmed to continuously achieve high results.
Although they know how to achieve a goal, and what’s expected of them, sometimes they fail to do it, they are just humans. However, if they stop achieving desired results, they will get demotivated and will leave eventually.
Somebody smart once said that: people leave their bosses, not organizations… so be a good boss.
Solution: Monitor performance and try to spot any performance decrease as soon as possible. Organize one on one meetings to discuss what went wrong; why didn’t they achieve their target?
Have a look at the roadmap, analyze the process step by step, maybe they got the targeting wrong, or their email content wasn’t top notch. Whatever the reason, show them how to improve their work and give them the appropriate feedback.
It’s a good idea to share best practices within the team, I am sure you have some high performers in yours.
- Lack of feedback loop
Sales development reps to do their jobs at its best must receive regular feedback from Account Executives. SDR’s want to know if their efforts paid off and how the scheduled demos went.
Not solely for the purpose of satisfying their curiosity, but rather to find out what they should do to improve their effectiveness.
What was the reason someone bought or didn’t buy the product? Maybe they can adjust their campaign messaging or make any changes to their target audience.
Solution: You have to establish a clear communication channel between your SDR’s and AE’s. They have to communicate regularly.
- No marketing-sales alignment
In a perfect world, sales and marketing would be best buddies! They would regularly cooperate and exchange information on lead nurturing.
Unfortunately, in the real world, more often than not these two departments hardly collaborate with each other, even though they actually have the same goal: to acquire new customers.
This lack of communication is harmful to both sales and marketing. If marketing received feedback from SDR’s regarding the effectiveness of their outbound campaigns then marketers would be able to better adjust their messaging in their marketing communication channels.
Plus it would improve the effectiveness of inbound campaigns. More sales qualified leads = more happiness for Sales Development Reps.
Solution: Push for creating a lead nurturing process. And decide when marketing leads should be assigned to sales development reps, who does lead screening, and who decides which inbound leads suitable to be SQLs.
What happens with SQL’s which were not ready for a demo? Providing answers to these questions will help you make the most of your leads, and hopefully improve the performance of both departments.
This won’t come as a surprise to you, the sales development job is monotonous – let’s face it. Monotonous jobs often lead to burnout. Highly target focused roles are stressful as a lot of pressure is put on delivering results continuously.
Solution: Celebrate small wins, and offer your SDR’s small rewards to make them excited.
Give them the freedom to experiment so they can use a bit of creativity, and take credit for the ideas that worked.
Be wise though, it has to be organized and structured in a certain and controlled way to avoid chaos.
You can involve your SDR’s in the creation of your sales development process – and because they do the job, they’ll have lots of bright ideas.
You might also think of setting up a promotion system – junior SDR, senior SDR, team leader so you can keep them motivated.
- Lack of appropriate tools
We mentioned earlier that being a Sales Development Representative is monotonous, primarily due to task repetition. They spend a significant amount of time on… guess what? Prospecting!
It is recommended that SDRs spend around 30-40% of the time on finding prospects.
Don’t get me wrong, we all know how important prospecting is, it can make or break your outbound sales process. After all, effective outbound sales start with finding people potentially interested in buying your product or service.
Regardless of how crucial prospecting is, there are ways to make it more efficient and less time-consuming.
Solution: Provide your sales reps with the tools they need to do their jobs effectively. Prospecting can be automated, it’s a process that shouldn’t take most of your sales people’s time.
I am not talking about buying contact lists – bought lists are often out of date. Using them will eventually disappoint your SDRs, as big bounce rate will negatively impact their performance.
Not having enough tools, is as detrimental as having a tool overload. Especially when they don’t integrate with each other. Making sure that your outbound sales platform integrates with your CRM is essential
7.Uncertainty about their career path
Another different challenge facing some Sales Development Representatives is the inability to identify what career path they want to follow. And that’s perfectly fine; they are young, some of them have just graduated, some are still studying.
A lot of sales reps will move forward into account executive roles as it seems like a typical career move. However, there will be SDR’s who won’t have an interest in seeking a career in sales. Not knowing what they want to do next might lead to stress and anxiety.
Solution: Let your sales reps recognize that they do not have to be sales representatives if they do not want to. Leave the door open to pursuing other options.
Being an SDR is a great way to familiarize yourself with the business, they could potentially go into marketing if they wanted to. Apparently, best marketers have some sales experience, which isn’t surprising, nobody knows customers as well as salespeople.