[RESEARCH REPORT] Pandemic Impact on Sales Development 2020

Published June 10, 2020

You don’t need me to tell you that, over the last few months the whole world has gone a little crazy. Thanks to Covid-19, everything’s changed, and that includes Sales Development. 

But while everyone is trying to adapt, what has been the actual impact? How has Sales Development changed over the last three months? What can we expect in the near future? 

We teamed up with RevOps Squared to research how the pandemic has impacted Sales Development teams. Here’s what we found out.

Concerns over Sales Development layoffs

With record unemployment figures, it shouldn’t be surprising that layoffs were one of the biggest concerns. At the time of the research, over 20% of companies surveyed had already let SDRs go. Additionally, over 60% were still concerned about layoffs in the near future. Interestingly, respondents from larger companies were the most likely to be concerned about their future.

These results remind us that we’re still in the early stages when it comes to the economic effects of this pandemic. Even as lockdown restrictions are lifted, we’re going to see more layoffs over the next three to six months, especially any SDRs who are struggling or on a performance plan. 

With the pressure that comes from these concerns, it’s clear that companies need to ensure they’re consistently communicating with their SDR teams to alleviate concerns as much as possible. 

Companies also need to think about how they are planning to fill the pipeline not created by the SDRs they laid off. Where is that pipeline going to come from? What resources, such as outsourced SDR companies, are available and ready to help?

Levels of Sales Development activity

A large number of SDRs have reduced their activity as a result of the pandemic. 36.5% have reduced their number of daily dials, 30.8% have reduced their number of daily emails, and 39.5% have reduced their number of Cadences. 

This is largely down to a desire to be respectful. People are still trying to process what’s happening and, as a result, some SDRs have slowed down. However, considering the concern over potential layoffs (see above), it’s essential that SDRs fulfill their role. Executives are now tying activity back to revenue, so smart SDRs are actually increasing their activity. Logically, if there are less opportunities being developed, and the pipeline is reduced, we need to be talking to more people than a few months ago. 

If that seems difficult, it’s time to take another look at your messaging. 75% of SDRs are using new/different messaging. Overnight, your prospect’s pain points have changed, but they still have pain points. They still have problems to solve. They still need your help. Of course, you need to be respectful, but that means adjusting—not reducing—your message. 

Lack of dedicated inbound teams

Despite the differences between inbound and outbound, both in terms of activity and mental attitude, only 32% of companies had a dedicated inbound SDR team. 

Smaller companies just starting out often have a hybrid SDR program to start with, handling both inbound qualification and outbound sales. Traditionally though, those roles are split into separate job functions as soon as possible. However, our results showed no correlation between company size and whether they had a dedicated inbound SDR team. 

This really really poses more of a question; if there is no dedicated inbound team, and AE’s are notorious for not following up on all their leads, who is actually following up?

Management of inbound leads

On a related note, 27% of companies have changed how they handle inbound leads. In most of those cases, that’s involved rerouting inbound leads from SDRs to AEs. With a lower number of leads coming inbound due to the crisis, and layoffs on the SDR team, we see this continuing. 

This is understandable, as companies try to reduce any perceived friction and unnecessary steps in the process. However, handing leads directly to AEs means they’re handling more unqualified leads. There is also the risk of leads “falling through the cracks” in this case, ie being send directly to AE’s who get overwhelmed and don’t perform the proper amount of follow up. 

SDRs serve an important function, tracking down all the inbound leads worth qualifying and making sure they have enough touches. Cutting out that process is a false economy, and results in more leads not being contacted. Companies need to carefully consider the buyer journey and then ensure that their lead qualification and nurturing process matches up. 

Conclusion

The whole economy has taken a hit, and it’ll be many months before we understand the full effect of the pandemic. However, all is not lost. By going back to basics and making an effort to understand prospects, their industry, their personas, and their pain points, SDRs can still be effective. 

Finally, self-care is critical. We’re all working from home now, and it’s easy to neglect exercise, sleep, diet, and so on. By taking care of the fundamentals, both in sales and in your personal life, you can come out on the other side of this stronger than ever. 

For the full research report, complete with insights and recommendations, download your copy today. 

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