by Kathleen Robida, Tenbound Expert Network

LinkedIn is always buzzing with tips and tricks for SDRs to book more meetings and for Sales to win more deals. What’s the best cold call opener? Which subject lines and email templates are working? Who is using video successfully in their prospecting? Last but not least, don’t forget to; “LinkedIn connect, and don’t sell!”

Continuous Improvement and Learning should be an ongoing pursuit on a daily, weekly, monthly, and quarterly basis.

However, what is rarely discussed is the critical importance of the Sales Development Representative and Account Executive partnership.

Beyond a solid onboarding process, the success or failure of the SDR/BDR and AE relationship can make or break the organization’s quest for repeatable, scalable new business opportunity pipeline growth. Leadership should take great care to set the standard and expectations of cross-team collaboration. This includes respect for the Sales Development motion and people, the importance of alignment between teams, and a focus on setting the SDR and AE up for success.

To accomplish this, both teams require a clear understanding of each other’s goals, initiatives, strategies, how they like to communicate, and what success looks like. It is also important that the Sales/Business Development Team and Leadership value their Sales Partners for their territory knowledge, sales expertise, guidance to the SDR, and goodwill.

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines partnership as ”the state of being a partner: participation.” Participation! This means that both the SDR and Account Executive need to participate in communicating with one another and dedicate time and effort to their common goal.

When SDRs are first paired with Sales, each needs to understand the career experience they bring. This leads to mutual respect of strengths, finding common ground, learning how they can work together, and potentially seeing where there may be gaps in knowledge of the marketplace or skillset. Identifying areas where the pairing can assist each other and strengths to utilize to obtain more meaningful conversations with prospects will only open doors and increase pipeline.

We can’t move into the present and future without understanding the past. Sales Reps and SDRs should share their quarterly and annual goals and progress with them. Ideally, the duo will get to a point where each is checking in on progress toward goals and seeing how they can help one another achieve more.

Sales reps often have developed a wealth of knowledge about their territory, including market trends, news items, laws and regulations, lighthouse clients, common competitors, key strategic accounts, pains the product solves, and more. This knowledge is extremely valuable to the SDR. We want the SDR to be educated on products, prospect needs and pains, regional market intelligence, and competitors to be able to share relevant information with prospects.

This helps the SDR be more credible and have a better chance to engage with prospects, thus benefiting the SDR, Sales Rep, and Company.

Once the SDR has begun work in the Account Executive’s territory, regular one-on-one meetings should be on the calendar and occurring. This is not a manager-to-employee meeting but two sales professionals communicating and collaborating. It’s a chance to review each other’s progress and share prospect intel uncovered from conversations with prospects. The SDR brings huge value in confirming correct personas, understanding which messaging works, relaying insights on competitors, etc.

This is a wonderful opportunity to better understand the current market, and track the duo’s progress towards building pipelines and closing deals.

A word about creativity. It is important for SDRs and AEs to look outside of the strategic accounts list to uncover more business opportunities. Creating more pipeline with Lunch & Learns, Road Trips, Conferences, Webinars, and Gifting Campaigns. Researching accounts history for old inbound leads that never converted or lost opportunities that could be brought back to life is worth the time and effort.

So now we should have two sales professionals working side by side to open and win qualified opportunities. It’s been proven that this sales structure can bring in higher-value deal sizes. To handle these precious opportunities, it’s wise to give some guidance on how the pair might interact with the prospect to present professionally and consider the prospect’s buying experience. In a perfect world, the SDR has debriefed the AE with all of the information they need about the prospect; this includes the research the SDR did, plus the conversation details.

Key pieces of information should be provided based on high-level qualifications (yes, BANT), other key pieces unique to the marketplace, and any tidbits about the prospect that would help continue building rapport. The AE and SDR should have a framework and agenda for the planned meeting to guide the conversation smoothly. A post-meeting debrief is also valuable so the selling team can provide feedback to one another, share insights on the conversation, and review action items.

Frequent interaction between the SDR and Sales Rep is important to “be on the same page” and ideally build trust in each other. There’s an old saying about relationships being like bank accounts: You will have trouble withdrawing (asking for things) if you haven’t deposited (contributed, been helpful, spent the time).

Managing and not ignoring conflict is the better route to take when conflict arises (sales has its pressures). Avoiding issues often comes down to scheduled and frequent communication, assuming good intent, and communicating concerns, fears, and worries. Taking the time to understand each other should improve a situation.

Executive Leadership plays a key role in the team-selling segment of the commercial engine. Conveying support for a team-selling culture, checking that multiple teams’ goals are aligned to maximize positive pipeline impact, expecting partners to have mutual respect, identifying partnership mismatches, removing roadblocks, looking for growth opportunities, and celebrating wins. Sometimes, the SDR is overlooked when sales organizations celebrate wins; that win may have all started with an SDR’s research and prospecting. As they say in the biz, “You can’t close an opportunity without first opening it.”

In time, the selling teams should develop a shorthand and bond with one another to the extent that neither wants to be reassigned to a new partner. They should become each other’s biggest fans. If this happens and the pipeline gets closer to 3x coverage, you have achieved team selling #relationship goals!

What works best for you? Leave a comment!

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