Tenbound Top 10 Trends in Sales Development 2020

Published September 17, 2020

Overview of what we’re seeing in the Sales Dev world today, how you can play them, and the questions they spark.

Managing Virtual SDR Teams

The traditional, office-based SDR model has been on the way out for years, as remote work tools and bandwidth allowed SDRs to work from anywhere. Growing bandwidth and tools like Slack, Zoom, and various Sales Enablement Platforms have made it possible. We’ve all seen the estimates that the coronavirus accelerated the conversion to remote by 5+ years. Sales Development Leaders are now dealing with an entirely new way of running their SDR teams as the remote era has begun. New challenges have been created by the trend; how do you onboard, train and motivate a group of (usually) early career professionals to do a job that is considered the hardest on the go-to-market team? What tools are best for managing the remote SDR team? Should goal metrics change to account for the new reality? We covered some of these questions in this conversation from the recent Virtual Sales Development Conference.

Outsourced SDR Companies

As Sales pipelines are being eviscerated by lower demand and mass SDR layoffs, there’s also been a lack of backfill. Many companies are turning to outside SDR Outsourcing firms to help them with list building, appointment setting and pipeline generation, at least until SDR headcount is reallocated. As witnessed on the Tenbound Market Map, the number of Outsourced SDR companies has exploded in the past few years, and the demand for Outsourced SDR companies is seemingly endless. Many companies have stepped into this demand, with varying degrees of success. It’s a very opaque market. Selecting the right company to support you remains a huge challenge for Sales Development leaders. Tenbound recently released a survey report on the top companies in this area to help the selection process and visualized the decision making process with a new Framework (coming soon).

Mass SDR Layoffs

As spring 2020 brought the true reality of the coronavirus, many Sales Development teams were either downsized, redeployed or completely eliminated. Suddenly thousands of SDRs were unemployed, and while companies still need pipeline more than ever, now, no one is there to do the prospecting. The upside is there a huge amount of top talent out in in the marketplace right now; it’s a buyers market. In some companies, SDRs may never come back, as companies focus more on their installed base, evolve to a more Product-led model, go fully outsourced or go automated. In some scenarios, Account Executives will be expected to do all their own prospecting. What does the future hold for Sales Development post-pandemic? Is it still a viable model in this new financial reality?

Personalization at Scale

The challenge for Sales Development Leaders remains; how do you research and cull out key points in order to make an impact with prospects, yet at the same time not have your team spend the whole day researching? How do you not get stuck in analysis paralysis? New tools let you 10x your daily workflow and will continue to accelerate this process. McKinsey & Company has called personalization at scale the Holy Grail of marketing, noting that “done right, personalization enhances customers’ lives and increases engagement and loyalty by delivering messages that are tuned to and even anticipate what customers really want.” Most Sales Development leaders have landed on a 20% customized approach, with a general message and CTA following, with a set research time allocated to SDRs, ie the “3×3” gather 3 facts in 3 minutes, build in to your messaging, and move on.

Sales Dev Leaders Gain A Seat at the Table

A new generation of Sales Development Leaders is stepping up to lead large and distributed teams, gaining more respect and authority and seat at the Executive Table. A cadre of VP of Sales Development is starting to be noticed at fast moving companies, and are leading big teams. These leaders are strategic, and driving alignment across Marketing, SDR, Sales and beyond. Who knows what the future holds. Where does a VP of Sales Development go later in their career; Marketing? Sales? Our prediction next stop: The Chief Revenue Officer.

SDR Bootcamps

With thousands of college students graduating each year with dubious degrees, few marketable skills and a massive debt load, many see Sales as a great entry point to break into the tech industry. With the crashed economy and pandemic, millions of people are also out of work. Mid-career professionals, Vets, ex-Field Sales Pros are now moving toward Inside Sales. The difficulty is that if they just apply for a SDR job without any experience, it can be really tough to get your foot in the door. Enter the SDR Bootcamp. These are springing up all over in different forms, but the value prop is similar; take a recruit, give them Sales training, give them tech training, and find them a job at a tech company that needs vetted professionals. Some manage the recruiting and training process, and offer ready-made SDRs on demand. Others actually do SDR work for you, producing meetings, and then directly place SDRs on your team.

Communities

Every day you scroll Linkedin, there’s a new Sales Community springing up. They are talking off even more as we all hunker down inside during coronavirus. People really need community support right now, and they need friends (digitally and maybe sometime, IRL) to help them with questions, make connections, and expand their networks. Now instead of having to leave your house and go to Meet-up, you can do it all online without leaving your room. Companies also need to build communities to ensure they have an audience and can control their message through the customer lifecycle. Salesforce.com did this brilliantly with Trailhead. Most communities are free to join, and have varying value, and some are paid and very exclusive. No consultants, founders or other riff-raff. 🙂

Gurus/Coaches

Similarly to Communities, not a day goes by without another SDR Guru/ Coach springing up and making a big splash on LinkedIn. Social media has allowed someone to leverage their following, start a community and even set up a Patreon group to fund their activities. Could be great work if you can get it. If you’re looking at these as way to help your career or team, ask for the same due diligence that you would if you are buying a software product; provable case studies, real differentiation and realistic outcomes.

Alignment: Marketing + SDR + Sales and The Rise of RevOps.

One of the most exciting developments happening now in the Sales Development world how it’s tackling the challenge of Revenue Alignment. How can Sales Development leaders rise above the noise to drive real alignment within their organizations, and to produce better results from Marketing to Revenue? To lead this charge, Sales Development leaders’ tool kits now must include knowledge of Marketing, Sales Development, Sales, Revenue Operations and the political savvy to lead this charge. We see this developing into the true role of a CRO, one who is in charge of the entire process, driving consistent process improvements and interfacing directly with the CEO. This is an amazing opportunity for up-and-coming Sales Development leaders to lead the charge around alignment, and potentially grow their careers to new levels of success.

Data Prioritization

Data is the lifeblood of Sales Development, and having clean data is table stakes for high performance Sales Development teams. While many teams have purchased high-investment solutions for data cleanliness, the problem many teams are tackling is trying to prioritize the data and set it up for their SDR teams. How do you sort Accounts, People and keep the lists prioritized over the long term? Who should be in charge of the process? What are the factors you need to consider when prioritizing your data? While vendors have come and go attempting to solve this issue, it remains a challenge to solve. RevOps has stepped up to tackle this.

What other trends have you seen?

What did we miss?

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