Sales development reps (SDRs) are often overlooked when it comes to revenue strategy because these teams are typically made up of entry-level sellers whose job it is to open doors, not close sales. That thinking is outdated and short-sighted. An SDR is the front door to your company for sales prospects. They are often the first human to meet and greet a prospect and they play a huge part in the impression those future customers have of your company. They can also be your pipeline generation engine.
Research shows that B2B buying isn’t the hand-holding, in-person experience it once was. With automation and AI now delivering information, buyers are completing most of the sales process on their own. According to Forrester, 84% of B2B buyers prefer doing their own research versus talking to a sales rep. CEB reports that B2B buyers are 57% of the way through their buying process before their first engagement with a sales rep. That means that when a prospect finally does engage with your company, that first impression better be informed, welcoming and ready. So how do you set up your SDRs to deliver that?
To be the most effective, an SDR team needs to have the data and tools to provide prospects with meaningful information on the first contact. Before we dive into that, let’s look at the many roles an SDR can play.
The Many Roles SDRs Play
At their core, SDRs are high-level lead qualifiers. They provide the crucial step of taking leads from marketing and deciding whether they are worth sales’ time. In short, SDRs protect your account execs’ time, and that time is money.
SDRs are looking for three things:
- Who is the buying group? Do we have the right decision maker(s) or can we get to them?
- What is their driver/initiative? What is the reason they need our solution?
- Do we have what they are looking for? Is there a good product fit?
Answers to these questions are essential to make sure the right leads get routed as quickly as possible to the right people, and leads that are not a good fit are quickly disqualified. Yet SDRs are capable of doing much more than qualifying leads and booking demos. With the right data, skills and training, they can generate significant amounts of pipeline — 75% of our pipeline at InsideView — expand relationships within strategic accounts to source upsell and cross-sales opportunities, and develop outreach strategies for new prospects.
Data Is a Sales Development Rep’s Best Friend
SDRs use data to quickly find and connect with the right decision-makers and engage with them based on timely news and insights about their business.
In our organization, we’ve embedded data directly into our workflow so accessing it is a repeatable, automated process. Every time an email or form fill comes through and requests information about our company or products, that data is sent through our marketing automation and sales intelligence platforms (Pardot and InsideView, respectively), the data gets enriched, then a notice is sent to the assigned SDR. Within the six minutes that the lead is routed, it’s been enriched with information to help the SDR engage and qualify more successfully.
By using data in this way, we achieve “speed to lead.” At the same time, we’re mindful to balance speed and quality. Once the SDR has the lead, we want them to slow down and take time with the customer. Having informed conversations creates relationships. Understanding their motivations and requirements enables the SDR to qualify each opportunity, so only the highest quality, best-fit leads get routed on.
Data also gives us the platform to be creative. My team used our own sales intelligence data to identify customers who left their companies. The SDRs then created a campaign called “Follow the Money” to target former customers to see if they would buy again at their new companies. This pipeline converts to revenue much more often, as we already have a relationship and product familiarity we can leverage.
Where SDRs Fit In the Revenue Process
SDRs sit squarely between sales and marketing, where they can serve as a critical link between the two teams.
It’s not news to anyone that sales and marketing orgs often suffer from a gap in focus that can create tension between the teams and negatively impact revenue achievement. The best way to address this gap is with people, and SDRs are perfectly positioned to fill that gap.
A bold suggestion: Consider moving your SDR team to report into the marketing organization. Here’s why: By placing sales development within marketing, you focus their attention on qualifying leads and driving toward marketing’s pipeline goals. SDRs get more exposure to marketing initiatives and goals, so they can contribute to the messaging and serve as a quick feedback loop on marketing campaigns, letting the demand gen team know what’s working and what’s not.
Constant communication with the sales team and sales leaders is also critical to make sure SDRs are generating the right opportunities, in the right way, and adjusting to get the targets and process right, while providing feedback to the marketing team. At InsideView, we treat our sales leaders as our “customers” and thus we are the direct connection between marketing and sales.
Everything we do should be about making money, saving money and saving time. The best SDR programs achieve all three, making money by generating the bulk of your revenue team’s pipeline, and saving time and money by doing much of the early stage heavy lifting for your account execs. If you empower your SDRs with the right skills, processes, data and tools, they can become your sales superpower.