Sales Development is not new, but with more technology available to make the process easier, it’s becoming a go-to for a lot of B2B companies. It’s an important system to develop as it helps to make your whole sales process, quicker, more efficient, and most importantly, more profitable.
Sales development is focused at the beginning of the sales cycle (or the top of the sales funnel). It’s about connecting with leads over the phone, through email, or through social media, and qualifying them, before sending them on to Account Executives or Sales Reps to close the deal.
The key to having a successful Sales Development team is specialization. You need to differentiate between your Sales Development Representatives (SDRs) and your Account Executives or Sales Reps. The former is the one who contacts and qualifies the leads, and gets them to agree to a meeting. While the latter is the one one who conducts the meetings and closes the sales. These are two different roles that need a completely different set of skills and training, so it’s important to separate the two.
Why do you need SDRs?
Sales Development Representatives are your Sales Development team. They’re goal is to identify and qualify as many leads as possible in as little time as possible, so as to make your sales process easier and your sales cycle shorter. They do this by taking a lot of the pressure of your Sales reps.
Connecting with a lead involves a lot of calls being made and emails being sent. Sales reps, with quotas for closed sales hanging over them, don’t necessarily have the time to connect with leads who haven’t been qualified in this way. SDRs are there to free up the Sales Rep’s time by engaging with and qualifying leads before they get sent to the Sales Rep to close the sale.
Lead response times also need to be quick. When someone engages with your content or website, they’re more likely to be responsive if you contact them within the first five minutes than if you waited for longer. Sales Reps don’t have the time to send emails to every prospect as quick as is needed, while also focusing on their qualified leads. SDRs are pivotal for responding to leads in the proper time.
Sales and Marketing are notorious for not always getting along. Marketing get annoyed at Sales because they feel that Sales don’t follow through on enough leads, while Sales feel that Marketing doesn’t send them leads that are good enough. Sales Development Reps are good for bridging the gap between the two departments. They get leads from Marketing and use data collected to figure out if the lead is qualified. If so, then the lead gets sent to Sales. With this step in between Marketing and Sales, neither team can complain about the other. Marketing is having all of their leads looked at and the qualified ones followed up on, while Sales is only getting the qualified leads sent to them. All of this will make your team more efficient, which in turn, will equal more revenue.
How to build your sales development team
The firsts step in getting an effective Sales Development Team is in hiring suitable Sales Development Reps. You need to have an idea of the kind of person you want to hire. Similar to having an Ideal Customer Profile when looking to generate more leads, you need to have some sort of Ideal SDR profile. If you’re just starting out with building your team then this will be more speculative, but you can tweak it as your team gets stronger.
Your SDRs will be mostly phone and email-based, so they will need to have good communication skills, both oral and written. A good way to test this is to have your prospective SDR do a mock phone call or email during the interview.
They will also need to have excellent listening skills. Sales is just as much about listening as it is about talking, if not more so. Your SDRs will come across objections different to those of the Sales reps, so to be able to overcome them, they need to know exactly what it is the lead is objecting to.
Once you’ve got your SDRs on board you need to start training them. You should first spend a bit of time on product training so as to get them as up-to-date as possible on the product they will be selling. If they don’t know enough about or believe in the product themselves, then they certainly won’t be able to convince anyone else of it.
Next you need to get them coached in customer-training, so they know how to engage with leads and what to say. If you haven’t already got one, you should have a playbook set up with examples of scripts and suggestions for overcoming objections. As I said before, this is completely different to the type of training that you would give to your Sales reps. SDRs will face different objections to those of Sales reps. They will hear more ‘I’m not interested’, or’ I already use a different product,’ so their training should focus more on how to overcome these than on pricing and product specifications. SDRs only have a minute or two to grab the lead. They need to have something compelling to say that will do that.
Much of a Sales Development Reps day will be taken up with repetitive tasks, so they need to be trained in how to use technology to make this more efficient. Auto-diallers, email automation, prospect databases and CRM software are all important parts of sales development and need to be used effectively.
It’s a good idea to follow-up once the official training is complete. Having weekly check-ins and training sessions to keep up-to-date on how your SDRs are getting along will show you if there is anywhere they need to be pushed on and where they are excelling.
You need to be able to see what your Sales Development Team is getting right and where they’re going wrong, so looking at different metrics is important. Obviously looking at how many calls they’ve made, and emails they’ve sent is good, but this shouldn’t be the only thing they are being measured on. Look at how many of these calls and emails qualified, and then how many turned into actual sales.
It’s important to give your teams an incentive to get better, so make sure that you’re rewarding your SDRs for sales that have closed as well as your Sales reps. If they know they will be rewarded for a sale they will be more likely to work harder at qualifying a sale, therefore making it easier for Sales to close the deal.
The impact of having an effective Sales Development Team is obvious. They increase your company’s efficiency, which increases your sales, which increases your revenue. What’s stopping you?