Sales Development Representatives are critical in demand management and in many organization they are the missing link between marketing and sales. The strength of this link strongly indicates whether the marketing and sales functions are in alignment, the status of the relationship is healthy and the sales pipeline supports growth objectives.Demand generation is the marketing function responsible for creating leads – it fills the very top of the sales funnel. Some organizations unintentionally create a chasm by having marketing pass leads to the sales team and then and then rinse and repeat. Numerous issues usually arise as a result of this practice with two of the most noteworthy being that the demand generation function:
- Is not synchronized with territory planning and / or
- Is not focused on qualified sales opportunities with a high propensity to turn into customers
The best run organizations pass leads from the demand creation team to the demand management team where Sales Development Representatives (SDRs) provide the bridge between leads and qualified sales opportunities–there is lead closure and a hand-off.
Sales Development Representatives – Definition
Sales Development Representatives are responsible for prospecting, qualifying, and creating new qualified sales opportunities with a high propensity to close. A qualified sales opportunity varies by organization. However, it generally means that a lead or marketing qualified lead (MQL) has met or exceeded a set of criteria that the sales team has specified as a “gate” before an inside or direct sales rep engages. A fully loaded B2B direct sales rep costs an organization about $2,000 per day (fully loaded and inside sales reps range from 50% – 75% of that cost). So it’s critical for an organization to create an effective sales development function to feed expensive sales resources with qualified sales opportunities and not mere leads.
Key Tasks for Sales Development Representatives include but are not limited to:
- Meet monthly and quarterly qualified sales opportunities and revenue objectives
- Collaborate with sales reps and the demand creation team to develop and execute strategies to penetrate and expand within accounts
- Set up meetings with prospective accounts for sales representatives
- Engage with sales reps each week, if not day, to prioritize target account lists, program support and lead follow-up activities
- Follow-up on leads to determine fit, based on predetermined criteria documented in a qualification matrix
- Make outbound prospecting cold calls into new accounts and warm calls in conjunction with lead follow-up and nurturing programs
- Research and build new and existing contacts within target accounts
- Demonstrate a clear understanding of sales processes
- Document sales activities and progress on each lead in the sales automation system
- Build internal organization charts for key accounts
- Communicate a working knowledge of market, competitive environment and solution
- Collaborate, communicate and coordinate with Sales Reps on the hand-off of each lead
- Successfully manage and overcome prospect objections
Demand Management and Sales Development Representatives
Specifically, the Sales Development Representatives (Demand Management team) will work with either one or a group of sales reps and the demand creation team. Together, they plan, research, prospect and follow-up on leads with the goal of setting up appointments for the sales team. The SDR needs to have one foot in demand generation and one foot in sales as their fuel comes from marketing and their value from sales. It’s critical that the demand creation and demand management function be integrated and aligned on the demand creation strategy and execution, to optimize overall go-to-market effectiveness. As soon as a marketing initiative is conceived, the SDRs and Sales team should be part of the account penetration or expansion planning process. Doing so will allow an integrated program to be built that includes messaging, calls to action, target account focus, promotion, follow-up, nurturing and star-bursting.
Sales Development Representatives – Outbound Calling
A huge part of the position requires great phone skills because outbound calling will consume a vast majority of the Sales Development Representatives day. Skills in persuasion, assertiveness and quick thinking will pay dividends getting past gatekeepers, gaining referrals, overcoming objections and earning precious seconds on the phone to hook a prospect. Because Sales Development Representatives uncover a plethora of information early in the sales process, they need to be proficient and rigorous with updates to the sales force automation system (SFA). The SFA system is the sales system of record and a lynchpin in the hand-off process to sales. An effective system will provide the history and context of each account and contact as well as the next steps so the transition from SDR to sales rep is seamless. Without this knowledge, a sales rep may waste a prospect’s time by reviewing ground that has been covered, be off-point or not or simply not fulfill the promise that was made when setting up the meeting.
Sales Development Representatives – Preparation
Account intelligence is critical to the sales development role since communicating value quickly over the phone is key to success. Before an SDR even picks up the phone, he or she should have a working knowledge of the account , a cursory knowledge of the contact, the reason for the call and why a prospect should engage. A prerequisite is for the SDR to develop account and contact intelligence. This requires strong research skills that span navigating a digital footprint through social media, search engines, navigating databases and building a solid network.
Demand Management – Consistency and a Steady Flow
It’s important for Sales Development Representatives to keep their eye on the prize – a pipeline of qualified sales opportunities sufficient for the sales team to make or exceed their quota each and every quarter. To do this requires planning with the demand creation team and sales reps. On the demand creation side, it is essential to reverse-engineer the metrics using the conversion ratios to project volumes and timeframes, and this has to fit the capacity parameters of the Sales Development Representatives. The worst thing that can be done is to have periodic spikes in lead flows as it results in both leads rotting (yes, there is an expiration date on each lead) as well as periods of drought. In addition to lead flow, all other tasks need to be factored into the equation and prioritized to yield optimum results.
Metrics for Sales Development Representatives
There is some art to being a successful SDR but there is a ton of science. Specifically, there are a number of metrics and KPIs that must be tracked, monitored and proactively managed. Below are some of those that should be top-of-mind for every Sales Development Rep:
- What is the revenue number for each quarter and the fiscal year?
- How many qualified sales opportunities are required to meet or exceed the revenue targets?
- How many meetings are required to generate the needed number of qualified sales opportunities?
- How many conversations are required to generate the required number of meetings?
- What percentage of conversations will come from marketing-qualified leads, outbound cold-calling and nurture programs?
- How many marketing qualified leads are required to generate the needed number of conversations?
- How many outbound cold calls are required to generate the needed number of conversations?
- What volume of nurturing is required to generate the needed number of conversations?
What are my conversion rates:
- Cold Call to Conversation
- MQL to Conversation
- Conversation to Meeting
- Meeting to Qualified Sales Opportunity
- Qualified Sales Opportunity to Closed Won
What is the Status of the Database?
What is the size of my suspect, prospect and customer database:
- How many companies do I have in my territory?
- How many contacts do I have per account?
- What is the distribution of contacts by title (individual contributor, manager, director, vice president and c-level)?
- How many records have full contact information (email, phone and full address)?
- How do I increase the number of contacts each day, week, and month?
Status of Qualified Sales Opportunities Passed
At what stage in the sales pipeline are the qualified sales opportunities I’ve passed to the sales team?
- Stage 1
- Stage 2
- Stage 3
- Stage 4
Account Penetration Rates
Who are the top accounts for the quarter and fiscal year?
What is the penetration status into each one of these accounts:
- Sales Stage 1-4
- Qualified Sales Opportunity
- Attempting to connect
- Building contacts
Are There Dashboards to Manage
- Sales Pipeline (Qualified Sales Opportunities that have been passed to sales)
- Qualified Sales Opportunities
- Follow-up Activities
- Lead Status
- Leads by Lead Source
- Customer, Prospect & Suspect Database
Demand Management – Takeaway
To be effective, an organization must not only have a demand creation function but have a demand management function as well. Demand Management creates the bond between sales and marketing and is the fuel for the sales pipeline. The Sales Development Representatives is a critical component of the demand management function and needs to be set-up to succeed. Each SDR should be versed in the market category, target markets, the profile of the ideal prospect, the unique selling proposition, value drivers, key use cases, core differentiation, competitors, existing customer success stories, proof points, third party validation, relevant digital assets and accompanying sales tools. The investment made here will provide exponential returns in the ROI of demand creation programs, new customers and add-on sales. View an SDR Call Guide >>