With the explosion of solutions in Sales Engagement on the Tenbound Market Map such as Salesloft, Outreach, Vanillasoft and many others, the Sales Engagement sector continues to explode.
But how do you make the best choice for this important system for your Sales Development team?
Tenbound has teamed up with GZ Consulting to produce the latest guide, Evaluating Sales Engagement Platforms, now available in the Tenbound Research Center.
Click here to access the report!
There’s an old axiom in business that says “nothing happens until somebody sells something.”
No customer success can happen until there’s a customer. No money can be counted and no invoices sent without a transaction. No trade shows are funded, no salary payments made, no catered lunches. Until there’s a signed contract and next sales transaction is done, nothing happens.
Each day we read about companies with massive funding and a great idea that quietly fold or are purchased for a hugely discounted price in what’s described in a myriad of ways but what it comes down is one thing: they didn’t sell enough.
In an office somewhere around the globe there sits someone with an amazing product that can definitely change lives for the better that is slowly wilting under the hot glow of time. The product may be great and the team may be amazing but if nobody is selling anything the company is slowly dying.
But where do sales start where does sales come from? Unless the product is completely frictionless and can be purchased online, even large purchases it requires some sort of conversation with a human being.
This conversation could be live on the phone, it could be over chat, it could be over text messages but at the end of the day, some sort of human interaction must take place.
And so, companies that want to create new sales must forge conversations. In order to do so they do their best marketing, branding, community building, content production and other ways to get people interested in initiating those conversations.
All of those methodologies, while scalable repeatable and leveraged, can eventually run out of steam. You can tweak the funnel, throw money at Google ads, write the most amazing content and have the most amazing marketing on earth, but eventually the conversations stop and the sales start to level off.
And now we must go outbound and reach out to people who have never heard of us and are not in our funnel yet.
Enter cold email.
People still live in their email inbox, checking it hundreds of times every day. As you walk to get coffee, go into meetings, or even wake up in the morning in bed, despite the advent of other communication mechanisms, email still reigns supreme in business.
And we’re not the only people that know this. Open your email and you have hundreds of messages every day coming in, from newsletters, to blog follows and other unsolicited attempts for your attention. These are from all the people that are trying to go outbound and get something going so that they can have more conversations and more sales this is cold email. Just exactly like what you’re doing.
The reason that you get so many emails every day is because people need to make sales, and in order to get those sales they need to have conversations, and in order to get those conversations they need to contact you with their exciting and life changing value prop.
The question is how can you get people to respond so that you can start that conversation?
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The Board wants to see an increase in revenue, fast. Your Sales team needs more pipeline. Your in-house Sales Development program seems to be going around in circles.
Even if you wanted to make changes, you don't have time to hire, train, equip and manage a group of all new SDRs.
What should you do?
These are the questions we hear a lot as we work with clients here at Tenbound.
Companies need qualified Sales appointments and pipeline today in order to hit their aggressive revenue targets.
However, simply relying on the production of marketing or the rolodex of current your Sales team doesn’t seem to be producing enough pipeline.
Maybe it's time to think about getting some help.
The classic equation comes into play with regards to your Sales Development program: Do you build or buy?
This question is not without precedent. Engineering departments outsource all the time, and most marketing departments use at least one outside agency and/or PR firm. So why not Sales Development?
Perhaps you have a Sales Development program but it doesn't seem to be producing enough appointments, pipeline and ultimately the revenue that you need to be able to hit your goal.
You heard from a friend that they use this great outsourced SDR program that's perfect for their industry and is producing great results. Should you give them a call?
There are two main arguments when thinking about this problem.
Advocates for keeping Sales Development in-house focus on the long term benefits for the company in hiring, training and keeping high quality candidates who can be groomed for other roles within the organization, such as Sales, Marketing, Customer Success and Product.
They also argue that all the tribal knowledge on prospecting and customers an in-house Sales Development team builds up is important and needs to be tracked and processed in to the ongoing Sales Development playbook.
Advocates for outsourcing look at Sales Development by the numbers. That the costs, timing and effort involved are so much more attractive when outsourcing that hiring SDRs makes almost no sense unless you’re very well established company that’s doing really well.
Most people need sales appointments now and don’t have the time, motivation or patience to start and run an in-house team.
Let's look at those different considerations when considering outsourcing your Sales Development program, breaking it down to three main factors: cost, timing and effort involved.
Cost: In any case, Sales Development is a significant investment. Whether it produces an ROI for your company will depend on many variables, but once you’ve decided to invest in it, working out how to allocate resources to it and what kind of return you’ll is tricky. In-house teams require Salary, benefits, data, management and other costs, many of which would not necessarily come out the budget of whoever is responsible for building team. Computers, desks, lunch etc might come from a different. Outsourcing presents a stark contrast; instead of salary, benefits and mirad of sunk costs for an in-house team you just pay an outsourced company invoice each month. This payment comes out of the budget of whoever is making the purchase, just as would any other contractor, vendor or perk.
Timing: Standing up an in-house Sales Development team is not a project to be completed overnight. At Tenbound, we recommend hiring a Sales Development Manager first before even starting a team, if you can afford it. Many things must get done to set it up correctly, such as hiring, onboarding, training, coaching, playbook development and ongoing management. Without these in place, the program will struggle. This takes a long time. Similarly, getting an outsourced firm up and running takes time, however it may be fair to assume it’ll be shorter than an in-house team. Depending on the outsourced firm, they can take your messaging, target profile and playbook, and since they already have the people and infrastructure in place, they should be able to move a lot faster. Starting from zero, you’d have to give your in-house team at least three months to start producing regularly, whereas hiring an outsourced shop should take less than a month to get productive.
Effort: A common misconception is that if we hire an outsourced firm we don’t have to put in too much effort on the program because they will be doing the work. This is dead wrong. While the amount of effort might be less long term than an in-house team, outsourced companies still need you to provide a tremendous amount of information at the beginning so they have a chance to get going on your target list. Without that effort, they simply will not have the information they need to be successful. They may also send over appointments which don’t fit your ICP or are not qualified, causing friction with your Sales team. On the other hand, building an in-house team is a long term play and will take sustained effort and care over months and years. We often see that Sales or Marketing Leaders who are passionate about Sales Development do a great job running the program, but then leave the company and nobody really takes over. The program is passed around, and all that effort slowly wilts and dies.
Conclusion: with each day and hour that passes, the need for high quality Sales appointments and pipeline continues to grow. Whether its an in-house program, outsourced program or a combination of both, Sales Development needs to be done. If you are motivated by building a long term, successful program that will be a feeder program to the rest of the company for years to come, think about bringing or building the program in-house. If you just need appointments and pipeline as quickly as possible and don’t want to invest the time and money into starting an in-house program, go outsourced. If you can afford it, do both and have them running simultaneously. Get a competition going and see who produces better results at a lower cost.
A typical question seen when a company is contemplating a Sales Development program is basic, but very important… Why?
The answer to this varies in every scenario, but it really becomes a discussion of scaling, efficiency, growth and optimization.
First… Should You Even Bother?
There’s a standard reaction to dismiss the value of integrating Sales Development as an unnecessary layer in your organization. We get it… a fully ramped and producing sales team is a thing of beauty. When someone expresses an interest in your products/solution, your team is knowledgeable, helpful and motivated to turn that inquiry into a deal as soon as possible. Those same reps are also hitting the phones, networking and creatively getting in front of new prospects as well to generate pipeline and bust through their targets.
If this is your situation, congratulations! Your team is firing on all ends, and hopefully being compensated accordingly.
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it…
Not necessarily... high performing teams hitting existing goals without a Sales Development layer are almost certainly an ideal scenario in which Sales Development can drastically increase your working pipeline and set you up to scale.
Although your team may be seemingly firing on all cylinders, you are almost surely missing out on some attractive efficiency improvements by segmenting responsibilities through a Sales Development team.
So, if your results are good enough, and you aren’t interested in proven methods of increasing efficiency and pipeline, then Sales Development could be like throwing gas on a wood fire.
Now… When You Definitely Should Care
Assuming the statement above doesn’t describe you (because you don’t want adequate and good enough… you want to be amazing and crush goals), it’s time to think seriously about Sales Development.
Sales Development can in reality be described as a means to sales acceleration and optimization. What you really want is to have your sales team spending their time engaged in quality conversations with qualified prospects. By offloading the lead generation and qualification processes to specialized roles, you free their time up to focus on where they can add the most value for your business.
What Does Sales Development Solve?
Some typical issues facing organizations for which a sales development layer can be a solution include:
This doesn’t happen without work, investment, organization and support though. With the right planning and support, your team will be structured for growth and success.
So… Who is Sales Development For?
Sales Development, is an essential layer for any growth focused company to implement. Similar to a manufacturing line that realizes cost reductions and speed/efficiency improvements through segmenting tasks and using specialized processes and tools for each need.
If your Sales team is not swimming in new sales appointments and have a completely full calendar, consider Sales Development.
In a typical start-up, you’ll probably have one or two salespeople handling end-to-end sales. But as the business scales and it gets busy, just having a couple full cycle a salespeople starts to crack.
With leads coming in at the top of the funnel and a sketchy sales process, it becomes increasingly challenging for salespeople to find the time or energy to actively prospect. No judgement here, it just happens as they are busy closing deals. Leads start falling through the cracks.
Not to mention, now nobody is spending the time needed to target and approach target accounts. Symptoms of lacking SDR team in your company:
You’ll need to have a strategy that gets potential buyers in your pipeline and nurtures them, and another sales strategy that closes the sale. At this point, it may be time to split your two primary sales roles in to SDRs and Sales Executives.
SDR (Sales Development Representative) are inside sales representatives who focus solely on sales prospecting by reaching out to new leads, qualifying them and pushing them further down the sales funnel and finally setting up sales qualified appointments. They also focus on cold outreach to target accounts you’d love to break in to.
After setting up sales qualified appointments, sales executives can take it from there and work toward closing the deal.
The role of an SDR is twofold - inbound and outbound sales prospecting:
Inbound SDRs nurture leads who have shown interest in your solution and have already engaged with your company through its marketing channels.
Outbound SDRs reach out to potential customers who have never engaged with your company’s product or solution through cold prospecting.
SDR can help in plenty of ways :
Increase growth with two separate sales roles, your sales representatives have time to follow up with warm and cold leads, cross or upsell to existing customers and engage with new customers.
adopting SDR team will increase productivity and efficiency meaning that your sales executives will solely focus on closing deals and SDR will focus in delivering qualified leads to the sales executives thereby saving time and increasing the overall sales team productivity.
What makes an ideal SDR?
Sales Development Representatives (SDR) have to be quick on their feet, master the sales game, excel in having online conversations, be great content finders, and overcoming bad interactions by having a positive outlook. And all this can be formatted in the following steps:
Prospecting skills: SDRs should be familiar and a master in the language of sales - What are the buying signals to watch out for? What words to use that makes customers buy? When is the right time to ask the right questions?
Art of listening: SDRs should actively listen to each conversation with the prospect, interrupting when they need clarification and ask probing questions that allow them to explore the buyer’s mind.
Product knowledge: Sales representatives should have adequate knowledge about the features, benefits, and weakness of your product before creating effective pitches and connecting customer’s needs to your solution.
Time management: Ability to optimize time improves sales productivity and creates an environment for high performance. This soft skill coupled with CRM Software and other technologies delivers significant ROI for any business.
Communication skills: Good at building rapport and starting a conversation over phone and email. Effective communication also helps prevent objections by providing clarity into how your solution can solve business problems.
Sales team is at the heart of any business. We’ve all heard it before. You can have the best product in the world, but if your sales team dosn’t do any good, you’ll get where you want. Great products don’t sell themselves great salespeople do.
Recruiting top talent requires tremendous effort, but it’s worth it.
Keeping top talent is even more difficult than recruitment because talented people are demanding! You have to make sure they stay motivated, that they continuously learn and see a purpose in what they do.
Becoming a Sales Development Representative (SDR) is often a starting point in a sales career. Which often means that SDR’s are young. Our sales development team is made of people aged between 20-25 years old.
It’s our job to make sure they’re happy so they work with us as long as possible. Especially, recognizing that an average SDR tenure is 1.4 years.
To be able to keep your sales reps happy, you have to be aware of the challenges they face on a daily basis, so you can prevent or at least quickly react to any potential problems.
Now let’s take a look at most of the challenges faced by sales development reps and how to solve them:
1. High-performance expectations
One of the challenges that SDR face is setting high-performance expectations. for example, to set their very specific targets at 60 sales qualified leads per month.
If you have not a very experienced SDR, setting such a goal will leave your SDR clueless.
It’s like arriving at a destination you have never been to before and trying to find a hotel that you booked without a map (and no taxis around). A pretty annoying and stressful experience!
Do you see my point?
Solution: You need to create a roadmap or a detailed path to success.
Your SDRs have to know what steps they have to take to reach their ultimate goal to get 50 SQLs in a month. This steps involve many details:
2. Lack of coaching
Let’s say you have your roadmap ready. Can you just sit back, relax and wait for the money to come? Nope.
Lack of coaching is another obstacle that sales development reps face. They are not robots, they cannot be programmed to continuously achieve high results.
Although they know how to achieve a goal, and what’s expected of them, sometimes they fail to do it, they are just humans. However, if they stop achieving desired results, they will get demotivated and will leave eventually.
Somebody smart once said that: people leave their bosses, not organizations… so be a good boss.
Solution: Monitor performance and try to spot any performance decrease as soon as possible. Organize one on one meetings to discuss what went wrong; why didn’t they achieve their target?
Have a look at the roadmap, analyze the process step by step, maybe they got the targeting wrong, or their email content wasn’t top notch. Whatever the reason, show them how to improve their work and give them the appropriate feedback.
It’s a good idea to share best practices within the team, I am sure you have some high performers in yours.
3. Lack of feedback loop
Sales development reps to do their jobs at its best must receive regular feedback from Account Executives. SDR’s want to know if their efforts paid off and how the scheduled demos went.
Not solely for the purpose of satisfying their curiosity, but rather to find out what they should do to improve their effectiveness.
What was the reason someone bought or didn’t buy the product? Maybe they can adjust their campaign messaging or make any changes to their target audience.
Solution: You have to establish a clear communication channel between your SDR’s and AE’s. They have to communicate regularly.
4. No marketing-sales alignment
In a perfect world, sales and marketing would be best buddies! They would regularly cooperate and exchange information on lead nurturing.
Unfortunately, in the real world, more often than not these two departments hardly collaborate with each other, even though they actually have the same goal: to acquire new customers.
This lack of communication is harmful to both sales and marketing. If marketing received feedback from SDR’s regarding the effectiveness of their outbound campaigns then marketers would be able to better adjust their messaging in their marketing communication channels.
Plus it would improve the effectiveness of inbound campaigns. More sales qualified leads = more happiness for Sales Development Reps.
Solution: Push for creating a lead nurturing process. And decide when marketing leads should be assigned to sales development reps, who does lead screening, and who decides which inbound leads suitable to be SQLs.
What happens with SQL’s which were not ready for a demo? Providing answers to these questions will help you make the most of your leads, and hopefully improve the performance of both departments.
This won’t come as a surprise to you, the sales development job is monotonous – let’s face it. Monotonous jobs often lead to burnout. Highly target focused roles are stressful as a lot of pressure is put on delivering results continuously.
Solution: Celebrate small wins, and offer your SDR’s small rewards to make them excited.
Give them the freedom to experiment so they can use a bit of creativity, and take credit for the ideas that worked.
Be wise though, it has to be organized and structured in a certain and controlled way to avoid chaos.
You can involve your SDR’s in the creation of your sales development process – and because they do the job, they’ll have lots of bright ideas.
You might also think of setting up a promotion system – junior SDR, senior SDR, team leader so you can keep them motivated.
6. Lack of appropriate tools
We mentioned earlier that being a Sales Development Representative is monotonous, primarily due to task repetition. They spend a significant amount of time on… guess what? Prospecting!
It is recommended that SDRs spend around 30-40% of the time on finding prospects.
Don’t get me wrong, we all know how important prospecting is, it can make or break your outbound sales process. After all, effective outbound sales start with finding people potentially interested in buying your product or service.
Regardless of how crucial prospecting is, there are ways to make it more efficient and less time-consuming.
Solution: Provide your sales reps with the tools they need to do their jobs effectively. Prospecting can be automated, it’s a process that shouldn’t take most of your sales people’s time.
I am not talking about buying contact lists – bought lists are often out of date. Using them will eventually disappoint your SDRs, as big bounce rate will negatively impact their performance.
Not having enough tools, is as detrimental as having a tool overload. Especially when they don’t integrate with each other. Making sure that your outbound sales platform integrates with your CRM is essential
7.Uncertainty about their career path
Another different challenge facing some Sales Development Representatives is the inability to identify what career path they want to follow. And that’s perfectly fine; they are young, some of them have just graduated, some are still studying.
A lot of sales reps will move forward into account executive roles as it seems like a typical career move. However, there will be SDR’s who won’t have an interest in seeking a career in sales. Not knowing what they want to do next might lead to stress and anxiety.
Solution: Let your sales reps recognize that they do not have to be sales representatives if they do not want to. Leave the door open to pursuing other options.
Being an SDR is a great way to familiarize yourself with the business, they could potentially go into marketing if they wanted to. Apparently, best marketers have some sales experience, which isn’t surprising, nobody knows customers as well as salespeople.
By Jeff Garon, Senior Researcher, Tenbound
By Jeff Garon, Senior Researcher, Tenbound
Erin serves as the Senior Director of Revenue Operations for Lean Data (LeanData provides the Revenue Ops platform to manage all go-to-market motions to increase speed-to-revenue, improve the buyer experience, and better align sales and marketing ROI), and shared her insights to the growing field of Revenue Operations, crafted by her vast experience spanning sales development, management, operations and beyond.
Interesting takeaways from our conversation:
For more information on Erin & Lean Data, please visit her LinkedIn profile or visit leandatainc.com.
Podcast epidsode https://www.spreaker.com/user/9196584/episode-106-special-done
And here https://tenbound.com/resources/
by Jeff Garon & Melanie Sovann
Want to get the best candidate pool possible to build your Sales Development team? Of course you do… unfortunately, so does every other company out there, meaning you’ll have to compete for their time, attention and interest just as you would in a bake-off against competing products and services with a potential buyer.
You could get lucky finding great talent through a basic job listing, recruiters, referrals and other methods, but it’s a safe bet to assume you’ll need a compelling job description to capture interest from the best potential talent out there.
This leaves you with essentially two options:
1. Put out a basic, boring job description to save yourself some time and effort, and filter through whatever resumes come your way.
2. Treat this as your sales pitch to your future team, getting them excited about your company and their potential career trajectory.
So, ask yourself who do you really want on your team… whoever you can get, or the best you can get.
Assuming you want the best, read on for some tips and tricks to craft your job description like a shiny lure to catch the best fish (talent):
What to include:
A bio of what your ideal candidate looks like
What are the values you want in a new SDR? Energy, optimism, desire to learn, desire to succeed, desire to advance? Lay out a high level profile of the person you are looking for, and to save yourself time (as well as that of the wrong candidates), make it clear who you aren’t looking for.
A quick hype-up about your company and it’s product/service
Is your company destined for success? Do you have amazing clients? Be concise (you want them to demonstrate some research on their part too), but make it exciting and let them know you are a team they should want to fight to get on.
What success looks like
Combine your expectations on how they will be assessed and rewarded. Don’t be misleading (they won’t be closing deals initially), but describe what their role is, who they support, who supports them, and the value they will be driving for your company.
Don’t scare them off saying you expect 250 calls per day… that may be something they do, but you want quality touches and results, not quantity. The best candidates probably won’t be compelled to dial and email mindlessly… they will want to find their own ways of generating interest efficiently, and you’ll want to support their creativity and initiative.
Where that success can take them
Make it clear that this can be a career in of itself, and a stepping point to other roles if desired. You want to create career opportunities, and let them achieve their goals. How much do they want to make? The world is their oyster in the realm of sales… find the candidates who have the drive and desire to achieve their goals, and give them the platform to make it happen!
Truly essential qualifications
Having a long list of required qualifications is old school. You may have a few must-haves, but keep that list short. What you really want, is curiosity, energy, capability and drive. Do you really, truly care what their GPA was? Does 2+ years of CRM experience matter for this type of position?
Think hard about what can be learned on the job or through easy training options. Don’t miss out on a fantastic candidate because they aren’t an excel wizard… you can teach them what’s needed, and they can improve their skills as desired.
How to grab your interest
Now that you’ve built some excitement about the role and your company, give them a shot to showcase their interest. Don’t make it too easy on them though. Ask a question of them in relation to the role or your company/product/service, and see who addresses that in their cover letter. Do you have a trial or newsletter? Give them a friendly nudge to check it out or sign up. When the resumes come in, see who’s taken that extra step in engagement as a factor in your decision process. Do you want the SDR who uses the same generic template for all of their prospecting for your company, or the SDR who uses research and personalization to increase their success.
Demonstrated effort and initiative up front is a great predictor of their work style and aptitude once hired. You are already setting the tone with your awesome new job posting, now it’s time to see who’s up to the challenge given your amazing job description.
Just be prepared to recognize and reward these incoming allstars accordingly for supporting your growth goals once they are on board, producing results and exceeding quotas!
Melanie Sovann is an educator, blogger and senior writer based in LA, she is a content editor and senior writer at BestEssay Education and Grab My Essay.
Jeff Garon is Senior Researcher at Tenbound Research Labs.
The Sales Development Conference 2019 August 23rd in San Francisco.
TEAM PACKS available. Bring the whole team: Leadership, RevOps and SDRs.
Whiteboard Wednesdays with Becc Holland of G2! Watch as we dive in to Postbound Leads, The Qualification Process and 5 Ways to Become an AE