Guest post on the Operatix Website
Building an SDR / BDR team is a crucial step for companies looking to grow revenue and accelerate sales cycles. There are a few burning questions you should be asking if you’re serious about doing so: Is it best to own this function in-house, or outsource it? Who should look after the SDR team? What tools and technologies are needed? To help understand the challenges businesses come across, we had a chat with David Dulany from Tenbound who’s helped several companies to start, optimize and turn around Sales Development programs across North America and Europe.
Avoid hiring Sales Development Representatives before leadership is in place.
An all too common mistake when companies implement an SDR team is the lack of leadership and strategy. Often companies start hiring SDRs expecting them to deliver results straight away, without giving them the adequate training, data-set and tools to succeed. Product training in itself isn’t enough to make the rep successful, but a valuable message about the product benefits, not just the technical details, is extremely useful.
The first step a company should take in building a successful SDR team is to hire a Sales Development Leader. This person can look after the team (independent if it’s outsourced or internal) and outlay a clear strategy to make the team as effective and efficient as possible.
Who should the SDR Team report to?
The classic case scenario when it comes to the reporting duties of a Sales Development Leader usually boils down to two options: sales or marketing. According to David Dulany, the best possible answer to this question, however, is neither of these options. In the best-case scenario, the Sales Development Leader would report directly to the CEO. A direct channel of communication between the Sales Development leader and the CEO leaves that person with the required degree of autonomy to make the right decisions regarding the SDR team’s business direction. A Sales Development Leader must liaise with sales, marketing, operations, product marketing and various other departments; hence, a level of autonomy is key for them to execute their goals.
Failing a direct report system between the Sales Development Leader and the CEO, and if the choice absolutely has to be between the VP Sales and the CMO, Dulany believes it’s better to have the Sales Development Leader report to the CMO. In the recent research “The State of European Demand Generation” Sirius Decision found out that in 70% of companies the SDR/BDR team is lead by marketing, which proves Dulany’s point.
The sales department can often look at the SDR team as its little brother. SDRs often have ambitions to move into the sales team in the future, and it’s true that representatives between the two departments share similar qualities. It’s all a rather romantic concept, but sales leadership rarely have enough time to mentor an SDR department, as they’re far too busy closing deals and generally executing the nuances of their role.
When you look at a marketing department, their job is to drive the brand and awareness surrounding it, as well as pipeline for the company. As such, it makes better sense for the SDR team to sit as an extension of the marketing department. It will hugely benefit both the SDR and marketing teams if they’re working in tight coordination for field events, marketing campaigns, content and the like - all of which are typical aspects of a marketing team’s job.
Will technology solutions support the SDR team?
It’s inevitable that technology vendors will catch wind of your venture into building an SDR team. Once they do, the sales calls will start to roll in regarding fancy pieces of software. Software solutions can be an incredible tool to enhance the workflow of an SDR team, but without the right planning and thought - they can be a big hindrance to the operation. Think of a shiny new software solution like a toolbox; it can be the most incredibly toolbox in the world, but those complex tools are useless if not operated properly.
Vendors will naturally promise great results with such solutions, but the reality is that they need to be implemented carefully and properly. It’s easy to fall into the trap of feeling as though these implementation processes can be autonomous in nature, but there needs to be a dedicated person left in charge of making them work for the SDR team.
Some final thoughts.
Outsourcing an SDR team adds another dimension to this conversation. The mental trap that companies quite often fall into is that an SDR team has to either be in-house or outsourced - one or the other. In reality, and on a case-by-case basis, it doesn’t have to be like this. Companies may often find that a hybrid mixture of in-house functions and outsourced help, to varying degrees, is the best solution for them.
David Dulany has built high-performance Sales Development programs for Glassdoor, OpenDNS, Infer and Act-On Software. At Tenbound, he helps companies start, optimize and turn around Sales Development programs. For more information, visit daviddulany.com and tenbound.com.
Guest post this week by Tenbound friend Samuel Holzman at Zoominfo
There’s no way around it– the tools and technologies we use to execute our work have a direct impact on our success as Sales Development professionals. For this reason, more companies are prioritizing their sales technology in an effort to build the perfect technology stack.
The numbers don’t lie– companies with access to top-flight sales enablement tools experience 205% more revenue growth and 725% higher sales velocity than their competitors (source).
But, if you’re new to Sales Development technology, you may be scratching your head and asking: “What tools do I actually need?” You don’t want to overwhelm your SDRs with “tool confetti”.
Of course, every Sales Dev organization is unique, so technology that works for one company may not work for yours. But ultimately, there are four basic guidelines you must follow to build the perfect sales technology stack.
Keys Considerations Before Building Out Your Technology Stack
Whether you’re starting from scratch or just looking for ways to improve your Sales Development organization, here are a few best practices to keep in mind.
1. Involve key stakeholders early on.
Often, when you’re purchasing a new piece of technology, it’s because you’ve identified a pain point you need help remedying. And, if you are in a leadership position, this pain point may not directly impact you.
Your SDR’s will be the ones using the tools you choose. So, don’t wait to include them in the process until after you’ve already made a purchase. Bring in key stakeholders early in the process. Ask them if it meets their needs, if they have any concerns, and if it will make their job easier.
Remember, if you want people to use any new tools or technologies you purchase, they need to be on board with the purchase decision.
2. Prioritize ease-of-use.
The purpose of sales technology is to make your Sales Development team more efficient and effective. If your team is overwhelmed with a bunch of complicated tools, however, this will have the opposite of the intended effect. They’ll struggle to use the tools effectively or, even worse, they won’t use them at all.
Make sure you select tools that are easy to understand and enjoyable to use. Otherwise, you’ll make things more difficult for your team, which will ultimately impact quota attainment.
3. Select tools that integrate.
A sales stack full of tools that don’t integrate will cause you more problems than it will solve. The reason? Your data will be stored in different silos, meaning your team will have to manage it as they switch back and forth between tools. This can lead to confusion, painfully slow workflows, and even data inaccuracies.
Make everyone’s life easier by choosing tools that integrate with the other technologies you use. Here's where things get a little trickier. Not only do your Sales Dev tools need to integrate with one another, but it’s also important that your sales stack integrates with your company’s marketing technology stack.
If sales and marketing use disparate platforms and metrics, there will be very little cooperation between the two teams. Using tools that integrate allows both teams important insight into the other team’s best practices and goals. This is particularly helpful when it comes to lead quality, marketing content, and reporting. We touch on this again later.
4. Re-evaluate your tech stack regularly.
Your sales stack might have been top-of-the-line when you built it two years ago– but if you haven’t re-evaluated it recently, you’re likely falling behind. Your business needs change frequently, as does the sales technology market. Maybe a product you’re using no longer fits your strategy, or a new solution has emerged with superior features. Look closely at your sales stack often, so you can make any necessary improvements.
Most important tools for your tech stack: If you still have questions about the specific types of sales enablement tools to invest in, we’re about to get into it. While only you know for sure whether a tool is a necessary investment, here are a few standard technologies that most sales teams rely on.
We’ll break those down for you now:
Table stakes. Interacting with prospects and customers is a significant part of a sales rep’s job. Your Customer Relationship Management (CRM) platform is essentially your sales contact database. Tools in this category allow you to manage your relationships with customers and gain valuable insight into the buyer’s journey. The right CRM can streamline much of a sales rep’s workflow and improve sales productivity.
In fact, the right CRM can boost sales productivity by 30% and increase sales by up to 29% if used effectively (source).
2. Sales prospecting tools.
33% of sales reps identify prospecting as the part of their job they struggle the most with (source). Identifying and reaching out to qualified prospects takes up a significant amount of time. Fortunately, the more tedious parts of the sales prospecting process can be automated by the right tool.
Sales prospecting tools can provide your team with up-to-date, accurate contact information so they can identify and get in touch with qualified prospects faster.
3. Social selling tools.
Social selling has emerged as one of the most effective sales tactics in recent years. In fact, 78% of salespeople who use social media outperform their peers (source). If you want your reps to use social media to its full potential, you must invest in tools that will streamline and improve their social selling efforts. Collaborate with your marketing team and determine what tools can benefit both departments. They might already have some suggestions for you!
4. Contact Data.
Data is the lifeblood of a Sales Development organization. It is oxygen. It must clean, relevant, organized and up-to-date. It needs to include the contact information your SDRs must have to be able contact their prospects in the methods the prospects respond to, be it direct dials, email address or physical addresses. Data has a very short shelf life, so it must be constantly refreshed.
5. Content management tool.
Finding sales and marketing content to send to prospects should be a seamless and straightforward process– but for many sales teams, this isn’t the case. In fact, 65% of sales reps say they can’t find content to send to prospects, and 31% of the average rep’s time is spent searching for or creating content (source).
Invest in an asset management tool that can organize your content library for easy sharing. As an added bonus, some tools can recommend specific content that best applies to certain situations. These tools will save your reps time and dramatically improve their relationships with prospects.
There you have it – your guide to building the perfect Sales Development technology stack. Keep in mind, every organization is different, and thus requires different tools and solutions to fit their needs. We can’t tell you exactly which sales enablement tools are right for you. The key is to break down your sales process and aim to improve every step with the right technology.
Remember, more tools doesn’t make your tech stack more efficient—the right tools do that. Constructing a tech stack takes time, critical analysis, and a lot of effort. But, it’s well worth it. With the right tools and technologies your reps will be able to get their work done faster and exceed quota.
About the Author: Sam Holzman is the Content Marketing Specialist at ZoomInfo where he writes for their B2B blog. ZoomInfo is a leading B2B contact database that helps organizations accelerate growth and profitability. Sam regularly covers topics related to sales, marketing, and recruiting, and likes to write about sports and travel in his free time.