You don’t need me to tell you that, over the last few months the whole world has gone a little crazy. Thanks to Covid-19, everything’s changed, and that includes Sales Development.
But while everyone is trying to adapt, what has been the actual impact? How has Sales Development changed over the last three months? What can we expect in the near future?
We teamed up with RevOps Squared to research how the pandemic has impacted Sales Development teams. Here’s what we found out.
Concerns over Sales Development layoffsWith record unemployment figures, it shouldn’t be surprising that layoffs were one of the biggest concerns. At the time of the research, over 20% of companies surveyed had already let SDRs go. Additionally, over 60% were still concerned about layoffs in the near future. Interestingly, respondents from larger companies were the most likely to be concerned about their future.
These results remind us that we’re still in the early stages when it comes to the economic effects of this pandemic. Even as lockdown restrictions are lifted, we’re going to see more layoffs over the next three to six months, especially any SDRs who are struggling or on a performance plan.
With the pressure that comes from these concerns, it’s clear that companies need to ensure they’re consistently communicating with their SDR teams to alleviate concerns as much as possible.
Companies also need to think about how they are planning to fill the pipeline not created by the SDRs they laid off. Where is that pipeline going to come from? What resources, such as outsourced SDR companies, are available and ready to help?
Levels of Sales Development activityA large number of SDRs have reduced their activity as a result of the pandemic. 36.5% have reduced their number of daily dials, 30.8% have reduced their number of daily emails, and 39.5% have reduced their number of Cadences.
This is largely down to a desire to be respectful. People are still trying to process what’s happening and, as a result, some SDRs have slowed down. However, considering the concern over potential layoffs (see above), it’s essential that SDRs fulfill their role. Executives are now tying activity back to revenue, so smart SDRs are actually increasing their activity. Logically, if there are less opportunities being developed, and the pipeline is reduced, we need to be talking to more people than a few months ago.
If that seems difficult, it’s time to take another look at your messaging. 75% of SDRs are using new/different messaging. Overnight, your prospect’s pain points have changed, but they still have pain points. They still have problems to solve. They still need your help. Of course, you need to be respectful, but that means adjusting—not reducing—your message.
Lack of dedicated inbound teamsDespite the differences between inbound and outbound, both in terms of activity and mental attitude, only 32% of companies had a dedicated inbound SDR team.
Smaller companies just starting out often have a hybrid SDR program to start with, handling both inbound qualification and outbound sales. Traditionally though, those roles are split into separate job functions as soon as possible. However, our results showed no correlation between company size and whether they had a dedicated inbound SDR team.
This really really poses more of a question; if there is no dedicated inbound team, and AE’s are notorious for not following up on all their leads, who is actually following up?
Management of inbound leadsOn a related note, 27% of companies have changed how they handle inbound leads. In most of those cases, that’s involved rerouting inbound leads from SDRs to AEs. With a lower number of leads coming inbound due to the crisis, and layoffs on the SDR team, we see this continuing.
This is understandable, as companies try to reduce any perceived friction and unnecessary steps in the process. However, handing leads directly to AEs means they’re handling more unqualified leads. There is also the risk of leads “falling through the cracks” in this case, ie being send directly to AE’s who get overwhelmed and don’t perform the proper amount of follow up.
SDRs serve an important function, tracking down all the inbound leads worth qualifying and making sure they have enough touches. Cutting out that process is a false economy, and results in more leads not being contacted. Companies need to carefully consider the buyer journey and then ensure that their lead qualification and nurturing process matches up.
ConclusionThe whole economy has taken a hit, and it’ll be many months before we understand the full effect of the pandemic. However, all is not lost. By going back to basics and making an effort to understand prospects, their industry, their personas, and their pain points, SDRs can still be effective.
Finally, self-care is critical. We’re all working from home now, and it’s easy to neglect exercise, sleep, diet, and so on. By taking care of the fundamentals, both in sales and in your personal life, you can come out on the other side of this stronger than ever.
For the full research report, complete with insights and recommendations, download your copy today.
Whether they’re looking to supplement their internal teams or build pipeline, many executives are considering outsourcing their Sales Development team. There’s a tremendous amount of demand, and the industry is growing exponentially (something we’ve seen with the latest update of our Market Map).
However, outsourcing comes with challenges. Anybody with an internet connection and a telephone can set themselves up as a sales prospecting organization, but that doesn't guarantee success. In our recent study, we found that only 32% of respondents would outsource to the same firm again.
How can you choose the right SDR outsourcing company? How can you get the best results? Here are the top factors that you need to consider.
The locationWhere is the company based? Offshore companies are cheaper (typically half the price), but local providers are generally better suited for outreach to enterprise-level businesses where a high level of English is required.
For example, if you need personalized emails and calls made to prospects in the US for a high-ticket product/service, then outsourcing to an offshore company could backfire. Trying to ‘save money’ by going for a cheaper option is a false economy if they’re not suitable for your target market. On the other hand, if you have a low-ticket offer and you’re looking to increase your outreach, then offshore will likely be sufficient for your needs.
The peopleIt's common to view an outsourced service like a machine, producing leads on demand. However, that machine is made up of people, people who’ll be directly contacting leads on your behalf.
When assessing a company, find out how their SDRs are recruited. Will you be able to communicate with and assess them directly? Will you be able to listen to recordings of their calls to hear how they interact with your prospects? The difference between an SDR who’s just dialing it in and one that’s highly motivated will have a huge impact on your results.
CooperationOutsourcing your SDR team isn’t a case of set it and forget it. You can’t just hand the company a list and a few scripts and then walk away. You need a strong relationship, where they have a seat at the table.
This is essential if you run into problems. They should feel that they can come to you, explain the problem, and come up with suggestions to move forward. If they don’t come forward, they’re either acting as a commodity, or you’re treating them like one. By treating them like the extension of your company that they are and giving them input, you can work together for better results.
A standardized approachThere are three variables you have to manage when prospecting: The marketplace, the message, and the messenger. When you're considering an outsourced SDR function, you have to choose a company that can help control those variables.
The marketplace, or who you’re reaching out to, is straightforward. So, if the company you choose has a standardized process, with control of the messenger, the only variable you need to solve for is the message. This means you can easily troubleshoot any problems that come up and pinpoint the issues, allowing you to focus exclusively on optimizing the message.
Agreed KPIs Traditionally, SDR performance is measured on how many meetings are booked. However, not all appointments are created equal. If your outsourced company is using hard-sell techniques on poor-fit prospects, you might get plenty of meetings… they just end up going nowhere. To encourage a more meaningful approach, you might also monitor their meeting-to-opportunity acceptance rate as well as the meeting attendance rate.
It’s unlikely you’ll be offered any kind of guarantee (if you are, that’s a red flag). However, a good outsourcing company will work with you to agree on what is a reasonable result against your KPIs, then work hard to make it happen.
Information sharingEnsure your outsourced firm doesn’t operate in a black box. You want to understand the processes and messaging they are using, and if successful, be able to use those with your own in-house SDR team. You’ll want to develop or validate your SDR playbook with information gleaned from the outsourced team.
ConclusionSuccessfully outsourcing your SDR program is a challenge. However, by considering their location and their culture (and how those fit in with your ICP), then making sure you’re both working together and agree on how to measure performance, you can give yourself the best chance of success and take advantage of the many benefits of an outsourced SDR team.
If you’re looking to successfully outsource your Sales Development program, then Tenbound can help you implement the best strategy for your business. Contact us today for a no-obligation exploratory call.
How many ingenuine, out-of-touch sales messages do you receive on social every week?
Here are direct quotes from just a few of the many in my LinkedIn inbox:
❌ “I definitely think our business could benefit from each other and I'd love to have a chat”
❌ “In case you’re aspiring to take the next step up in your career, so I wanted to send you something that can be a big help”
❌ “Thanks for connecting & your interest in our event” (Wasn’t interest, just connected)
❌ “I would love to hear more about your biz dev, do you do outreach to companies?”
❌ “There might be some opportunities for us to work together. We are an excellent solution for…”
Despite recent clapback from the community against these selfish, unsolicited pitches on social, it’s unfortunately still a very prevalent approach in the B2B world.
Because social is a different context from direct selling with cold calls or emails. Yet many sellers don’t recognize the difference.
Many personal and professional benefits exist for social users, but it takes the right best practices to create positive experiences for those in the community.
To use social networks correctly, SDRs need to understand how to navigate information, relationships, content, and conversations within this unique digital environment.
Here’s a breakdown of the 4 key elements behind using social as a sales professional.
At the core, social is a digital highway of information exchange. LinkedIn profiles, company pages, posts & activities, targeted groups, and more.
Every time a qualified account or prospect interacts on social, they provide invaluable insights on their priorities, personality, goals, interests, and challenges.
An SDR has to balance their level of personalization & preparation for conversations with the amount of time it takes to research that information.
With social, reps can get real-time intelligence on key stakeholders while gaining access to a reservoir of contextual data like previous experience, connections, and new team members.
Social networks like LinkedIn and Facebook are massive communities with an unending flow of content, so they have to manage how audiences grow & optimize how content is distributed.
A one-to-many environment is not the best place for direct sales outreach, but it’s an excellent stage to build personal brand and attract people that care about targeted topics.
In contrast to social selling, audience development is about finding your tribe, sharing value with the community, and building authority within your industry.
Rather than generating sales opportunities through high-volume, direct sales touches, social is about the long game: growing and building trust with a targeted community to improve performance on outbound-focused channels like phone, email, direct mail, etc.
Relationships are at the core of sales.
One great, authentic connection with someone in your professional network can generate future learning, referrals, testimonials, partnership collaborations, and even career opportunities.
However, your momentum with new relationships on social media can plummet if you’re sending automated, sales-focused messaging to everyone you find.
Not only does this messaging disrupt your ability to create one-on-one relationships, it can also degrade your reputation within the targeted communities you care about most.
Instead of a cold pitch message to everyone you come across, imagine the momentum you could create by building long-term relationships and creating positive experiences.
At the end of the day, social in the context of sales development is about influence.
SDRs can use market knowledge, audience, and relationships on social to influence the thoughts and decisions of qualified buyers, both inside or outside of their network.
The ability to influence on social is the difference between powerful thought leaders and the mass majority of B2B sellers that aren’t seeing success.
Are you staying up-to-date on topics & changes in your space?
Are you creating value for and connecting with the audience you want to grow?
Are you building memorable, lasting relationships with your network?
When the focus shifts away from “social selling” to social influence, you separate yourself from the overwhelming number of people that fill inboxes every day.
In the grand scheme of a sales development playbook, social is still a relatively new channel.
As more social users push back against direct sales on social, the mass, generic messaging approach will become less effective and more damaging to your future online reputation.
However, a growing number of sales leaders, managers, and reps are providing massive value to the community on social, creating opportunities for their business without the need to pitch.
With the right mindset behind how to leverage social networks within your sales development process, you can unlock new ways to connect with buyers and create opportunities.
In January and February most sales teams were going through SKO season, reviewing what went well in 2019 and planning for 2020. As with any year, the idea of getting ahead of pipeline is top of mind, trying to win more deals early in the year to crush their numbers and hit accelerators as they cruise into Q4. And the role of creating pipeline falls heavily on the shoulders of Sales Development Teams. No pressure!
Then March came around and the world changed. Businesses closed, everyone began to work from home, budgets went dry, and a new reality set in.
But guess what, many businesses, while adjusting forecasts for the year and quarter, still have to create pipeline to hit any adjusted goal. And guess what, that responsibility still falls squarely on the shoulders of Sales Development Teams. No pressure! Except now you’ve got double the pressure as you adapt to new realities: Buyers are distracted by things at home, and those valuable office direct dials are worthless.
The Main Driver of Pipeline Generation is still the SDR
The person who is dialing, emailing, direct mailing, and text messaging.
The SDR is responsible for 3 pipeline-centric goals:
As we know, cold call dialing is the preferred method to reach these goals in the best of times. In current times, what's the truth.
At Chorus, we have been tracking cold call data through the Covid-19 Pandemic and it turns out, it’s still effective. With some changes. Here’s what we have learned from the data:
What does this mean, while people may be working from home, they are still picking up the phone when it rings. And without the normal social interaction, maybe people are more prone to answer a call just to have the distraction they are used to when they are in the office.
What Does a Great Cold Call Look (and Sound) Like?
The truths of objectively excellent cold calling are still a black box. There are mountains of bookmarked articles claiming silver-bullet best practices and tried-and-true techniques.
And yet, The Bridge Group found that one-third of all SDRs aren’t hitting quota industry-wide.
And that was before Covid struck! Now the old messaging has to go out the window, and you MUST develop new messaging that adds a level of true empathy. What wasn’t easy before, is much harder now.
So how are these SDRs being coached to make their cold calls work? What do they say and do?
Conversation intelligence platforms like Chorus do offer benefits of recording and analysis to SDRs and full-cycle reps.
But can cold calls be assessed and coached in the same way as a sales meeting?
Let’s Think About the Differences Between a Cold Call and a Meeting
Data based on 5M+ sales calls from the State of Conversation Intelligence tells us that on a cold call pre-Covid:
You have to work faster to get your desired result.
SDRs and cold calling in general need to be assessed and coached on differently than sales meetings. Now more than ever.
In the past 2 months, this data has changed. As I said before, cold call volume is down over 25%. 100 dials is now 75 dials. Yes, connect rates aren’t off much, but with lost pipeline and revenue to make up for, that lost productivity will come back to bite companies later.
It’s time that the world of sales coaching and enablement rises to this challenge.
Say Hello to Chorus and Tenbound
We’re excited to announce a new partnership with Tenbound to help Sales Development leaders through all times.
While Chorus can enable enhanced visibility into the performance of your SDR teams, Tenbound can offer you the white-glove service you need to implement changes based on that performance.
How Can Tenbound do this?
With a focus on training your Sales Development teams, Tenbound aims to help cultivate the skills your teams need to optimize their performance.
Areas of focus where Chorus’ AI and Tenbound’s services can help you succeed:
1. Call Opening
2. Objection Handling
3. Value Propositions
4. Locking down Next Steps
With Chorus’ Cold Call Central and Tenbound's Strategic Support combined, SDR Teams are set up for success to crush their goals and drive more pipeline for their team
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