Countless companies stand behind the concept of dividing sales departments into specific roles. Salesforce even calls SDRs the “superheroes of the sales team.” Meanwhile, Atlanta Venture’s CEO says SDRs are “the most important sales process innovation in the last 10 years.”
In other words, the rise of SDRs hasn’t gone unnoticed. Now multiple industries are implementing this approach into their sales departments. But, it’s not a turnkey setup. To make the most of SDRs, a company has to follow some key best practices.
The Role of SDRs in Sales
Establishing the role of Sales Development Representatives is crucial within a modern sales organization. Their job is to focus 100% on outbound prospecting and lead qualification in order to grow the team’s pipeline. This differs from the traditional sales representative role by eliminating the need to focus on the entire sales process while trying to meet a quota.
SDRs, however, don’t worry about closing the deal. Rather, they focus on moving leads up the pipeline. They spend their time qualifying leads. Thus, their work ensures that the majority of the leads they pass up the pipeline will actually convert into sales. This saves Account Executives time. Account Executives aren’t wasting time on leads that aren’t going anywhere.
Your marketing department might kick off the process by handing your SDRs a list of leads. The SDRs then email and call these leads (in what we like to establish as a cadence) to engage and qualify them. Those that engage with SDRs and are qualified will be passed to an Account Executive focused on progressing and closing the opportunity.
With this setup, the Account Executive is responsible for retiring quota and can spend more time focusing on mature opportunities further down the sales funnel. Account executives don’t have to engage in the burden of prospecting when SDRs are around to help. They will only be working with qualified leads, which means they just have to worry about building a relationship with the customer and selling the product.
Of course, to get the most of the SDRs in your team, you have to engage in some best practices.
6 Best Practices
Here are six best practices your company should follow.
#1 Product Education
In order to successfully sell a product, you need to sell yourself on it first. That’s why product education is the first and most important best practices. If your SDRs don’t know your product inside and out, they may struggle in having conversations and qualifying prospects. They do not necessarily need to be product experts but they do need to be able to answer the top-line questions that will arise in early customer conversations.
Without such knowledge, your SDRs will not be able to answer the specific questions leads will throw at them. They will also struggle to sell the product if they do not fully know and believe in its value. That’s why product education should be part of on-boarding and on-going training.
Successful product education will involve flexible and accessible means of transferring knowledge. For instance, many companies today invest in internal databases that store product knowledge. These are good for reference and self-training. But, guided training and discussions should also be regular events.
Having a point-of-contact for SDRs to contact is also a must. No SDR should ever feel lost on how to answer a question. If they can’t craft an answer on their own, it’s essential that they have a means of getting assistance. The knowledge and resources you give them will directly impact their effectiveness.
#2 Hard Questions
SDRs should know that their job is to ask the hard questions. When they are qualifying a lead, they need to understand the end user’s business or use case forwards and backward.
If they are selling to a company, they need to know how that company will use the product. They need to know how many people will use the product. They also need to know the current solution(s) the company is using. With that knowledge, the SDR will be able to see if your product actually fits the lead’s needs.
This is the opportunity for your SDRs to do a lot of the groundwork for the account executive. Should a lead move past your SDRs, their file should already have plenty of notes documented that account executives can pull from later to actually close the deal. Again, this goes back to proving how much time SDRs are capable of saving for those managing later stage opportunities. This is really where they start to prove their worth.
#3 Smart Processes
Having a smart process in place is one of the keys to success. After all, sales development is a repetitive cycle. Every day, the marketing department develops leads. These leads get assigned in the CRM where SDRs take ownership of them.
Managers create campaigns for SDRs and then SDRs execute a variety of touch points. This includes calling, emailing, and reaching out on social media. The outreach then leads to conversations, and those conversations qualify the leads. This creates an opportunity, which gets passed on to Account Executives who close.
That, in and of itself, sounds like a pretty efficient process. However, there are always ways to make the repetitive tasks simpler for your SDRs. Tools should get implemented that remove clicks and keystrokes while helping reps have more conversations with people.
A process should also be in place that defines when and how many times a lead gets contacted. Are your SDRs expected to call on day one or just send an email seeing if there is interest? Should they only email after they speak on the phone? How many cold emails should they send before moving on? How many calls should they try to make?
These are the questions you need to answer so that SDRs are consistently engaging with leads each day. Establishing a process will allow them to move leads through the pipeline with ease, quickly disqualifying those that don’t express enough interest for you to justify next steps.
#4 Customized Outreach
This is another big aspect that you need to work on as you look to support your SDRs. Obviously, you want your Sales Development Representatives to do the best job they are able to do. Therefore, establishing guidelines for them that make their work more efficient is a priority.
When it comes to outreach, it’s a no-brainer that customized outreach will get the best results. SDRs should collaborate with marketing while also holding some creative leeway as long as it remains professional and aligned with your brand. That means they should feel encouraged to be personal and authentic when engaging with customers. They should also do their best to personalize their outreach to get the lead’s attention.
This goes back to the importance on-going training and education. Keeping your sales team up-to-date with what message is working and what’s not will prove extremely valuable. Whether you’re training them on general sales strategies or industry best practices, it’s time well-spent.
You should also pull case studies from your own company to showcase what strategies from the past worked the best. It could be as simple as realizing that cold emails under 100 words got the most responses. Or, it could be the information that it takes your SDRs an average of five calls to qualify a lead. All of that is valuable data that you should be capturing, studying, and passing on to everyone on the sales floor.
#5 Good Timing
Obviously, timing is everything in the world of sales. SDRs should know that it’s their job to figure out if a lead is expressing interest. It’s also their job to keep that lead interested as they move across sales stages. This requires regular outreach and timely follow-up.
The tough part for SDRs is finding the line between being highly accessible and being too pushy. This is a moving target, and it fluctuates depending on the lead’s level of interest and upfront knowledge of the company. In other words, your SDRs might get a happy answer on the fifth call to one lead. The next day, they could get rudely turned away with just three calls to another.
As always, having resilience is a must for any sales position. SDRs are by no means an exception. For SDRs, resilience consists of the ability to jump straight from one lead to the next without missing a beat. Whether the last lead passed or failed, it should never slow a Sales Development Rep down.
At the same time, SDRs should always be learning from every call they make and every email they send out. What gets a response? What doesn’t? How soon do successful leads usually call back? What are the patterns of a lead that doesn’t end up closing? These are the questions SDRs should be asking themselves every day as well as information that leadership should be capturing and analyzing to improve strategy.
The world of sales development is a never-ending learning process. The best SDRs will be constantly adapting and changing things up as they go.
Build A Better Sales Team
By giving your SDRs the right tools, your entire sales team will see a significant uptick in productivity. SDRs truly are the backbone of the sales department and, when their job is done right, everyone else’s job is made easier and more effective. Focus on building the right process and toolkit to help your Sales Development Representatives thrive.