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TOPO Sales Development Council Event #4 – Recap

The TOPO Sales Development Councils have been a tremendous success. For each council, we bring together sales development practitioners to listen to presentations from a TOPO Analyst, as well as two sales development leaders. The room is filled with some of the best sales development leaders in the business and the conversations are lively. This event had 50 attendees who shared best practices and collaborated on and, in some cases, argued about high growth strategies for sales development organizations.

Here are the highlights:

  • 50 SDR managers, directors, and VPs were in attendance.
  • Companies like Riverbed, Google, Polycom, and MixPanel were represented.
  • Our three speakers were Sean Kester of SalesLoft, Daniel Barber from ToutApp, and TOPO’s own Bryan Gonzalez.
  • Our sponsors Salesloft and ConnectandSell partnered with us to make the event a success.
  • The Rosewood Sand Hill provided a world class venue. Of course, they serve everyone’s favorite, the breakfast croissant of which we have to order extra to meet demand.

TOPO, Tout App, Danlel Barber

Key Sales Development Trends

While it is impossible to reduce all of great content shared to a few bullet points, some interesting trends did emerge:

  1. There are four major challenges sales development leaders face today – We polled the audience to ask them what their current “hot button” issues were. As the audience gave their answers, some common themes emerged. These themes included: managing the SDR employee lifecycle (e.g. hiring, onboarding, structuring the team, motivation, and tenure); determining the optimal outreach strategy (e.g. inbound vs. outbound, outsourced vs. in-house SDRs, phone vs. email); scaling the sales development organization; and successfully aligning the sales development with sales.
  2. Short SDR tenures poses a challenge – The average tenure of an SDR is a quick 14.2 months. TOPO Analyst Bryan Gonzalez provided data and specific recommendations for managing this. He presented five best practices for managing the SDR lifecycle including: establishing a scalable hiring process, onboarding SDRs in a week, getting to full ramp in month; creating an internal SDR promotion path, monitoring and troubleshooting underperformance early, and maintaining a high degree of hands-on coaching . The message from Bryan is “you don’t have time” to onboard slowly or to keep an underperformer onboard for 3 months. For example, Bryan believes that underperformers should be put on a plan one month after missing quota. This plan is not meant to create a ruthless “hit your number or you’re out” culture, but rather to send the message that your performance matters and the organization and management will devote extra focus and effort to make you successful.
  3. Give sales development respect and glorify their work – Sean Kester talked about how, at SalesLoft, the sales development team reports directly to the CEO. They honor major accomplishments from sales development in their weekly meetings. They have trips and perks that are only for SDRs. As a matter of fact, they recently took a trip to the lake where only the top sales development rep got to ride an amazing flyboard (despite pleading from sales reps to get a chance).
  4. There are four key metrics to measure SDR performance – Daniel Barber presented on a the metrics framework that he uses to manage the sales development team at ToutApp. He provided some very specific advice on the actionable metrics that sales development leaders should track. He believes you should track: click through percentage on emails sent; email to opportunity conversion rate; connect rate; and number of qualification calls that result in an appointment for a sales rep.

The continued success of these councils has us hard at work on a series of future events. Look for the next Sales Development Council in April. In the meantime, I think we have plenty to think about. Stay tuned!

About the author: Craig Rosenberg is a co-founder and Chief Analyst at TOPO and blogger on the Funnelholic sales and marketing blog. Follow him on Twitter.

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