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TOPO Sales Development Council Event – Recap

TOPO recently held its first ever event – a meeting of the TOPO Sales Development Council. The event was a terrific success, bringing together 26 of the world’s leading sales development practitioners for a half day of in-depth learning and collaboration. Our objective for this event was simple – put a small number of smart people in a room to talk about their specific experiences building and managing sales development teams.

It worked, as evidenced by the following data:

  • 26 SDR managers, directors, and VPs attended the meeting.
  • Companies such as Optimizely, Cloudera, SAP/SuccessFactors, Infer, Twilio, and MobileIron were represented.
  • Our three speakers were Ralph Barsi of Achievers, Lars Nilsson of Cloudera, and Kyle Morris of Gigya.
  • The good folks at Compile partnered with us as the exclusive sponsor of the event (thanks Isaac!).
  • The Rosewood Sand Hill provided a beautiful meeting space and excellent food (Craig Rosenberg was particularly fond of the croissant breakfast sandwiches).
The TOPO Sales Development Council doing work!

The TOPO Sales Development Council doing work!

Key Sales Development Trends

We talked about a number of sales development topics at the event. A few of the key themes that emerged included:

  1. Our speakers talked about trends in hiring SDR teams. Kyle Morris from Gigya shared a lot of the best practices he’s used to build a 90 person team. He presented a find, train, and retain framework that he uses to manage a team of talented, but largely inexperienced millenials. For Kyle, it’s critical to hire people who have a track record of success and exhibit good cultural fit. He then invests in training and active management to make sure that this “raw talent” has the support they need to be successful.
  2. Another key theme the speakers focused on was managing the activities that SDRs engage in. Ralph Barsi of Achievers showed how his SDRs block their weeks out using calendars and pay particular attention to scheduling their outbound prospecting efforts. For Ralph, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday are sacred days when the SDRs spend the vast majority of their time on lead qualification and prospecting. Mondays and Fridays offer time for meetings and other company activities.
  3. Sales technology was another hot topic discussed by speakers and attendees alike. Lars Nilsson from Cloudera spoke at length about his experiences adopting and using technology at Arcsight, HP, and now Cloudera. He asked attendees a very pointed question – whether they were “spending the money to build out a selling engine?” For Lars, the key technology for sales development right now is marketing automation. It’s fundamentally changed the process and plays that SDRs use to connect with and qualify buyers.

If you’re interested in learning more about these topics, you can see all of the speakers’ presentations on Slideshare.

The event was such a success that we’re already working on our next one – our first meeting of the the TOPO Demand Generation Council. It takes place on June 20th at the Rosewood Sand Hill and you can learn more about it here (space is limited).

About the author:  Scott Albro is the CEO and founder of TOPOTOPO is a research and advisory firm that helps companies grow faster. We do this by shopping, benchmarking, and improving the experiences that sales and marketing organizations deliver to buyers. It’s this data that helps our clients (some of the world’s fastest growing companies) drive more traffic, more leads, higher conversion rates, larger average deal sizes, shorter sales cycles, and lower churn rates. The result? Our clients grow 2X faster than the competition.

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