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The 2016 Sales Development Framework

We are excited to announce the 2016 Sales Development Framework. This version of the framework recognizes the transformation of Sales Development from a set of tactics and activities to a truly strategic function.

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In just the past year since publishing our 2015 Sales Development Framework, we have witnessed a dramatic shift in the way organizations design and manage their Sales Development teams. The overriding shift revolves around the strategic level of thought that is going into sales development.

Until very recently, Sales Development success hinged on hiring large numbers of people and driving high volumes of activity. Today, the Sales Development organization develops thoughtful go-to-market strategies to deliver quality pipeline more efficiently than ever before. For example, there has been a dramatic increase in organizations adopting Account-Based Sales Development. Rather than rely on the previous high-volume process of outbound prospecting, organizations now strategically define a smaller, more targeted set of accounts and run personalized, buyer-centric campaigns against those accounts.

In response to such dramatic shifts in the Sales Development landscape, we have published a revised version of The TOPO Sales Development Framework for 2016. It reflects the eight key strategic elements of modern, high-growth Sales Development teams, including:

Identify your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) and Buyer Personas.   
Defining a focused criteria for which accounts and buyers are the best fit and have the highest likelihood to close are critical to focusing SDR efforts. The Ideal Customer Profile (“ICP”) and buyer personas drive the key decisions throughout the rest of the framework in areas such as organizational design, messaging, plays and more.

Develop a sales development strategy based on the ICP.
Sales Development strategy is determined by understanding the high-level sales and marketing strategy and how the sales development organization can contribute to the overall revenue plan. This knowledge determines how the Sales Development organization will go to market and what underlying process will support go-to-market objectives.

Design the organization and culture to attract and retain talent.
A renewed emphasis on culture helps to combat traditional operational challenges, such as burnout and high turnover.

Use buyer-centric messaging. 
Buyer-centric messaging refers to the specific language that resonates with buyers and increases the likelihood of engaging with that buyer. Sales Development messaging must be relevant to buyers as well as supported with buyer-centric value propositions and use cases that can be delivered quickly and consistently by SDRs.

Design a standardized Sales Development process across every touchpoint.
Rather than single-channel outreach, SDRs must leverage multi-touch approaches that circle the buyer with consistent messages to maximize the likelihood of a response.

Invest resources in enablement designed specifically for Sales Development.
Sales development-specific enablement resources support effective and consistent execution of Sales Development strategy. Enablement involves creating a strategy for how the SDRs should approach their role and ongoing use of relevant content, training and methods for robust execution.

Design and build a Sales Development technology stack to support efficiency and scale.
Core technology solutions (I.e. CRM, LinkedIn, automated dialing, etc.) underlie and support the foundational SDR role, processes and plays. These are the applications every SDR needs ─ from day one ─ to effectively execute their role. Only once the core stack is establish, should SDRs be enabled with advanced tools, like gamification, account-based management, etc.

Track metrics that measure quality of activities versus only quantity.
Organizations are shifting the emphasis away from just volume-based metrics toward more strategic, qualitative standards. For example, the primary measurements of successful SDR activity are moving away from high-volume execution towards quality interactions with specific buyers within targeted accounts.


If you’d like access to The Sales Development Framework, contact TOPO at www.topohq.com for more information on subscribing to our research. If you have specific questions for the lead analyst on this report, Kristina McMillan, you can reach her at analyst@topohq.com.

About the author:  Kristina McMillan, Sales Development Practice Leader, TOPO

Kristina has spent the past 10 years helping organizations build and accelerate their sales development efforts. As a consultant, she developed the sales development programs for successful SaaS companies such Taleo, Eloqua, and Coupa, along with many others. Most recently she was the Director of Sales Development for Five9 (IPO 2014). At TOPO, Kristina manages the Sales Development practice. She works with TOPO’s analysts to develop best practice frameworks and actionable research that help clients cultivate world-class sales development organizations.


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