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The Inspired Sales Development Team: An Interview with Ralph Barsi

The TOPO blog is committed to bringing the sales development community the latest trends, data, and best practices from the fastest-growing companies in the world. But it’s really great leaders that take those insights and drive action from them; that lead their teams to perform like the best in the business. Over the next several weeks, TOPO will be posting an interview series with the world’s best sales development leaders and practitioners.

To kick us off, Ralph Barsi, Senior Director of Sales Development at Achievers, shares his best practices, most impactful decisions, goals, challenges, metrics and the most effective technology his team is using today.

Ralph will also be moderating TOPO’s upcoming webinar, 11 High Growth Sales Development Strategies.

The more I understand each SDR, the more I inspire them to perform at the highest level

Question 1: What decision did you make that had the biggest impact on your sales development team’s success?

Answer: I decided to focus on inspiring each individual rep, instead of the team as a whole. The more I learn about and understand each SDR, the more I can inspire and influence them to perform at their highest level. When all cylinders are firing, and every SDR is delivering what’s expected of them, the team becomes unstoppable. The most effective way to know each rep is to invest time with them and genuinely care about them (in one-on-ones and through regular, consistent communication). This is a challenging feat for leaders of larger organizations. However, if senior leaders hold frontline managers accountable for knowing their individual reps – where they’re from, who’s important in their lives, why they come to work every day, how they define success for themselves – those managers can have powerful influence and impact at scale.

Sales Development

The more sales professionals develop their own brand, the more the industry will welcome them

Question 2: What is the biggest challenge your sales development team is facing in 2015?

Answer: In 2015, my team needs to overcome obscurity in the marketplace. They, as sales professionals, are young in their careers and not well known by the industry. The more they learn about buyers, network with industry peers, share valuable insights, and develop their own brand, the more the industry will welcome them. For example, we sell rewards and recognition software to the Human Resources space. My team must keep up on industry trends through a number of channels, like associations (SHRM, HRPA), blogs (TLNT, Josh Bersin), and speakers (Trish McFarlane, Steven Parker). They also need to uncover triggers through sales intelligence tools like LinkedIn, InsideView, and RelSci. The better SDRs get in these areas, the more credibility and rapport they’ll have with prospects.

Sustain the quality of two pipelines: the revenue pipeline and the people pipeline

Question 3: What are the sales development team’s biggest initiatives for 2015?

Our biggest initiatives center on sustaining the quality of two pipelines: the revenue pipeline and the people pipeline. We see our company’s revenue pipeline as fuel in the tank. We can fill the tank with 87-octane (used in lawn mowers and commuter cars) or ethanol (used in dragsters and rockets). We choose ethanol, so are firm in defining “qualified” leads and opportunities. There’s also an airtight SLA between the SDRs and marketing – as well as between the SDRs and sales – to ensure everyone’s aligned. The people pipeline is in constant (and healthy) flux, with new reps joining the team, reps ramping-up, and reps moving into higher positions. Balancing these areas is key, so continuously building the team’s brand, interviewing candidates throughout the year, and framing-up a clear career path for the SDRs is always in play.

Our team has all eyes on it daily, which is a fabulous way to keep the fire lit under us

Question 4: What are the top 3 metrics you use to measure your sales development team’s performance?

Our primary metric is # of qualified opportunities (meaning, it’s moved to 20% probability). The two leading indicators we track are # of booked meetings and # of completed meetings. We measure these, not just as a team, but as a company. For example, every day, Achievers holds a 9-minute, all-hands meeting. All remote offices are piped-in, so everyone’s present. In addition to company news, we share key metrics, including the # of meetings booked by sales development the previous day. Our team has all eyes on it daily, which is a fabulous way to keep the fire lit under us! We monitor key metrics via Salesforce dashboards. The team has a dashboard, and every SDR has their own dashboard, too.

Mobile phones have the most impact on SDR performance

Question 5: What technology is having the biggest impact on your sales development team’s performance?

Without question, my team’s mobile phones have the most impact on their performance. The most successful reps see their mobile phone as an extension of themselves. Gary Vaynerchuk sees the front of someone’s mobile phone as a “gateway into the psychology of their mind.” Mobile apps enable SDRs to be productive, efficient, nimble, and, ultimately, outstanding at what SDRs do. From utility apps like Evernote and IFTTT, to social apps like Twitter and LinkedIn, to sales and marketing apps like Salesforce and Hootsuite, SDR’s are consuming and contributing value from the marketplace anywhere, anytime.

See more of Ralph at TOPO’s upcoming sales development webinar.

Today’s Author:  Ralph Barsi is an inspiring leader with over 20 years of experience in Sales. In the B2B SaaS space, he’s best known for building and developing Inside Sales teams that produce results. The American Association of Inside Sales Professionals named him one of the most influential Inside Sales leaders in the industry. Ralph has written and presented on topics ranging from prospecting and playbooks, to social selling and managing millennials, to motivation and leadership. He currently oversees the Sales Development organization at Achievers in San Francisco. You can follow Ralph on Twitter here.

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