Sales Development Culture, Only Second To Process In Leading Sales Development Teams
This research was fielded before the coronavirus (COVID-19) started having an impact in the United States, take our updated survey to receive updated results, https://go.topohq.com/slsldrcv
Sales development reps (SDRs) across multiple markets face an increasingly commoditized and hyper-competitive buying environment. There is a series of major shifts in go-to-market teams that align with successful sales development strategies and the biggest challenges for organizations.
These business trends set the context for the survey results of sales development leaders and center around providing extreme value to prospects and customers. This change in mindset of focusing on the prospect or customer first requires functional alignment, restructuring to revenue operations, better sales enablement, and a renewed focus on productivity.
TOPO fielded an online survey to sales development leaders. It was completed by 103 respondents at high-performing companies.
SALES DEVELOPMENT SUCCESS FACTORS
Standardized process, culture, and technology lead to effective sales development
World-class sales development organizations start every conversation with an understanding of how to convey extreme value to prospects. What makes them most successful falls into two categories: scale and people. A standardized process and supporting technology stack help a sales development organization successfully scale to provide extreme value in every prospect interaction. Culture and hiring practices determine the strength of the SDR team and its ability to deliver on the process.
The leading factor of success cited by 36% of sales development leaders is a standardized sales development process. Sales development teams are most commonly measured on their volume of activities, along with the conversion rates of those activities. This means that SDRs must be both efficient at managing a high volume of daily tasks and effective at doing those tasks well. A standardized process is key to executing against both of those objectives.
Twenty-seven percent of leaders indicated that the technology stack contributes to sales development success, and these two factors align to create unprecedented transparency for SDR leaders to better understand the performance patterns of their teams. Leaders at high-growth companies are not just relying on technology to guide them, but rather use technology to augment the standard process that is already helping SDRs succeed. The sales development tech stack helps leaders get more systematic at driving good performance and providing visibility around SDR efforts and their impact on the overall business.
The success of SDRs is driven by the technology that serves sales development. SDRs rely on sales engagement platforms—one of several tools used but also the most critical—to organize their prospecting tasks, to assist with developing messaging, and to send prospect communications. Other software in the stack supports knowledge management, training, and coaching, all of which contribute to SDRs meeting their goals.
Sales development culture is also a big part of the success of sales development teams, with nearly 3 in 10 leaders identifying culture as a success factor. The SDR role is a difficult, often entry-level, role in an organization and it is hard to keep people motivated. With SDR tenures being short, culture often makes the difference in retention and performance. Leaders that create a positive culture develop a better performing team and are able to retain and advance SDRs to other areas of the organization. With culture as a top priority, sales development leaders have evolved from just measuring activities to effectively motivating and coaching SDRs to improve performance.
SALES DEVELOPMENT CHALLENGES
Insufficient enablement is a bigger challenge than not enough leads
Thirty-nine percent of leaders say that they don’t get enough leads from marketing. When lead volumes are deficient, SDRs must make up the difference with outbound prospecting. This shortfall can be further magnified if SDRs are not properly trained on how to effectively prospect. Again, while most sales development leaders feel they need more leads, there is a larger problem at hand. Leaders also indicated challenges around lack of process, poor execution, and ineffective messaging, which all point to a lack of control over their own success. Without proper support, sales development teams often feel like they are left to figure out what to do on their own.
Poor execution and ineffective messaging were cited by 26% of sales development leaders as top challenges and both of these point to the growing need for sales enablement. The growth of enablement, especially in sales development, is not just a strategic imperative but a competitive advantage.
Reps need training, coaching, messaging templates, and supporting content to help them do their job every day. When they don’t get these things, SDRs are forced to figure out prospecting details on their own, which leads to inefficiency and ineffective messages that do not resonate with prospects. These challenges all point to the fact that successful leaders are able to articulate their teams’ needs and manage cross-functional stakeholders to deliver on those needs.
As discussed above, culture is becoming a critical part of a team’s success but it can only take an organization so far without a strong enablement function, especially in companies with growing SDR teams. For example, culture alone might help a team grow to 15 SDRs but there’s no way they are going to get to 50 without a fully aligned enablement process.
Dan Gottlieb, Sales Analyst, and Phoebe Conybeare, Sales Development Analyst