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TOPO Sales Development Council #13 – A Recap

Over 30 sales development leaders from the Bay area’s fastest growing companies once again convened last Friday for TOPO’s Sales Development Council #13. These Councils offer a unique forum for sales development leaders from high growth companies to learn from each other and share best practices. Each Council features three speakers who share the processes, plays, organizational elements, and technologies they use to drive key revenue metrics. This Council produced a few key themes, including discussions about SDR effectiveness and performance, how companies define qualification criteria and creating effective outbound emails.

Some of the highlights from Sales Development Council #13 include:

  • The Sales Development Council attracted sales development leaders from over 30 high growth companies.
  • Sales development leaders from companies like Google, Marketo, and Polycom attended the event.
  • Our speakers were David Belden from Google, Matt Amundson from Everstring, and TOPO Senior Analyst, David Hershenson.
  • We hosted the Council at the world class Rosewood Sand Hill Resort off Sand Hill Road in Menlo Park, CA.


As usual, we started Council with a lightning round of introductions and asked attendees to share a “hot button” issue. Invariably, improving SDR effectiveness and improving SDR enablement were among the most common challenges in the room. A large part of the discussion centered on these issues, as well as ideas for improving the messaging and structure SDRs use when doing cold outreach.

Some of the highlights from the three speakers’ sessions included:

  1. TOPO Senior Sales Analyst, David Hershenson, presented key findings and analysis from the TOPO 2016 SDR Benchmark report. The biggest takeaway: Sales development is no longer a tactical, activity-driven telemarketing function. It’s a mission-critical, strategic organization. An example of this trend is the number of SDR organizations moving from unstructured outbound to a more strategic, Account-Based plan (72% of SDR teams have moved to Account-Based). But what biggest topic of conversation was the qualified lead definition. According to the data, the majority of teams focus on finding “the right person and the right company” versus traditional BANT. The SDR leaders in attendance discussed their qualified lead definitions and how they manage expectations.
  2. David Belden, Head of Americas Sales Development at Google Apps for Work, shared his team’s new strategies and techniques that doubled their output of qualified opportunities while sending half as many emails. David’s team’s success utilizes a four step process. The first step is buyer research, where they use tools to study both the person and target account. Second, they design a subject line that is clear and concise. Third, his SDRs use extreme personalization in the body of the email. And lastly, they have the right tools and process to ensure consistent follow-up. As a final discussion point, David stressed that Google SDRs build meaningful relationships with their target accounts by focusing their messaging on the prospect’s business (versus Google). Personalization and it’s effect on conversion rates is a hot topic with SDR leaders, and as such, David’s presentation generated a lively audience discussion.
  3. Matt Amundson, VP of Sales Development and Field Marketing at Everstring, brought tremendous energy and enthusiasm to his discussion on Account Based Marketing (ABM) strategies. One of this main themes was to outline the various responsibilities of different stakeholders in ABM (sales, SDR, marketing, executives, etc.) and what role they play in the ABM process. According to Matt, marketing’s job is to create the necessary plays and messaging, while sales development is the personalized channel for marketing by filling in the necessary gaps in both contacts and information. The sales team becomes the execution arm to run the proper sales plays to closure. Executives of the company offer strategic support for top tier accounts and conduct outreach to executives within those top accounts. When it comes time for sales development executing their outreach, Matt stressed the level of personalization should correlate to the prospect’s role inside the company. The higher up they are, the more personalization necessary. Finally, Matt shared his 10-80-10 rule of proper email structure – the SDR should customize the opening (10%), leverage templates with marketing’s core messaging in the body (80%), and personalize the call to action at the end of the email (last 10%).

That’s just a small portion of what we discussed at our most recent Sales Development Council. If you’re interested in attending an event, we have a number of Councils planned for next quarter, including Sales Development Council and Demand Generation Council. Send a request to analyst@topohq.com to be added to the invite list.

About the author: David Hershenson, Senior Analyst, Sales Development Practice, TOPO

David is a Senior Sales Development Analyst at TOPO where he uses best practices and research to help clients achieve success. David has spent more than 15 years developing a high level of subject matter expertise running Inside Sales and Sales Development teams and is passionate about the design, initiation, and growth of sales organizations. As an experienced practitioner, David has held numerous leadership roles for successful SaaS companies, including salesforce.com, Yammer, and Zendesk.

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