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TOPO Sales Development Council #6 – A Recap

TOPO hosted the sixth meeting of our Sales Development Council last Friday at the Rosewood Sand Hill in Menlo Park. TOPO Councils are a unique forum for sales development leaders from high growth companies to learn from each other. Each Council features three speakers who share the processes, plays, organizational elements, and technologies they use to drive key revenue metrics. Sales Development Council #6 attracted over 35 sales development leaders who shared their best practices for designing, building, and managing a world class sales development function. A few key themes emerged at the particular Council, including discussions about buyer-responsive sales development process and plays and technology proliferation in the sales development organization.

Some of the highlights from Sales Development Council #6 include:

  • The Sales Development Council attracted sales development leaders from over 35 high growth companies.
  • Sales development leaders from companies like Zendesk, Polycom, Google, LinkedIn, and Nutanix attended the event.
  • Our speakers were David Hershenson from Zenefits, Ilan Kopecky from Aria Systems, and TOPO Analyst Bryan Gonzalez.
  • We hosted the Council at the world class Rosewood Sand Hill on another beautiful Friday in Menlo Park, CA.

Key Sales Development Trends

The Council discussed various issues impacting sales development, including the emergence of the sales development technology stack, SDR career development and employment trends, and how hyper-growth companies are over-investing in the sales development function.


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

  1. TOPO Analyst Bryan Gonzalez presented results from our recently published research report, The Sales Development Technology Stack. Bryan kicked off his session by presenting data that the average high growth team is now using 5 distinct sales development technologies. Dedicated sales email tools have been the big winners in recent years. In fact, 83.7% of sales development teams now use an email tool. Our data shows that the next big sales development technology will be dialing automation, with 45.3% of companies planning to make an investment. We had a lively discussion about how sales development leaders could manage what members characterized as the “proliferation problem”. One key is to make sure that you design your sales development process and plays, and then adopt technology.
  2. lan Kopecky, Director of Sales Development and Inside Sales at Aria Systems, gave an impassioned talk on the metrics that truly matter in sales development. His stance, which he illuminated with a spot-on Seinfeld impression: “What’s the deal with activities?” Rather than merely tracking dials made and emails sent, Ilan introduced the concept of activity ratios, which reveal the true effectiveness of SDR touch points. For example, Ilan knows each month how many calls it takes for his SDRs to produce one opportunity. He closed by offering his best practices for moving the reps away from thinking about activities to thinking about true engagement and getting strategic with their touches.
  3. David Hershenson, Director of Sales Development at Zenefits, discussed how the SDR team at Zenefits has driven their unprecedented growth, as well as the challenges that come with scaling such a team. The Council was thrilled to get a peek behind the curtains at the fastest growing SaaS company of all time. His most important takeaway: Have a vision for how your sales development team will contribute to the company, both in their current role and beyond. That vision includes SDRs having a prominent place in the company as a primary catalyst for growth. David shared his best practices in building a path to success for Zenefits SDRs as well as his robust coaching methodology to ensure everyone is hitting their goals along this path.

That’s just a small portion of what we discussed at our most recent Sales Development Council. If you’re interested in attending an upcoming event, we have a number of Councils planned for the rest of the summer, including:

  • Demand Generation Council #5 in Menlo Park, CA
  • Sales Development Council #7 in Menlo Park, CA
  • An exclusive event for inside sales leaders in San Francisco, CA

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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