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TOPO Sales Development Council #7 – A Recap

Over 30 sales development leaders from the bay area’s fastest growing companies once again convened at the Rosewood Sand Hill in Menlo Park last Friday for TOPO’s Sales Development Council #7. 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 the hiring and interview process, onboarding strategy, and coaching best practices.

Some of the highlights from Sales Development Council #7 include:

  • The Sales Development Council attracted sales development leaders from over 30 high growth companies.
  • Sales development leaders from companies like Google, CallidusCloud, and Okta attended the event.
  • Our speakers were Chris Pollot from Showpad, Chris Lee from Granular, and TOPO Analyst Kristina McMillan.
  • We hosted the Council at the world class Rosewood Sand Hill on another beautiful Friday in Menlo Park, CA.

Key Sales Development Trends

At the beginning of each Council, we lead a lightning round of introductions, in which our attendees share their latest “hot button” issue; a challenge that’s been driving them crazy this month. Invariably, hiring and onboarding are among the most common challenges in the room. This is where a large part of the discussion focused at this Council, which also coaching best practices and targeting hard to reach buyers.


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

  1. TOPO Analyst Kristina McMillan presented highlights from her recently published research report, The Sales Development Coaching Framework. Kristina began by establishing a troubling problem in sales development: only 17.3% of high-growth sales development organizations actually perform ANY coaching activities. Yet, the short tenures (14 months) and inexperience (74.5% of SDRs have less than 1 year of work experience), necessitate that coaching takes place. In fact, TOPO recommends 4-6 hours of coaching per month per SDR. Kristina’s solution: create a framework that enables you to observe and diagnose SDR challenges and area of improvement, then prescribe actionable solutions you hold the SDR accountable for. Her presentation went on to dig into the details, showing an example monthly coaching plan and best practices for observation exercises. 
  2. Chris Pollot, Director of Global Sales Development at Showpad, took us a step back in the SDR lifecycle to the beginning: hiring and onboarding. Chris has a rigorous and exact hiring process which begins with the C-suite and the sales, sales development, and marketing organizations all agreeing on an ideal hiring profile. Then, Chris designed a rigorous interview process to test for the qualities in his hiring profile. This process includes an interview, written tests, certifications, and Chris’ favorite: the boiler room speech. By the end, 1 in 4 candidates becomes a Showpad SDR to be onboarded. Continuing the level of rigor shown in his hiring process, Chris onboards SDRs to productivity in weeks, not months, and sets clear expectations for their role, including the three tiers that he has created for career progression through the SDR role.
  3. Chris Lee, Sales Development Manager at Granular, took us back to the fundamentals, sharing his experience building the sales development function at Granular. After leading perhaps the most interesting lecture the Council has seen on the intricacies and misconceptions of farming (Granular sells software to farmers) he dug into how he has tackled prospecting into such a niche target market, whose buyers are not active in the typical channels of Linkedin and Twitter, or conventional contact data sources. Moreover, he shared how he has solved this challenge by dedicating a lead gen resource to the complicated tasks of building prospect lists from a myriad of custom sources, enabling SDRs to stay hyper focused on following their touch patterns and hitting quota.

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 year, including:

  • Demand Generation Council #5 in Menlo Park, CA
  • Sales Development Council #8 in Menlo Park, CA
  • An exclusive event for inside sales leaders in San Francisco, CA

About the author:  Bryan Gonzalez, Sales Development Practice Analyst, TOPO

Bryan Gonzalez is TOPO’s Sales Development Analyst. He publishes research and helps clients design, build, and optimize their Sales Development organizations. Prior to joining TOPO, Bryan was a founding member of two high-growth SDR teams, and helped launch, execute and scale their Sales Development programs.

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