Why Sales Dev Stack Innovation Is Getting Smarter While Budgets Get Tighter
Sales development leaders spend their time developing their prospecting strategies and touch patterns, managing and coaching their teams of sales development representatives (SDRs), and measuring the team’s success at scheduling meetings so they don’t have time to do the work required to keep up with all of the latest sales development technology trends. Technology constantly undergoes rapid changes and that’s why TOPO analysts gather data, talk to companies, and watch the sales development technology landscape to discover the latest market trends.
Technology has become more and more important to the sales development organization, especially as specialized and focused tools have become the SDR daily dashboard of activities. It is critical to know where technology is heading and what other leaders—especially competitors—are paying attention to. These market trends reflect the point of view of the TOPO analyst team.
Data is driving much needed innovation in the SDR stack. Account data and contact data solutions are critical for keeping prospect and customer information up to date, but sales development teams are leveraging intent data to prioritize an SDR’s daily workflow and suggest next best actions. This includes stand-alone solutions and ones integrated and provided by sales engagement platforms. This is the biggest innovation in outbound prospecting in quite some time, and in the next two years we expect four to five data sources will be regularly fed to SDRs.
Artificial intelligence (AI) is present in the SDR tech stack, but it’s not being used by the SDRs. The vendors making the most progress incorporating AI into sales development are the ones that leverage it seamlessly in the background and provide insights to SDRs to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of their jobs. Automated tasks like chatbots responding and routing prospects are not where this technology will pay off, but tools that can help SDRs make decisions to optimize their messages for greater relevance and a higher likelihood of a response will.
The most significant development to watch is that multiple vendors across various categories want to own the SDR platform. Sales engagement platforms have become the tool that is the center of the sales development world and have replaced the CRM as the daily dashboard for SDRs, but this is part of a larger trend. Every point solution in the sales development and sales tech space is trying to expand up, down, and sideways across functions and funnel stages to become a comprehensive platform that sits on top of the CRM and controls the flow of information. This is more than a desktop takeover, but a tech stack takeover as solutions try to access as much engagement data as they can to support deal management, pipeline management, and recommended next best actions.
LinkedIn’s impact is expanding in the SDR’s daily life with a growing presence. The social network is transitioning from being more than just an online information resource and prospect communication channel to a key part of the SDR tech stack. LinkedIn’s latest updates include data validation for keeping contact data clean and prospecting triggers for alerting SDRs of activity that creates context for a message. This is the most existential threat to the dominance of the sales engagement platforms.
Technology innovation has created new SDR processes and organization design. The explosion of chat as an inbound channel with the growth of Drift has caused teams to rethink how they are organized and what roles SDRs play in the prospecting process. As the number of leads from chat grows, organizations are considering selecting certain SDRs to specialize in chat responses because the automated tool may have already qualified the prospect and shared content that demonstrated value in the solution.
To learn more about TOPO’s latest research into the sales development technology stack, register for our Sales Development Technology Report webinar on Tuesday, January 21, at 10 a.m. PT.