Sales development representatives (SDRs) are a highly underutilized, yet influential, position in almost any sales team or organization. As a business leader or executive, there are several reasons to consider implementing or further establishing SDR and BDR positions in your organization to help foster more early-stage sales opportunities that ultimately drive revenue (and company) growth.
What would an SDR do?
Sales development reps are junior positions specializing in early-stage client generation and qualification. They supplement the critical handoff between marketing and later-stage sellers that helps capture more prospects, qualify existing leads and prepare existing leads for the next stage of the buyer’s journey. While it doesn’t claim the glamor of a late-stage sales position that focuses on closing, SDR roles are critical in maintaining a full funnel of nurtured and qualified leads ready to buy from your organization. (After all, you can’t close deals if there’s nobody there to purchase.) SDRs canvas outbound opportunities but might also provide initial outreach to inbound leads brought in by marketing. While a frequent critique of marketing is its ability to solely generate “low-quality” leads, those leads are far from low-quality; they’re under-nurtured and unsure how your company can best solve their problems. The primary goal of the SDR would be to manage and oversee this transition, helping early-stage prospects determine if and how your organization can help them.
Five qualifications to define a sales-qualified lead:
An SDR's most critical role is to determine if marketing-generated or their own outbound prospects are potential buyers. Developing a list of qualifications for SDRs to base a candidate’s qualification on will make their process dramatically easier (and likely more accurate). While specifics and nuances of a genuine qualification invariably depend on what solutions your organization offers and the industry you’re in, there are basic qualifications that can be universally applicable to any potential lead:
- SDRs should be able to book a meeting with the prospect within 30 days of the first contact. A valid lead will have a demonstrated interest or a known problem that your solution will solve. The prospect still might never respond if the SDR communicates through multiple channels and touchpoints. While it happens, understand that if the contact is unresponsive, they aren’t a lead. The SDR should maintain consistent (if infrequent) communication with them to encourage them to become a lead in the future if the opportunity arises.
- Potential leads should have stated sub-verticals your business can support (and win). Especially in heavily inundated fields containing many solutions to the same problem, a company will thrive when it finds the sub-vertical they serve better than anyone else. With these ideal clients, you should tailor solutions to maximize retention within that sub-vertical to carve a niche of candidates you support better than anyone.
- Utilize revenue bands to outline an ideal customer. Price is a necessary component of the qualification process, and it’s a component sellers frequently choose to not bring up until the last possible moment. While moving directly into the pricing details of your solution isn’t ideal, verifying that the prospect is able to afford your solution is a necessary step in the qualification process. If you want to avoid mentioning the cost too soon, consider pre-qualifying by outreaching communication with companies within a minimum revenue band. In doing this, you ensure the companies pass a threshold of income that allows them to afford your solution. (Note that maintaining this revenue band is reserved for outbound prospecting. If a company has a demonstrated interest in your solution and contacts first, they might secure more budget for your solution despite not reaching that threshold.)
- Determine if you can serve their headquarters or physical location. Is your company capable of serving international customers? If so, are there certain countries you still can’t help? For U.S.-based companies, do you serve the entire country or solely those within your region? Do you serve fully remote companies? Use these limitations, if any, to quickly determine if you can or cannot work with a company.
- Is their situation something your solution can solve? Unfortunately, to meet sales quotas, some sellers will broadly apply their solution to an area it might not solve. Not only is this disingenuous, but it also makes life more difficult for both the buyer and the seller. Buyers will be less likely to work with your company in the future, especially if they detect that the lack of alignment was done to gain a sale. For the seller, they’re wasting time interacting with someone who ultimately isn’t likely to purchase when they could be finding more relevant leads. When qualifying a need, make sure your solution could provide a genuine benefit to the buyer.
Understanding and implementing these qualifying procedures is a great way to help an SDR department gain early-stage sales experience while maintaining a sales funnel full of candidates likely to purchase. While the communication between the SDR and late-stage seller should be tailored to accommodate the nuances of your company, the basic qualification process an SDR can perform will increase closing rates and help deals close faster. The role of an SDR can look slightly different, too, depending on the needs and specifics of your company. Regardless of how you structure it, creating and maintaining a properly -managed SDR team provides the revenue gain for company growth.