A Sales Saybook is what Your SDRs Need.

Sales Pipeline Development by SOMAmetrics

There is a significant difference between a Sales Playbook and a Sales Saybook, as we will discuss in some detail below. But, to quickly give you the key differences… A Sales Playbook is a complete discussion of how a company plans to go to market with its various products to achieve very specific sales goals. It is for Senior Leadership; Account Executives (AEs) and the Enterprise Account Executives (EAEs); for the Marketing department (especially product marketing managers), and the like. It is comprehensive, detailed, and…impressive.

A Sales Saybook, on the other hand, is designed to give a very junior Sales Development Representative (SDR) exactly what to say in a 3-4 minute conversation so he can book a qualified meeting. It is everything the SDR needs during the call—and nothing more.

Sales Playbooks are Great—for Account Executives 

A Sales Playbook is likely hefty, with lots of information on the various market segments, and the various buying personas within each segment that it sells to. Not to mention details on the products sold, pricing, qualifying for pain, negotiating pricing, who the supporting Go To Marketing team is for each product/market, and much more.

Now, the average Account Exec that most B2B companies hire tends to have at least 10 years of sales experience. So this AE is not going to need to read the playbook from cover to cover. Most likely, the AE is going to skim the playbook, take what she thinks works, and build her own, much lighter version of the sales playbook. She can do that, because she knows a lot about selling already—she is just filling the gaps regarding the product, market, and some competitors. And if she came from the industry (most AEs change companies within the same industry), then she has even less “new” stuff to learn.

Sales Playbooks Don’t Work Well for SDRs

This, however, is not the case for SDRs who tend to be very junior, typically with less than two years of experience in phone prospecting. Furthermore, the average SDR changes jobs across industries far more than within the same industry, partly because they want to try a different market to see if they will be more successful there.

Now, imagine a 24 or 25 year old recent hire (as in two weeks ago) grappling with dozens of folders and hundreds of pages that comprise your Sales Playbook—and expecting him to remember what he needs when he is actually calling a prospect. As they used to say in NYC, “forget about it!”

Why a Sales Saybook is Right for a SDR

The 10 second rule

In an article titled, “Two Hidden Competitors your SDRs face every day”, we showed why time was the #1 competitor that every SDR has to overcome in order to get a meeting with a busy decision maker.

Experience shows that, once a SDR connects with a decision maker, he has less than 10 seconds to either win or lose that decision maker’s attention. And those first 10 seconds give the SDR the legitimate right to ask qualifying questions so he can book a qualified meeting that goes on the pipeline. 

What happens during those first 10 seconds practically determines the rest of the conversation that the SDR has with the prospect.

Why It Matters

To illustrate, let’s say that you have a service that enables auto-repair shops to significantly improve their cash flow by dramatically reducing their average account receivable cycles.

Let’s say your SDR calls the owner of such a shop, and once connected to the owner, says, “Hi Joe?”…”Joe, my name is Justin with Cash Flo. We help auto repair shops with significant DRP business cut their average AR cycles to under 32 days. I just have one question for you. Do you have a minute?

Here is how this works. DRP stands for “Direct Repair Programs”. Auto insurance companies have pre-negotiated rates for auto body repair jobs. When a vehicle owner who recently was in a crash files a claim, the auto insurance company sends her to one of their nearby DRP shops. The vehicle owner doesn’t really care which shop as long as it’s nearby, the repair job is satisfactory, and all she has to pay is her deductible.

But for the auto-repair show owner, not only are they getting a significantly reduced amount from the insurance company on the bulk of the repair job, but they are getting the money 60-90 days after they complete the work.

Therefore, from a cash flow perspective (which is the lifeblood for most small to mid-sized companies), this is a big problem.

So, when the SDR makes that opening statement, not only is he quickly getting to a critical problem that auto-body repair shops face, but he is using the term they use (“DRP”) to indicate he has experience working with auto-body repair shops. So, he gets the owner’s attention very quickly.

And, when he follows up by saying, “I just have one question. Do you have a minute…” the owner is intrigued and wants to know what the question is and is likely to say, “Yeah go ahead…”

This works just as well for a CFO in a biotech company—as long as the SDR knows the key issue that CFOs in biotech companies grapple with, and he states that in the words they use to describe the challenge. That is very critical.

It’s All About Situational Fluency

As you can see, the reason your best SDRs seem to consistently hit or exceed both their meeting and pipeline quotas is because they have situational fluency and can “talk the talk” of their prospects. They sound like an insider. Therefore, the prospect quickly makes a decision to hear this out a little bit more because, so far, it doesn’t seem like a waste of time.

Even if your Sales Playbook provided all this information, it will be hard for your SDRs to find the exact page it’s on while they are on the phone with the prospect. In other words, unless they memorize several openings (one for a CFO in biotech, another for a controller in pharma, and so on), they will not come out sounding like an insider. Which means, they get the usual, “I don’t have time now”, “I was just walking into a meeting. Call me back tomorrow…”

Why Sales Saybooks work

A Sales Saybook, on the other hand, is designed to provide situational fluency to a junior SDR who knows little or nothing about the industry nor the persona he is calling.

 A Sales Saybook walks the junior SDR through the mechanics of the actual prospecting call, as the SDR is talking to the prospect—how to open, get the attention of the prospect, handle objections, then move to qualifying questions, then book the meeting if there is a fit.

Furthermore, each Sales Saybook is 100% customized to the specific buying persona in a specific market segment, so that key phrases are all accurate. This is how your SDR gains the legitimacy to ask the qualifying questions.

Furthermore, the qualifying questions are not generic, but come from a pain bank built specifically for that buying persona/market segment combo. Therefore, in just asking those highly relevant questions, the SDR continues to build on legitimacy and credibility.

Which is why SDRs who use the SOMAmetrics Sales Saybook increase their effectiveness by at least 25% within 2-3 weeks.

Want To Find out More?

If you want to see a Sales Saybook in action, click here to book a demo for SIP, the SOMAmetrics Intelligent Prospecting Solution.

Two Hidden Competitors your SDRs face every day

Hidden Competitors

There are two hidden competitors that stall sales pipeline development more than any other—and they are not the ones you are probably thinking of. In fact every company, every product, faces these two hidden competitors. You can’t escape them. Not only that, they are the first barrier you face—before you encounter any of the competitors you typically analyze closely.

And yet, these two hidden competitors block almost all prospecting attempts right from the start. Without fully understanding them, there is really no effective way to counter them. And without countering them effectively, sales pipeline development will stall.

What Every B2B Sales Leader can Learn From…Coca Cola

Huh? Yes, actually, the soft drink industry is a perfect way for B2B companies to understand the real competitors they face—including hidden competitors—so they can rapidly and consistently build quality sales pipelines.

For generations, Coca Cola’s direct competitor has been Pepsi, especially in the cola market.  However, Coca Cola also faces a category of competitors that includes all soft drink products: root beer, ginger ale, seven up, and so on. In addition to the soft drink category competitors, Coca Cola also faces a broader generic group of competitors consisting of all beverage products including bottled water, coffee and tea, and including beer and wine. It has to win, not just against cola makers, not just against all soft drink makers, but also against all packaged beverage product makers.

However, those are not even the most formidable competitors it faces. Coca Cola must first overcome the two hidden competitors before it encounters the ones mentioned above.

Time and Budget: The Two Hidden Competitors

Every product competes for time and budget—and Coca Cola is no exception. While the average Coke product typically costs under $2, that is the first hurdle for someone who has limited budget (perhaps is in between jobs and conscious of spending money). To such a person, the choice becomes buying Coke, or buying cigarettes (if he is a smoker); buying Coke or buying food; buying Coke or buying gas…you get the point. 

And, for the person who has $2 she can spend on Coke, there is still another competitor—time. With over 5,000 marketing messages she sees/hears each day, Coke is competing for her attention every waking moment of her life. If Coke hasn’t turned itself into a default purchase (which is why it spends about $4 billion in advertising alone each year), then someone else likely gets her attention first. And Coke loses to whatever she elected to purchase instead.

The Two Hidden Competitors are Even Harder to Beat in B2B

Do B2B companies have to face the two hidden competitors, time and budget? Oh yes. In fact they are even more difficult to beat in the B2B arena. Here is why.

In B2C, every consumer is essentially a decision maker, typically for herself, but sometimes for a family.  

In B2B, however, decision makers tend to be far fewer—they are by definition the most senior people in the company, and there are only a few of those.

Therefore, every vendor is essentially competing for the time and attention of a very few decision makers. And this holds true whether they are direct, category, or generic competitors.

Let’s say you sell a software product–say a CRM specifically designed for the Mortgage Industry targeting the Head of Sales  and CFO of these mortgage lenders. You may have two or three direct competitors who also sell CRM products designed for mortgage lenders. But you also compete against all CRM category competitors including the big gorillas, Salesforce, HubSpot, and Microsoft Dynamics. Furthermore, you compete against the generic competitors that sell software based productivity tools (Google Suite, Microsoft Office, etc).

But, before you even compete with any of them, your Sales Development Reps (SDRs) first have to get the attention of the decision maker—who is also targeted by non-software vendors, not to mention her own direct report, her boss, and other internal stakeholders. 

So, if your SDR wants to talk to the CFO, he must get her or attention first. Once he does that, then he has a chance to present his company’s products—which is when he starts facing each type of competitor (generic, category, and direct).

Did we mention “budget” yet?

Well, assuming your SDR got the attention of the decision maker (prospect), and he is now trying to qualify the decision maker for pain, timeline, etc, the prospect is asking a question in her head—what does this “thing”cost? She wants to know if this “thing” is in the ballpark of her available budget or if she has to work hard to get the money. 

Budget may not be the first hurdle your SDRs need to overcome, but it certainly comes before any other competitor you typically target.

Where are We Going With This?

The first thing that every SDR on your team needs to know is that time is the most precious and the most fungible resource that any decision maker has. The “two minutes” your SDRs are asking of that decision maker to hear them out is the “two minutes” every other competitor is asking for, not to mention anyone that reports to her or she reports to in her own organization.

There just aren’t enough two minutes in her day.

Remember, she is a decision maker. The very first decision she has to make is to give your SDR that “two minutes”. What has your SDR given her, in the way of information, for her to assess whether that’s in her best interest to do so? What has your SDR said, immediately after connecting, that tells her the two minutes she is spending with your SDR has a higher return than the hundreds of other requests for her time?

It’s not about a Playbook. It’s about a Saybook.

Those in Sales talk about a Sales Playbook. The sales playbook details out the game plan: the target industry and personas, the messaging, in what format, sequence, and date intervals the message is delivered and so on. 

Yes, the playbook is necessary, even critical. But your SDRs are likely to be young, probably fresh out of college, and don’t yet have the sophistication to get all this information quickly—much less use it effectively.

Playbooks don’t work, because SDRs can’t really use them as they are talking to a prospect. Here is why.

If your SDRs’ target persona is, say, a busy CXO who has to work 10, 11, 12 hour days, they better know how to get that decision maker’s attention very quickly—as in the first 10 seconds.

In order to do that, your SDRs must know what that persona does in that particular industry or sector. From there, they must clearly understand how their company’s product or service changes a key metric for that decision maker. Now, if they can quickly and clearly articulate that, then they get their prospect’s attention.

And the only way that they can say that quickly (as in 10 seconds) and clearly, is if they state their compelling opening in the fewest words possible that dont need more explanation.

That means, they must speak the language that their prospects use—the acronyms, the “shop talk”, the vernacular. If they can do that, then 10 seconds is plenty to get a prospect’s attention—which by the way, is exactly what your best SDRs are doing right now.

As you can see, a playbook won’t help your SDRs as they are talking to a prospect. What they need is a saybook.

Let’s Summarize

Here is what we have said so far. 

  1. Time and budget are the hidden competitors that act as gatekeepers to your prospects. If you can’t get past these two, you don’t have to worry about any other competitor.
  2. Time, even more than budget, is the critical gatekeeper since it is the hardest to get from a busy decision maker. You literally compete with everyone in the world, inside and outside your prospect’s company, for her time.
  3. Your SDRs have 10 seconds to articulate how your company’s product or service can change a critical metric for your prospect. Otherwise, she is not interested and hangs up.
  4. In order to be that clear and crisp, your SDRs must know exactly what their prospect does in that industry, and how your company product impacts what they do. 
  5. And your SDRs must be able to say that in the prospect’s language, so it comes out quick, crisp, and credible.

Simple, but not easy to do.

Two weeks, 25%, 30 days

If I still have your attention so far, I hear you asking, “Okay, but how does this happen? We’ve been trying to get our SDRs to do that and it takes months for them to get there.”

The gibberish heading above means you can get your SDRs to be fluent at getting a decision maker’s attention in 10 seconds within two weeks. And as a consequence, you can see your sales pipeline improve by 25% or more in 30 days.

We are doing that right now with the SOMAmetrics Intelligent Prospecting solution or SIP.

Give them a Saybook, not a playbook. That’s how you get them ramped up in weeks rather than months.

If you are interested in finding out more, let’s schedule a demo/call so we can show you how.

How to drive Predictable Revenue growth with a Radical Sales Pipeline Strategy

SOMAmetrics sales pipeline strategy

One of the first things we look at when working with a new client is their sales pipeline strategy. And, we are often surprised at how inadequate their sales pipeline strategy is. All the more surprising because these are typically highly experienced sales leaders. Don’t get me wrong—their sales strategies are detailed, well-thought-out, and comprehensive. They have worked out their sales targets, territories, and have fielded each territory with experienced sales pros.

And yet, when it comes to their sales pipeline development, their plans seem inadequate. Sales pipeline strategy is critical because as the sales pipeline goes, so do sales. The whole predictability of revenue growth depends on the predictability of sales pipeline. After all, it’s the foundation on which sales is built.

In fact, the most cost-effective way to realize sales targets is to invest in sales pipeline development. It is the surest way to see high ROI on the investment made in the sales organization.

In this article, we will cover the most important building blocks of a sales pipeline strategy. Our experience is that clients who follow this approach generate the quality sales pipeline they need to deliver predictable revenue growth.

The Building Blocks of an Effective Sales Pipeline Strategy

Start Right: Invert Your Funnel

Step 1: re-orient your mental funnel concept. The traditional concept of a funnel was based on how one pours liquid into a narrow necked bottle (fig 1-A). The top of the funnel is wide, and it tapers into a narrow bottom. In this case, gravity would aid us in getting the fluid into the bottle.

However, as every sales leader knows, there is no such aid from gravity when it comes to sales. In fact, Marketing, Prospecting, and Sales teams all face tremendous resistance from prospects. 

A more intellectually honest mental construct would be an inverted funnel (fig. 1-B). This more realistically shows the effort required to engage over-messaged prospects and overcome their deep skepticism. In truth, we are dragging prospects up against inertia and risk-averseness. Let’s start by being clear on what we are up against. 

Another way to look at this is that you want sales to go up, not down.

Build a More Segmented Ideal Customer Profile (ICP)

The Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) is the first point of alignment for Marketing, Prospecting, and Sales to ensure they are engaging the same audience with the same message. Yes, the engagement happens on different platforms/media at different times. And yes, the messaging itself is varied so as not to bore the prospect to death. But it must be aligned and consistent across all three teams.

Which means that if you find it necessary to use different sales teams, you should focus each team on a specific ICP. Let’s say you sell regulatory compliance solutions (reg-tech) to consumer lenders. At the top tier, you sell to global lenders such as Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase, HSBC, etc through your enterprise sales reps. At the middle tier, you sell to regional (multi-state) lenders using your account execs, and to the local community banks and credit unions, you sell through your junior reps.

These must be defined as three separate ICPs, with detailed descriptions of the account (company) as well as the personas (decision makers) to be engaged. And each sales tier should be extremely knowledgeable of their market space and their targeted personas.

This is foundational to building an effective sales pipeline strategy.

Define Average Deal Size (ADS) Separately for each ICP

Depending on whom one asks, the question “What is your average deal size?” seems to elicit different answers. For instance, we may ask someone in marketing and hear, “Our ADS is around $60,000”. Then we talk to a sales rep and he says he is looking at deal sizes between $250K and $500K. That is too wide a range to reconcile.

What that tells us is that those in marketing may be literally averaging across multiple tiers of customers, leading to messaging that is overly diluted.

 If you have multiple sales tiers, and you have defined multiple ICPs, you should arrive at a specific ADS for each ICP.

Measure your Average Closing Ratio Separately for each Sales Team

Similarly, measure the average closing ratio of each sales team separately. 

As it is very likely that your most experienced sales reps sell at the top end, you will likely see better closing ratios (25%-35%) there. Conversely, those selling the smaller ticket items to smaller customers may be more junior, and consequently show a much lower closing average (perhaps as low as 10-15%).

It would be just as bad a mistake to take the averages of these closing ratios as it would be to use an average ADS across all tiers.

Build your Sales Funnel Math Separately for Each Sales Tier

Armed with a well-defined ICP, ADS, and closing ratios, it is now possible to build a highly effective sales pipeline strategy for each tier.

The chart above shows the SOMAmetrics approach to funnel math. Here is a quick example:

  • Average deal size $100,000
  • Average closing ratio = 25%
  • Incremental revenue target for this tier = $10 million.
  • This means, on average,  we need 100 closed deals to reach our sales target.
  • Which means that, at the 25% average closing ratio, we need 400 sales qualified opportunities (SQOs).
  • If our SQO to SQL (sales qualified lead) ratio is 80%—which, by the way is pretty good—then we need about 500 SQLs from the prospecting/marketing teams.
  • If it takes on average three quality conversations (QC) to set a qualified meeting (SQL), then we will need about 1500 QCs to meet our Incremental revenue target, and so on.

Remember that these are cumulative numbers. Someone who wasn’t reachable last quarter, maybe reachable now. Someone who wasn’t interested 4 months ago, maybe interested now, and so on. Therefore, It is not necessary to have very large numbers at the bottom of the funnel stack. What is more important is the quality.

If the ICP is well-thought out and your value prop is compelling, then sooner or later, many in the ICP will be interested at least to explore your solution (pipeline development).

You will find a much more in-depth and thorough discussion on the best practices in prospecting at the high level in the seminal book, “The Radical Pipeline Strategy: How to Grow Pipeline and Revenue by Optimizing Sales Development”.

Integrate into One Cohesive Plan

Let’s assume that what we worked on in the previous section was for your middle sales tier. You would do the same for your top and bottom sales tiers. Once you have separately built your funnel math, and you have the separate numbers, then you can integrate them to arrive at your holistic revenue plan.

Taking a somewhat simplistic example, let’s say your overall incremental revenue target was $25 million. You think you can get $10 million at the top; $10 million at the middle; and $5 million at the bottom sales tier. You would build each funnel separately to support your target for that funnel. 

SIP: The Solution for Executing your Sales Pipeline Strategy

So far, we discussed in some detail the building blocks of an effective sales pipeline strategy. Next we will see the building blocks of a highly effective solution for building a high quality sales pipeline.

For this discussion, we will focus solely on the the prospecting (SDR/BDR) team for two important reasons:

  1. While there are numerous high quality tools for aiding the work of marketers and sales professionals, that doesn’t seem to be the case for those tasked with prospecting.
  2. Companies make lots of investments on marketing and sales. However, if an adequate amount of quality pipeline doesn’t materialize, then all that was accomplished was to increase costs.

Yes, there are a number of tools that boost the efficiency of Sales Development Reps (SDRs). With these tools, SDRs can easily make 100 dials a day.  However, we haven’t seen tools that boost the effectiveness of SDRs—their ability to engage high-level decision makers and book qualified meetings.

Therefore, we would like to recommend a tool that significantly improves the effectiveness of SDRs, enabling them to build high quality sales pipelines, cost-effectively. We call this solution SIP (SOMAmetrics Intelligent Prospecting). The key components are listed below.

GOSPA Manager

Now that you have developed your specific sales pipeline strategies for each sales tier, you are ready to execute.

Going back to our earlier reg-tech example, let’s say you have two SDR teams:

  1. The more senior SDR team prospects for the enterprise sales team
  2. The junior SDR team prospects for the regional accounts sales team

Let’s say you have one manager for each team.

You give each SDR manager his/her numbers—their incremental pipeline amount and average deal size. From these, they can figure out their quarterly targets including the quarterly number of meetings needed.

They then divide the overall number by the number of SDRs on their team to arrive at each SDR’s quarterly target.

This is where GOSPA comes in. GOSPA stands for Goals, Objectives, Strategies, Plan, and Activities. It is a proven model for aligning the needs and wants of the individual SDR with that of the company. By the way, it’s a good idea for the SDR manager to also build his/her GOSPA as well.

Each SDR will build his or her own GOSPA–how they plan to hit their numbers. They will submit their GOSPA to their manager, who will review with them and make suggestions as needed. SDRs have to hit their assigned numbers, but they can commit to a higher number if they wish to make more money.

Now that each SDR has both the assigned and committed numbers, he/she can set these as targets and work towards hitting them.

We have found that when SDR teams use GOSPA, the average quota attainment rate increases by as much as 40% or more. Here is an article that discusses GOSPAs and how to use them.

ICP Briefs

Think of your most experienced sales reps or SDRs. What makes them good at what they do is that they know their prospects very well. They know the industry or market space. They know what that prospect does–what her responsibilities, headaches, priorities, and goals are. 

Which means they know how to talk the prospect’s language. As a result, they don’t waste their prospect’s time. Which is why they tend to sooner or later catch their prospects, and why prospects agree to talk to them when they connect.

Now, what if all your SDRs were like that? By how much could your sales pipeline grow? And how much would that increase your sales?

Sure, training is important. But the data shows that people tend to forget what they have learned unless they apply it immediately and consistently. However, today’s environment is different. It takes a lot of effort to reach a high-level decision maker. New or junior SDRs don’t get a lot of chances to practice what they were taught. Which increases their likelihood of forgetting much of what they were trained on.

A better approach is to give them briefs—on the industry, personas, and competitors. These briefs are short but powerful. They show them only what they need to know. They point out the trends and challenges in that space. They illuminate how their prospects think, what their priorities are—how to talk to them.

Best of all, these briefs are always there for the SDRs to take a quick glance as a refresher. Unlike training which is an event that occurs at a specific time, and then is over, these briefs are always available to the SDRs.

Prospect Engagement Tools

Depending on the industry and personas you target, it could take twenty (20) or more touches before your SDRs connect with the right person. That’s dials, voicemails, emails, and LinkedIn messages.

The more compelling the emails, voicemails, and LinkedIn messages, the higher the connect rate. Prospects become intrigued and more willing to take a call. 

If you agree with this logic, then you don’t want your SDRs writing their own emails—especially your junior SDRs. What we have seen happen too often is junior SDRs Googling to find templates, make small changes, and send these off. Templates by nature are generic, which is the opposite of compelling.

Get these emails, voicemails, and LinkedIn messages professional crafted. It’s well worth the small additional cost.

Call Navigator

After making hundreds of dials with the help of a power dialer, your junior SDR is finally talking to the COO of a bank. Now what? How does he open the call? How does he intrigue the COO to want to hear more? How does he qualify to make sure there is need?

And having done all that, how does he get a meeting?

One thing you and I know is that the qualifying questions your SDR asks are in themselves telling. Prospects know by the questions they are getting whether they are talking to someone who will waste their time or not. 

What if the SDR got some simple objection such as “I don’t have time right now” or “Why don’t you send me some information I can take a look at?” What if the prospect asks how much it costs? How does your SDR neatly navigate these, finish qualifying, and get the meeting?

As the name implies, a Call Navigator walks your SDR through the prospecting call. How to open it, what example stories to tell, how to handle objections and questions, and more.

Campaign Manager

Marketing teams spend a lot of money on multiple lead generation campaigns every year. Some are event-based such as conferences or webinars. Others may be promotional such as ads. SDRs play pivotal roles in the achievement of campaign objectives. 

For instance, if you are sponsoring an expensive conference, you want to drive as many prospects to your booth as possible. Making sure your SDRs are well aware of the campaign, remember to mention it, and know what to say can make or break the campaign ROI.

A Campaign Manager ensures that a specific campaign relevant to the ICP that the SDR is calling into is front and center on that SDR’s view. It constantly reminds the SDR to be sure to invite the prospect before ending the call.

In Conclusion

At SOMAmetrics, this is how we help our clients build their sales pipeline strategy, and then provide them with the solution they need to effectively execute their strategies.

Clients who use the SOMAmetrics Intelligent Prospecting Solution (SIP) see as much as 50% increase in sales pipeline development within 90 days.

Let’s schedule a quick call to discuss your needs and how we may be able to help you.

SDR Attrition Rate is Sky High: How to Reduce Turnover

SDR Attrition Rate is Sky High: How to Reduce Turnover, by SOMAmetrics

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the national turnover rate reached an all-time high of 16.3 million separations in March of 2020. This was mostly attributed to a rise in layoffs and discharges, since businesses were unable to afford the breadth of their workforce.

So, what is the result of increased turnover in a post-pandemic job field and the already competitive nature of sales?

We all know that sales reps are held metrically to meeting quotas, number of calls, and appointments set. You might begin to imagine why turnover rates for Sales Development Representatives (SDRs) are uniquely higher than other industries. Competitive environments yield burnout and a desire to switch teams or fields.

SDR Attrition Rates — The Raw Numbers

In order to assess the expected attrition rate of Sales Development Reps, we must look back to pre-pandemic numbers. LinkedIn reported a worldwide turnover rate of 10.9% in 2017.

How did that compare to the turnover rates for sales development reps, given their highly competitive work environment?

According to The Bridge Group, turnover rates for SDRs averaged 34% in 2015 and 30% in 2017. Not just that, but the distribution of attrition rates is surprising. More than 1 in 10 companies experienced turnover rates in excess of 55% annually.

Both in the 2015 or 2017 findings, annual attrition rates for SDRs are three times higher than the average attrition rate for all industries (30% vs. 10.9%).

Reasons behind the High SDR Attrition Rate

There are multiple reasons as to why SDRs are constantly shuffling out and why the SDR attrition rate is so sky high. Here is a narrowed down list of reasons that I have witnessed lead to separations of SDRs:

  1. SDRs become frustrated with their work that can sometimes become repetitive and unsatisfying. They are mostly unable to set meetings and conduct efficient sales prospecting. Even when they do, attendance at meetings is lacking.
  2. Someone—normally a boss or supervisor—nags on SDRs to meet their quotas. They might even put them on a demeaning Performance Improvement Plan (PIP).
  3. The performance pay that SDRs expect is not coming in because they are underperforming. As such, they really only receive a base pay.
  4. The too much or too little problem. SDRs are either not given enough content, or given too much to read up on. SDRs feel forced to make calls with no know-how of what to say or they drown in a tsunami of content they can’t use.

What Does this Mean for your Sales Organizations?

First, let’s examine the correlation between attrition rates and company performance. The same Bridge Group survey finds the following statistics on this relationship.

Image via Bridge Group

The x-axis measures annual attrition rate and the y-axis measures the percentage of reps who meet their quotas. There seems to be a correlation between companies with lower attrition rates and higher percentage of reps meeting quotas.

Now, let’s put the SDR attrition rate numbers into perspective. If you have 100 people on your sales team, you experience a standard 34% turnover rate (14% voluntary and 20% involuntary), and each sales rep on the team has a quota of $1 million, then the annual cost for your company to replace sales reps is $20.2 million.

The Effect of SDR Attrition Rates on Quotas and Revenue

Between 2015 and 2016, Richard A. Rocco, PhD reported survey findings from the Center for Sales Leadership at DePaul University on Sales Effectiveness & Sales Acceleration. He found that

  • Missed quotas happen frequently at a rate of 42%
  • These missed quotas have a correlation with turnover—26.9% for inside sales and 25.7% for outside sales
  • Reasons for turnover included voluntary resignation (50%), involuntary dismissal (33%), and retirement (22%)

When high turnover yields more missed quotas, it begs the question: how much money are companies losing annually by replacing new SDRs on their sales teams?

Well, the Center for Sales Leadership at DePaul University also concluded that that it costs almost $100k to replace an SDR. This includes the cost spent on training, acquisition, and missed quotas.


You need an engine that will not only deliver the right amount of content to your SDRs, but also personalized content that converts calls into qualified leads at a higher rate.

Most B2B Sellers typically hire candidates fresh out of college to staff their Sales Development teams. As a consequence, these junior SDRs don’t really know much about how business works in general, let alone in-depth knowledge of any industry or business operation.

Therefore, it is difficult for them to speak in a way that indicates they understand the industry and the role of the person they are calling, leading the prospect to believe that it is a waste of time to talk to SDR, let alone agree to a meeting.

SOMAmetrics Intelligent Prospecting (SIP) delivers the right information regarding the target prospect so your Sales Development Reps (SDRs) can carry expert level conversations with a senior executive and book a meeting.

If you can dramatically increase the effectiveness of your SDRs, you will see two benefits immediately:

  1. You will book more qualified meetings with fewer SDRs, reducing the challenge of SDR attrition
  2. Your SDRs will stay with you longer and have longer average tenure as their confidence and skill level increases, and as they begin to earn more in performance pay.

Read our other informative blogposts below:

Read the book The Radical Pipeline Strategy: How to Grow Pipeline and Revenue by Optimizing Sales Development. This book outlines tested best practices and implementation strategies that I developed while rebooting and building 65 SDR and Inside Sales organizations.

Prospects are Real People Too: Using Prospect Personas to Land Calls

When an SDR makes calls, they often freeze when someone answers, especially if they are new to the role. Much of the fear stems from the lack of training and tools that they need to feel confident having conversations with senior executives.

Another reason SDRs freeze is because they believe that they can’t relate to the person at the other end of the call, such as C-Level executives who are established decision makers and sales prospects. A fun way to dispel this belief is to make these Persona’s real to the SDR through content that will streamline their sales process (SOMAmetrics Prospect Personas Identification Handout).

SOMAmetrics Prospect Personas Handout

Making the people on the other end of the call real is as simple as having the SDRs work through the different Prospect Personas that are your target audience and ideal customer. On the SOMAmetrics Persona Build Handout, you will find questions that help the team create prospect and buyer personas.

A few examples are:

  • Personal information: How old is the VP of X?
  • How many kids do they have?
  • What are their personal and professional goals?
  • Do they have any pain points?
  • Is there anything that keeps them up at night?

These are great questions to discuss, as these insights may help SDRs to connect the dots between your solutions and the prospects issues.

During the Exercise

  • You may want to ask a Sales or Product Marketing team member to attend the session in order to help the sales team, and provide customer case studies.
  • Give the Persona a name and find a picture to add to the sheet
    • Have fun thinking about Marsha, VP of Sales, for example. She:
      • Is 47
      • Has 3 kids, who are now on their own
      • She reads the NY Times and (provide a few names of trade journals that she reads)
      • Her professional goal is to become a CEO at a Tech company in a few years
      • Stays up at night thinking about how they are going to hit their Quarterly Objectives, how to achieve sales transformation, and how she can get the new product out faster (to help boost sales and overall business).

You may want to select 2 Prospect Personas each week. The exercise, when done right, can take about an hour. If it works better, divide the team and have these teams focus on a few different personas until all are covered. Then bring the divided teams back into one group, and share these Prospect Persona updates with the whole team.

The Effect of Prospect Personas

Some of your SDRs may get subscriptions to the trade journals that your prospects read, which will provide them further insights into the people and industries that your company serves. They may begin to empathize with your prospects and the challenges that they face. Overtime, your team will feel empowered to discuss how your solution can help these prospects hit their goals. When your team feels comfortable speaking with your valued prospects, their conversations will become natural. SDRs will now have something of value to say to your prospects, which will help to engage them to want to know more about your solutions.

This is a fun and rewarding exercise. The team will get a laugh out of it and they will see that yes, our prospects are real people too.

Read the book The Radical Pipeline Strategy: How to Grow Pipeline and Revenue by Optimizing Sales Development. This book outlines tested best practices and implementation strategies that I developed while rebooting and building 65 SDR and Inside Sales organizations.

Find out more about SOMAmetrics’ Intelligent Prospecting Platform and get free resources on our website at www.somametrics.com.

How Difficult Is It to Generate a Meeting? Common Misuses of SDR Teams in Appointment Setting

In my book, The Radical Pipeline Strategy, I discuss the strategies and best practices I have used to build effective Sales Development organizations with regards to appointment setting. These teams, commonly known as Business Development (BDRs); Account Development (ADRs); and Sales Development (SDRs), consistently help your sales teams to achieve pipeline and revenue targets.

How difficult is it to set a meeting?

Over the years, Sales Development has come a long way. It is no longer disparagingly thought of as “Telemarketing”—a group of junior people whose primary role is appointment setting, or register people for seminars and events.

The SDR role is, however, still considered an entry-level position: their job is to generate a sales qualified meeting otherwise known as an SQL. The reason why companies hire junior-level people is because they think, “how difficult is it to set a meeting”? This is a pivotal question that I explore fully in my book.

In this blog, I will outline common misuses of SDR teams as appointment setters that I have encountered while retooling client SDR teams at over 65 companies.

Role of SDRs

To start, consider this: companies hire junior SDRs as their first line of defense. Their job is to call valued prospects who have 10 or more years of experience in their field. However, most junior-level SDR’s haven’t acquired the skills to speak to these seasoned professionals in a meaningful way, nor have they been given the tools to support their qualification efforts. In other words, “junior” SDR’s are the first point of contact with the most valued prospects of your company. This is an ineffective strategy for appointment setting that simply doesn’t work.

Junior SDRs don’t know how to speak to executives, and executives—who receive hundreds of calls from the same type of people—will tune them out. As a result, few qualified meetings are set and pipeline goals simply aren’t achieved.

To make up for the lack of quality meetings, companies hire more SDRs to help them squeeze out more appointments needed to meet their qualified meetings quota. In doing so, companies just build larger, more unsuccessful teams. This, in turn, costs companies a lot of money and frustration as they continue to miss pipeline targets month after month.

Next, consider this: billions of robocalls (over 50 billion in 2021) are made to the same seasoned professionals which lowers your SDRs chances of getting the target to answer their calls. And when they do actually answer, SDRs aren’t prepared to talk to the potential prospect. SDR’s need extensive training—in B2B appointment setting—to have conversations that provide prospects with the “valued” information for making informed decisions. Without this training, no one (prospects or sales) gets what they want or need.

Below are some examples of how SDRs are misused.

SDRs are NOT:

  • A panacea! If your company doesn’t have a viable solution, or your executives haven’t identified your best targets, or if your messaging is off the mark, SDRs won’t be able to generate a quality sales process and pipeline. Don’t force your SDRs to make up your messaging—they will fail.
  • A cold-call engine. Our research shows that it takes around 2,000 cold call dials to generate one closed deal. I don’t know any company that can afford a resource just to make dials. Instead, give your SDRs enough MQLs (marketing qualified leads) to meet your stated objectives. Then, set up a Target Accounts program, which are key accounts that your Sales Executives want to close, during the year. Market to these specific accounts using ABM, for example. Next, assign a handful of these accounts to your SDRs each quarter and arm them with content to give to prospects as they work to make contact. Finally, provide your sales reps with SDR marketing solutions, like FrontSpin and Outreach.io, to enable them with the skills to send personalized and targeted messages.

They are also NOT:

  • Your Chief Marketing Officer or VP Marketing/Sales. Every team I retooled allowed their SDRs to create emails and sales tools, which were not effective. SDRs are not product marketing executives or writers. Effective SDRs are good on the phone, but most are not good at writing. Marketing and Sales should consistently provide the right tools and fresh content with the desired messaging to their SDR team members. I tune out emails that are regurgitated and sent to me week after week… your prospects will too.
  • Your Sales team. Don’t expect your SDRs to close deals. Instead, educate them to uncover basic needs and pain. In addition, let them focus on generating quality SQLs and appointment setting with viable prospects. Have your sales and inside sales teams close the deals.
  • Admin support for your sales team. Many of the companies I have worked with loaded their SDRs with admin work. When this happens, SDRs who don’t enjoy making phone calls focus on admin work, and the SDRs who like making phone calls won’t do the admin work. So, SQLs are not being generated, nor is admin work being done. Remember, SDRs are there to develop a quality pipeline for your sales organization. Give them one job: generating highly qualified SQLs and sales appointments.
  • An after-thought. The SDR operation works best when it is considered an integral component of a company’s overall marketing and sales strategy. Companies that just “plop” in a SDR team without providing the right infrastructure, or with effective marketing or sales strategies in place, waste a lot of time and money. It takes careful thought and planning to build a SDR team that will generate a quality sales pipeline.

SDRs are:

  • Often the first live personal contact your prospects will have with your company. This first conversation needs to be spot-on and meaningful in order for your prospects to stay engaged with your company.
  • An effective method for delving into your prospects’ needs and building pain for your solution. Teach your SDR’s how to ask the right qualifying questions that build pain and need.
  • A sales pipeline development engine.
  • Most effective when supported by MQLs, or have an effective Target Accounts program in place.
  • Opportunity builders. Every communication with a prospect increases your company’s chances to create a viable opportunity. Make sure every call counts. Train your SDR team to take full advantage of every prospect interaction through efficient lead generation. Provide them with the right tools and proper training. Help them learn how to keep your prospects engaged throughout the qualifying process.
  • A great way to stay in touch with key or Target accounts. While field reps are closing deals or chasing warmer opportunities, someone needs to stay in touch with the key accounts or else you may lose them to the competition. (Some years back, one of SOMAmetrics’ clients had Comcast™ listed in their database as a Target Account. Comcast™ had been in their database for a while. Our SDR discovered that Comcast™ was going to acquire NBC. She called them and generated an enormous opportunity for our client. The field rep was unaware of this new information. This might have been a missed opportunity if our SDR had not contacted Comcast™ when she did).
  • In touch with the same prospects every month. These prospects often provide useful market intelligence which your company can mine to perfect its messaging and targeting.

Building a quality sales pipeline

To answer the previous question, “How difficult is it to set an appointment?”: it is very difficult to set an appointment. This is why so many SDR organizations fail. Every connection with a prospect needs to be treated like gold. Today, most people don’t pick up the phone to speak to anyone who is not on their contact list. When they do, the SDR needs to be armed with the right messaging and understanding of both your targets and your ideal customer profile (ICP). They must know how to qualify for pain and how to identify compelling prospect events, which align with your solutions.

In short, the role of your SDR team is to build a quality sales pipeline. They do this by setting highly qualified meetings with the right targets in the right market. Pipeline is always king. If you view this team as a strategic part of your pipeline build and set it up properly, you will hit your pipeline and revenue targets consistently.

Read the book The Radical Pipeline Strategy: How to Grow Pipeline and Revenue by Optimizing Sales Development. This book outlines tested best practices and implementation strategies that I developed while rebooting and building 65 SDR and Inside Sales organizations.

Find out more about SOMAmetrics’ Intelligent Prospecting Platform and get free resources on our website at www.somametrics.com.

5 Reasons Why Your Sales Development Team Is Failing

Sales Development

Ten years ago, I wrote a book titled, “Teleprospecting for Executives Who Sell Complex Solutions”, a workbook to help executives understand how to properly run a Sales Development operation in a B2B setting.

I recently reviewed my book to see what had changed, expecting to make massive changes before publishing on Amazon.

While some of the details may have changed, I was astounded to find that fundamentally not much has changed in the Sales Development world since I last wrote my book.

Today, most companies have invested in Sales Development Teams—typically referred to as Sales Development Reps (SDRs). This team is hired to generate meetings for their sales team organization. The majority of these SDRs are not successful. The Sales organization doesn’t accept meetings that they generate, and the trust between the departments fades very quickly.

At the same time, SDRs feel like they have worked hard to generate these meetings. They fail to see why a sales process and strategy do not accept these hard-won meetings. Sales Reps find that marketing meetings with SDRs are shallow, don’t map to the relative customer buying journeys, and rarely include decision makers.

What Has Changed?

Ten years ago, each of my sales development representatives received around 200 solid MQL calls each month. While about half weren’t that great, the rest were good enough for the team to call in to qualify for need and pain.

Now, decision makers don’t read their emails or answer the phone unless they know the caller. This has put a huge burden on demand generation development teams to drive traffic to their websites. But these inbound leads dribble in and the numbers aren’t large enough to support an SDR team.

Therefore, to fill the gap, demand gen teams depend on content syndication to make up the difference and send these to their SDR teams to ensure that they have someone to call. News alert! Qualified leads from content syndication will only burn out your SDRs because very few out of thousands actually have a need. Most of these prospects are just doing research for personal reasons or just to keep apprised of what data tools are available, maybe for future use.

The business world has changed! It has become more difficult to engage prospects and to generate leads. This is one of the reasons why SDR teams aren’t effective. Now let’s look at other reasons.

5 Reasons Why Your Sales Development Team Is Failing

1. Inbound lead traffic is low

Demand generation teams struggle to get quality, meeting-ready leads in front of the SDR teams.

2. Companies hire junior level people to generate meetings for sales

As stated in my book over 10 years ago, it is counterintuitive to expect your least experienced people to be the first point of contact with your very special prospects (decision makers, influencers, etc.). Junior people don’t understand your prospect personas, what keeps them up at night, and how to engage them on the phone to get to their needs/pains even if the prospect doesn’t have an initiative. When a junior SDR has a call guide, they don’t have the skills to make the points on their own and to tell a story about the value prop of the solution they are calling about. They also don’t know how to pivot when the call goes off-script.

In my book, I tell a story about a senior SDR who reported to me. He had a call with a CTO at a Fortune 100 Manufacturing company. David (the Sr. SDR) had a quick meeting with me to review his sales strategy and process for the upcoming call. He had just read an article in CIO Magazine which reviewed why CIO’s/CTO’s typically last in their positions for less than 18 months. During the call, he mentioned the article when the CTO told him that he wasn’t interested. David replied, “Sure I get it. Your job isn’t to figure out how to lower your energy spend. I just read an article that discussed how CIOs like you only keep their jobs for 18 months, because CEOs don’t believe that they are effective. I’ll send you the article.”

It took David about 3 years of hard work and a personal drive to become a sales qualified Executive. Juniors will cost you a lot more, in the end, because they are not effective and require a lot of training.

3. Companies believe that the SDR’s job is to generate appointments

This is wrong! The job of the SDR is to build a sales pipeline and execute through sales operations. The method used to build the pipeline is by setting meetings with decision makers and/or influencers to understand the prospect’s pain and to show the prospect how their problem is bigger than the cost of the solution. Companies don’t establish that their job is pipeline development, even though that is what everyone wants…. More and better pipeline.

The best way to establish pipeline growth is with a compensation plan that includes a small part of the variable for the appointment, a bigger part for an approved SQL, and a larger part based on the amount of pipeline generated each month/quarter from these appointments. I have coached my clients to add a bonus that maps to the closed deals from these appointments. Regardless of structure, the compensation plan focuses on pipeline growth.

4. Companies don’t establish the right KPIs to track and measure SDR activities

Dials made and emails sent are good to track, however, these elements do not ensure quality meetings. There are a few key SDR statuses that I look for (the details are in my book). Meaningful Conversations or Key Conversations are calls with a decision maker or someone in the know to identify some issues/paints. Often it requires more than 1 call to get all of the details to generate a strong meeting for Sales.

However, if there is interest, the timeline is decent, and the person is the right person, then there is enough information to set the meeting and send to sales. Either way, this status needs to be tracked, among others. From my perspective, Meaningful Conversations Or Key Conversations are the SDR pipeline and they should have 2-3x their meeting quota each month.

5. The SDR process is different from a sales processes

Most companies don’t understand this and set up their CRM as a one-size-fits-all. SDRs should make a lot of calls and send many emails/day. SDR Managers need to keep track of these activities, which won’t necessarily lead to a great meeting, they are required to get meetings. As stated, there are other KPIs to track as well, to ensure that SDRs are driving to their goals.

In addition to mapping the KPIs into the CRM, key qualifiers that your team needs to gather should be in the CRM. This will ensure consistency in B2B sales, and enable the SDR Manager to track the quality of the lead/meeting before they are given to sales. As such, there should be two approved workflow processes set up to track the meeting:

  • Make sure that there is a process for the senior sales manager to approve the meeting.
  • Once the meeting is approved by the SDR manager, the workflow should move the meeting to receive the account executives’ approval after the call has happened.
  • If the Exec doesn’t approve the meeting, the lead should be pushed back to the SDR with notes of what is needed to make this a better meeting. This gives the SDR a chance to re-engage with the prospect and get more information about their inside sales.

These 5 points of failure, if fixed, will enable your SDR team to generate meetings that build an effective sales pipeline. Pipeline is King!

Read the book The Radical Pipeline Strategy: How to Grow Pipeline and Revenue by Optimizing Sales Development. This book outlines tested best practices and implementation strategies that I developed while rebooting and building 65 SDR and Inside Sales organizations.

4 Sales Development Manager Oversights That Hurt SDR Teams

sales development manager

Regardless of whether the Sales Development team in your company is under Sales or Marketing, your Sales Development Manager must manage the SDR team like a Sales Manager manages her sales team.

1. SDR Team Managers need to manage by two sets of numbers

Over the years, I have learned that the job of an SDR team is not to generate meetings. It is to generate pipeline for Sales. Each Sales Development Manager (“SDR Manager”) should have a pipeline quota they must achieve. Pipeline is King! If the SDR team achieves its meeting quota but misses the pipeline quota, that is a big failure in my mind. On the other hand, if the team misses its meeting quota but hits or exceeds the pipeline quota, that is a big win.

Sales Managers need to ensure that their Sales Execs are not sand-bagging and adding deals at a lower pipeline value. This is often a bone of contention for SDR teams. Sales Development Managers must meet with Sales Leadership regularly to keep both sides honest.

2. Track the Sales Development Manager’s time over 5 days

You can create a spreadsheet with columns that have a field label “type” and other fields for the days of the week (M-F).  Some examples of these types include:

  • Team meetings
  • Coaching Individuals
  • Reporting
  • SDR Pipeline Review (The SDR Pipeline tracks the Key Conversations that each SDR has achieved and needs to be 2-3X the meeting quota)
  • Meeting Approvals
  • Other Meetings
  • Admin Work.

Without fail, this exercise has shown me that most SDR Managers spend less than 12-15% of their time coaching and assisting their team to improve skills or experience. If your team is primarily made of junior SDRs, then senior Sales Managers need to work with the team regularly to brainstorm business development tactics. My recommendation is that management focuses 30-40% of their day coaching their teams. Time spent coaching a team with the use of the call guide, messaging, persona needs, and role-playing will help to elevate the team of junior SDRs.

3. Forecasting meetings and pipeline growth

This skill should be a part of every Sales Development Managers’ job. It is very important to track weekly progress, where the team is, and what the SDR Manager forecasts for the Quarterly regional sales. Forecasting is also important because if the team is off at any point during the quarter, the SDR Manager must pivot on their strategy to ensure that the team will still produce strong results with their support.

4. Build a mini business plan

This will outline how the team plans to achieve their goals and objectives in a specific amount of time. GOSPA (Goals, Objectives, Strategies, Plans, and Activities) is a 1–2-page plan which focuses on the manager and the SDRs on the how of achievement. Each set of quarterly goals should be given to team members. Most companies fall short by not engaging team members to determine the “how”. These documents should be reviewed with the SDR Manager to determine if the SDR has set realistic objectives and strategies.

Team members who review and update their GOSPA’s will be more successful than those who don’t. If a team doesn’t know how they will tangibly hit their objectives, they won’t succeed. Strategies may need to be changed, throughout the quarter to hit numbers. If the team has a method for developing a strategy, are monitoring where they are each week, and are responsible for the “how”, they are more likely to be successful.

Treat your SDR teams as a strategic part of your sales organization (even if they report into Marketing). The team will generate viable meetings and pipeline for the Sales team.  

Focus your SDR Managers on what matters.  Pipeline is King!

Email me at alicia@somametrics.com if you want to reboot your SDR team.

Learn about our SDR Enablement.

Why Sales Development Representatives Underperform

sales development representatives

Before sales development representatives existed, remember telemarketers? Without caller ID, we didn’t know who was calling until we picked up the phone. We were trapped in by someone on the other end trying to sell us something, not taking “no” for an answer. We hated it.

And so did the telemarketers. They mostly got yelled at for wasting their time or simply hung up on. It was a job for the desperate and paid very little.

Sometime in the 1980s, someone went to B2B companies and proposed to set appointments for their sales process teams. They hired good candidates (better than the telemarketers) and trained their “tele-prospectors” well on the prospects they were calling into

Eventually, the client companies thought they could save some money if they brought these skills in-house. They started hiring “Business Development Representatives” (BDRs) to take inbound calls and set appointments. They hired “Sales Development Representatives” (SDRs) to make outbound calls and do the same.

And that’s where things started going wrong. This was a cost-saving initiative and most executives had “B2B telemarketing” in their minds when they posted these job descriptions. They hired junior sales reps—many from retail or financial services— and gave them basic training (mostly on their own products). They let them loose to make phone calls on their prospective customers.

What could go wrong?

This is typically a path to increasingly lower returns. Using junior-level people results in a dismal sales pipeline built, which means that more have to be hired to meet the desired quota, which leads to greater resistance of hiring skilled people at higher rates and trying to find even less expensive ways to staff this critical operation.

There is a better way.

If you are going to hire junior SDRs and BDRs, then you must use effective time management to train them and arm them with the tools they need for success. Use sales prospecting metrics (start with pipeline as your top metric), arm them with a strong understanding of the business marketing and personas they are calling into, and change the process from a phone-first to an email-first approach.

Brand your company as a source of valuable insights and information—a thought leader. Craft each email that goes out by making sure:

  • Your company name and the BDRs name are in the “from” part of the email
  • The subject lines are informative (and not, “Jim, quick question?”)
  • Leave well designed and customized voice mails making it clear which company and which BDR left the voicemail
  • Don’t forget to make sure your company name shows up on the caller ID
  • Brand your emails and calls separately from your competitors until your prospects recognize you—and want to pick up and talk to your sales executives.

Don’t do what others do. Do what is in the best interest of your prospects by not wasting their time and ensuring each email and call is worthy of their attention.

Read more of our blogs here.

The Strategic SDR Compensation Plan

Strategic SDR compensation

A strategic SDR compensation plan naturally aligns the objectives of the SDR team with that of the Sales Organization.

For example, restaurants figured out a long time ago that if they made their waiters share tips with bartenders and busboys, everyone made more money. In fact, the better tippers got their drinks made first and tables turned around faster.

It doesn’t pay to be stingy with tips. Same thing in Sales.

Providing decent variable compensation plans for your SDR teams results in significantly greater sales that more than covers the increase in compensation.

Our analysis shows that by paying out an additional 1.6% of sales in SDR variable comp plan and providing them with the adequate training and content support they need, sales can increase by twice as much. Hard to believe, but that is the magic of using your SDR team the right way and focusing them to build a quality sales pipeline.

Let’s remember that there are two reasons why the right compensation plan ends up creating the motivation necessary to produce far greater outcomes than the cost of the compensation:

  1. Everyone could use more money (especially those at the lower end of the pay rate), and will strive harder if paid more.
  2. It incentivizes the job for them—rewarding them for each small success so they are constantly achieving many small successes that lead to big wins at quarter or year end.

The Strategic SDR Compensation Plan

SDR variable comp plans have three components: what you pay for meetings; what you pay for pipeline, and what you pay on revenues generated as a result of the meetings set by the SDRs. Let’s discuss each in some detail.

Strategic SDR compensation 1: Meeting Bonus

We said that the SDRs should be measured on the pipeline they build and not on the meetings they set. However, meetings are the vehicles that make pipelines possible, so they do need to set meetings for the sales reps.

By paying a small bonus for setting approved meetings, we encourage SDRs to set more qualified meetings.

How it works: 

  • Let’s suppose that the SDR has a monthly quota of eight meetings per month.
  • When the SDR sets a meeting, the SDR manager is notified and examines the details of the meeting—the title, company, completeness of details including email and phone number, date set (is it too far out or not), and completeness of notes.
  • The sales managers inform the sales reps of any information that the SDR has gleaned.
  • If the manager believes this is a qualified meeting, she will approve it. Otherwise, she declines it, which means the SDR will have to solve the critical problems that were present.
  • If the manager approves the meeting, the SDR receives the approval email and knows he has just won his meeting bonus
  • If you pay $25 per approved meeting, and the SDR meets his quota, he just made another $200 that month—this may not be a lot, but it creates small but immediate rewards towards which to work each day.

Strategic SDR compensation 2: Pipeline Bonus

The real job of the SDR is to build a sales pipeline. Each approved meeting has the potential to do that. To actually go on to the sales pipeline, the following must occur:

  1. The prospect actually attends the meeting with the sales rep
  2. The sales rep conducts a full discovery call and deeps that this can go on the pipeline because there is a viable sales opportunity here
  3. The prospect agrees to the next steps proposed by the sales rep

Let’s say we pay SDRs $150 per $100,000 of pipeline created (0.15% rate). We track this quarterly, which means that as soon as the sales rep creates that opportunity and adds the dollar amount, it counts.

In the CRM, we pass on the SDR’s name to the Opportunity created, and then run a report at the end of the quarter for all sales pipeline created that quarter (including those that were created that quarter and are now closed won or lost) and filtered by the SDR’s name.

The total amount multiplied by 0.15% is what is payable to the SDR as pipeline bonus.

Let’s say that the SDR turned in a total of 24 meetings of which 17 went on the pipeline, and the average deal size was around $100,000. That means that the SDR created $1.7million in pipe that quarter and earned $2,550 that quarter or an average of $850 per month.

So far, the SDR has added $1,050 worth of bonuses to his monthly pay and overall base salary. Considering the $1.7 million in sales pipeline he generated that quarter, the $3,350 we compensated that SDR for the quarter (including meeting bonus) is a very tiny added cost.

Strategic SDR compensation 3: Revenue Bonus

Now we get to the real bottom line–actual, converted sales. Let’s say the SDR consistently puts around $1.7 million in sales pipeline each quarter, and due to the improved quality of the pipeline, the sales rep can improve her closing ratio from 20% to around 25%.

Over a rolling period, she will close around $425,000 in sales performance each quarter.

Let’s say we pay the SDR $500 per $100,000 of sales won. That means the SDR is now getting around $2,125 each quarter in additional bonuses, or about $708 more per month.

That means, our SDR can now expect an average of $1,758 in additional performance bonuses each month. Or in annual terms, this adds $21,096 in variable compensation in addition to his base pay.

The SDR as a Professional

If we stop thinking of the sales development profession as an “entry level job”, similar to the way working in the “mailroom” used to be looked at, and actually see it as a high-skill craft with countless opportunities created, our sales reps will benefit and our company as a whole will benefit.

We need a holistic transformation of our view of the SDR profession—we need to train them, provide them with the resources they need, set the right metrics and KPIs, compensate them, and coach them as the high-skilled professionals they can and should be.

The SDR Funnel Math – Fix the Key Metrics Before You Increase the Size of Your SDR Team

sdr funnel math

As we work with clients, we hear the same questions over and over again: Should we hire more Sales Development Reps (SDRs), or sales reps? Or both?

And our response has been invariably the same—it depends.

  • If your conversion metrics are all good, then by all means hire more.
  • If not, fix your conversion metrics first before you hire more. Otherwise, you are throwing good money after bad.

Let’s say your sales goal is $10 million and your average deal size is $100,000. This means your reps need to close 100 deals. So far, looks pretty straightforward.

Here is where the “it depends” part begins.

·   If your average closing ratio is 10%, then you will need 1,000 opportunities in your pipeline

·   If your average closing ratio is 20%, then you will need 500 opportunities in your pipeline.

Just this one metric alone clearly demonstrates that improving the quality of the pipeline reduces the burden on both your sales and SDR teams. SDRs don’t have to book as many meetings, and sales reps don’t have to struggle to work with so many prospects at the same time.

It also makes it easier to see why you will not need to hire more SDRs or sales reps with the second scenario, while you are more likely to believe you “need” more of both with the first one.

The SDR Funnel Math

But, I’m sure you know it’s more complicated than that.

Working with the conventional three-tier funnel model (Top, Middle, and Bottom), Marketing is supposed to keep filling the Top of Funnel (TOFU) with qualified prospects so that enough go to the Middle of the Funnel where your SDRs call to qualify and book appointments for the Sales team, which works on the Bottom of the Funnel to push prospects through the funnel to a close.

For this article, we will focus on understanding what is happening in the Middle of the Funnel.

Let’s say on average, each of your SDRs can book around 5 meetings a month, of which sales accepts about 70%, and of those Sales accepted meetings, about 66% make the meeting (one-third are no-shows or cancellations because the prospects didn’t see any real value in making the meeting).

Also, let’s say the average deal size of these leads were they to convert is about $75,000

So, the pipeline value that your average SDR is building for the sales team is =  5 meetings x 70% acceptance rate x 66% show rate x $75,000 or  $173,250/month per SDR. Not much, and may be the reason why you were thinking of hiring more SDRs.

However, before adding to your payroll cost, think of what can be improved.

What if I showed you that you can increase the average pipeline to $484,500/month per SDR—a 180% increase in pipeline built?  Would you first look into that to see if that were possible, or still go ahead and waste time and money hiring more SDRs?

I am going to assume you said you wanted to first look into how you can increase the average pipeline built by 180%.

Key Metrics

Looking at our formula above, there are four key metrics we can improve:

1. Average meetings set by a SDR per month

2. Average Sales acceptance rate (a measure of quality of the meeting)

3. Average meeting show rate by prospect (also an indication of the quality of the meeting set)

4. Average deal size (again, a measure of the quality of the meeting)

Improving any one of these metrics will improve the average pipeline size built by each SDR. Improving all four metrics will dramatically improve the average pipeline built by each SDR.

The Before and After In Action

Look at the chart below:

We see that we are making small improvements in the range of 20% (for appointments set per month/SDR) to about 36% (number of appointments accepted by Sales).

And yet, the cumulative impact is 180% increase in sales pipeline built

Not just Pipeline Metrics—Sales Metrics also Improve

In fact, you can argue that if you improve the quality of the pipeline (highly qualified and more motivated prospects in the pipeline), then the average closing ratio of your sales reps should also improve. After all, they are meeting with the right people who are also highly engaged.

If we assume we improved the average closing ratio by 25% (from 20% to 25%), then actual booked sales will improve by a whopping 250%–just from the above quality tweaks.

Training and Support–The Secret Sauce to SDR Funnel Math

Improving the SDR metrics and understanding SDR Funnel Math is the key to improving sales metrics. And the secret sauce to that is training and optimizing your existing SDR team.

Before you hire more people, fix these metrics. As an old mentor of mine used to say, “First, Nail it. Then, Scale it.”

Would love to hear your thoughts on this. Let’s schedule a call to see if we can help you analyze your current SDR operations and see if there are any gaps that need to be addressed. Visit our homepage to learn more about us.

The Hidden Cost of Sales—Low SDR/BDR Performance

cost of sales

The Story Behind Rising Cost of Sales

According to HubSpot, the cost of new customer acquisition (cost of sales and marketing) has increased by 60% over the past six years or so.

What makes this even more alarming is that when we combine it with another finding. A 2019 Accenture study reported that 80% B2B buyers are switching vendors at least once in a 24-month period.

Let’s add a third stat: a 2019 Salesforce study found that 57% of sales reps weren’t making their numbers.

I don’t know about you, but I am having a hard time reconciling these numbers. If 80% of B2B buyers are changing vendors within 24 months, how are 57% of sales reps having trouble meeting their numbers? Shouldn’t it be easy to win new customers?

Looks like there is more to the story here.

And to tell that story, I have to tell another one first. In the 1990s (feels like a century ago, doesn’t it?), Dell Computers was growing faster than any other company—at least 100% every year for many years. Needless to say, they didn’t miss their numbers much.

One strategy Dell used to grow that fast was to cut sales territories by half each year. Sales reps screamed in anguish how this would kill their income…and each year they made more money than ever before.

Why? Because they got to know their customers more intimately when their territories were smaller. They focused more, learned more, and became far better resources to their customers—who became raving fans of Dell and wouldn’t buy anything else.

It seems that’s the story with every company that is growing fast—Zoom, Amazon, Netflix, HubSpot, Salesforce…They all know their customers—deeply. They, therefore, don’t lose customers, and their customers only buy more and rave about them to others—which means their cost of customer acquisition is going down, not up.

The “Cost” in Cost of Sales

With that setup, let’s focus our discussion on what we mean by knowing your customers deeply. And for our discussion, I’m going to focus on just the front end—sales and marketing.

In most B2B companies, and especially those that sell to enterprise accounts, their “front end” consists of Marketing, Sales/Business Development (“SDRs”), and Sales. Each is focused on a specific operation. Marketing builds the top of the Funnel, SDRs focus on the middle funnel, and Sales focuses on converting the bottom funnel into revenues.

Unfortunately, In many of the companies we work with, only their best sales people truly understand their customers, and thereby close the largest deals and have the highest win rates. Alas, they make up maybe 10% of the entire “front end”. The rest barely know anything about their customers, let alone deeply understanding them.

The inevitable consequence of that lack of customer understanding? 

Marketing content that is too generic and doesn’t draw the right customers; SDRs not getting leads and sending their own generic emails that mostly lead to more unsubscribes; meetings that are canceled because prospects don’t see the value in keeping them; underwhelming pipelines forcing sales reps to spend their time generating their own leads rather than moving the sales pipeline to close.

In short…more sales reps missing their targets, leading management to hire more SDRs and sales reps in the hopes of making their numbers, leading the cost of sales to rise each year.

Before you spend more…

As yourself, in your company, who really deeply understands the customers? Who can talk for hours regarding the customers? Who is that person, “you can turn on your recorder, sit back and let them talk?”

How many will describe your customers in terms of: what they struggle with each day, what their priorities, concerns and goals are; how their company makes money and how they get compensated; what they have worked on for so long to get right, and what they are afraid could change to disrupt that? How many know where the customer’s industry is headed, where new competition, regulations, and other threats are?

Does your marketing team understand this clearly? Is that what they are building their marketing content on? Are they driving the right prospects into the top funnel for your SDRs?

Do your SDRs know this? When they pick up the phone and call a senior decision maker, do they clearly understand how they can eliminate the key pain/cost/risk of that person and improve their numbers by “X” amount? Can they articulate that? Can they book and keep meetings with highly qualified senior decision makers?

At the very least, hold off spending more until you know the answer to these questions.

The Hidden Cost of Sales

That is the hidden cost of sales for most companies—their SDRs/BDRs don’t really know how to engage their prospects to get quality meetings booked for their sales reps.

As a result, pipelines are not sufficient to hit revenue targets and too many of your sales reps are spending too much of their time prospecting rather than moving leads in the pipeline towards a successful close.

Unsupported SDRs/BDRs are the hidden cost of sales and there is a simple solution to fix that—support them with these SDR services.

Let’s discuss your specific environment, challenges, and potential solutions: