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.

Three Things Sales Enablement should include in BDR Training Packs

In the increasingly competitive market today, connecting with leads can be challenging for BDRs. Often, the difference between a successful cold call (one that ends in setting an appointment) and an unsuccessful one is as simple as how efficiently the Business Development Rep (BDR) can talk with prospects. Often, BDRs are the first people that prospects will interact with during the purchasing process, meaning that their training must be a top priority for any Sales Enablement program.

Keep in mind that most companies hire junior-level people to work as BDRs, who then have to talk business with people who are necessarily senior-level decision makers. Unfortunately, many BDRs simply don’t have the experience to lead effective conversations with senior-level decision makers and they struggle to engage them enough to want to meet with Sales.

As the first contact between your company and leads, it’s important that BDRs are educated enough on current business topics relevant to your prospects’ industries to have meaningful and efficient conversations with them. Sales Enablement programs can craft BDR training packs that’ll give them the information they need to quickly qualify leads and schedule appointments. The following will cover the three most important types of content Sales Enablement should include in BDR packs. 

BDR Training Content #1: Industry Briefs

Industry Briefs give BDRs the information they need to have relevant, insightful conversations with prospects about their industries. Intimate knowledge about the target industry is the first step in crafting compelling reasons as to why the product is relevant and to have meaningful connections with leads. 

Industry Briefs in BDR packs should describe the:

  • Industry at large
  • Growth Rate
  • Basis of Competition
  • Key Challenges 

When Sales Enablement gives BDRs this solid, broad basis of information, they will empower them to have interesting and helpful interactions with the leads they connect with. A knowledgeable and well-trained BDR can ultimately foster trust with your company and encourage leads to talk with Sales. 

business development representative having sales enablement training meeting

BDR Training Content #2: Persona Profiles

With the industry already in mind, Sales Enablement should also focus BDR training on the specific personas they’ll be reaching out to. That way, BDRs can come from a place of familiarity with a prospect’s industry while also connecting with them on a more personal level. Sales Enablement programs can give BDRs the focused and relevant information on each of the target persona types that will allow them to make more meaningful personal connections with leads, thereby increasing their willingness to talk with Sales. 

Persona Profiles in BDR packs should describe the persona’s:

  • Responsibilities 
  • Goals
  • Key Concerns

This information, in conjunction with a more broad familiarity with the lead’s industry, will give BDRs the insights to connect more efficiently with leads. In a market where buyers are becoming increasingly difficult to reach (especially over the phone), Sales Enablement’s efforts in this area will boost appointment set rates. 

business development representative training on how to create persona profile

BDR Training Content #3: Discovery Call Guides

With the above background information in place, the next important step for Sales Enablement programs is to equip BDRs with practical, usable strategies to employ when cold calling. Discovery Call Guides can boost the efficacy of BDR training packs by giving BDRs the skills they’ll need to direct conversations, quickly qualify leads, and set up appointments with Sales. 

Discovery Call Guides in BDR packs should give them:

  • Strategies to open calls professionally
  • Key messaging to use
  • Opening questions that will quickly qualify leads
  • Tactics to lead conversations to appointments with Sales
  • Voicemails to leave if applicable 

A recent study found that BDRs who asked 11-14 questions on a call had over 70% success rates, whereas those who had less suffered up to a 30% lower success rate. Having the right training can make a surprising difference in whether or not your BDRs book appointments. Discovery call guides are vital to standardizing and optimizing how BDRs engage leads over the phone. 

business development representative training to make discovery calls

Recapping

Effective BDR training packs can empower relatively inexperienced BDRs to stand out in today’s competitive business environment. Quickly making solid and personalized connections with leads over the phone is an important way to set appointments with Sales, and Sales Enablement can dramatically increase BDRs’ effectiveness in this role through optimized BDR training packs. For more information about Sales Enablement and BDR training, click here

You can find more resources like this on the SOMAmetrics website under resources. Or click here to schedule a call if you would like to speak with one of our associates.