SDR Team Design: Four Common Mistakes to Avoid

In this blog, we will quickly cover four of the major mistakes commonly made in setting up Sales Development Reps (SDRs). Each mistake has the potential of severely limiting performance. Unfortunately, a number of companies commit two or more of these mistakes, significantly hampering pipeline growth.

SDR Team Design Mistake 1: It’s an Entry Level Job

The work of the SDR is often considered an entry level job—a misconception that this is a “telemarketing” job. And, of course, since it is viewed, staffed, and supported that way, the misconception is perpetuated by the lackluster results obtained.

Think about these points for a minute:

  • On one side of the phone is your junior rep “Connor”, who is 24, recently graduated from college, has a lot of enthusiasm, some product training, maybe some cold calling and objection management training, and little else.
  • On the other side of the phone is “Amy”, SVP of Operations in a large trucking company. She has been in the industry for about 20 years, is very smart, ambitious and has a long day that starts around 7:30am and ends around 8pm.  

Let’s assume for a second that Amy picked up the phone when Connor called—a very long shot, by the way. But let’s go with that.

What do you think Connor can say to someone like Amy that she hasn’t heard before to make her curious enough to want to hang on?

Remember that Amy has talked to thousands of Connors in her career, while Connor has spoken to maybe 20 or 30 Amys. She knows what he is going to say before he says it, and gives him perhaps six or seven seconds to see if he is going to say something interesting–but that’s unlikely.

So, she says whatever she has to say to end the call politely, including saying “Sure” to a meeting she never intends to attend. Yes, Connor got his meeting and he can virtually high-five his team lead, but nothing really happened here.

But, what if Connor knew the trucking business pretty well? Could he have said something interesting to Amy that would have made her really want to attend the meeting? 

SDR Team Design Mistake 2: What we Want is More Meetings

The VP of Sales of a tech company once told me that he had two SDRs who were booking around forty (40) meetings a month for him. When I asked him how many of these were going on his pipeline, he replied “4%”. Yes, only 1.6 meetings per month went on the pipeline.

I am sure your situation is much better. But the point is that if you pay for meetings, you will get plenty of meetings.

The question is: do you want meetings or do you want a sales pipeline?

In another company, an SDR booked a meeting that represented a $500,000 opportunity for the sales team—the largest sales opportunity of the quarter. And yet, his manager only counted it as one meeting because the SDRs had a meeting quota, not a pipeline quota.

Imagine if we did that with our sales team—counted the number of deals our sales reps closed, rather than the dollar amount of sales they generated. If that were true, the sales rep who closed one hundred, $1,000 deals (or a total of $100,000) would be the sales champion rather than the sales rep who closed five or six deals that totaled $1million.

We certainly don’t set a number of deals quota for our sales rep—we know better. However, most companies set meeting quotas for their SDRs, rather than a pipeline quota, which is actually what they really want.

SDR Team Design Mistake 3: More Dials Get You More Results

I often see in LinkedIn groups discussions around how to get 100+ dials/day–what tools can we use? How do we set up our BDRs and SDRs to do 100+dials a day?

Implicit in these discussions is an admission of inability to make effective connections with their intended audiences, and thereby hoping that making more dials will solve this problem.

But, let’s pause for a moment and think through this one a bit. 

In his book,”The #1 Sales Team”, corporate sales trainer Stephan Schiffman explains what he means by his sales numbers, “Each day [I am not training], I pick up the phone and make 15 dials…Of the fifteen dials, I will end up having seven conversations with people who could conceivably give me an appointment. And of those seven discussions I will set one new first appointment with a decision maker. By decision maker, I mean someone who can move me forward in the sales cycle…so those are my daily numbers: fifteen, seven, and one.”

What happened here? Granted Stephan Schiffman is a highly skilled and experienced  sales guy, but he is saying he had a 46.7% connect rate. 

But, that was in 2006. No one has a 46.7% connect rate with total strangers today—thanks to the billions of robo calls as well as legitimate business calls we are all inundated with. 

Hardly anyone picks up their phone today unless the call is from someone they know. In fact, many of us have set our phones not to ring unless the call is from someone on our contact list. We send the rest straight to voicemail–and we hardly check our voicemails anyway.

So, the discussion around making more dials, when our prospects are deliberately shutting us out, is not a fruitful one. We are better off spending our time and effort figuring out how to get our prospective buyers to want to take our calls.

SDR Team Design Mistake 4: We can Hire Our Way out of the Problem

So, let’s recap where we are so far.

We have junior SDRs who don’t know anything much about the people or the industry they are calling into. We tell them they have to book “X” number of meetings each month. And we tell them they need to up their dials to do that. We even buy them auto-dialers.

And after all of that, we still don’t make our pipeline goals and miss our revenue targets. So how do we fix this problem?

Based on our poor numbers,  we determine that we need to hire more junior SDRs so our combined total can reach our intended target.

Here again, I ask you to pause for a second and think about it.

Let’s say the average SDR costs you around $55K/year in base pay, benefits, and licenses for the tech stack and you currently have six so your annual cost for your SDR team (not counting the manager), is about $330K/year. And now you want to hire three more, adding another $165k/year to the cost.

Even if you hit your numbers, you did so by increasing your SDR cost by 50%.

But what if you could have made your numbers without adding any headcount— with the six SDRs you had to begin with? What if you had spent time and effort improving on your SDR operations so you could obtain much better results?

In fact, after redesigning your SDR Operations, it makes more sense now to hire more. First nail it, then scale it.
How do you feel about your SDR Team Design? Would you like us to assess and provide you with a gap analysis? Let’s have a free consultation to get started.

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 in a 2019 Accenture study reporting that 80% B2B buyers are switching vendors at least once in a 24-month period.

What the heck, 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 is it that 57% of sales reps have trouble making 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—growing 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 schedule a call so we can discuss your specific environment, challenges, and potential solutions.

The Innovative Content That Engages Leads to Talk With Sales Reps

Engaging online content is quickly becoming one of the most important resources available to Business Development Representatives (BDRs) today. As email marketing has become the most efficient way to initiate contact with leads, BDRs are turning to prospect engagement content to get attention and pique interest when sending out emails. In the following sections, we’ll look at why content is so important today, as well as what types of content BDRs need and what roles Sales Enablement can adopt in managing and creating content. 

innovative engaging content email marketing business development representative bdr sales enablement

Why Content is So Important for Engagement Today  

Because emailing is the rising medium for lead engagement today, one of the most effective ways to pique interest in any communication with a prospective customer is to share compelling, high-quality content.

Email marketing is used to connect with leads before calling them over the phone. During this stage of the buyer’s journey, relevant and helpful information should be shared with leads over email to educate them on the product and inspire a willingness to meet with a Sales rep. The goal is to engage leads enough over email so that when a BDR calls them, they’ll already have the information they need to want to book an appointment to talk with a Sales rep. 

BDRs, then, will need an array of engaging and compelling content to send to leads over email. This content should be specific, highly targeted for specific persona profiles, and come in multiple mediums to reflect the modern trends of today. Additionally, having set email sequencing available to BDRs can streamline and optimize this process. Click here for more information on email sequencing. 

The Types of Content That Best Engage Leads

In a hugely virtual world today, having modern and interesting content is essential to stand out from the crowd. We once lived in an era where PowerPoint seemed fresh and modern, but nowadays, the content that’s most likely to pique a lead’s interest will look a little different. 

Sales Enablement will want to make a wide variety of content available in various mediums, many of which should be easily shareable online. Types of content in this area can include blog posts, white papers, webinars, videos, ebooks, product demo decks, podcasts, infographics, presentations, mobile apps, articles, social media, websites, games, online demos, and tutorials. The key is to have content that’s targeted to the specific industries and personas it will be shared with and to create it with engagement in mind.

These bits of informational content are designed to move curious but unconvinced middle-of-the-funnel prospects to a level of high interest and a willingness to meet with Sales. To read more about the type of content that will engage leads, click here. 

Sales Enablement’s Role in Content Management

With a robust library of content available to them, BDRs will be well-prepared to engage with more leads and with more success. However, it’s just as important that BDRs be well-versed with what content they can and should send and to whom. For Sales Enablement, a vital part of BDR training should cover content awareness. Additionally, sales coaching should highlight which content to use for which persona profiles. 

The content should also be stored in an easily accessed and organized content library, which can be facilitated through the use of content management tools like Google Docs. 

Finally, Sales Enablement teams should track the dispersal of their content and enforce what content needs to be sent out by BDRs to promote better sales. Using KPIs in CRMs like SalesForce can aid Sales Enablement in the collecting of this information. 

Recapping

As email marketing has become more efficient in lead engagement today, the content that BDRs use to pique the interest of their leads should be of vital importance to the Sales Enablement team. Modern engagement content includes persona-targeted items in varied mediums to stand out. To read more about the type of content that will engage leads, 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.

How Business Leaders are Optimizing BDR Training in 2021

The pandemic pushed a lot of businesses to change how they operate, including those in the B2B selling space. As Sales Enablement has adopted a wider role in business today, we’ve started to see shifts in how business leaders train their BDRs (Business Development Reps). In the following sections, we’ll look at which new practices in the traditional BDR training model have optimized BDR performance in today’s business environment. 

business development representative bdr training

KPIs for BDR Training

Careful tracking of some key performance indicators can highlight specific areas where training should be focused. CRMs like Salesforce and prospecting tools like Outreach both offer effective solutions to track these figures, which can then apply to BDR training programs to track progress, quotas, and areas for improvement. 

Some essential KPIs include: 

  • Average sales cycle length
  • Average deal size 
  • Time to Revenue
  • Quota attainment 
  • Lead conversion rate 
  • Content usage 
  • Sales funnel transition rates 
  • Number of closed deals 

Finding gaps in knowledge or ability is essential in BDR training because it gives direction to what Sales Enablement needs to focus on.

Optimized Training Sessions

Using analysis from KPIs, Sales Enablement can craft highly effective BDR training programs that borrow from some findings of business leaders today.

It’s been shown that 87% of B2B sales training content is forgotten within 30 days (Gartner), which means that the norm of infrequent or even once yearly training sessions has to go. Many Sales Enablement programs today are shortening their BDR training sessions — but also increasing their frequency. Sharing information more often and in more easily processed chunks allows Sales Enablement to reinforce old information and update training as new developments surface. It’s also been shown that continuous training can raise sales rates by as much as 50%. 

Additionally, BDRs are often on the go or in between meetings, and so while having live training sessions is certainly helpful, it can also be wise to include virtual, more convenient options within a BDR training program. Mixing up the format can also help retain attention and engagement among BDRs. Monthly newsletters, games, or interactive videos can all reliably share information while engaging viewers even while being online and remote. 

BDR Training Packs

One of the best ways Sales Enablement can equip BDRs to succeed is through a thoughtfully crafted BDR training package. Effective BDR packs give them the information they need to quickly qualify leads and schedule appointments. The fundamental elements of an effective BDR training pack are industry briefs, persona profiles, and discovery call guides. 

Industry Briefs give BDRs the information they need to have relevant, insightful conversations with prospects about their industries. They share information with BDRs about their lead’s industry’s growth rate, challenges, competitors, and more. 

In addition, persona profiles give BDRs a familiarity with the challenges and goals of the specific persona types they’ll contact within their targeted industries. This will enable them to make more personalized connections with the leads they contact. In fact, 93% of B2B decision-makers report being more likely to further consider a company if the outreach is personalized to them, making targeted, specialized approaches of the utmost importance to BDRs strategies.

Finally, discovery call guides equip BDRs with practical, usable strategies to employ when cold calling. Effective call guides give ​​BDRs the skills they’ll need to direct conversations, quickly qualify leads, and set up appointments with Sales. For more information about Sales Enablement and BDR training packs, click here

Recapping

The pandemic has pushed many business practices to shift recently, and in order to equip BDRs with the skills they’ll need to succeed in this new business environment, Sales Enablement should optimize their BDR training. This includes tracking KPIs for training purposes, updating BDR training practices, and providing highly effective BDR packs. 

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.

Email Marketing: How BDRs Connect With Leads Today

The primary role of Business Development Representatives (BDRs) has always been to be ‘tele-prospectors,’ using the phone to find, qualify, and set appointments. Until recently, BDRs have always used cold calling to initiate contact with prospects, but various shifts in buyer behavior have made the phone call a much less effective medium for connecting with leads. Nowadays, BDRs will find the most success by connecting initially through email marketing and nurturing interest in leads before engaging over the phone. 

In the following sections, we’ll discuss why this transition has occurred and how BDRs can use email marketing to connect with leads more meaningfully in the modern selling environment. 

Business Development Representative Email Marketing

Why Cold Calling Isn’t as Effective Today

As you’ve probably noticed, the influx of robocalls over the past couple of years has led most people to stop answering the phone to unknown numbers — and this includes the people BDRs are trying to connect with. A recent study found that 90% of high-level executives report never responding to cold calls. Unfortunately, most people simply filter out sales calls or reject any calls they weren’t expecting, meaning that connecting with leads over the phone is now much harder than it ever was before. 

Another major reason for the switch has to do with broader generational shifts in the workplace. Millennials now make up most of the workforce, and they’re no longer working entry-level positions — reports now show that they have accumulated about 73% of all the decision-making power in business. What this means is that what they want goes, and millennials are known to dislike talking over the phone, favoring more efficient forms of communication. BDRs will need to adapt how they connect with their millennial leads if they’re going to thrive in today’s market. 

Connecting with Leads Through Email Marketing

In response to these changes, BDRs are initiating connections with leads through email marketing first, using engaging content to nurture a relationship before reaching out over the phone. 

This has proven especially effective because the modern buyer is now used to doing most of their product research before meeting with a Sales rep, meaning that guiding them with information during their buyer journey can feed into their natural buying preferences.

Successful email marketing turns otherwise unaware leads into curious prospects, engaging them with content that’ll come to them in thoughtfully prepared sequences. They should be persona-oriented and highly targeted, with the end goal always being to foster a willingness in the lead to speak with a Sales rep. If done right, email marketing can be one of the most powerful ways for BDRs to connect with leads, but unfortunately, many BDRs have struggled to adapt to this new mode of communication. 

With the sudden push to email marketing, especially during the pandemic, many BDRs were not adequately trained to write compelling emails to connect with leads. Many resorted to sending out overused (and, by result, ineffective) template emails from their prospecting tools that garnered little attention. The result was a series of unpromising emails that didn’t reflect the full selling potential of the company. Worse, they lacked the compelling content needed in emails to spark interest in leads. 

Thoughtful, professionally crafted email sequencing is now the most effective way to help BDRs meaningfully connect with leads through email marketing. 

Email Sequencing to Connect with Leads 

Email sequences are internally regulated chains of nurture emails that make sure messaging being sent out is effective and planned out. Thoughtful email sequencing empowers BDRs to make better connections with leads by providing them with approved messaging and related content to send out. It gives them the right templates to send for specific personas and the coordinated messaging that will drive curiosity and engagement to increase appointment setting. Click here for more information on how Sales Enablement can boost BDR success through email sequencing. 

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.

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.