Is an SDR Team Right for Your Organization?
Sales development reps take the time-consuming process of prospecting and cold calling out of the hands of your closers, allowing salespeople to spend more time on what they do best: nurturing and closing deals.
An SDR’s main functions are to convert cold and marketing leads into sales-qualified leads and set sales appointments for your closer.
In this post, we’ll go over characteristics of your business that can help you determine whether an SDR team is worth it for your company and offering.
Long sales cycles
Using a specialized team of SDRs to qualify leads before passing them to sales is a tactic best-suited for companies with long sales cycles.
Sellers who get the most out of an SDR team are B2B organizations, since their customers require more time to make a purchase decision compared to B2C customers.
B2B customers typically buy for multiple users, or an entire organization, and focus on measurable business value as a deciding factor. This results in a more involved decision-making process with numerous stakeholders, the need for a more in-depth exchange of information, and a higher number of touches before the opportunity is closed.
In the case of multiple decision-makers, salespeople have a responsibility to demonstrate value at every business level and help the contact get the rest of their team on board, lengthening the time needed to convert these prospects.
An SDR team can shorten the cycle by only sending qualified leads to the closer, so your salespeople don’t waste too much time navigating the organizational obstacles of prospects who are not likely to buy.
High selling price
The average selling price of your offering also affects the length of your sales cycles and, in turn, whether or not an SDR team would benefit you.
For companies who sell expensive solutions or focus on large deals, a longer discovery and nurture process are necessary to help customers make a high-cost decision. SaaS companies, for example, benefit greatly from SDRs who qualify leads in advance.
A high selling price often means a higher customer lifetime value, which is an important indicator of the return obtained from your sales efforts. Looking at the average value gained from a customer over the relationship can be a guide for how much you should spend on customer acquisition.
You can ensure an SDR team is worth it if the ROI you see from employing the team outweighs the costs of maintaining it.
Salespeople cold calling
If your salespeople are cold calling, they’re wasting their valuable time reaching out to many contacts who are unqualified and others who simply won’t answer.
An SDR team solves this problem by prospecting and dialing through your database, sending sales reps only qualified leads who have agreed to a sales meeting.
Considering that salespeople, on average, only spend 36.6% of their time actually selling, streamlining the process of how they find the right contacts helps them invest more time into nurturing and closing.
Don’t squander your closers’ limited time and talent on unqualified leads. If your salespeople go through long sales cycles for high-value deals, here are a few of our top reasons why SDRs should do your prospecting and cold calling instead:
- Salespeople focus on pitching your product, even if it’s too early in the conversation.
- SDRs pitch the more modest ask of scheduling a sales meeting, which leads are more likely to agree to.
- Salespeople are incentivized by commission, so they move on from unqualified leads (who may have actually turned into an opportunity) too quickly.
- SDRs are solely focused on top-of-funnel, so they are able to maintain a persistent cadence and follow up an adequate number of times.
A buyer’s decision process is not only influenced by the number of decision-makers that must come to a consensus but also how complicated it is to implement and adopt your solution.
If your solution has complicated features, has numerous features, or offers an assortment of customization options, it’s likely your lead generation efforts will require more careful segmentation and your buyers will take longer to decide.
The more complex your offering, the more precisely you should tailor the messaging used by marketing, sales development, and sales.
If your messaging evolves frequently or is dependent on the needs of a particular prospect, SDRs can be used to gain the initial discovery needed to start a sales conversation on a note that resonates with the prospect.
The more complex your product, the harder it is to keep every team on the same page when it comes to messaging and finding the right opportunities. If you see misalignment between your teams, SDRs present a unique way to bridge the gap between sales and marketing.
Sales and marketing teams may be misaligned if you notice the following problems in your customer acquisition process:
- There’s no established feedback loop between marketing and sales, or feedback only flows one way.
- Salespeople don’t utilize marketing collateral or can’t use it effectively.
- Sales qualifies and converts marketing-generated leads at a low rate.
- The teams blame each other. Marketing blames sales for poor conversion rates, and sales blames marketing for poor lead quality.
An SDR team helps mitigate these issues by warming up marketing-qualified leads before passing them to sales and notating in detail why certain leads won’t convert.
This helps marketing adjust their inbound strategy to attract more relevant leads and helps sales gain a better understanding of who buys their solution and why. Both teams get a full view of prospects’ complete buyer’s journey instead of just the parts they play a role in.
So, exactly how much can you benefit from aligning your sales and marketing?
Higher rate of
Improvement in retention
Faster revenue growth
Niche target market
If you have done an effective job developing your ideal buyer persona, it will be narrowly focused toward fewer but more relevant prospects. Knowing the exact type of person who has an interest and need for your solution gives you an idea of how they prefer to buy.
Do they expect to speak one-on-one with your reps before making their decision, or do they expect a more automated digital experience?
If your customers routinely purchase solutions like yours without ever speaking to a salesperson, don’t force them through a tedious qualification and nurturing process with an SDR.
However, if your customers require a higher degree of familiarity with your product and brand before purchasing, as many B2B customers do, then a multi-touch SDR strategy is much more likely to work in your favor. Here’s a look at an example SDR call cadence from our very own playbook:
For many B2B companies, relationship building is an integral part of the sales process. But building a business relationship doesn’t typically happen on the first call; it happens over time across multiple interactions.
B2B clients want to know the ins and outs of the product, review the company’s track record, and feel valued as a business partner before investing in a solution.
The SDR function doesn’t address the relationship aspects beyond qualification, but it does enable sales to focus on building relationships with prospects who are worth their time.
B2B companies with niche target markets find success using an account-based sales approach, which targets specific accounts discovered through manual prospecting and research.
The account-based approach involves targeting high-value accounts, typically enterprise companies, instead of individual prospects or contacts and requires a collaborative effort from all teams in your company.
An SDR team helps with this approach because these specialized reps take over the lengthy prospecting process for sales and perform the necessary discovery and call cadence needed to qualify these accounts.
If your prospecting strategy includes pursuing select target accounts, you’re better off using SDRs who can persistently reach out to stakeholders and gather initial information that will qualify the right points of contact.
Goals for growth
Your sales goals and the metrics you prioritize provide further confirmation of whether or not an SDR team is right for your sales process.
Goals that an SDR team can help accomplish include:
- Growing your pipeline: SDRs help fill the top of your funnel by prospecting, reaching out to leads in the early awareness stage, and qualifying them for sales. Whether starting from scratch or trying to keep up with an already growing pipeline, SDRs facilitate growth without your closers wasting time on unqualified leads.
- Scaling your sales team: When your pipeline is full and closers spend the majority of their time closing deals, the opportunity to scale your sales organization presents itself. If your teams are dedicated to their individual functions, their day-to-day processes can easily be repeated by new reps.
- Validating your market: Part of an SDR team’s appeal is that they can spend extra time on top-of-funnel leads and notate in detail why they don’t reach SQL status. The initial outreach to cold and marketing leads reveals trends and insights that provide feedback about your persona and messaging as you test your offering in the market.
If you consider any of these goals a top priority for your sales team, SDRs can help you achieve the results you’re looking for. Delegating your prospecting and qualification efforts to these reps lets you direct more attention to these early-stage objectives.
You might be on the fence about whether a dedicated team of sales development reps will fit into your sales structure or perhaps complicate it further.
Offerings with high selling prices, complex features, and a niche target market generally require a longer nurturing process to reach a decision. SDRs help accelerate the decision process by qualifying prospects early on and entering into sales conversations sooner.
If you endure long sales cycles involving many decision-makers, an SDR team could very well become one of your biggest assets.
We wrote an entire guide about how an SDR team can deliver more SQLs, in case you’re looking for a place to start. Download the Ultimate Guide to B2B Appointment Setting.