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Remember when sales development was the last kid to get picked for dodgeball? No longer.

The sales development methodology is centered around separation and specialization of different sales roles. The trend is making waves as everyone from entrepreneurial start-ups to Fortune 500s test the waters and begin to reap the rewards.

Sales development is the process of engaging leads and preparing them for the eventual buying decision. Prospects are primed and ready to move toward a purchase before they’re handed over to an account executive to close the deal quickly and easily.

And the people that make this magic happen, the sales development reps (SDRs), are a new breed of sales samurai that must possess these unique skills in order to guide your leads through the buyer’s journey:

 

1. Mastering The Technology Stack

One of the SDR’s main objectives is prospecting for targeted leads and building accurate lists of contacts – This is the first step in the SDR process. A mix of tools we call the “technology stack” can be extremely powerful when aligned appropriately with the right sales strategy.

SDRs have to not only make more touches to convert the lead, but they need to make those touches more relevant and personalized. Choosing the right technology stack and mastering the function of each tool can mean the difference between drowning in a sea of digital information or smooth sailing to sales success.

However, as the chart below demonstrates, more and more technology vendors are creating products for sales development. On average, high-growth sales development teams have 5 or more applications in their stack. Knowing which combination of applications to utilize and integrating their functionalities is essential in order to optimize your sales process.

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2. Overcoming TOFU Objections

Specialization is one of the SDR’s most essential skills. Your account executives will be adept at handling bottom-of-the-funnel (BOFU) objections and providing specific solutions to issues such as pricing or functionality concerns. But a great SDR will be more skilled at overcoming top-of-the-funnel (TOFU) objections such as “I don’t have time to talk right now,” or “We’re happy with our current strategy.”

This is because SDRs are focused on a consultative, “always be helping” approach to guide the prospect toward recognizing a need or opportunity, rather than making a sale. SDRs encounter these challenges daily and are able to direct short conversations in order to offer value to the lead’s business.

Sales development leader Salesloft recently did a study in which they had two technology clients who sold competitive solutions to the same type of buyer.

The company with an optimized sales development team converted the leads at 40%. The other organization passed leads directly to quota-carrying sales reps and converted leads at less than 5%.

Because SDRs practice and role-play the most effective ways to manage these unique situations, sales development teams are most qualified to have the first interaction with your prospect.

 

 3. Knowing When To Pass The Baton

SDRs are the gatekeepers of your leads. Based on agreed-upon parameters, they determine when a prospect becomes a sales qualified lead (SQL) and then transfer them to an AE to close the deal.

At first thought, it may seem as though sending a lead from one person in your sales department to another could send the wrong message or disrupt the valuable relationship the SDR has taken considerable time and effort to establish. But in fact, “passing the baton” is a great way to make prospects feel special.

“Upgrading” a lead to a consultation with an account executive legitimizes their need and sends the message that you are confident you have the right solution to address it.

Even better, the lead has been qualified by the SDR and they will never feel as though you are wasting their time by trying to sell them something that they don’t have any use for.

 

Sales development is going to explode in the next year. It is primed to not only be a highly desirable service but an essential one for growing companies. SDRs are the bridge between marketing and sales that we’ve been looking for. Follow these 3 keys and find yourself on the way to sales development success.