In the quest to streamline your sales and marketing processes, you may realize that the idea, while wonderful in theory, is more difficult to achieve than you might have imagined. And not necessarily because the two practices are so different that they are incompatible. In reality, inbound marketing and sales are cut from the same cloth, and one is virtually useless without the other. So, why can this synergy be so hard to achieve?
The biggest grievance from marketing is that sales reps don’t follow up on the marketing qualified leads they are provided. Meanwhile, the sales team will complain that the leads from marketing are terrible.
The truth is that the sales team doesn’t neglect leads, they are simply overwhelmed. On average, only 27% of the leads that marketing sends will be sales qualified leads. Quota-carrying reps don’t have the time or incentive to develop those leads only to find that over 70% won’t lead to a sale.
A sales development team will bridge the gap between marketing and sales, and can be one of the most important components to building a seamless, efficient revenue machine. The idea of sales development is founded in specialization.
Sales Development Reps (SDRs) combine the leads they receive from the marketing team with their own prospecting efforts and engage these leads efficiently in the front end of the sales cycle before passing them on to quota-carrying sales reps that close the deal.
Let’s explore some of the daily activities of today’s sales development rep, then you’ll really see how the SDR is turning into a game changer for organizations looking to optimize the marketing to sales conversion path.
SDRs will send hundreds of emails each day, and make dozens of phone calls to qualify prospects based on interest and how well they fit your buyer personas. Connecting with prospects can require more effort than any other step in the sales cycle. Studies show it takes 12.73 dials to connect when calling a list of prospects with a direct phone number, and 3 meaningful conversations are required to get 1 appointment.
A sales development team will also greatly improve your lead response times, which will translate into better conversion rates. If a lead comes through, say through submitting a contact us form, responding to that lead within 5 minutes will make you 4x more likely to qualify that lead than having a 10 minute response. SDRs triage inbound leads and follow-up with them as soon as possible, either with a phone call or email.
The SDR does a great deal of prospecting on their own, with the help of prospecting tools and technology that enable insights into their target buyer personas. Because prospecting is time-consuming, knowing exactly what you’re looking for is key.
This is where the SDR coordinates with both sales and marketing, doing extensive buyer persona research and identifying key demographic information about a company such as size, industry, title, etc.
Quota-carrying sales reps don’t have time to devote to this important part of the sales process, so they can rely on the SDR to go out and find the best prospects to begin qualifying.
Which brings us to the next function of the SDR: qualifying leads. This is where a handy qualifying acronym comes in handy: BANT- Budget, Authority, Need, and Time. SDRs begin working through these qualifiers to determine if a lead is qualified enough to be handed over to sales.
For example, SDRs can evaluate a prospect’s timeline for implementing a solution. Perhaps when you first make contact, the lead’s problems aren’t pressing enough to demand a purchase. This doesn’t mean the lead is dead, but passing it along too early is a waste of a sales rep’s time. Instead, they make a note of this interaction in their CRM and share with sales reps to follow-up with on a later, predetermined date.
The marketing department can only develop campaigns if they have the data they need to evaluate and refine then. Sales reps are not concerned with what data marketing is looking for. Sales development reps live in their CRM system all day and can keep the data clean and accurate.
Additionally, adding a stage between marketing and sales enables you to track conversion rates and other metrics. You’ll be able to isolate issues and resolve them more quickly by identifying during which stage in the cycle the problem occurs.
According to Bryan Gonzalez, a sales development analyst at research and advisory group TOPO, “Reaching a buyer now requires a larger effort by smarter people.”
By bringing specialization to your sales process and delineating responsibilities between SDRs and account executives, you’ll see increased productivity and efficiency from quota-carrying sales reps and more refined and productive marketing campaigns. A win-win for your whole team.