Blog/Do you know how to manage a Sales Development team?

Many companies are separating Sales into a team that regularly finds prospective clients, and one that closes deals. Those that succeed can benefit from a steady stream of prospective clients to talk to. How do they  achieve it? How should you manage a sales team?

That’s what I want to discuss, based loosely on our own example. Sales Development Reps take care of finding new prospects to outreach, qualify them as leads and hand them over to Sales reps. Traditionally Sales reps would do all this themselves. Adding a second, more specialised team is benefitial, but it is tricky too. It’s still quite a new concept, that’s why I want to show you the main aspects of successfully managing a sales team (SDR).

Focusing on their needs, I want to tell you what’s most important for SDR:

  • onboarding
  • training
  • improving

Your SDRs need tools, but it’s a subject for a whole other article that I’ll try to cover soon.

Onboarding

Organise a Sales Development library, that will consist of a few must-reads and a lot of additional resources.

SDRs need to get your company’s playbook, with details about culture, rules and obligations. For SDRs specifically, the most important information is about:

  • the product/service you offer
  • how your company adds value
  • the type of clients you work with

Your sales development reps will often be the first ones to contact customers. You can’t let them sacrifice their credibility – a full Linkedin, Twitter and Facebook profile are a must-have. Plus a good-looking e-mail footer.

They should be present and active on social media because that’s the way of the world.

Introduce a habit of adding connections on Linkedin. It’s a powerful network and some of those connections will become valuable customers in the future.

how managing a sales team

Image: Managing your sales team in correct way

Training

The core of Sales Development is generating qualified leads (Read more about cold email lead generation). To help your specialists do that, prepare:

  • a detailed description of your ideal customer profile and make sure reps learn it
  • cheat-sheets to effectively using the software that you provide – at RightHello, our SDRs work on the same SaaS platform that we offer to our clients. This way we’re developing software, while enabling our own employees to find the clients that need it. Pretty sweet, right?

Add to your SDR content library straightforward instructions on how to:

  • find prospects (companies and people to approach with a pitch)
  • research data required to qualify prospective customers (in actionable steps – for instance “first check if a company has a poorly designed website, then if they have on-board web designers, and finally if they have over 50 employees”)
  • write cold e-mails (include what you know about the way your customers write – you should personalise messages to your target group preferences)

Ralph Barsey over at Saleshacker wrote:

“The terms “Go get it” and “Get after it” don’t mean, “I hope this sales thing works out for me. Any day now.””

It’ll help me illustrate my next point. Sales development is often seen as a gateway to other positions at a company – account executive, sales rep, etc.

And remember it’s still a job in Sales, where the “hungriest” win.

Because of all that, you want to create an environment where hard work is “the usual”. SDRs will learn quicker, because there’s nothing that ambitious people can’t do when facing a challenge (quota, deadline).

  • Organise weekly meetings for sales team members involved in finding new prospective clients. Typically this would mean relevant team managers, Sales reps and SDRs.
  • I recommend setting up a regular meeting to:
    • talk about how effective previous weeks’ search for prospects was (did SDR sales find enough?)
    • discuss the criteria (what kind of prospects should SDRs look for?)
    • set goals for next week

Remeber that unrealistic expectations (like “generate 100 qualified opportunities a day”) will quickly lead to burnt-out employees.

When setting goals, consider:

  • The difficulties in generating leads in your target market (are there many prospective customers and are they easy to find?)
  • The time SDRs need to find prospective customers and initially qualify (based on your ideal customer profile)
  • The current capacity of your sales team (how many leads can they handle weekly?)
  • The resources available to automate and better enable salespeople (what tools could you buy so that your sales team will have more time?)

Say your Sales Reps can effectively stay in touch and work with 20 leads a month, then SDRs should approach 200 prospective customers (assuming a 10% response rate).

I should add that the way you set-up the workflow is unique (to some degree) to your company.

An SDR does a lot of repetitive tasks. Each SDR should personally organise their work into a clear process (ideally a checklist).

Experienced SDRs or managers should help new reps do it – to show them which tasks have the biggest priority.

Teach persistence. Sales development is a high-priority part of a well-oiled sales engine. In order for your company to be profitable, SDRs have to keep generating sales opportunities. They need to know how important their job is.

TOPO (sales acceleration research company) says that it takes between 8 to 12 attempts (emails, calls) to finally connect. And it’ll only get harder. But they need to keep doing it because Sales Development is about scale.

follow up persistently

Measuring and improving performance

The most important metric for SDR performance is the number of qualified opportunities (prospects that match your ideal customer profile) they generate.

But that’s regarding experienced reps. When you’re training new SDR sales, you could measure their progress by:

  • activities – are they following the process? Does each activity (number of emails sent, calls made, etc) help achieve specific goals?
  • prospect quality – check if companies found by SDRs fit your criteria
  • response rates – how many prospects actually respond (and become a lead for Sales reps) to SDR messages and calls?

Feedback will keep your team running. For instance:

  • When combing through a niche market, at some point reps will start having trouble finding new prospective clients
  • As a solution, discuss how to adjust their search so they can keep finding new clients, for instance switch your target group’s:
    • location
    • company size
    • software development technology
    • industry

Final words

Now you should have a better idea of how to approach Sales Development Reps (SDR) management. Most important tip? Be patient. Seriously, it takes time before you fully work it out and your SDR team can take about 6 months to be fully effective.

Plus, you have to help other teams get used to the new model and new tasks that come with the package.

But overall re-organising your sales team this way is very much worth it.