My two-decade marketing journey has been a remarkable odyssey through a range of functional areas: from field marketing to demand generation, product marketing to brand marketing, and beyond.
Throughout my career, I've had the privilege not only to contribute to marketing teams but also to lead them, consistently steering organizations toward revenue growth.
What I’ve found particularly intriguing is the profound role that Sales Development Representatives (SDRs) can play in all these diverse facets of marketing. However, unlocking this potential requires a strategic roadmap, clear objectives, and precise measurements of success.
In this article, I'll delve into eight valuable insights and tips for crafting a high-performing SDR team that can be your field marketing's most potent ally, delivering substantial value to your organization.
Let's embark on the journey of building a world-class SDR team together.
Define your goals
First things first, you need to clearly outline the objectives of your SDR team. Determine what you want to achieve by aligning them with your field marketing strategies. This will help you structure your team accordingly.
For example, in one team I managed, the SDRs assisted the Field Marketing team by driving 20 meetings per month per SDR, resulting in 30% of total opportunities/pipeline marketing being targeted to deliver per month. When setting these goals we made SMART goals (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, timebound), to ensure they drove the impact they were looking for.
Identify the required skill set
SDRs need to possess excellent communication skills, be highly organized, and have a good understanding of your organization’s products/services. SDRs should be self starters who are willing to put in a lot of work to get the output they desire.
Sales development can be challenging, with many rejections and objections. SDRs should be resilient and persistent, not easily discouraged by setbacks, and able to maintain a positive attitude.
Recruit and onboard talent
Look for candidates who have experience in sales or customer service roles. Seek individuals who possess a strong work ethic, are self-motivated, and can adapt quickly. Provide comprehensive training to new hires to ensure they are well-equipped to support your field marketing efforts.
Establish clear processes and workflows
Develop a well-defined process for your SDR team to follow. This includes lead qualification criteria, lead handoff to the sales team, and consistent reporting mechanisms. By establishing clear workflows you will be able to streamline the team's activities to ensure efficiency.
For example, a typical SDR to Field Marketing process can look like this:
- Determine targeting > build lists > create and use relevant content > map content to buyers journey > deploy on targeted channels that your prospect typically engages with based on where they are in their buyers journey (awareness, research, consideration, purchase, retention, advocacy).
Regarding handoffs a typical workflow can look like this:
Pre-event (webinars/in-person events)
- Build lists with ICP (ideal customer profile criteria) > SDRs to send personalized emails inviting and place calls inviting them to the event. Ensure your emails and call scripts include value props as to why this event can add value to your prospect.
- SDRs and/or marketing to send reminders about upcoming events to confirm their attendance.
Post-event (webinars/ in-person events)
- Identify who attended and import to tag list in your CRM
- Have SDRs send personalized emails/calls recognizing and thanking them for attending the event. Ensure your follow up provides an asset and or recording of the event and invite them to take a meeting to learn more about what your company does and how it has helped companies similar to theirs.
Implement effective tools and technologies
Equip your SDR team with the necessary tools to enhance their productivity. This may include customer relationship management (CRM) software, email automation platforms, and lead generation tools. While tools are critical, don’t forget to provide adequate training for your team to utilize these tools effectively.
Foster collaboration with the field marketing team
Encourage regular communication and collaboration between your SDR team and the field marketing team. The SDRs should have a good understanding of the marketing campaigns and initiatives being executed in the field. This will help them align their efforts and provide better support.
Continuously monitor and evaluate performance
Regularly assess the performance of your SDR team based on predefined metrics such as lead conversion rates, pipeline contribution, and revenue generated. Continuously provide constructive feedback and coach to help them improve and optimize their performance.
Encourage ongoing learning and development
Invest in the professional growth of your SDR team members. Provide opportunities for training, attending industry conferences, and sharing best practices. This will keep them motivated and allow them to contribute more effectively to your field marketing efforts.
Once you have implemented these tactics it’s extremely important that you create a plan regarding career progression.
Below I’ve outlined a process that I’ve used over the years to help SDRs acquire the necessary skills, experience, and knowledge to excel in a sales role.
Have your SDRs perform a self-assessment to review the following:
- Evaluate strengths and areas for improvement in the current SDR role.
- Identify personal and professional goals within the sales field.
- Determine the specific type of Sales Representative role (e.g., Inside Sales, Field Sales, Enterprise Sales) you aspire to.
Ensure you are supporting your SDRs development by enhancing key sales skills, including:
- Prospecting and lead generation
- Communication and active listening
- Product knowledge
- Objection handling
- Relationship building
- Closing techniques
- Utilize training resources, workshops, and online courses to improve these skills
Build relationships with colleagues, mentors, and Sales Representatives in the organization.
- Have SDRs seek guidance and mentorship from successful sales professionals.
- Attend industry events, conferences, and networking meetups to expand their network.
Establish KPIs to measure SDR effectiveness
- Consistently meet or exceed SDR performance metrics (e.g., call quotas, email sends, lead generation targets, meetings set, pipeline generated).
- Focus on improving conversion rates from leads to opportunities.
- Use data analytics and CRM tools to track and analyze performance.
Shadowing and cross-training
Have SDRs join Sales Reps calls or do 1:1 training with them.
- Request opportunities to shadow Sales Representatives or join customer meetings.
- Cross-train with other departments, such as marketing, product development, or customer support, to gain a holistic understanding of the business.
Sales training programs
Ensure SDRs have access to training programs through your Sales Enablement team.
- Enroll in sales training programs provided by your organization or external sources.
- Obtain relevant certifications (e.g., Sales Professional Certification, Sales Enablement Certification).
Request a role transition
Once an SDR is ready to move to a Sales Rep role, have them request a role transition.
- Express interest in transitioning to a Sales Representative role to your manager.
- Provide evidence of preparedness and track record of achieving your SDR goals.
- Have SDRs ask for guidance on the steps needed to make the transition.
Build a portfolio
SDRs should keep track of their work and create a portfolio showcasing achievements.
- Document achievements and successful prospecting efforts.
- Collect testimonials and endorsements from satisfied clients or colleagues.
- Create a portfolio showcasing abilities and results.
Mock sales pitches
Give SDRs the ability to practice picithing your company's product.
- Practice delivering sales presentations and pitches.
- Seek feedback from experienced colleagues or mentors.
- Work on ability to handle objections effectively.
Provide SDRs with learning opportunities and chances for development.
- Stay updated with industry trends, market dynamics, and competitor information.
- Attend sales webinars, read sales books, and follow sales thought leaders.
- Adapt approaches based on changing customer preferences and market conditions.
Mentorship and coaching
Ensure SDRs are receiving the support they need to excel.
- Seek ongoing mentorship and coaching from experienced Sales Representatives.
- Embrace feedback and use it to refine sales skills.
Measure and adjust
Continuously measure performance and make continuous adjustments to stay on track.
- Continuously assess progress toward the Sales Representative role.
- Adjust career plan as needed to overcome challenges and seize opportunities.
Building a successful SDR team takes time and effort. By following these steps and continuously adapting to the evolving needs of your business, you can create a strong and supportive team that drives results.
Building a world-class SDR team takes a blend of strategic planning, skill development, and fostering a collaborative environment. By adhering to these eight strategies, you can pave the way for an SDR team that not only aligns seamlessly with field marketing initiatives, but also significantly contributes to the revenue generation pipeline.