2015 was the year of sales development.
And yet, many sales leaders ask themselves if a sales development function is right for their team.
Trish Bertuzzi, author of The Sales Development Playbook and founder of The Bridge Group, answered that exact question for sales leaders at this year’s Sales Acceleration Summit. Here’s what she said.
Do You Need Sales Development?
The main sales development question for most sales teams is, of course, whether they even need it. Trish’s answer? It depends:
“If you have a team of closers that needs more at-bats, then most assuredly you need a sales development team. Or if you have a team that’s better off focusing at the back of the funnel — you really want your team focusing on closing — absolutely then. Have a front-end sales development team focused on qualifying opportunities.”
- “There are some companies — SaaS companies, primarily — that don’t like that transition [to sales development] … They think it interrupts their sales process. And so they don’t have a sales development team. So you really have to look at your market, your buyer, your sales process, what your [account executives] need. Most of the time, I’m going to say yes to sales development. But not all of the time.”
Trish went on to say that sales development is an umbrella term that can refer to a lot of different functions depending on the type of organization, which is why she thinks account-based marketing and account-based sales development are on the rise.
- “I love [account-based sales development], because in that instance, you look at the account as the opportunity, and not the contact. I think that’s where we go awry so often.”
Why You Can’t Rush Hiring SDRs
Trish also discussed the challenges of hiring and training sales development reps.
- “It is a huge challenge because the demand for the talent has so far outpaced the supply of the talent.”
But she expects a broad transformation in the hiring process.
- “Companies are starting to lay off. Companies have over-hired to get to growth. Right? So they’ve thrown bodies at the problem and all the expenses associated with that — they’re now realizing the pain of doing so and are starting to lay off.”
- “I don’t think we’re going to hit a trough, but I think we’re going to come to a level area where people are going to start to be much more intelligent in their hiring, and they’re going to retain people by putting the right processes for onboarding in place, and they’re going to develop learning cultures and they’re going to look at their attrition in a different way.” (There’s an entire section in her book about all of this.)
Trish also shared some other tips for hiring and retaining sales development reps.
- “Don’t rush to hire, because bad breath is not better than no breath at all. Sometimes, an empty seat will cost you less than a bad hire.”
- “I think you really need to think through: What are the skills that you’re looking for in your candidate? I mean, curiousity is huge. The ability to be self-educated. You want to hire people that are willing to go and learn their craft on their own that you don’t have to baby step the whole way.”
- “So we have to look at candidates differently. It used to be ‘Hey, I’m going to hire some young, hungry kids and let them pound on the phones.’ Well, our poor buyers were the ones that got pounded, right? So I think that’s starting to change.”
- “People are really thinking about retention: What does it take? You know, I think the average SDR is in the role for 12 months …. What?? They’re not even ramped until month five. So, how do we keep them in the role longer?”
The Core Of SDR Interactions
Trish said there’s just so much that can be automated in the sales development process that a lot of companies lose by over-automating and stripping the human aspects out of the sales process.
- “You don’t want to automate the human out of what you’re doing, because we’re starting to do that. It isn’t just science…it isn’t just push a button or click something. It’s the human. You need to be human. You need to interact with your buyers.”
These are just some of the basics. Trish has so much more wisdom to share in The Sales Development Playbook. And you can watch her whole session from the Sales Acceleration Summit online, but only for the next two weeks.