Sales Development Representative (SDR): What you Need to Know
Pulling leads into the sales pipeline marks the beginning of all sales processes. However, finding the right leads can be tricky. Not every lead matches the target audience for a marketing campaign. Instead, salespeople focus their efforts on qualified leads, or those most likely to buy their products.
Qualified leads then evolve into customers should the sales team secure their interest. The process of qualifying leads allows salespeople to prioritize their efforts. Instead of spending too much effort working on every single lead, only the best leads are taken into account.
This is where Sales Development Representatives (SDR) come into play.
What Does a Sales Development Representative (SDR) Do?
Sales development representatives (SDR) focus on qualifying leads. They narrow down all leads to just qualified leads for sales teams to focus on. This way, they perform an integral function by improving company prioritization.
SDRs find qualified leads by comparing the attributes of all leads to those desirable by the company. Not every lead interacting with marketing materials matches the criteria to become a qualified lead. SDRs see if leads have enough interest to become potential customers.
Sales Development Representatives need to reach out to leads to qualify them. SDRs contact leads through many forms including phone calls, emails, voicemails, LinkedIn connections, direct mail, personalized video, social media messages and in-person events.
The specific attributes that determine qualified leads vary for every business. Sales development representatives know what their company looks for in customers. They use this information to find the best leads for the sales teams to focus on.
SDRs do not close deals. Rather, they deal only with outbound prospecting and lead qualifying duties. This allows them to carve a niche and become experts at finding leads to draw into the sales pipeline.
When it comes down to it, SDRs must perform two specific actions:
Connect with Lots of Leads
SDRs use all of the above-noted methods when they reach out to leads. When they do so, they use a number of tools at their disposal to increase their efficiency.
- Customer research – SDRs must thoroughly understand their leads to perform their jobs. Customer research includes both market research and individual prospect research. Market research identifies the business’s specific target audience by using broad traits. Individual prospect research pertains specifically to each lead to find out more about them and whether they might desire the product or service. The more an SDR knows about the leads, the more attention the leads can be given. The SDR will also know what to focus on for the leads. The better prepared an SDR, the better they can impress the lead.
- Sales cadence – This is a repeatable process for SDRs to follow. It gives a structure during the outreach efforts to keep the process organized. When dealing with tons of leads, a sales cadence helps keep the process from overwhelming representatives. Additionally, a sales cadence helps set a rhythm for reps to follow. It helps SDRs find a flow to maintain energy and keep their pitch alive. Sales cadences also help set a benchmark for comparison between pitches. This way, when something repeatedly works or fails SDRs can better identify it for improvement later on.
- CRM updates – CRM, or customer relationship management, uses databases to record customer information. Each interaction with a lead or customer provides additional information for the CRM database. SDRs should update CRM profiles with each interaction, including lead response and the date of the interaction. This helps sales teams better understand each specific lead so that they can tailor their sales process accordingly.
Educate and Qualify the Leads
To qualify a lead, sales development reps need to focus on two more functions:
- Learning – SDRs must learn as much as they can about each prospective client. They must learn what a lead needs and what matters most to them. In a B2B format, SDRs must learn about each prospective organization including the number of employees and key members. Other factors like budget help determine if a lead qualifies for the product or service. SDRs compare a lead’s answers to their desired customer profile to look for a match.
- Educating – Lead qualification occurs more through conversations than interviews. Therefore, SDRs answer just as many questions as they ask. SDRs must educate leads regarding their business and their products and/or services. All sales development representatives must have a thorough understanding of their business and products/services. Leads will want to know the basics about the product or service including its function and its benefits. Additionally, leads might ask about the succeeding steps in the sales process and the selling business’s experiences. SDRs should prepare for these questions to instill confidence in their leads.
Important Skills all Sales Development Representatives Need to Have
It takes a few specific attributes to make a really great sales development representative. Since they often give leads their first contact with their business, SDRs need to make a strong first impression. Some of the most important skills include the following:
Since SDRs sort through leads, the vast majority of them will not be qualified leads. So when they hear “no” over and over again they should move on with their heads held high.
Not every lead will willingly open up upon the first contact. Some can act very rudely towards SDRs. Therefore, SDRs must remain resilient in their processes and not get discouraged too easily.
Many prospective customers often clam up even when interested in the product or service. SDRs need to push through those negations and foster the sparks that will lead to a fire. Sales cadences and processes help give structure towards pushing a lead into the sales pipeline.
Sales development representatives should always remain optimistic. Just because a lead says “no” does not mean the SDR failed. If anything, they performed their function and helped narrow down the list of qualified leads.
SDRs perhaps deal with more people than any other party in their sales team. This high volume of customer interaction makes organizational skills a top priority for SDRs. Each new lead brings more information and details to the table. SDRs must keep this information organized so that they can assist sales teams to the best of their ability.
Sales development representatives can use tools such as CRM databases to store and organize data. Not only must they store lead information, but also organize actions for the follow-through.
A clear record of all contact and attempts to contact each lead saves time. This data can help both SDRs and other sales reps perform their job with greater efficiency. Sometimes the smallest detail can make or break a deal. So the better an SDR can organize data, the better chance of making a sale.
Every lead has different pain points and priorities. All sales representatives, especially SDRs, must alter their approach to best suit each lead.
Starting off each interaction, personal addresses such as using a lead’s first name help gain their trust. Addressing a lead by name through voicemails and emails helps them feel more important and not just a part of a list.
Each lead will desire a different contact approach as well. Some leads will prefer text-based interactions such as email and social media messaging. Other leads prefer phone calls or face-to-face interactions. SDRs should note their leads’ preferred contact method for future reference.
SDRs focusing on creating customized outreach methods tend to land more deals. Instead of applying a general outreach method to many leads, a quality-driven approach strengthens customer relationships. SDRs need to incorporate unique research while contacting a lead.
SDRs must respond to each lead in the moment. That means actively listening to leads and expressing active interest in what they say. Sometimes leads will offer a brief opening to set up future meetings or closings. SDRs must capitalize on these windows of opportunity when they appear.
As the conversation meanders, SDRs need to keep their sales pitches organic. Sometimes a question might pop up that needs answering. No script will perfectly account for all lead interactions. So, SDRs need to master a bit of improvisation in order to succeed.
Willingness to Learn
A stubborn SDR will not win any favors with their leads. The more knowledgeable a salesperson is, the better their performance will be. SDRs and other sales reps should make an active effort to learn more about their craft.
Sometimes a colleague might share a bit or helpful information. A good SDR should try to use this information to see if they can make it work as well.
Any SDR lacking coachability will cause friction between themselves and sales managers. A positive, experimental attitude helps boost workplace morale and gets results in the sales field.
Reaching Out Skills (Phone, Email and Social Media)
SDRs reach out to total strangers who often have little prior contact with their business. To make a good impression, SDRs must reach out effectively through a variety of mediums.
Many leads will prefer representatives to contact them in a specific way. Therefore, SDRs need to effectively communicate with leads through all the different channels. This means that they can make a good impression with the written word or over the phone.
Of course, SDRs should have no hesitation when it comes to making initial contact.
SDRs need to be aware of both their strengths and weaknesses. This helps them continue doing what works in their approach while improving the areas they need help with. Self-awareness also requires coachability to turn those weaknesses around.
Sales development representatives should never take any critique personally. All of it should help improve their performance. So when a manager or colleague offers insight reps can institute it without refrain or malice.
After any contact with a lead, SDRs must honestly reflect upon what worked and what did not. This way, they can make the appropriate adjustments for the next lead. Self-awareness also helps keep sales managers informed as to job performance.
Managers cannot watch all interactions with leads. Therefore, SDRs must report on their potential weaknesses so that their managers can help coach them.
Important Tips for Successful Sales Development Reps
SDRs should follow three basic tips so that they can perform their jobs with greater effectiveness.
All sales reps and especially SDRs should make an active effort to continue learning about their craft. Sometimes a new and helpful method will arise, which can greatly improve their chances of success. When an SDR keeps an open mind it goes a long way towards making their jobs a lot easier. They should also learn as much about their leads as possible.
SDRs can learn from managers, colleagues and professional consultants. No matter the source, Representatives need to increase their knowledge and adapt their approach.
Whenever an SDR learns a new technique or method, it should be implemented and its success considered. The only way to improve is through honest comparison. What might work for one SDR might not work for another. Only by recording their methods can an SDR truly attempt to improve their outcomes.
When it comes to each lead, SDRs must also record as much data as possible. This increases the likeliness that sales representatives can close the deal down the line.
Selling is a recursive process. SDRs should continually hone their techniques and strive for greater rates of success. They should never stop learning new techniques to improve their effectiveness. The more SDRs learn and practice the better their performance.
Sales development representatives form one of the most crucial segments of any sales organization. If your organization needs help training SDRs or recruiting them, Selling Revolution can help.
No matter your size or experience, Selling Revolution focuses on increasing your leads, improving your sales training and recruiting top talent. Schedule a 20-minute introductory call today, and learn how a professional consultation can help your business grow. Call today and join the revolution.