Across B2B sales, two hot topics have been Account Based Sales and the role that drives it: the Sales Development Rep. In this excerpt from Bridging the Gap: The Ultimate Guide to Account Based Marketing and Selling Alignment, we set forth the role of SDRs within an Account Based Strategy and the keys to their success.
Since the inception of Account Based Sales (ABS), Sales Development Reps (SDRs) have played a pivotal role in the ABS playbook. As explained by Cloudera VP of Global Sales Lars Nilsson, the SDR is what “gives organizations the ability to scale” their enterprise sales model via a strategy he coined, Account Based Sales Development.
How to Drive an Account Based Sales Strategy via SDRs
With the recent role specification and birth of the SDR, sales teams have gone from buying leads to bringing the task in-house, hiring an SDR team and providing them SDRs with all the training and technology to succeed. And consistently, the most critical cost that organizations overlook in their SDR programs comes down to one thing: time.
The endgame of every SDR team is to generate as many qualified leads as possible. To that effect, it’s important that reps be as focused and efficient as possible with their time.
Key #1. Give SDRs the Right Sales Targets
How do we protect each rep’s time? Let’s take a closer look at the SDR role and how an ABSD approach relies on a very specific skillset.
As your business grows, it’s imperative to focus sales efforts on not just acquiring new customers, but the right kind of new customers. A key question SDRs must ask themselves around targeting alignment is, “What customers will best support our company’s retention and long-term growth goals?”
Every successful SDR-driven strategy starts with identifying your ideal customer profile, then tailoring your outreach strategy to meet prospective customers wherever they live online. Pro-Tip: You can start assessing sales target accuracy by reviewing the post-sales client success rate of your current book of business.
Only once proper targeting is in place can a sales organization start onboarding and training its SDR talent to develop into ruthlessly effective lead generation machines.
Key #2. Equip SDRs with Tools and Training
In order to effectively build your ABSD process, you need to set the expectations early and train new reps (both sales/business development reps and account executives) on exactly how this should look.
There’s a lot to learn when to comes to the company, but it’s important to start at a high-level then start to drill down and focus on the more intricate details. The following components belong in every ABSD training program.
- Sales process
- Internal tools and platforms
- Industry overview
- SWOT analysis
- Competitor overview
- Use cases and case studies
- In-depth product training (This never ends)
Make sure each of these elements are part of the first month’s training. To ensure that happens, let’s look at the next foundation of SDR success: the onboarding program
Key #3. Onboard New SDRs Using a Program
Your first month of onboarding and training new reps usually entails company and customer focused training. The following is a detailed outline of an example SDR onboarding program to train new SDRs during their first 8 weeks with your company.
The first week’s focus is all about getting the new reps excited about the company, the product, and the opportunities for growth.
How an employee feels at the end of this week plays a key role in their longevity at the organization. Sales is a field with highs and lows – and every new SDR will experience many lows at the beginning. When these occur, the atmosphere of their team and attitude of their supervisor determines whether or not they remain with the organization. Companies that effectively integrate these new hires into the organization, and their teams, are better at keep high performers. Meanwhile, companies that fail to educate, support, and develop new SDRs experience much higher levels of turnover.
Use week one to help new hires discover what success looks like and how they can prepare themselves to succeed.
The second week is about helping the new reps take what they’ve learned and make it their own. While week one involved introductions to the company, some shadowing, and a few live interactions, week two is when new reps practice and analyze their own performance.
This can start with role playing activities – where trainers can provide examples of both mild and extreme scenarios and allow the new reps to practice how they would respond in the heat of the situation. Through role playing, new reps are able to brainstorm the most effective way to handle these unique scenarios.
Week two should also include in-depth product sessions, where the new team can gain a detailed understanding of the features, benefits, and feel of the product – and how to present these benefits to prospects via email, phone, and in-person interactions.
Throughout the third week, reps should become intimately familiar with internal selling processes. From first contact to closing the sale, help these new hires understand how to not only develop a multi-touch campaign but also how to guide a prospect through the funnel.
Week three is where you should focus on training around the handoff and how to work with other departments. Again, it’s about internal processes. Take into consideration how sales touches other departments and how those reps should handle each scenario.
As reps begin to learn the processes, this is the perfect time to give them more exposure to prospects. Ramps up the number of calls, emails and any other channels you’ll have them on. This gives the rep an opportunity to try what they’re learning – bringing back questions and scenarios to discuss with their team.
We recommend starting off this week and an entire day dedicated to walking reps through the sales process. This means having a manager or leader from marketing, customer support/success and even a product manager to spend time talking to reps.
You don’t need to ask them for too much time, but the main things that your marketing, CS and product team should cover are:
- The kind of support they can expect
- The best way to communicate (channel, frequency, language, etc.)
- The right person the rep should contact for different scenarios
We recommend implementing a test/quiz at the end of the third week to ensure skill development is on the right track as well as an understanding of internal processes. If either of these are not up to par, it should be cause for concern. Do not move forward until you’re confident in your rep’s skill development and understanding of the processes.
The fourth week should be the wrap-up of the formal training process. While you will continue to touch base over the next month, by this point reps should be able to manage the sales process on their own.
Begin this week with a bit more formal training, some shadowing, and live calls. Then, at the end of the week officially assign each rep their territory. Although most reps will need additional training over the next month to maximize their success, they should be able to start successfully reaching out to prospects and closing sales.
Month 1 Goals
- Comprehensive understanding of the ideal account and buyer persona.
- Full knowledge of and ability to answer any questions about the company and product
- Good understanding of the industry
- Great understanding of internal processes and procedures
- Broad understanding of the company’s selling process, including technologies and platforms
The second month is all about getting your reps up to full speed. It’s where the rubber meets the road. After a full month of training, the reps should have a healthy understanding of the entire sales process – so expect to see them start bringing in clients.
But just because they’re spending the majority of their time selling doesn’t mean that they should stop learning. During Month 2, consider spending half a day a week for additional education. Use this time to enhance the team’s product knowledge, their understanding of competitors, and their comprehension of the ins and outs of the sales process.
Additionally, have a weekly 1-on-1 review with each team member to see how they’re doing and discuss progress, challenges, and next steps. Affirm high achievers to keep them motivated and provide supportive advice for those who are struggling. A few extra hours of training early on can turn an enthusiastic low-performer into a top SDR in a surprisingly short time.
Month 2 Goals
- Be fully ramped
- Full product knowledge
- Complete understanding of competitors and the space
- Understands the sales process inside and out
Benefits to an Account Based Sales Development Strategy
An effective SDR program is vital to any sales team using an Account Based Sales strategy. Proper targeting, training and onboarding programs not only improve the performance of new SDR hires, but also reduce SDR turnover by developing relationships between reps, their managers, and other leaders within the organization.
Though the time investment necessary to implement these programs may seem expensive, the return more than pays for itself. Calculate the additional costs associated with these more in-depth targeting, training and onboarding process. Then, distribute that cost across your new hires. How many more sales would you need from each rep in order to pay for this extra training within a year?
By using the processes shared here, your SDRs will start significantly ahead of the industry curve, stay more loyal to your company and improve your bottom line.
We tackle how to develop a full account based sales development strategy in our latest ebook Bridging the Gap. To download your free copy, visit accountbasedebook.com.