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Chapter 1
What is Sales Development?
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Chapter 2
SDRs vs BDRs vs Inside Sales vs AEs
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Chapter 3
How to develop your SDR team from scratch?
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Chapter 4
Top Trends in Sales Development 2022
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Chapter 5
Salaries of a Sales Development Representative

If you are a B2B company and do not have a sales development team, then you must consider setting one up.

Sales development brings a lot of efficiency into your overall sales process. Just like you need frontend engineers, backend engineers, and UX designers on the engineering side, you also need sales development, sales operations, and account executives on the sales side. The need to separate sales functions becomes crucial as you scale up, as it is unfair to expect account executives to take on all sales tasks and do them efficiently.

For those of you who want to kickstart your career as an SDR, we’ve got you covered as well. Here, you will learn everything that you must know about sales development. As we move toward the end, we’ll share a brief sales forecast to give you an idea of some pivotal changes in the world of sales development and how you can future-proof yourself to stay in the game when those changes happen.

CHAPTER 1:
What is Sales Development?
CHAPTER 2:
SDRs vs BDRs vs Inside Sales vs AEs
CHAPTER 3:
How to develop your SDR team from scratch?
CHAPTER 4:
Top Trends in Sales Development 2022
CHAPTER 5:
Salaries of a Sales Development Representative

If you are a B2B company and do not have a sales development team, then you must consider setting one up.

Sales development brings a lot of efficiency into your overall sales process. Just like you need frontend engineers, backend engineers, and UX designers on the engineering side, you also need sales development, sales operations, and account executives on the sales side. The need to separate sales functions becomes crucial as you scale up, as it is unfair to expect account executives to take on all sales tasks and do them efficiently.

For those of you who want to kickstart your career as an SDR, we’ve got you covered as well. Here, you will learn everything that you must know about sales development. As we move toward the end, we’ll share a brief sales forecast to give you an idea of some pivotal changes in the world of sales development and how you can future-proof yourself to stay in the game when those changes happen.

Chapter 1

What is Sales Development?

Sales development is the function that focuses on identifying leads, connecting with them, qualifying them, and handing them over to the sales team.
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  • What is Sales Development?
  • What does a Sales Development Team do?
  • Who is an SDR?

Simply put, sales development is to sales what an infantry is to an army. This is the team that fights on the front line by:

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Conducting customer research.

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Identifying prospects that are most likely to convert from a larger, unfiltered pool.

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Using sales prospecting methods to warm the leads up.

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Booking meetings to pitch, convince, and convert.

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Essentially, a sales development team is the front end of the sales process that fights first, separates chaffs from the grains, and improves overall sales productivity by increasing the odds of closing more deals by providing sales reps with leads that are ready to start talking.

Though the term ‘sales development’ has become popular in the last three to five years—precisely after Predictable Revenue by Aaron Ross became a hit—the history of sales development has roots stretching back to at least four decades in the past.

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Did you know: Oracle's DMD team in 1984 was one of the first sales development teams that fueled its multibillion-dollar business.

In the beginning, the sales development process was all about hammering the phones. Later on, Aaron's Predictable Revenue shifted the dynamics in the favor of the "email first" strategy. He suggested pairing emails and phone calls to engage prospects.

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Today, SDRs are marinating phone and email-first strategies with sales intelligence tools to increase their chances of reaching prospects that might need solutions like theirs.

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Food for thought:"Now that I’ve seen sales development teams in action at several companies, I believe it’s the most important sales process innovation in the last 10 years.” - David Cummings

What does a Sales Development Team do?

After that quick refresher on sales development history and its definition, you may have an idea of what a sales development team does by now. Nonetheless, we’ll still break it down for you, but we’ll keep it short so we can discuss all the important aspects adequately.

The sales development team is the one that:

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You can see that the sales development team does not market your product or service nor does it close deals. It works in the middle—it collects leads generated through marketing campaigns, and connects with them. The sales development team is the first one to speak to your prospects, and pass the interested ones to the sales reps.

Author’s recommendation: If you’re looking for a framework to build your own team of SDRs, our very own Anupreet Singh, Head of Sales at Slintel, has got you covered.

author_recommendation

Who is an SDR?

SDR is short for sales development representative.

A sales development representative (SDR) does outbound prospecting. His work revolves around the holy trinity of prospecting, outreach, and lead qualification. SDRs focus on connecting with as many leads as they can and in determining which leads are worth chasing and which ones to let go of. They make the first contact with leads.

In fact, most SDRs constantly execute outreach activities and talk to prospects to learn about their needs. They educate prospects, answer their questions, and on finding a good fit, they pass them on to the sales reps to close. In one of the sections below, we will discuss the role, responsibilities, personality traits, and skills that any successful SDR is expected to have.

Chapter 2

SDRs vs BDRs vs Inside Sales vs AEs

In the world of sales, these terms are used interchangeably. However, they have a clear distinction. Dig in to find out the difference between these terms.
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  • Difference between an SDR, a BDR and an AE
  • What do Sales Development Representatives do?
  • How to develop a powerful sales personality?

Let’s differentiate between a Sales Development Representative (SDR), Business Development Representative (BDR), and an Account Executive (AE) as these terms are often used interchangeably.

SDRs, BDRs, and AEs are all engaged in the domain of inside sales. Inside sales, essentially, is remote selling. The three aforementioned teams use technology to engage and close prospects without any in-person interactions.

The responsibilities of Sales Development Representatives and Account Executives go hand in hand. While an SDR looks after setting up meetings with qualified leads, an AE looks at getting on calls, delivering demos, and closing deals.

The roles and responsibilities of SDRs and BDRs are similar in the sense that both aim to qualify leads and pass them on to sales reps. The only difference being that SDRs mostly prospect the warm leads and BDRs focus on prospecting the cold leads.

Having said that, the nature of leads is not the only way to differentiate between an SDR and a BDR. Each company defines these roles differently depending on the reporting structure, industry, product set, and customer type.

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SDR Role: What do Sales Development Representatives Do?

Depending on the company and its industry, the role of an SDR could vary. However, mentioned below are the fundamental responsibilities (in chronological order) that every SDR is required to fulfill:

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1.
Deep dive into understanding the product/service the company is selling

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2.
Develop a deep understanding of customers, their motivations, needs, and pains

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3.
Develop a deep understanding of the market, and competitors' products along with their value proposition

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4.
Create a buyer profile

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5.
Identify and qualify the prospects that fit the buyer profile

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6.
Find contact details of leads and connect with them

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7.
Keep in touch with prospects with regular follow-ups, educate them, and keep them engaged

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8.
Pass on the qualified leads to an Account Executive for the next step

All the steps of the sales development process mentioned above (please note that a further breakdown or clubbing of the steps is possible) are distinct, and each step calls for a different skill set from an SDR.

However, a vast amount of an SDR’s time goes into the qualification phase (step 5 in the list above). An SDR finds leads that are most likely to buy based on a number of criteria such as the location, industry, company size, designation, etc. Successfully qualifying a lead takes a lot of effort. The SDR has to gain a thorough understanding of the product offering, as well as complete understanding of the lead, the company that they represent.

Why make the extra effort to learn about customers and how they use the product, you ask? It’s because all that information helps you rise above the level of superficial theoretical knowledge you have and gives you a much needed deep practical understanding instead.

Also, when you understand your prospects and your product inside out, the confidence becomes palpable in your communication. Your prospect can feel that energy.

Let’s now take a look at an outline of the tasks involved at every stage:

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Stage #1
Product and Market Knowledge

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Stage #2
Identifying and qualifying leads

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Stage #3
Sales outreach

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Stage #4
Engaging with the lead and setting up meetings

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Stage #1: Product and market knowledge

You know the reasons already, don’t you?

Stage #2: Identifying and qualifying leads

SDRs can identify leads using various information sources that include social media platforms like LinkedIn for B2B leads, eCommerce platforms like Shopify for eCommerce leads, GitHub to find the tech leaders and decision-makers, and so on.

They also rely on lead generation platforms or a lead finder chrome extension to build their list of prospects.

After identifying leads, SDRs qualify leads based on the buyer profile and assign them to the right sales representative. Generally, a lead distribution software is used to take care of the lead assignment process.

Stage #3: Sales outreach

At this stage, an SDR formulates a communication strategy to engage a lead. The best SDRs target prospects through multiple channels and use a combination of Linkedin, Email, Twitter, and even Instagram.

Stage #4: Engaging with the lead and setting up meetings

Once an SDR has captured the attention of a lead, the next step is to engage the lead by educating the prospect or by addressing their questions and concerns.

How an SDR performs in this stage entirely depends on stage #1 where s/he was building a deep understanding of their product and learning about the wants and needs of their leads.

Stage #4 culminates with either high-quality lead being passed on to an AE for closing them, or leads getting weeded out from your CRM.

How to Develop a Powerful Sales Personality

We’ve put together a list of 10 sales skills every SDR should try to acquire and hone if you want to stay at the top of your game. If you are a manager, you must ingrain these traits into your SDRs when you are training them.

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1. Befriending the phone

This is a no-brainer. When your main job role involves picking up the phone and talking to strangers, the phone should be your best friend.

2. Active listening

Understanding your prospect’s pain points and learning what they actually need help with should be your top priority. Selling your product will always be your first priority, but you cannot sell something to someone unless you understand if they really have a requirement for it.

3. Creativity

To capture the attention of your lead while a hundred other providers are trying to do the same, you have to stand out. Thinking outside the box is not an option but is table stakes in the world of sales development. Keep exercising your creative muscles. Try new things, fail, learn, try another new thing, and win.

4. Building rapport

People buy from people they like and trust. So make sure you start building rapport with your lead long before the actual sales cycle starts. Use social media and as mentioned in the previous step, remember that a pinch of creativity can take you miles ahead.

5. Being persistent and not losing hope

Being an SDR is a tough job. You will face rejections over and over again. Learning how to get back up after these episodes is the key, and honing this skill is the best thing you can do for the future.

6. Learn how to leave awesome voicemails

Knowing how to leave good voicemails is an indispensable skill for an SDR. Leave the kind of voicemails that you’d want to listen to!

7. Be more curious than the cat could ever be

If one isn’t a curious type, one may survive as an SDR, but it may not guarantee a fulfilling career.

8. Be tech-savvy

There are so many sales tech products and productivity tools in the market. You have to harness their power to have an edge over others.

9. Intonation

You have to be good at voice modulation. Everyday. In every call. No matter what is going on in your life or how tired you are,voice modulation is a key sales skill— one that every rep should work on.

10. Patience

Come hell or high waters, being patient is the key. Sales is not an easy job. If someone tells you otherwise, ignore them. Setbacks are part of the job and patience and grit will always save your day by silencing your inner critiques.

Chapter 3

How to develop your SDR team from scratch?

For a battle you need trained soldiers. Similarly, a sales team needs SDRs.
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  • What’s the right time to hire your first SDR?
  • Setting targets for new Sales Development Reps
  • Training, Motivation and Strategy
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Building and constantly training your own team of SDRs has enormous benefits. The ROI is significant and productivity gains are visible. Below is a succinct overview of the key steps.

For in-depth reading, you can refer to these resources:

  1. Building Your Sales Development Team from Scratch
  2. Building a Star Sales Development Team in 150 Days

What's The Right Time To Hire Your First SDR?

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The right time to hire the first SDR is after you have hired your first two or three Account Executives. Once you feel you need more meetings, you should hire your first Sales Development Rep.

Your first SDR will play a crucial role to figure out what is working and what isn’t, hire and train future SDRs, and set up and document scalable processes. Hence, it is imperative that you hire only the best.

You can use the 10-pointer checklist in the section above to gauge how good an SDR is. You can also use role-play and simulations to understand their thought process and actions if they were to get caught in a tough situation.

Setting Targets For New Sales Development Reps

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A good approach to determine the target for your SDRs is by aligning the SDR target with your sales target. For instance, if you need to close a $1M a year per sales rep, and the close rate is at 20%, you’ll need to generate $5M worth of opportunities per sales rep.

Easy math for setting targets for your SDRs is looking at your sales goals and calculating backwards from there.

For example, if your yearly target is to generate $1M per SDR, and your closing rate is 10%, then each one of your SDRs will have to generate $10M worth of opportunities.

Training, Motivation and Strategy

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Once you are done with hiring and setting goals, and your processes are in place, you should start working on a training plan and strategies to keep your team’s enthusiasm and energy high.

Needless to say, sales isn’t an easy job and if you’ve hired rockstars, it is your duty as their leader to provide everything that they need to succeed and have fulfilling careers.

And very important but largely ignored, create a culture to celebrate every small achievement in your team. Follow radical candor in all tough situations.
Remember — their job is already taxing, it’s your job to make it easier for them.

Chapter 4

Top Trends in Sales Development 2022

With the advent of AI and ML, the future of sales development will be based on hyper automated data-based decisions as opposed to existing intuition-based ones. Let’s dive in to see what that looks like.
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  • What does the future look like for SDRs and Sales Development?
  • 7 top sales tools for Sales Development Representatives

What does the future look like for SDRs and Sales Development?

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One trend that will certainly be witnessed is a change of focus. The sales process is shifting from sales-centric to buyer-centric. And with that, one day at a time, the sales process has been becoming more and more automated with buyers expecting a digital-first engagement.

In the near future, the sales process is going to be hyper automated, and the use of AI and ML will lead to more data-based decisions in sales than the prevalent intuition-based ones. As per Gartner, the future of sales lies at the intersection of hyper-automation, AI, and scaling their sales outreach digitally to keep up with the evolving demands of digitally savvy customers.

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Digital First or Virtual Selling

80% of B2B sales will happen through digital channels by 2025, says Gartner. Covid-19 has added fuel to the fire and made buyers’ behaviors more unpredictable.

The B2B buyers want to self-select a product/service because they think that an SDR adds little value to the information they already have. They conduct their own research and spend only 17% of their time talking to SDRs or their vendors.

Nonetheless, the B2B buyer loves a rich virtual buying experience. In recent years, the B2C companies have upped their ante, and customer expectations have been soaring. They expect a similarly seamless experience while making B2B purchases as well.

This will push sales development leaders and SDRs to add new technology in their tech stacks, formulate new strategies to engage these buyers, and add new skills that are more relevant to enriching a virtual selling experience.

Customer Decision Support

Even though the pandemic has slowed and things are coming back to normal, only 20% of the B2B decision-makers say they hope to return to in-person sales. Also, it appears that 70% of B2B decision-makers are open to making a fully self-serve online deal of $50,000, and 27% would spend more than $500,000.

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Face-to-face interactions have been dropping more than ever. Besides, more and more B2B buyers are making purchases online. Soon, sellers will find it challenging to influence buying decisions. In fact, we can already see this happening.

Buyers want less but more nuanced and informative discussions with an SDR. Hence, sales development leaders have to find ways to show up at the right time to help buyers in their research and support their self-learning.

Over the course of the next five years, the best sales leaders will arm their SDRs and Sales Reps with new tools and skills that will help them engage and support buyers in their self-learning journey. The role of SDRs will shift from that of being someone with information to someone that acts like a subject matter expert and helps a buyer make sense of whatever they have learned.

7 top sales tools for Sales Development Representatives

Slintel - For lead qualification, prospecting, and enrichment with technographic data

Slintel is trusted by teams across the world for lead generation using technographics, keywords, and buyer intent. Slintel’s Lead Finder Chrome Extension (free) helps SDRs in finding and qualifying leads from corporate websites or LinkedIn profiles.

Outreach - For engaging your prospects

Outreach offers multichannel automated sequences, personalization using conditional variables + your data, sentimental analysis, and performance analytics of your team.

Calendly - For scheduling meetings effortlessly

As one of the most popular scheduling tools in the market, Calendly makes it easy for prospects to schedule calls, meetings, and demos.

Gong - For Conversation Intelligence

Gong, one of the leading and most widely used intelligence tools, gives teams visibility into the complete sales pipeline, customer interactions, and shares actionable insights that are required to close more deals.

Vidyard - A free screen recorder

Vidyard is a perfect solution for creating short, emphatic, and clear-cut videos for Sales Reps, SDRs, Support, and Customer Success Managers.

Crystal - Unlock your prospect’s personality profile with the click of a button

If you’re worried about how to personalize your approach, this plug-in is what you need. Crystal tells you exactly what to do in order to align with your prospect’s working style.

Lavender – Write personalized cold emails faster

Lavender is a sales email assistant that helps you personalize your cold emails. It also grades your email and recommends improvements to increase reply rates.

Chapter 5

Salaries of a Sales Development Representative

One of the most important aspects of being a sales development representative is to understand what your compensation should look like in 2022. Here’s what we have found.
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  • 20 Best Companies to work for as an SDR
  • Wrapping Up

The 2021 Sales Development report by The Bridge Group finds median on-target earnings of $76K and a 65:35 (base:variable) split for SDRs.

The participants in this study included 406 executives from a diverse group of B2B companies. 91% of these companies are headquartered in North America.

Another study by Pavilion showed that SDR salaries have increased by ~$10k over the last year. Josh Roth (top 25 sales leader) shares the stats in his LinkedIn post here.

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As per Indeed’s findings, the average annual salary of an SDR in the US is $64,346. The additional compensation includes a cash bonus worth $25,000 and a commission worth $12,000. Indeed used 143,000 salaries to calculate this average.

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As we are on the topic of compensation, let’s also take a look at which names made it to the list of the top 20 companies to work for:

20 Best Companies to Work for As An SDR:

This list is compiled and updated by RepVue based on the feedback and objective ratings of thousands of sales professionals. Here’s the latest list of 20 best companies to take up a sales job at, arranged in the order of their rankings (from top left to bottom right):

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Lattice

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Chargebee

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Chili Piper

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Auth0 (Okta)

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Insider

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LinkSquares

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6sense

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Vanta

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Lob

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Miro

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Gainsight

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StackAdapt

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Atlassian

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Sprout Social

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Arctic Wolf

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Varicent

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Google

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Buildium (RealPage)

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Snyk

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CaptivateIQ

Wrapping Up

As more and more buyers prefer digital channels, they are continuously leaving digital footprints. These exploding digital activities will help in painting a detailed picture of customer behavior. Systematic collection and analysis of this data can help in:

  • Visualization and analysis of funnel trends which with time will become must-have pieces of information
  • Engagement intelligence of prospects
  • Determining prospects’ readiness to buy

Of course, the application and use case of how this data could be used is not limited to the aforementioned list. However, there was a time when such activity data was resting with eCommerce companies and there were less or no chances for a B2B seller to collect and leverage such data.

Times have changed and the future will be totally different. We believe that soon the difference between a winning sales team and a losing sales team will be dictated by their tech stacks and their capabilities to handle and understand data.