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The 5 Keys to Building a Sales Development Team

by David Fletcher | Mar 12, 2015 6:00:00 PM

Building_a_sales_development_teamA strong sales development team is a great way to quickly increase revenue. These reps focus on taking unqualified leads and contacts, putting them through a qualification process and moving them through the sales funnel.

What can happen when you have a strong sales development team nurturing leads for your sales reps? Studies show these benefits:

  • Nurtured leads generate almost 50% more revenue than non-nurtured leads.
  • Nurtured leads generate this revenue at 33% less cost.
  • Overall, companies focused on qualifying leads see an increase in revenue of at least 10% within only six to nine months.

If you're looking to build your own team of killer Sales Development Reps (SDRs), follow these five steps to success.

1. Build A Strong Sales Process

A strong sales process works like a funnel. You generate leads, qualify them and move them on to your sales staff. Make sure your sales process is optimized to let the sales team and SDRs work closely together.

It’s easy to focus on closing sales, but qualification is just as important. When your SDRs spend time connecting and qualifying, it simplifies your sales team’s task of closing the deal by allowing the sales team to focus solely on qualified opportunities. A constant stream of leads lets them spend more time closing sales… and what sales team doesn’t like the sound of that?

2. Determine How Many Reps You’ll Need

Your sales development team should correlate directly to your sales force. Typically, there’s one SDR for every three sales reps. You can tweak these numbers based on your company and sales process.

Other things to consider:

  • Leads you already have in the top of the funnel. If your sales team is drowning in leads, you don’t need as many right away.
  • Length of the sales process. The longer your sales process, the more leads you need to attract.
  • How good is your website at attracting visitors?  A more quality website and established business generates more qualified leads on its own due to the quality content that is available to its visitors.
  • What is your lead conversion rate? The lower your conversion rate, the more leads you need!

3. Establishing Sensible Metrics

Setting overly-aggressive metrics will backfire and have a negative impact on the morale of your SDRs. Touch quality will go down, and your leads won’t be as strong.

On average, an SDR can make 75 calls and have 7-10 conversations per day. If your qualification process is more difficult or time consuming than others, your numbers might be a little less. If you want a higher volume of leads, you can increase these metrics at the cost of quality or by qualifying a little less and putting some of that responsibility on the sales team. However, I believe true sales development team value is generated from the number of quality leads, not the number of overall leads. 

4. Use the Right Incentives

The best way to maximize the performance of your SDRs is by incentivizing them properly. If you compensate them based on the performance of the sales team, then the compensation system is flawed. Many companies I have talked to about building their sales development teams want a compensation plan based on sales. However, industry best practice is to mix sales based metrics with a combination of metrics the SDRs have direct control over including:

  • Total number of quality touches: phone calls, emails, etc. (activity metric)
  • Number of Sales Qualified Leads sent through the sales funnel.
  • Number of Marketing Qualified Leads identified

5. Systems & Processes

A strong sales development team needs the proper tools to succeed. A quality CRM system that integrates with your marketing database allows the SDRs to manage their leads efficiently and accurately. This is a must-have! It will allow your marketing team and sales development team to be fully aligned in their efforts. As SQLs are identified and promoted into the sales process, the automated system will allow the sales team to look at their prospect’s past conversations with the sales development team, what they downloaded from your website and why they are a good potential customer.

Your sales process is only as strong as each piece of the funnel. A strong sales development team gives your sales force the chance to spend time closing deals and generating revenue. In the end, everybody wins!