3 Common Sales Development Myths

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There are a lot of myths in the world of sales development, and most of them revolve around activity and its relation to success.

We hear it all the time. Managers telling their reps to “hammer the phones, more dials equals more leads.” Incentivizing their reps by “paying double for any lead you pass between now and the end of the day.” Instructing them to “be more aggressive on the phone, it shows confidence.”

Contrary to popular belief, making more dials won’t always net more leads. The best way to motivate a sales rep isn’t always an increase in pay. Being aggressive doesn’t always come across as confident. These are old tactics that simply don’t work for the modern rep, and need to be addressed.

Sales Myth #1: “Making More Calls Will Result in More Leads”

I have heard numerous sales managers tell their reps “if you make more calls, you will find more opportunities”. Just think about the old adage, “if you want to double sales you have to double headcount.” There’s a belief that activities and leads are directly correlated – the more dials you put in on one end, the more leads come out on the other. While there is certainly truth to the fact that sales is a numbers game, it’s only part of the equation.

Having your SDRs make 150 calls into an unprioritized contact list isn’t nearly as worthwhile as having them make 40 calls into a prioritized, targeted list. Sales development is hard enough, and by pushing your reps to make unnecessary calls it will speed up the burnout process. There’s a point of diminishing returns, and your SDRs won’t be able to put in the right amount of focus and energy needed to make the most of each conversation.

Instead of focusing on the number of dials your reps are making, it would make more sense to focus them on who they’re dialing. Focusing their efforts on the right accounts (be they target accounts, inbound leads, pipeline, etc.) will help curb burnout and yield better results.

Perhaps we could change this popular adage to “making a reasonable number of smart calls will result in better conversations and more opportunities”. Otherwise, we could see pipelines filled with off-target leads and sales teams banging their heads against the wall— and nobody wants that.

Sales Myth #2: “If You Want to Motivate an SDR, Pay Them More.”

You might think that if you want to push your SDRs to work harder and produce more, then all you have to do is pay them more. While this sounds like a reasonable idea (they are sales people after all) I have seen this strategy fail.

First, assess the goals you have in place — if they are viewed as impossible then it won’t matter if you are offering $1 or $100,000 as an incentive, your reps won’t fight for it. Next, asses the motivation of your SDR team. What do they value the most, and can you use that to incentivize them? If they’re extrinsically motivated, than monetary incentives make sense. If they’re intrinsically motivated, then consider things like company-wide shout outs or letting them leave early on Friday to beat summer beach traffic.

Most managers will realize that salespeople are competitive and enjoy the satisfaction that comes with winning (despite the size or scope of the reward). Don’t use that as an opportunity to get lazy with your contests or how you motivate your reps. To get your SDRs to that next level you have to go beyond the standard prize structure and tailor it to each rep.

Sales Myth #3: “Aggressiveness = Confidence”

Cold calling can be intimidating, especially when you are just starting out. A lot of reps are taught that being overly aggressive and assertive on the phone will mask their nerves or lack of knowledge. This usually backfires and comes across as pushy to the prospect and can be an immediate turn-off.

By no means should you be passive and wait for deals to fall in your lap (they won’t), but you need to be persistent and exude a level of confidence that puts you on par with whomever you’re speaking with. The best way to do this is to research your prospect (LinkedIn is a great resource) and put together messaging that shows how you can specifically help them solve a problem. Confidence stems from the knowledge you have about their situation and where you can add value – knowing why you’re reaching out is represented in the tone of your voice.

A confident tone, a level of understanding of who you are calling and what business they’re in, along with injecting your own personality into each call will go much further then strong-arming a prospect to speak with you or take a meeting.

Now get out there, channel your inner Jamie Hyneman or Adam Savage, and bust those myths!