As sales leaders, we already know that we want our SDR teams to produce qualified opportunities for our Account Executives (AEs), but are we missing all the other benefits a well-oiled Sales Development organization brings? It’s easy to get engrossed in activity, pipeline, and other important metrics and we often don’t consider the impact inside our own organization, outside of new pipeline. Here are three benefits that make up the unseen ROI of SDR teams.
Fast, Direct Market Feedback
When launching new products or entering new markets achieving product-market fit (PMF) is the first milestone to a successful launch. With a 90% failure rate for startups, we know that establishing PMF is not easy and requires quickly adapting your offering based on direct feedback from your market. Sales Development teams are the frontline go-to-market (GTM) teams in the organization, which puts them in the best position to quickly gather this feedback.
In many instances, SDR teams report directly to Marketing, especially if most of your leads are inbound. You’ll need to decide on the best way to organize your teams prior to launch. Either way, it is crucial that Product Marketing is working together with Sales Development to coordinate what type of feedback they need and how to best measure, collect, and communicate it. For example, You could A/B test different sequences to measure what messaging resonates best. Other KPIs, like the number of new qualified opportunities and the amount of new pipeline generated, are crucial in identifying when you’ve achieved PMF.
I use our SDR team to test new messaging and use new products to gain a foothold in new accounts. I’ll take a few of our SDRs and add a few steps to their cadence that includes pieces of content or email copy surrounding a new minimum viable product (MVP) and see if we can schedule meetings around the pain our new MVP solves. We’ve been able to penetrate several difficult accounts that previously ignored us by using this approach. Experimenting in this way can help you find hidden, painful problems that aren’t directly related to your current offerings and that your prospects wouldn’t actively reach out to you to solve.
Streamlined, Lower Cost Recruiting
One of the largest hidden costs of doing business is the cost of employee turnover. These costs can be as high as 213% of a highly-skilled employee’s annual compensation. This is especially costly in Sales because of the time and effort required to fully train and ramp a new Account Executive to full quota attainment. Fortunately, a well run SDR organization helps to cut those costs and shorten ramp time by providing a flowing pipeline of talent that is already thoroughly knowledgeable about your offering, competitors, and ideal customers. This will provide you with AEs that perform better and have a lower attrition rate versus external hires. It’s key to have a structured, measurable process to prepare and promote SDRs to AEs, as well as transferring them to other departments in the company if that’s where they fit best.
I love it when I can move SDRs into an AE role. It’s important not to move them prematurely, but some of the best AEs I know started as an SDR at the same company. You can’t replace their 12-18 months of direct interaction with prospects. With external hires, most of the time they are good AEs that spend the majority of their ramp learning who their customers are and acclimating themselves to their new market. Some never quite get there. Personally, it is easier for me to train good general AE behaviors and practices than it is to train empathy, understanding, and familiarity with the prospects and market. While both strategies have their challenges, I know which one I prefer.
Cement the Company Mission
Let’s face it, nobody expects the SDR role to be a 30-year career with a pension and gold watch at the end. Hopefully, successful SDRs are being given opportunities to move to other positions outside of the Sales department. Here lies another hidden value of a successful SDR program. When you’re a fast-growing company, one of the most difficult challenges leaders face is ensuring that the company’s mission, values, and message are consistent across the entire organization. As you’re growing and adding people who don’t have much experience with your company or customers, it is easy for your mission and message to become diluted. SDRs are strongly cemented in their understanding of the mission and message of your company. It’s crucial for success in their role. These former SDRs turned ambassadors can bring valuable insight into other departments of the company, especially the ones that are not customer-facing, because of their direct interaction with customers.
How do I capitalize on the ROI?
Once you’re aware of these unseen benefits, how do you maximize them? SDR teams can have a significant impact on various organizations within the company including Human Resources, Product, Marketing, and others outside of Sales. It is imperative that leaders of these orgs are aware of these benefits and work together with Sales leadership to formalize plans to maximize the ROI.
For example, working with the Product team to learn about new features and products on the roadmap and ensuring the SDR team participates in pre-launch research would be key in capitalizing on the SDR team’s access to direct market feedback. Another idea would be to work with Human Resources to develop milestones and career paths inside your company for SDRs as a part of their tenure. Perhaps at the six-month or one-year mark the SDR, their manager, and a member from HR meet to discuss their career direction, future hiring needs in the company, and where the SDR would like to contribute. From there a formal plan with milestones could be devised to help them transition to a new department or a new position in the sales org. No matter how you look at it, SDR teams have a lot more to offer than simply booking meetings and generating new pipeline. What are some of the unseen benefits you’ve seen that come from your Sales Development organization?
Let me know what you do in order to maximize the ROI of your SDR teams. Connect with me on LinkedIn and @AustFuller on other social platforms.