The more that buyers can research on their own, the more the Sales Development role needs to adapt to that reality.
But, there’s a problem: SDRs rarely have deep subject matter expertise within the product and industry, and yet they’re expected to rise above a very high bar when discussing solutions with their prospects.
It becomes even more difficult when marketing teams often equip salespeople with content without explaining, or sometimes even knowing, how it should be used. Content marketing is only as valuable as the people that possess it.
We think there’s a better way.
Let’s get into one strategy that anyone can use to start showing off their knowledge and teaching prospects something useful, so that they’ll be more than happy to jump onto a 1-on-1 meeting.
The Sales Enablement Recipe
To cook this “dish”, you’ll need:
- One (1) true Subject Matter Expert. No imitations or substitutes here please!
- One (1) awesome SDR. Pinch of friendliness, and a dash of articulation.
- OPTIONAL: One (1) product marketer. If you have a Subject Matter Expert Product Marketer, use that instead of both an SME & a PM.
Top Of Funnel Content: Let’s Bake!
First, combine Product Marketer and Subject Matter Expert by asking this question:
→ What are the top 3 ways that our customers become better at their jobs, by working with us?
Come up with 3 of these. Now, gently remove all references to your own product. Congratulations, now you’re left with “Commercial Teaching”! This is the core of the knowledge you can teach to your prospects, without them feeling sold to.
Let’s say you’re an SDR at an SEO agency, and you want to set up meetings with prospective customers, without just saying, “Hey, let us run your SEO, plz? Give me $6k/mo nowww?”
Let’s start with our Top 3 Ways Our Customers Became Better At Their Jobs:
- VPs of Marketing now had a flexible team that could write great content when they didn’t have the time or expertise
- They had access to fancy expensive tools through the agency that they couldn’t get budget for, internally
- They had a direct line of accountability to one party, instead of SEO being “part of one person’s job” and thus tossable by the wayside if other priorities came up.
That all sounds salesy, right? Let’s try to pull the “Seller’s Motivations” out of it.
Sales: Educate Without Bias
Here is the “generalized version” of points 1-3 above:
VPs of Marketing at cash-strapped Seed and Series A startups should consider the following strategies to improve their SEO results without increasing total budget as they scale:
1. Don’t try to completely delegate content creation internally, nor completely outsource it. Because your own staff often have the best kernels of wisdom and great ideas, they need to be involved in the process; however, unless you have full-time content writers whose only job is to create content, it’s a tough call to pull your staff off of the core job that they’re doing, to ask them to write blogs and create decks. There’s a happy medium between outsourcing and internally creating content.
2. If you need the data provided by a tool but don’t want to splurge for the full version, pay for custom reports but not your own license. Whether you’re “going halfsies” with a friend who already owns Bombora and subscribes to the topics you want, or you’re paying a 3rd party for reports/exports and light consulting to guide what you’re doing, you may not need full licenses of every single tool in your stack. Your CEO will thank you.
3. If nobody is truly accountable for one single KPI, it will get missed. It’s the law of the jungle with startups. Be judicious about which KPIs you assign to your internal team, because they will prioritize what their job depends on above all else. If SEO is 30% of your strategy but not 80% and not 5%, you may not want to assign “Ranking of Top 50 Must-Attain Keywords” to someone on your team whose main job is Paid Media Management; if you do, they may only work on SEO in their spare time, and won’t give it much attention.
Turning It Into Cold Email Copy
Now, if you’re an SDR at an SEO agency and you’ve never personally managed SEO before, that may all sound a bit technical or intimidating. We can’t get around the fact that you’ll need to spend time with your Subject Matter Expert to fill in your understanding of the topic, but you also don’t need to have practiced SEO for years.
Let’s try cooking up a cold email based on our Commercial Teaching!
Hey Alan, noticed you joined the InsurSaaS team a few weeks ago as the head of all marketing, not just digital. Congrats.
I know you’re probably not assigning budgets out just yet, so I thought it’d be nice to have a short call with a subject matter expert from our team to go over the top 3 ways that we’re seeing VPs of Marketing be ultra-judicious with their spend nowadays.
In short, those are…
- Finding the right mix between total outsourcing and total insourcing when it comes to content creation
- Creative ways to get access to the full tech stack you need without spending full retail price on everything
- Tips for assigning SEO KPIs to your team’s (or your own) goals, and pros/cons of placing that responsibility in-house vs externally
If that’d be helpful to you, we have some open time next Wednesday. Do you have 15 minutes between 1 and 4pm Pacific?
That’s a pretty helpful email, right? Whole lot better than:
My name is Jack Black, and I represent Keywords R Us. We have achieved 54.2% keyword growth on average for all of our clients, including Google and Moz, and I would love the opportunity to show you how we can do the same for you.
Do you have 15 minutes later this hour to meet with one of my Account Executives so that we can understand your needs, goals, and favorite color?
Tips for Using This Strategy
First, remember that this strategy is harder than the lazy way of just spouting features and benefits everywhere and expecting people to listen. Prepare for it to take longer to learn, and also for your organization to not necessarily even be aware of what its commercial teaching propositions are! (Yes, that term is taken directly from one of our favorite books, “The Challenger Sale”.)
Also, notice that I didn’t even need to attach any collateral, or use a branded fluffy PDF as a crutch – I purely relied on subject matter expertise to craft a cold email. The SDR can then take that knowledge – enough to understand who it applies to and how, at a high level – and sell valuable meetings.
Remember, SDRs: your product is not your solution. It’s the meeting.
You’re selling time. Make that time useful for your prospects, too!
About the Author
Mediocre banjo player and occasional growth leader Alex Boyd is the Founder and CEO of RevenueZen, Portland-based demand gen agency partnering with resilient, gritty B2B startups that want to grow in any market environment. If you want to hear more from Alex, check out his interview in the SDRevolution video series.
RevenueZen is a growth partner to companies who want sustainable, scalable, long-term marketing and sales growth. They can help you build your content strategy that satisfies the pickiest of sales people and marketers. Contact them for the most helpful conversation you’ll have with someone new this week.