5 key elements for a successful business development team: Is your organization set up for success?

If you want more sales, you need a sales development strategy. As shown by Foundry SDS recent report ‘The sales development landscape into 2022‘, this is one of the most important processes your organization can implement to help you generate net new business and expand within your existing customer base.

How do Sales Development Representatives (SDRs) deliver more revenue for your organization? They bridge the gap between marketing and sales by taking ownership of new Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs) that marketing generates and qualifies, and nurturing them until they are ready to be handed over to the sales team.

The cost of creating marketing qualified leads is carefully measured against the sales pipeline and deal value, meaning the journey from MQL to Sales Qualified Leads (SQL) demands more time and attention.

This is vital when we consider that:

  • 96% of visitors who come to your website aren’t ready to buy (Invespcro)
  • 80% of new leads never translate into sales (Marketo)

If you want to close more sales, read on. This article will highlight 5 key elements that can help the sales development function reach peak performance to ensure high lead conversion.

Tip 1. Get a senior stakeholder to represent sales development at board level

It is likely your organization has senior stakeholders representing marketing and sales, so why not sales development? This function is just as vital. All three departments share the same goal: securing business and helping generate revenue through lead conversion.

To ensure sales development meets your company’s expectations, it needs representation at the senior level. Not only will this provide the sales development team with structure and clear objectives, but it will secure their place in company-wide strategy so they can tailor their methods to nurture and build relationships with leads in ways that directly benefit the sales team.

Cooperation between marketing, sales development, and sales is key. If you don’t have senior stakeholder representation, it will be difficult to align these three core functions, which might cause unfocused sales development and sales, leading to low-quality leads and unpredictable sales conversion.

A senior stakeholder can help communicate the importance of separating lead generation, lead nurturing, and sales conversion, which will help each team to become highly specialized in their core tasks and become more effective.

Marketing should not be distracted when finding and nurturing leads. Sales should have the assurance that their calendar is filled with high-quality leads that are qualified and match your ideal buyer persona – so they can focus on what they do best: closing sales.

Senior sales development stakeholders will help your sales development team look towards the horizon, and have strategies in place for both short- and long-term goals. This will help with resource allocation, costing, and the team structure, so they remain agile and adaptable to business changes. This is important in sales development as they are the ones nurturing leads, and they need to know about market changes, updates in ideal buyer personas, or changes within your organization that they should communicate to leads to help them better build relationships

For instance, if the business is going to move to an Account-Based strategy, this will have a major effect on the volume and quality of leads the sales development team engages. The company should first identify the goal of sales development, what they should strive to achieve, and resource it accordingly.

Here are more resources to help you align marketing, sales development, and sales:

Tip 2. Ensure you have a clear definition of the scope and objectives of the Sales Development team

To ensure your sales development team delivers more high-quality leads to sales, you need to clearly define:

  • What is the scope of the sales development team and which part of the customer journey are they responsible for?
  • What the company’s goals are and how sales development can help achieve them
  • What is the sales development team’s function and how it fits within the customer journey
  • What are the communication routes between marketing, sales development, and sales, and how they can be improved

This is easier said than done. We have seen time and time again that sales development teams can get pushed and pulled in different directions, which dilutes their ability to perform their primary tasks of prospecting and nurturing leads. This happens in busy periods when the organization is under pressure to meet deadlines.

As you would expect, this damages team morale and their ability to fill the sales pipeline with strong leads. By setting out clear boundaries, a vision, and specific goals for the sales development team, you will improve their ability to generate new business for your organization.

You need a clear framework, from start to finish, so each department and the sales development team have a better understanding of their goals and the capability to push back if sales development is misused. Here are some key tips:

  • Have a clear plan and cheat sheet for sales development with processes from beginning to end
  • Ensure there is clear communication between sales development and other customer-facing departments
  • Work with the sales development team to outline their responsibilities, so everyone agrees
  • Limit outside stakeholder interference by ensuring there is one point of contact for sales development
  • Create a strategy and have meetings with your sales development team to see if goals are being met and how to help them overcome pain points
  • Work with them to help them understand which are vital processes and which are non-vital, so they can prioritize work and meet business goals
  • Establish service level agreements are in place across customers’ functions to ensure fairness across all teams

Tip 3. Implement organization-wide communication

All departments are part of the same puzzle working towards the same goal of generating revenue. That is why it is important to remember that while sales development sits between marketing and sales, it is also connected to other customer-facing departments.

Strong communication between all departments is vital to reflect end-to-end thinking and to ensure everyone’s goals are being fairly represented.

To help with this, you can implement two funnels that will help visualize everyone’s contributions and objectives.

  • Customer Journey Funnel: The customer journey funnel will help align everyone with what the customer journey is and what it means to each department. Everyone needs to agree. The customer journey funnel or framework will help establish:
    • How you get leads from being aware of your brand to a point of sales
    • Where each team stops and another team takes over (from marketing to sales development and sales)
    • What process, data, and information needs to be put in place to keep the organization intact
    • What needs to be shared across the teams when something goes right or wrong
  • The Department Funnel: The department funnel will help teams get to grips with departmental functions. It will help everyone understand:
    • What each team’s short- and long-term goals are
    • How to align goals for improved lead conversion
    • What changes there are in the market or the ideal buyer and how everyone should react
    • The exact processes that each department uses to achieve their goals

Technology is another consideration to help with communication. Since Covid-19 emerged, a lot of us are no longer working together in the office, which makes communication more of a challenge. To overcome this, you need the right technology to ensure information flows from one team to another without pause, for example, by using tools such as Zoom or Microsoft Teams.

By using these tools frequently, and providing your teams with the ability to quickly communicate without having to email, you will reduce the chance of mistakes and important information falling through the cracks. Teams need to be agile with communication to ensure a seamless customer journey from point of contact to a closed sale.

  • Team chats: Team and group chats simply make communication easier. To get information across to your teams efficiently, you can’t go wrong with team chats that can be set up for entire departments. Not only do they help with community building, but they make collaboration far easier when compared to solely using emails.
  • Shared folders: Another quick win for improving communication between each department is shared folders. Shared folders are great for accelerating activity and improving collaboration, by providing everyone with access to the resources that are utilized in any campaign or activity. This ensures everyone is prepared and understands the status of any given process, which helps everyone achieve their goals.

Remember, teamwork is vital for growth. And a lack of teamwork can muddy your sales cycles. Putting processes in place to ensure smooth facilitation of teamwork and collaboration will help massively in the short- and long-term.

Tip 4. Ensure your processes are data-driven

You can’t rest on your laurels with data. Data is ever-changing and developing, and if your processes are not driven by data, they are inefficient. Gut instinct can only take your sales development team so far.

Your sales development team needs the best and most advanced analytics tools at their disposal to meet targets and generate high-quality Sales Accepted Leads (SALs). But it is not just a case of buying analytics tools and leaving your SDRs to find out how they work. They need to be implemented into your sales development process in a clear and repeatable way, and your SDRs also need to be trained continuously on how to make the best use of analytics tools.

There are a wide variety of tools available to help your SDRs ensure their work is data-driven and focus on high-yielding segments. Here are a few capabilities you should consider when choosing an analytics tool to enhance sales development:

  • The ability to make data accessible and actionable: Any tool you decide to buy should make an SDRs job easier, not harder, ensuring that high-value work is accelerated. Instead of SDRs wasting time searching for relevant data, find a tool that populates relevant lead information fields clearly and intuitively, so they can measure the quality of the lead in a clear and uniform way and have the relevant info on hand for lead nurturing tasks.
  • The ability to personalize engagement: SDRs spend a lot of time calling and emailing leads to build relationships and educate them about the offerings of your organization. Find a tool that can help SDRs analyze their engagement, and improve personalization through email automation, marketing automation tools, segmentation, and personalization across all touchpoints.
  • The ability to optimize lead interaction: The ability to lift key metrics, such as close rates and lead velocity, is vital for process improvement. Find a tool that can help SDRs to optimize customer interaction and improve over time, to analyze any lead, and jump on opportunities that your organization may have missed.

No matter what analytics solution you go with, it’s important to remember that the utilization of clear data segments will reap the highest return on investment when comparing activity to outcome. Data will give you the real-time information you need to react and make smart business decisions. But this requires investment, tools, and training.

This can be a lot to tackle, especially if your intention is for a highly analytical and data-driven sales development strategy that segments leads into granular categories.

At Foundry SDS, we’re experts in sales development and lead nurturing. We take the above challenges out of your hands into a single package. Learn more here.

Tip 5. Structure your team to reflect the priorities of the business in the short- and long-term

Your sales development team needs a clear vision and the tools and resources on hand to exceed targets. Senior sales development stakeholders and all members of the team need full insight into the business and its marketing objectives – ensure they are running on all cylinders and can contribute to your business goals.

Your SDRs need to be integrated into the wider organization, and not feel like a team that engages leads on an ad hoc basis in the short term. To become experts in sales development, the team needs to be passionate about your organization’s wider goals. They need to have an in-depth understanding of the ideal buyer persona, how marketing generates leads, how sales close leads, what the long-term company strategy is and what products SDRs should vocalize to leads.

Tread your SDRs as if they are your brand ambassadors. For example, if your business is planning a return to the face-to-face event, or launching a new product, the sales development team needs to be primed to advertise it to leads. Similarly, if your organization plans to pick on a non-traditional market, do your SDRs have the language capabilities to act on your plan? If not, you may need to recruit new members to the team.

If the sales development team isn’t getting the investment it needs internally, you might have to consider outsourcing sales development to an established organization that already has the experience and know-how.

Lead Nurturing with Foundry Sales Development Services

Your sales development team needs a clear vision and the tools and resources on hand to exceed targets. Senior sales development stakeholders and all members of the team need full insight into the business and its marketing objectives – ensure they are running on all cylinders and can contribute to your business goals.

Your business development team needs to be integrated into the wider organization, and not feel like a team that engages leads on an ad hoc basis in the short term. To become experts in sales development, the team needs to be passionate about your organization’s wider goals. They need to have an in-depth understanding of the ideal buyer persona, how marketing generates leads, how sales closes leads, what the long-term company strategy is and what products SDRs should vocalize to leads.

Treat your business development teams as if they are your brand ambassadors. For example, if your business is planning a return to face-to-face events, or launching a new product, the sales development team needs to be primed to advertise it to leads. Similarly, if your organization plans to pick on a non-traditional market, do your SDRs have the language capabilities to act on your plan? If not, you may need to recruit new members to the team.

If the business development team isn’t getting the investment it needs internally, you might have to consider outsourcing sales development to an established organization that already has the experience and know-how.

Foundry SDS will create a bespoke lead nurturing program, comprising Inbound Lead Nurturing and Outbound Lead Nurturing, to deliver high-quality leads that fit the buyer persona of your business development strategy.

Working with Foundry SDS you will benefit from:

  • Managers with experience of working with other companies in the Tech market
  • A transparent service that offers a 360-degree of our activities and insight into your own lead and data performance
  • A highly trained team of experienced BDR’s that we will manage to meet your goals
  • The expertise and infrastructure to optimize activity and performance in real time
  • Our ability to execute your workflows
  • Utilizing the right lead nurturing resources at the right time

 Learn more here.

What’s next? The sales development landscape for technology firms into 2022

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