By Josh Lord 

It’s been more than a couple of years since the Sales Development Representative (SDR) role was based purely around the traditional sales floor method of cold calls and emails to prospective clients. In addition to outreach, the modern SDR function increasingly requires new skills, knowledge and teamwork – the latter in particular helping to bridge a gap between Sales and Marketing.

To put things into perspective, imagine it’s Monday morning. You’re having coffee, going over some emails before your Zoom meeting in half an hour and you glance over one from a stranger about booking a demo, maybe before you get a call from an unknown number and it turns out to be someone trying to get at you about BANT.

It’s hardly uncommon to find prospects working from home in a more personal and private setting like this, digitally self-educating and consequently far less likely to be as receptive to cold contacting in general. From as early as 2017, Gartner found B2B buyers to already be spending 45% of the buying cycle conducting their own research, with only 17% of their time spent communicating with suppliers. To best adjust to these shifts, SDRs can work with marketing to nurture leads and have them reach the SQL stage.

In practice, Marketing begins the process by using multi-channels such as EDM campaigns and programmatic display to generate leads, the intent data from which is then conveyed to SDRs to make first contact with prospects and ultimately provide Sales with prospects that are engaged.

“Is the SDR role a sales function or a marketing function? And the simplest answer is both

Nurturing from the top of the funnel, utilizing effectively curated content syndication to leverage data and analytics can facilitate the generation of quality leads and work perfectly in combination with the SDR function. Multi-asset engagement platforms further serve to accommodate this by allowing for both self-education and self-nurturing. From here, this digital engagement and intent data can be observed by marketers to capture what is resonating with prospects and convey this information to SDRs to provide context and talking points all before making first contact. 

Nobody likes to feel marketed to, and this is where SDR can function to be mindful of where leads are on the buyer’s journey to ensure they feel respected as individuals rather than just job titles and phone numbers, making the entire experience feel more natural and less invasive. 

When leads are both marketing-qualified and SDR approved, then they’re ready to move to Sales. It’s a simple concept, but the complexity and nuance often lie in a more difficult question: is the SDR role a sales function or a marketing function? And the simplest answer is both.   

SDRs answer to Marketing’s attribution. I personally value seeing SDRs as part of Sales, although when it comes to ROI/attribution, SDR and Marketing working together can greatly assist in allowing Sales to land a higher percentage of leads. As a result of marketing having become much more digital, analytical and attribution-focused, commitment to that attribution can be an asset to Sales – highlighting the need for a closer relationship between the two departments accomplished by the SDR function. Here in particular, we’ve been implementing this integration with steps like having regular catch-ups and keeping a consistent dialogue between all three departments – allowing for improvements like being able to provide SDRs with content and engagement data to assist with outreach, and having access to more first hand insights to inform marketing content and campaigns.

“I’d rather have six quality conversations over dialing for dollars.”

 And that’s exactly what SDRs do. By bridging the gap and repairing the disconnect between Sales and Marketing, SDRs can shorten the sales cycle, continuously integrating with marketing campaigns to remain visible to prospects and tailoring interactions to each individual. Paired with the right tools, marketers can guide and work closely with SDRs in identifying how most effectively to reach out and strategically take advantage of the digital space to nurture leads in a more holistic shift towards engagement and quality conversations, saving time and resources which may have otherwise been allocated to cold outreach. 

The bottom line? Sales don’t want the wrong leads, and want more than just contacts. Sales want leads that are promised by Marketing to be engaged. SDRs can facilitate the progression from top-funnel to bottom-funnel by working in the middle. By having all three departments; marketing, SDR and sales, coordinate to properly nurture and invest into quality leads, prospects can appreciate being treated as individuals, with these efforts being rewarded with a higher rate of conversion to help ensure leads become long term clients.