Eamon Ramsey (ER), senior business director at Foundry Sales Development Services (SDS) shares his experience around creating and running successful Business Development (BDR) teams in the Tech Sector.
With nearly 20 years’ experience in the Tech sector, Eamon has progressed through the ranks of the Business Development Function. He has managed multi-disciplined, regional programs across all channels. Eamon has spent the last four years working as Senior Business Director for Foundry’s Sales Development Services.
During this time, he has been working closely with some of the largest and most ambitious Tech companies, providing outsourced Business Development Services via Foundry’s Sales Development Services.
Foundry SDS: Could you please give us a bit of background of your role?
ER: I have been working in the technology space for over 20 years.
During my early years at Foundry, we were often asked to provide advice and support to organizations to help them convert their marketing qualified leads into sales pipeline. I think at that time, a lot of companies did not fully understand the complexities and challenges of getting good results from their business development teams.
I jumped at the chance to join SDS as I knew we had the right infrastructure and expertise to offer a genuinely good, outsourced solution. On a personal level Foundry’s Sales Development Services (SDS) gave me a great opportunity to put my previous experience into play and to work with some exceptional marketers and Business Development Leads.
Foundry SDS: Has sales development changed over the years?
ER: Yes and no. The basic challenges of hiring and keeping staff, increasing productivity, and managing costs remain the same. It’s not enough now to have a business development team, the requirement is to run a team that can convert the marketing dollars spent creating leads into sales opportunity. The necessity of keeping existing customers and nurturing new ones never goes away and although the technology to find contacts, drive engagement & measure customer interaction is far better than ever before, it brings with it additional level of cost and complexity.
The good news is that an increasing number of companies are recognizing the strategic and tactical importance of a well-run, data driven sales development specialist. We are definitely talking to more CMO’s and Directors than ever before as companies are adjusting their business focus to become more customer centric.
Foundry SDS: If you could share your top three recommendations on starting or scaling a business development team, what would they be?
ER: Running a sales development function well is an extremely complex task, but my top strategic aims would always be to take a collaborative approach with other customer- or prospect-facing teams, agree what a customer journey should look like, then clearly define and document the scope of the sales development team. It’s also a good idea to agree priorities, so there is a route map for when the inevitable clash comes, and you have to triage.
Secondly, ensure you can focus on strategic as well as tactical work. To lead a successful business development function, you need to be able to plan ahead. If the business decides they are going to push into emerging markets, or launch a new event for example, and don’t communicate with the sales development team in good time, it leads to a loss of results one way or another. When you think about quantity and quality of resource needed, it takes time to hire and train the right people with the right languages, and you need to be plugged into the marketing and even the business strategy to anticipate this in advance.
Finally, it’s pretty critical to have the right tools to make data driven decisions, without investing in technology for technology’s sake. Having the tools that give you clarity on the basics like the volume and outcome of activity are essential, having an accurate measure of your contact and conversion rates are also fundamentally important. From here you can start to look at the cost per lead or cost per sale and look for data segments with the highest ROI.
Foundry SDS: What are the common pitfalls to avoid?
ER: There are a number of difficulties people or companies can easily run into and it’s quite hard to pick the top ones because the biggest challenge in running an effective Sales Development Team is simultaneously doing lots of things well!
I think an area that is often overlooked is the time and expertise it takes to run a team. We regularly speak with marketers or sales directors tasked with taking on the sales development team on top of their day job. My advice would always be to ensure you hire a specialist Business Development Leader to manage the team, set, and deliver the strategies, and take responsibility for optimization and outcomes.
Personally, I think another common mistake is hiring graduates because they are considered to be a “cheap hire”. My response to that would be to say that if you hire anybody without the strategy and infrastructure to support them, they will quickly turn into an expensive resource! Graduates are the lifeblood of Business Development, but plan your strategy and explore the metrics early so you know what success looks like and what the levers are to change outcomes.
Foundry SDS: What are the main factors to consider when structuring a business development team?
ER: There’s no quick answer to that, but essentially, I think it’s about doing things in the right order. You need to know what success looks like and have agreed deliverables. Take time to establish the likely scope of work and volume of work over a year and establish realistic outcomes for the team around contact and conversion rates. Think early where the data or lead sources will come from and ensure these metrics fit together.
Take time to identify the tech you are going to need to measure activity and outcome and provide the data points you need to make good decisions, keeping in mind it will need to communicate with your sales and marketing tools.
When you are hiring, look beyond the skills and knowledge sets and establish the personal attributes you need your team to have. A successful BDR is not always the most gregarious person. If you want your BDR’s to follow or create workflows, you need them to enjoy process. Finally, once you are up and running, be prepared to analyze the data and optimize continually.
Foundry SDS: Can you give us an overview of the sales development structure in Foundry SDS?
ER: Our infrastructure has two key components: Expertise and technology. All of our team have worked in the Tech sector for a number of years and our Tech Stack has evolved over the last 10 years. We know what to measure for actionable data.
Our team is made up of myself who works closely with clients to understand and meet their specific KPI’s. I look at a number of factors likely to affect the success an ensure we use the right channels at the right time to optimize results.
Our Service Delivery Manager takes a bird’s eye view of the resource we have and the resource we are likely to need. We are extremely fortunate in being able to train more BDR’s than we need at any given point, so we can breathe in and out as our customers’ requirements change.
We also have a number of Team Leads who do all of the day-to-day management of the BDR teams and work closely with clients to ensure they have a clear view of our activities and results. They scour the reports on a daily basis and make real time adjustments to programs to optimize productivity and results.
Our BDR’s are carefully recruited, trained, and incentivized. In today’s market, recruitment, training and retention are a major focus.
Finally, we run three cross functional teams focusing on Quality Assurance, Reporting and Coaching. These teams are mutually interdependent and liaise constantly with the Management team.