Given I’ve now been in a Sales and Sales Leadership position for over 2 decades now, I want to start by saying how lucky we are to be in a world where most Sales Reps are fortunate to have a Sales Development Rep (SDR) or Business Development Rep (BDR). Not to sound like “…back when I sold, we had to walk 20 miles in snow to get to a customer meeting!”, but I have to say that life with an SDR is a heck of a lot better than it used to be. In the “pre-SDR” days, Sales Reps had to do ALL of their own prospecting, lead generation, appointment setting, and handle the entire sales process all the way to the close. In today’s world, the bulk of the responsibility for that initial lead generation is on the shoulders of the SDR. Shout out to the SDR’s, you rock!
But in this new world, unfortunately- Sales Reps are not always effective in working with SDR’s. More often than not, they’re quoting Glengarry Glen Ross saying, “the leads are weak”. And to those Reps, I want to echo Alec Baldwin’s response from Glengarry with- “The leads are weak? *@#$( leads are weak. You’re weak!”
So how do we solve this problem, so that the SDR and Sales Rep can be successful this year? The key in my opinion is.. partnership. As a Sales Rep, I’ve had a successful relationship with my SDR year after year, and I attribute that to putting in the time and effort so that we’re both investing in a successful partnership.
Here’s a summary of what I think it takes to build a successful SDR / Sales Rep partnership:
1. Schedule 1: 1 Calls 2X Per Week
The most effective teams meet twice per week. The first meeting is typically on a Monday, to determine the plan for the week. The second meeting is later in the week to review the results. The Monday meeting should have a specific agenda, which outline your joint goals in all categories. Agenda examples would include reviewing this week’s target accounts, number of calls, emails and social outreach, and how many appointments you plan to set. In the spirit of the partnership- you will both walk away with action items- not just the SDR, the Sales Rep should have actions too, so that you’re tag teaming the work to penetrate new accounts. The call typically lasts 30 minutes. As the Sales Rep, I typically send out a summary of the week’s goals to my SDR, and review the results later in the week to ensure the proper accountability.
2. Keep a Prospecting Tracker
In order to help keep the prospecting efforts well organized, I find that keeping a ‘Prospecting Tracker’ spreadsheet is an effective way to keep everyone on the same page. I highly recommend using a Google Sheet (vs. Excel), so that you can both make changes in real time, without having to email a spreadsheet back and forth. While I wish there was a simple way to do this in Salesforce, I haven’t been able to build a clean report that’s as easy to edit as a Google Sheet. I imagine that one day I’ll be able to do this in the CRM, but haven’t been able to pull it off just yet. Here is a list of some of the key data I track in the Prospecting Tracker:
- Prospect company
- Key contacts
- Phone number
- Email address
- Track outreach activity (email, call, social)
- LinkedIn connections
- Teamlink connections (connections from your company, as identified in LinkedIn)
3. Run an All-Day Prospecting Workshop every Quarter
One of the absolute gems that I figured out a couple years ago, was scheduling an all-day Prospecting Workshop every quarter between the Sales Rep and SDR. We’re talking about loading up on a Venti coffee that morning, bringing in lunch, snacks, and having laptops and a whiteboard ready to go. The best place to start is by identifying the top prospects to target for the quarter. This is a great opportunity to enable the SDR to help mold the strategy, and get their buy-in. You can jointly research the accounts, to make sure which ones best fit your ICP (ideal customer profile). From there- you will fill out all the fields in your Prospect Tracker, as mentioned above, such as contacts, contact info, and key LinkedIn connections to help get you in the door. I know it’s tough to carve out an entire day to do this, but trust me- it pays off big time. My SDR’s have consistently been top performers in generating SQL’s (sales qualified leads), and we typically both agree that the Prospecting Workshop is one of the main reasons.
4. Understand your SDR’s Career Goals
It is common knowledge that being an SDR is just a starting point for one’s career. One of the main drivers in being successful as an SDR, is to move up to the next level to Inside Sales or an Account Exec. But keep in mind- this may not be their goal. They may be more motivated by compensation, personal recognition- or moving into a different role- like a Solutions Consultant or Customer Success Manager. The Sales Rep is typically a more seasoned veteran, and it’s important to take responsibility as a mentor for the SDR, and share all of your tips and tricks you’ve learned over the years. Everyone is different, and it’s critical that you understand their goals, and let your actions within your daily partnership help drive them towards ultimately achieving their specific career goal.
5. Celebrate the Wins
And if you haven’t figured out yet, my approach with the SDR / Sales Rep partnership is definitely one of ‘work hard’. But the partnership will burn out if you don’t also add the ‘play hard’ element as well. So given the success you’ll have with this approach, don’t forget to celebrate the wins and have fun. During your quarterly Prospecting Workshops- be sure to go out for a nice dinner after a hard day’s work. Be sure to celebrate and shower praise for every new lead, appointment and opportunity created. And I find that even though the SDR’s are responsible for just generating the opportunity- they truly care when their initial lead gets signed and booked as ‘closed won’, so don’t forget to share that as well.
So there you have it, some ideas to crush it in ’19 with your SDR and Sales Rep partnership. We’re lucky to have such a great resource, so make the most of it and good luck generating more appointments, leads and Closed Won deals!