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How Marketing Can Work with a Sales Development Team

Olin Hyde

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Hosts: J.David Green and Jonathan Greene

Guest: Marylou Tyler



[0:00:12.5] JG: Welcome ladies and gentlemen to the Green & Greene Show. I’m Jonathan Greene, and this is episode 6. Today, we’re going to talk about SDRs (. If you don’t know what that is, it’s your lucky day. I have a fantastic couple of guests today. Look at me multitasking, how about that? We have Marylou Tyler on the on the line with us. She’s the co-author, along with Aaron Ross, of a great book called Predictable Revenue.

I’m going to be honest, I read a little bit of it, but not much. Dave speaks very highly of it. My other guest is Dave Green, who is the director of marketing at LeadCrunch. Thank you both for being here. We have a limited amount of time with Miss Tyler, so I’d love for you to jump right in and extract all that lovely wisdom and knowledge out of her head.

[0:00:55.8] JDG: Let me provide a little bit of context. I read Predictable Revenue and I do recommend it. I know, sometimes, when I tell marketing people that I read sales books, they look at me like I’m from Mars, and they have no idea why I would possibly bother. The reason I bother, don’t take this the wrong way, but I have found sales is often way in advance of where marketing is today.

I’ll give you a historic example that you can go look up. When I first started long, long ago, there was a book called Strategic Selling, which actually built out a framework, as far as I know, for the first time, around buyer personas. That was more than 30 years ago. The reason I think that happens is salespeople have so many qualitative conversations, and then they’re tracking their success based upon revenue. You can actually go in and find the people who really are doing well and extrapolate what’s going on, and it’s all based upon some insights. Not all, but a lot is based on insight on buying behavior, which I believe is central to marketing.

With that as a preamble, Marylou, I think one of the things our clients struggle with sometimes is how to get marketing leads to convert into revenue. You’ve built a career on helping do that. I wondered if you could provide some advice to marketing teams about one of those critical success factors, a sales development team. Maybe first define it, and then talk a little bit about why that matters and why they need it and some of those kinds of things, if you would.

What is a Sales Development Team and What Are the Typical Models?

[0:02:36.3] MT: First of all, the term SDR, Sales Development Representative, is utilized broadly with a number of different meanings. In this case, if we talk about a blended SDR, then we’re talking about someone who is following up on marketing-qualified leads, but is also doing some self-gen development, usually with net new accounts, but sometimes they’re working with the base and trying to cross-sell, upsell. That role, sales development rep, can encompass both inbound and outbound. It could encompass existing and new net new logos and clients.

First and foremost, you have to get these definitions as to what that person sitting with his butt on the seat is doing on a daily basis. Are they actually going to be fielding inbound and outbound leads? Are they focusing in a net new market share type of role? Are they trying to build product share by doing existing accounts? In all of those, we actually borrow from marketing in terms of the demand gen principle of tracking things at steps and stages.

The sales conversation, as you mentioned, is a big part of what we track, so we’re able to more consistently and predictably move and advance prospects from these inquiry stages, or cold stages, all the way through to qualified opportunity.

Usually, after we qualify that lead, and that’s usually performing a more detailed qualification process, sometimes they call it BANT (Budget Authority Need and Timing). They have a lot of names for it. It’s usually based on the product you’re trying to sell and there are many different factors as to how in-depth you’re going to get with that qualification process. The usual SDR role, there’s a handoff. Once that qualification process is complete, it’s then handed off to what we call a quota carrying sales representative, the account executive. From there, it goes to close one, or close lost.

That’s essentially that role. We’re top- to middle-of-funnel and we could be a chameleon in a lot of different ways, depending on our targets are and what our goals are with either product share or market share.

The Reason Sales Development Teams Matter to Demand Gen Marketers

[0:04:58.1] JG: That’s a great definition to start with. I hear a lot of sales talk, and I’m your quintessential demand generation marketer, so I tend to think this sounds like a great idea, something that sales would really love to spend their time on. Can you give me a perspective on why, explicitly, I should care about this as a demand generation marketer and what it can do for me?

[0:05:22.5] MT: As you know in demand gen, we have a waterfall. There are so many pieces or impressions that yield so many conversations that yield to so many people bubbling up to the top, whom we can have a defined sales conversation with. The SDR role is the exact same thing. Can I consistently pour something in at the top that will generate X number of meaningful conversations? Those meaningful conversations will then generate Y fit calls, or bad calls, or demos, or whatever it is. Of those, we can confidently predict how many sales-qualified leads are going to go to the field to close.

That whole waterfall concept is just the heart of demand generation. We are working with a large number of records, trying to get a consistent number of people to come inbound to us, casting that wide net and being able to predict the behavior to get them to advance further into the pipeline. It’s the exact same thing for us. The difference is we are in an outreach mode, targeting the people with whom we want to have conversation.

We are not casting that wide net. We are segmenting, we’re refining or fine-tuning the audience we think is going to have a high probability of closing, high revenue potential, and have a high lifetime value and be our clients longer.

[0:06:53.1] JG: You’re essentially doing what I wish I could do if I weren’t allergic to the telephone.

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 [0:07:00.7] MT: We blend still, so we use telephone, we use e-mail. In some cases, we still use direct mail, because it’s working in some industries, with some personas. We leverage social media where it makes sense. We have a lot of tools in our arsenal that we can use to start conversation, to continue conversation. The whole premise of this is to create a formula that allows us to predictably and consistently advance prospects through the pipeline to a sales-qualified opportunity.

The Handoff Process between Sales and Marketing

[0:07:33.4] JDG: Marylou, people inside an organization sometimes ask me, “Why not just let the salespeople do this directly?” Why have the specialized group in multiple touches? Isn’t that just adding complexity to the process?

[0:07:51.0] MT: It adds complexity in the sense that now we have two distinct demarcations in the pipeline where we’re triggering a handoff. That can be scary. If it’s not done correctly, it’s horrific because we are basically bringing more people into the equation to advance these poor prospects from stage to stage to stage.

The other thing to note about this is those trigger points can be worked out, so that it’s a very nice handoff similarly to people running a relay. You pass that baton, it’s solid. We have to work at it, but we can get it to a point where it is a very solid handoff. The beauty of the SDR role is that the sales executives who are in this position are more hard worker types. They like to have things done in blocks of time. They’re habitual in nature. They’re used to single-tasking one thing and then going on to the next thing.

It’s not a freewheeling, magical conversation relationship thing that they’re trying to do, like the AEs. It’s like duty dating, where we try to find those people who want to invite us into their world for a very short period of time. We love them, and we leave them to the AE to get engaged and married.

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[0:09:13.3] JG: I’m pretty much sold conceptually. What are some keys if I were, as a marketer, wanting to work effectively with an SDR team? Can you give me some tips on how to do that most effectively?

How Marketing Can Work with SDR Teams

 [0:09:27.0] MT: I think, first and foremost, marketing owns the campaigns. They own what is going to be talked about. They own how you’re going to segment the market, whether it’s your house list or if you’re going into GDPR land, actually purchase a list, or farm a list, or harvest a list and making that decision whether this is talking to the customer base. Are we talking to net new?

Marketing really owns that conversation and the personas that they think would be the highest converting personas. They’re going to spend time creating and crafting initial sales conversations for these people in what I call a bullseye, which are decision-makers, or direct influencers. Together with sales, they’ll decide. Is it worth our time? Should we waste our time on crafting a pretty much personalized campaign for this particular persona within this product line? From there, marketing works its magic, helping us understand the touch points how they like to consume information. Should we be sending content assets with each touch, or should I start you off? You can then follow up with phone, and then, maybe in the middle of it, we’ll invite them to a webinar that we’ll prepare. We’ll have your own landing page for that so that we can see how you’re doing from an outreach perspective and driving people to this landing page. All the while, we’re going to work in the background with our nurture campaigns to continually educate and get people to bubble up and self-select.

[0:11:03.3] JG: Sounds like a really tight feedback.

[0:11:05.5] MT: It has to be. The other thing we do that marketing needs is having these conversations. We are actually talking now to people. When we wrap up our call, we want to be able to help marketing by saying, “Here’s the language sentiment that actually transpired on this phone call. Here’s the pain point that got them really excited. Here’s the piece of content that we talked about which caused them to allow us in the door.” We wrap that up in our notes and in our CRM, or a database, whatever it is we’re using, and all of that is immediately fed back to marketing, so they know how to organize the campaigns.

Should we start with this particular topic in touch number one, or should we move it to touch number four? All of this information is very helpful for them so that we can streamline and reduce the lag in the pipeline for the next group of people to go through these sequences and campaigns.

[0:12:18.2] JDG: One more question, Marylou. When you, you defined the SDR and the different kinds of roles that they might have. Do you ever see a need, and when do you see the need maybe is the better question, for having somebody, a person or a team, specializing just on following up on inbound versus outbound prospecting?

[0:12:39.8] MT: The numbers still seem to be the same. I’m quoting you numbers from when Predictable Revenue was written, which is 2011. That’s based on a case study, that was Salesforce as a little-bitty company, done in 2003 and ‘04, but the number is still floating around as being very tightly aligned. If you have 400 leads coming inbound every single month that have actually scored up to MQL status and can be transferred, that’s the point to put in a full-time marketing response rep. That rep’s job is to immediately access chain of campaign that you’re setting up for them to follow up very quickly with either e-mail, phone, social, text, whatever your persona likes to receive messages on, and then taking it that way.

They’re also great if you do a trade show as part of your campaign and channels to prequalify people that are going to a trade show. Get it set up so that they come to your booth at a certain time for their own hyper-personalized demo. Maybe you do some type of a workshop ahead of the trade show. These are great people for that. We just did one where we had 128 responses from people going to a trade show, and you can imagine how many SQLs that generated.

[0:14:03.7] JDG: Sure, sure, absolutely.

[0:14:05.7] MT: Yeah, it was good.

[0:14:07.1] JDG: Well, I think this has been hugely valuable, Marylou. I really appreciate it. Do you have any final thoughts and shameless self-promotion that you’d like to do?

[0:14:18.2] MT: Like anything, I would dabble in this type of what we call role segmentation and sales. First and foremost, have the account executives work their top 20 accounts by doing this prospecting role, and get them into that habit of doing that maybe twice a week, but it’s something to prove the concept.

Once you feel good about that, then you can start phasing it into other sides of the organization, and then maybe get a market response rep. The other beauty of this is there’s a nice progression of advancement for their career. If they want to start off as a marketing response rep, go to an SDR role. If their personality aligns, then move to the account executive role and then finally, the account manager role.

I would suggest that if you’re reading Predictable Revenue, get that gist. There are a lot of resources online for you to be able to just do a search on Predictable Revenue. There’s a swag page of all this other stuff that you can get to and start implementing right away. I think you’ll be very pleased with what this type of system can do for you.

[0:15:25.0] JDG: To the people out there, if you’re struggling at all with lead conversion and you’re not quite sure why, obviously, there are a lot of resources online, as Marylou suggested. I think she is a fantastic resource to either develop this or re-engineer what you have and make it run better. Marylou, thank you so much.

[0:15:48.8] MT: Thank you again. I enjoyed talking with you both.

[0:15:51.1] JDG: You bet.

[0:15:51.9] JG: All right. Hey, this has been episode 6. Thanks everybody for tuning in and we will see you again next time. Take care.

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