How sales development fits in to sales and marketing

Understanding where a sales development team fits into the broader organization is an important step in determining if you need one and how to build it. Sales development occupies the portion of the sales funnel between the top of the funnel (marketing) and the bottom of the funnel (sales and account management).

You’ll notice that sales development sits below the marketing section and above the sales section of the funnel. For this reason, SDRs can be part of the sales or marketing teams.

For teams focused on inbound leads, assigning SDRs to marketing has become increasingly popular in the past few years.

SDR teams serve as a talent pool for the rest of the business. If you recruit hungry, talented reps, then you should not expect them to spend more than a 18 months in the SDR role.

“SDR teams experience a 60-70% turnover each year. Some are lost to attrition, but most are promoted to other roles within LinkedIn.”

According to Brian Walton, Head of Global Sales Development for LinkedIn

Prior to hiring your first SDR, consider mapping out at least one clear path for reps who excel in a sales development role. Sales development is demanding and quickly develops skills that are critical to several other roles. The type of hires that excel as SDRs are likely to make valuable additions to other teams.

SDRs and lead flow

Here are 3 high-level, common questions about how to handle a lead, from when it reaches SDRs to when it leaves them.

1. Which inbound leads should marketing pass to SDRs?

It is tempting to send every single lead to sales and let them sort it out. This may work well if you only have a few leads coming in each day. However, as you grow, this approach isn’t scalable.

Since not every inbound lead is ready to talk to a salesperson, you need to score leads. Your scoring system can be as simple or complicated as you want. While some companies use complex programs to score incoming leads based on dozens (or hundreds) of factors, we use simple assignment rules in our CRM to filter leads to sales or marketing, depending on the information the lead provides when they sign up.

2. How do I assign leads to individual SDRs?

The answer to this question depends on how your company is set up. There are four basic ways to set up lead distribution:

  • Round Robin – The most common lead assignment system. Simply assign leads in order as the come in, making sure that each SDR gets an even distribution.
  • Territories – Assign each SDR to a specific geographic area. This works especially well for teams with field sales reps.
  • Open Queue – Allow SDRs to pick leads from a lead queue on a first-come first-served basis. Large sales teams, like Yelp!, often use this style of lead distribution.
  • Smart Automation – Companies like Velocify provide smart-assignment tools that choose where to assign leads based on things like conversion rates, response speed, and more.

3. Which MQLs should SDRs pass to closers?

Deciding which leads make the journey from inbound prospects to qualified opportunities is tough. As a sales leader, it is your job to provide your closers with sufficient opportunities to meet their quota without burdening them with poorly qualified leads.

If you want to keep your SDRs and closers happy, it is imperative that everyone agree on the definition of “qualified.” The definition of “qualified” can be:

  • Right Person: Someone who is in a position to influence or make decisions about software purchases or sales enablement tools. For example, it can be someone director-level or higher in sales, marketing, or operations.
  • Right Company: Any company with a clear use case, relevant pain, and the ability to buy your offering. This often includes additional restrictions like company size, revenue, etc.

The key here is to choose a definition that makes sense for your company and make sure that all sales development and closing teams are on the same page.

Taft is a SaaS sales professional and blogger in San Francisco. He likes to travel and spend time with his family in Sausalito, California.

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