What Is a Sales Development Representative?

What sales development representatives do and why they are important.
what is a sales development representative article cover
One of the most important roles in B2B companies is the role of the sales development representative, also known as an SDR. SDRs make revenue for businesses which is what makes them so principal.

Here you will learn the ins and outs of being an SDR and how to be a great one.

What Is a Sales Development Representative?
What Is the Role of a Sales Development Representative?
What Is Prospecting in Sales?
Prospecting Tactics of SDRs
What Makes a Successful SDR?
Why Should I Be an SDR?
How Can I Become an SDR?
How Can I Hire the Best SDRs?

What Is a Sales Development Representative?

A sales development representative is a salesperson who qualifies leads and generates opportunities. This person will have a quota to reach usually every month or quarter. It's met by contacting potential customers through phone calls, emails and LinkedIn outreach.

An SDR should have knowledge of the company's products and services they are selling. They should also be able to communicate the value propositions of the company they're selling for.

The best SDRs are those who know what makes the product special and who the product is special for.

Why does a specific customer need the product you are selling them? How will the product you are selling them help them?

These are questions that top-notch SDRs ask themselves when reaching out to prospects.

Once you understand the answers to those questions, SDRs need to target the right people for outreach. These are called prospects and leads, both terms are slightly different from each other. A prospect is a potential customer who you think has interest in your product or service. A lead is a prospect that has shown interest and needs more training before they are ready to buy the product or service. It's like when someone visits a website for the first time but hasn't purchased yet.

The best ways to target prospects and leads are by using sales tools such as LinkedIn SalesNav.

The most effective way for SDRs to make their meeting quota is through a process called lead nurturing. Between touchpoints with leads, SDRs do various things like sending them an email or a LinkedIn message to keep in touch with them.

While gathering prospects - aka "prospecting" - is an important part of the role, the best SDRs are those who also nurture their prospects. Many SDRs attribute most of their meetings to prospects who responded to their fifth touch, not their first.

What Is the Role of a Sales Development Representative?

The main role of the SDR is to book meetings with prospects and leads so they can meet with someone else in your organization. Generally, this is someone who sells products and services directly to the lead. The SDR books the meeting, someone else usually takes the meeting.

Depending on what organization you're working with, the person taking that meeting can be anyone from another SDR themself to the VP of Sales. In B2B sales, it typically takes more than one salesperson to make a sale.

The goal of the meeting is to see if the prospect should become a lead or not. If not, your next step would be to pass on them and keep looking for more prospects who are ready to buy.

The methods of outreach performed by SDRs are largely dependent on the business they are working for. Some organizations prefer SDRs to spend most of their time cold-calling. Others prefer SDRs to spend most of their time emailing and doing LinkedIn outreach.

Companies have SDRs that send email campaigns, also known as email sequences. Email campaigns are a series of sales emails sent to prospects. The emails and subject lines should be catchy and communicate the product's value proposition.

Sales development representatives that cold-call have scripts that they read from to make a sales pitch. The most effective scripts include openers, questions to gauge interest in the product or service but also a way of asking for commitment.

What Is Prospecting in Sales?

Prospecting refers to the first part of any sales pipeline: finding potential customers.

The end goal of prospecting is to create a database of potential customers you can then start reaching out to.

Whether it is inbound prospecting or outbound prospecting, your sales team will be devoted to this to build a pipeline. A sales pipeline is the steps you take leads through to arrive at a sale.

Outbound B2B lead generation efforts include making use of tools such as LinkedIn Sales Navigator. From here you can then establish contact with these leads, who have never heard of you and your product or service before, via a variety of methods, including cold calling, cold emailing, or LinkedIn.

The goal is not only to fit the customer profile and find the perfect fit but also to get the word out about your products and services. Someone might not need it now but might know someone else who does.

Your SDRs take on the bulk of this work, and they are typically the ones representing you and your company in these outreach efforts. They aim to turn your leads into actual prospects that will go on to become paying clients by aiming for a response.

Inbound efforts are a bit different, but no less important. Especially with the rise of SEO and prospects searching for solutions to their problems themselves.

Having a form on your website that leads can fill out means prospects are actually coming to sales teams these days as well, so long as your inbound prospecting strategies are top-notch. Your sales teams are then focused on qualifying leads, and finding the best outreach strategy for those leads to move them up the sales funnel or throw them out.

Both inbound and outbound prospecting are key for any sales team worth their salt. It's the bulk of the work an SDR does in their day-to-day.

Prospecting Tactics of SDRs

We covered this briefly in the previous section, but how do SDRs actually get around to prospecting?

As we saw, for inbound prospecting SDRs will rely heavily on website forms or offer product information, such as a white paper, for further information about the prospect. Inbound SDRs are typically focused on qualifying prospects and ensuring that they are the best fit.

They may do this via research, adding them to newsletters to obtain further insight into the prospect if they provided their email address, or having a qualifying call to answer all the necessary questions before sending them further on the sales pipeline.

Outbound SDRs tend to get a bit more creative with their prospecting tactics. LinkedIn Sales Navigator is a great starting point, but there are more options out there. Joining a LinkedIn class potential prospects might also attend, attending particular events, and keeping an eye on popular LinkedIn hashtags and posts relevant to their product or service to mine posts for prospects are all possibilities.

Looking through people at companies and connections of others is also a great tactic. And of course, the higher up your connection is, the more likely you are to be accepted as a connection by the rest of the company, perhaps getting you closer to the particular prospect you are after.

While LinkedIn is a great prospecting arena for B2B sales, outbound SDRs should not discount looking in other social spaces such as Reddit, Quora, or Craigslist to find more prospects. There are, as well, always event lists that can be purchased.

These are just some of the tactics good SDRs employ when it comes to prospecting.
sales prospecting tactics infographic

What Makes a Successful SDR?

There is no magical solution to being a great SDR or meeting quota consistently. The reality is that every SDR is a bit different, even if we're all playing from the same rulebook.

But the one important thing an SDR needs is perseverance and consistency.

Being an SDR is not an easy job. The majority of your time is spent being told no. This is fatiguing at the best of times, and downright demoralizing at the worst.

Companies like SalesPipe create safe havens for SDRs to compare notes on tactics that work and support each other through the ups and downs of the job. And we commit to taking on the tactics that work and persevering through them.

SDRs have to be consistent and organized with their follow-ups and recognize the names of past, current, and future prospects that they have researched. They have to be great researchers and be creative not only with their messaging but with their approach to sales.

Flexibility and willingness to experiment are absolutely essential.

GIFs, memes, or video messaging are all tools employed by the best SDRs. Sometimes they work, sometimes they don't, but you won't know until you try.

Because above all else, an SDR has to be willing to try.

Getting told no is disappointing, and sometimes SDRs are told no in not the nicest of ways. But the best SDRs are able to make it past this and keep trying out new things to draw attention to their product or service. And they remember that different strategies work for different people, but they won't know what works until they are able to try it.

So what do SDRs need to be successful?

Think of us like plants.

Water us, nurture us, and give us space to grow our roots in different directions as we self-correct our strategies.

And think of the meetings or sales we get you as leaves growing on the tree that is your company ;)
successful sdr infographic

Why Should I Be an SDR?

There are many reasons why being a sales development representative is appealing, especially in 2021 and beyond.

For starters, there are a plethora of SDR opportunities that are done remotely. Remote work SDR roles are perfect for sales representatives who want to take care of their family or work from home.

Sales development is high-impact and low-pressure. Sales development doesn't make you meet with people face-to-face as much as other sales roles do. So if sales meetings make you nervous or anxious, then being an SDR as opposed to having another role in sales is a better fit.

Sales development is a stepping stone. Sales reps who want to move into other sales roles can use an SDR role as a launching pad for their next career in sales. Careers in sales can pay very well, SDRs themselves can earn an average salary of almost $50,000 per year. Positions above SDRs - such as sales managers, sales executives, account managers, and vice presidents of sales - earn even more.

Working as an SDR means you're constantly learning and sharpening your skills. Sales development representatives engage in the art of persuasion through writing and speaking. These are life skills that are helpful outside the workplace.

How Can I Become an SDR?

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Post by Noah Levy.
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