Nurturing leads is a big job — nobody is likely to argue that point. But, just like with all big jobs, somebody has got to do it, right? If you’re a marketer who has saddled sales reps with these sorts of prospecting tasks, you’re both passing the buck and missing opportunities that could end in potential conversion. Depending on your company structure, creating Sales Development Teams (SDRs) can be a good way to help cut through that mid-funnel noise. Let’s take a look at this and other ways you can rethink your marketing efforts for maximum impact — starting with giving your sales teams one less phone call to make.
The best way to describe the function of an SDR is to see where it falls in the sales funnel. As you will see in Figure 1 below, sales development responsibilities fall between marketing (the top of the funnel) and sales or account management (bottom of the funnel). Quite literally, they bridge the gap between the two.
AN SDRs main role is to make sure the best leads get to the best sales people—they call, they qualify, and they nurture. Why? It’s simple, really. SDR positions are still results-driven sales roles, complete with quotas and established goals. Because of this, SDR teams build future company leaders, as high-performers often advance into more closing-oriented sales roles.
SDR teams can be approached from a number of different ways depending on how a company is set up. For instance, marketing can assign them leads based on territory or use a simple rotating schedule. (A ‘you got the last one, so I get the next one’ setup of sorts.) Or, some companies that have well-established SDRs allow their team members to pick and choose what leads to pursue.
Let’s be honest here—too often, marketers simply send leads to sales reps (probably through CRMs) and let them figure the rest out. It’s sort of like a game of lead hot potato—the leads get passed round and round until someone finally does the qualifying. Until that point, though, how much time is wasted? How many resources? Maybe that ‘lead’ was a college student who simply downloaded a white paper for a project and never had even an ounce of potential for conversion. A sales rep should never have to make the semi-cold call to figure that out because it’s a costly waste of time. You want sales reps to sell—that, after all, is what keeps the lights on.
If an SDR isn’t in the budget, marketing can still better enable sales by taking on what they can in terms of qualifying and nurturing leads. To do this, start by taking a hard look at how you’re actually using your CRM and determine if you’re getting the most out of all marketing automation has to offer. Try setting hard and fast rules for lead qualification, honing in on particular actions that point to intent, and turn that into something quantifiable. For example, consider scoring each lead based on how many times the prospect has visited your site, etc. Then, set a threshold score that prospects have to meet before being passed along to sales teams. (Again, we’re trying to cut down on that mid-funnel noise.)
At the end of the day, SDRs are great investments — they bridge gaps between marketing and sales, make sure the middle of the funnel isn’t neglected, and ultimately give people the power to focus their energies on what they do best (market or sell). The reality of business, though, is that not every company wants, needs, or can afford to build a robust SDR squad. If you get nothing else from this post, remember this: It doesn’t matter whether an SDR team member or a marketer does the prospecting — just as long as it’s not left solely to the sales team.
We can talk until we’re blue in the face about what we should be doing as marketers, but what counts is action. Ask yourself a few questions: Is your marketing team helping to properly market to current customers? Are they putting together any programs to help extend olive branches to former customers or build pipeline to go wider into current accounts? Or, are they shoveling every last lead into a CRM and forgetting about the big picture? Whatever they’re doing, we could always strive to do better. Let me know your thoughts in the comments.