I believe that sales development representatives are integral to the success of any B2B company. But before we dig into the “why,” let’s contextualize our conversation a bit by going over the “what.”
Sales development reps (SDRs) are typically junior members of a sales team. They're responsible for the first few activities in the sales process: finding new, qualified prospects to reach out to and getting these prospects interested enough in the product or service to discuss it in more depth with a senior sales representative.
As many SDRs reading this know, the job is far from glorious. It involves hundreds of cold emails and calls every week, dozens of hours leafing through LinkedIn profiles and enough rejection to make you feel like crawling underneath your desk for eternity. But as it turns out, SDRs are much more valuable than you might think. Here are four reasons why:
1. SDRs Reach Decision-Makers Long Before Ad Campaigns
Many B2B companies spend millions of dollars a year on paid advertising campaigns. You’ve got search ads, display ads, print ads, social ads, native ads, retargeting ads and even account-based ads all promising to do the same thing: reach decision-makers with the right message at the right time. But when was the last time a banner ad got your sales rep in front of that CXO who has eluded you for years?
Here’s something to consider: According to the most recent study by McKinsey Global Institute, the average person spends 28 percent of their workweek (that’s 13 hours!) reading, deleting, sorting and sending emails. With this in mind, how much would you spend on an ad campaign that sent highly personalized messages to a place where decision-makers spend 28 percent of their time? Enough to hire a few SDRs perhaps?
2. An SDR’s Contribution to the Bottom Line Is Visible and Attributable
The traditional purchase funnel, “awareness, consideration, action” is a nice, clear-cut way of simplifying the ever-present beast that is sales and marketing revenue attribution. You may be familiar (and somewhat leery) of terms like cross-channel, multi-touch and fractional when it comes to attribution. These calculations can be extremely difficult and often fail to reveal the true purchase path of your customers.
By contrast, an SDR’s value and contribution to the bottom line is refreshingly black and white. It looks something like this:
1,000 emails sent --> 350 opens --> 150 replies --> 30 sales opportunities generated --> 5 deals closed
Looking to simplify your lead generation process? There’s a start.
3. SDRs Are Young, Ambitious and Hardworking
Many of the most successful B2B executives today began as SDRs, and there may be good reason for that. The SDR can be a prospect’s first line of communication with the company, the punching bag when things go wrong and the one who needs to know the business inside and out in order to succeed.
The SDRs who master their craft often go on to lead other areas of the business—from marketing and support to business development and sales. These employees can be more effective in these senior roles than outside hires, because they're well-versed in the product, comfortable speaking with executives and have a proven track record of success with a timeframe and quota. By hiring smart, capable young people to build the SDR team from the get-go, you can also be investing in your company’s future leaders.
4. SDRs Are the Real Face of Your Company
Think about how much time and money you spend on marketing and PR campaigns hoping to create a specific image and reputation for your brand. Yet in reality, sales development reps personify your company. They must walk the walk of all that marketing copy. They can quickly validate your brand’s new messaging while simultaneously shrinking the sales funnel and getting the right people talking about your product. But just as a stellar SDR can find a way to connect with a prospect in a personalized, meaningful way and quickly close a sale, one false move by a subpar SDR can shatter a prospect’s perception of your organization forever.
All of this begs the question: How much are you spending on external marketing campaigns vs. technology enablement and professional development for your SDR team? It may be time to give SDRs the credit they’re due and the resources they need to succeed. Because, at the end of the day, your product is only as good as the people who sell it.
Ilya Semin is the founder and CEO of Datanyze, the all-in-one sales intelligence platform. He is also a member of Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world's most promising young entrepreneurs.
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