The 3 R’s of the Decision Pyramid

November 11, 2020

Research, Referrals & Relationships

Here’s the deal – sales development is changing. For the better.

We’re moving away from the old “spray and pray” volume-based approach and toward a more thoughtful quality-based approach.

Why? Because buyer’s behavior has changed, and we need to keep up with how they go about purchasing decisions.

SDRs who have mastered the 3 R’s – Research, Referrals, and Relationships – will make the shift no problem.

Those who haven’t will have some ground to make up.

Are you & your reps up for the challenge?

Here’s how to find out – ask yourself these questions:

🔎 Are my reps doing the right research before reaching out?

🌎 Are they talking with the right people and remaining multi-threaded in their outreach?

💬 Are they building rapport with decision-makers before asking them for a meeting?

Check out our Decision Pyramid to see if your team is ready for this sales development shift and how to set yourself up for success.


Buyers have changed. It’s as simple as that.

They’ve probably heard of your product, know the space, or have talked with a competitor of yours.

That means feature dumping is out of the question.

Today, high-performing SDRs are doing research on their prospects & target personas, the challenges and goals of accounts, industry trends, etc.

Research is more about building a knowledge base around your prospects and delivering the right value, not picking and choosing what features of your product would be of most interest to your prospect.

The best SDRs are digging into the WHY:

  • Why does my company do what they do? What problems are they trying to solve?
  • Why should my prospect care about that? Can my product help them solve their problems?

That all starts with research. Having a deeper understanding of your target accounts, their industry, and their goals & challenges. That foundation will help you build a better case for WHY and have better conversations (and more of them).

Be the delta between what someone can learn about your product online, and what they can’t. When you start bringing that to the table you’ll have prospects hanging on your every word.

For more research best practices, check out these blogs:


Getting in front of the decision-maker at a massive company is no small feat.

It often takes a referral from someone else within the organization to get you a seat at the table.

That means connecting with and gathering information from as many stakeholders as possible is paramount for success as an SDR.

Whether you take a bottom-up, top-down, scattershot, or data-driven approach, you want SDRs to strategically connect with stakeholders and arm themselves with the knowledge they need to have a compelling conversation with a decision-maker.

The best SDRs are having tons of conversations and arming themselves with valuable company information before speaking with a decision-maker. The key to those conversations is a strong referral game plan.

You only get one shot at making a first impression, and have pages of notes on company goals, challenges, needs, and projects will paint you in a very positive light when you speak with that DM.

To learn more about the power of referrals, check out the content below:


Once you’ve had those conversations and have been referred to the decision-maker, it’s time to put your relationship-building skills to the test.

Because let’s face it – the answer won’t always be a “yes, we’d love to take a deeper look at your product.” Sometimes the prospect is locked into a long-term contract, it’s too low on their priority list, or they have an RFP process in place for software evaluation.

No matter what the roadblock is, this is where your nurture and relationship-building skills get tested. And we’re not talking about sending those “just checking in” emails (they don’t work!).

Building credibility and authority over extended periods of time through content delivery, event invites, and remaining connected on social will help carve out the space you need in their brain for future consideration.

Plus, when you have a relationship with a decision-maker, it doesn’t have to stop when you pass them to your AE. Keeping in touch with someone after that initial handover gives you the opportunity to capture even more intel (why they did or didn’t buy from you), generate some referrals, and even prospect them AGAIN if they leave their current job.

To better understand the importance of building relationships, check out these articles:

Let’s Wrap it All Up…

Research Tactics for SDRs

Get an in-depth look at how we build out and execute a research strategy for outbound prospecting.

Making the shift to a research-backed and referral-heavy prospecting strategy is no small task. It requires full organizational buy-in – from sales, sales development, marketing, revenue, management, and more.

It might take a lot of initial legwork to get going, but the end result is a more comprehensive sales development function and better department alignment across the board. Suffice to say – it’s worth it.

If you’re interested in seeing how we build and manage sales development functions for our clients, contact us here.

aj alonzo

AJ Alonzo is the Head of Marketing at demandDrive. A former SDR turned marketing leader, he's made it his goal to develop resources for sales reps who are looking to level up and for managers who are looking for guidance. Outside of work you can find him trying to shoot under par at his local disc golf course, sipping on a bourbon on the rocks, or continuing his quest to be the very best like no one ever was.
Follow on LinkedIn

Let’s talk about your path to success

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit.