A New Era for demandDrive

May 17, 2023

A New Era for demandDrive

A Look at the Revenue Development Landscape

A lot has changed in the 12 years that demandDrive has been around. We’re still building sustainable and scalable sales development programs for our clients, but lately, we’ve expanded our scope to offer additional services that address other parts of the sales funnel.

It started when we began investing more resources into the top of the funnel. A need for quality data and demand generation services pushed us to build programs that focused on driving high-quality, top-of-funnel leads. And over the years those services grew to become a substantial part of our core business – an offering we refer to as DataFuel.

And it didn’t stop there. In addition to the core DataFuel service, we’ve built out additional components like:

Air Cover – which allows us to run digital display ads to batches of target accounts. This solves a lot of demand creation issues our clients face, and helps improve SDR efficiency.

Connect – which allows us to support clients that still need outbound meetings and market penetration but aren’t in a position to invest in a full-scale sales development function. This helps them understand product-market fit and test messaging while still providing straightforward appointments and account intelligence.

MQL Generation – which allows us to help clients fill the top of their funnel with MQLs that their SDRs can qualify and pass to their AE counterparts. This helps increase the efficiency of existing SDR resources and pushes clients to develop a more mature marketing function.

We’ve even stepped outside of the funnel to address the growing need for customer success services. Implementing our sales development methodology in the CS space allows us to drive revenue for our clients through proactive upsell and cross-sell practices while improving metrics like NPS, resolution, retention, and logo rates.

At this point, our umbrella of services spans beyond the “outsourced sales development” category we’ve been known for. Layering in marketing support, account intelligence, and customer activation services has pushed us into a new category: Revenue Development.

What is Revenue Development?

Revenue Development is a new way of describing an existing, known business service. Broadly speaking, revenue development can be defined as the process of converting target prospects and accounts into actionable sales opportunities. That can be done in a number of ways, including (but not limited to) prospect outreach, discovery, capturing account intelligence, providing marketing support, and booking appointments.

That probably sounds familiar in some capacity – nearly all of the “outsourced sales development” companies claim similar services. Traditionally, those boil down to prospecting, qualifying, and booking meetings with sales leads (account intelligence, prospect outreach, contact discovery, and appointment setting). But this new definition takes the services a step further by introducing marketing support (and various other services).

That support can take on many different forms – but they all relate back to helping the sales and marketing function of an organization increase its revenue. Examples of services that we have both seen and offer include:

  1. Marketing Support for various programming, events, and demand generation efforts.

  2. New Market Testing to help organizations determine product-market fit, identify new industries or verticals, and capture key product feedback.

  3. Increase Speed to Market by warming up a new territory/industry/vertical with digital ads, demand gen campaigns, and other marketing activities.

  4. Inbound Services like conversion rate optimization services, building a Conversational AI strategy, and landing page development.

  5. Customer Activation and CS efforts with both inactive and existing accounts.

We realize that having a revenue development company define ‘revenue development’ can seem a little biased. So to get a neutral explanation, we asked ChatGPT to define revenue development services:

“Revenue development services” typically refer to a set of strategies and activities aimed at increasing the revenue of a business or organization. These services may include a range of activities such as market research, product development, pricing optimization, sales and marketing strategies, customer relationship management, and more.

Revenue development services are usually provided by specialized consulting firms or agencies that work with companies to identify opportunities for growth and help them implement effective strategies to increase revenue. The focus is on developing long-term solutions that can help the business achieve sustainable growth and profitability.

Overall, revenue development services are designed to help businesses maximize their revenue potential by optimizing various aspects of their operations, including product development, pricing, sales and marketing, customer engagement, and more.”

Cutting through the fluff shows us that revenue development is pretty much exactly what it sounds like – a service that helps organizations drive revenue. Crazy, right? But these services take on many different forms because companies drive revenue in multiple ways.

Trends, Challenges, and Disruptors

There are a lot of players, strategies, and mindsets in the revenue development space. It’s a nuanced industry with many moving parts. In an attempt to paint a broader picture of the revenue development landscape, we tapped our co-founders Lindsay Frey and Dan Paul.

They shared a few trends, challenges, and disruptors with us to help frame the landscape as it exists today, and what it could look like in the future.

Revenue Development Trends

Trend 1: Product-Led Growth

“There’s been a steady increase in the number of organizations with a Product-Led Growth (PLG) mentality. This approach drives a large number of product users, and sales teams are tasked with converting those users into paying customers or high-spend users. In these PLG environments, sales development and customer success functions are both necessary and closely aligned.”

This rise in PLG companies tests the flexibility and agility of revenue development teams. With a different GTM strategy, qualification structure, and benchmark KPIs, the “old ways” of generating revenue don’t fully apply here. Seeing how revenue development services evolve alongside this rise in PLG companies will tell us a lot about their efficacy for the future.

Trend 2: Automation

“There’s a continued increase in sales and marketing automation tools that leverage intent data, allowing organizations to identify buyers that are further along in the buying journey (among other things). US-based SDR functions are shifting towards quality over quantity. The role is becoming less about cold calling and generating initial demand and more about lead qualification and presales.”

More automation =/= sales reps losing their jobs. It means the efficiency and efficacy of sales reps will increase. Reps don’t want to pound the phones all day and make 100+ dials to only hear back from 4 people – that’s a waste of time and money. As more automation tools pop up, the revenue development game will continue to become less about volume and more about quality.

Trend 3: Profitability

“Given the macro environment, many technology companies have shifted their focus from ‘growth at all costs’ to reaching profitability at a faster pace. This shifts priorities around sales and marketing spend by putting an emphasis on cost savings.”

The previous trend segues nicely into this one. More efficient reps means more efficient spending, and this shift to a profitability mindset lends itself to that mentality. With all of the layoffs we’ve seen in the tech space recently, it’s hard to argue that “growth at all costs” is good for business. Revenue development teams that can grow sustainably and predictably will win out in the long run.

Top Challenges for Buyers

Challenge 1: A lack of room for error.

“There are currently a lot of financial, time, and market constraints being placed on companies that seriously impact their ability to build or scale a sales development function. Companies are pressured to deliver quick results while being mindful of costs without sacrificing resource quality to do so.”

Sales is a healthy mixture of short-term wins and long-term success. But more often than not, the short-term gets a larger share of the priority. When revenue development teams are given a short leash, it hampers their ability to drive long-term revenue growth.

Challenge 2: Unattainable or ambitious goals.

“There’s a lot of pressure to do more with less, and organizations are being tasked with increasing their production while simultaneously having their resources scaled back.”

The “more with less” idea isn’t new, but it doesn’t make it any easier. Revenue development teams have to figure out how to make existing resources more efficient without a proportional increase in new resources. That means leveraging new channels, strategies, and partners that organizations would have previously overlooked.

Challenge 3: Understanding what to prioritize in order to deliver expected results.

“The amount of vendors in this space has increased dramatically over the past couple of years, and they all do and prioritize different aspects of revenue development. It can be hard to pinpoint what’s truly most important for your organization in order to pick the best agency/services firm to work with.”

Like we said above, revenue development services take on many different forms because companies drive revenue in multiple ways. Setting up a conversational AI strategy is a lot different from working with a firm that drives top-of-funnel leads. Companies need to know how they drive revenue most effectively and do their due diligence to find the right firm to help them do it.

Top Disruptors in the Marker

Disruptor 1: High-quality international labor.

“It will become more prominent in many sales and marketing functions (and many white-collar functions across all industries). The pandemic proved that nearly every revenue-driving role can be done remotely, so most tech companies will look to lower costs and have a quicker path to profit by reducing labor costs.”

One of the easiest ways to reduce costs and focus on profitability is by looking into offshore/near-shore labor. Traditionally, companies shied away from these resources in a selling capacity because they felt it could harm their brand. The rise in high-quality labor, coupled with the need for cost reduction, could entice more companies to test out an offshore/near-shore resource.

Disruptor 2: An increased adoption of AI tools that impact lead generation and top-of-funnel lead activation.

“This adoption optimizes the process of generating MQLs and general interest, and allows teams to allocate more human resources to later stages in the funnel where it matters more.”

Reducing the need for a human altogether in the early stages of the sales cycle could dramatically reduce costs. And with AI becoming more and more sophisticated, it’s not crazy to think that a lot of pre-sales processes could be replaced with robots. Reallocating resources down the funnel could make a significant impact on a company’s profitability – and shake up a lot of what we currently know and do.

Disruptor 3: The general mentality of the workforce is shifting.

“Individuals want flexibility and autonomy over their work – similar to that of the gig economy (think UpWork, Fiverr, etc.). That mentality will shift how companies build and set expectations for their revenue development teams.”

If Mark Cuban is right, we’re heading towards a primarily “gigged” economy where everyone works for multiple companies in order to have the schedule that fits them best. So are the days of the 9-5 SDR gone? A lot of revenue development activities have been proven to work just fine with remote reps at non-traditional hours. It’s possible that this will become the “new normal” and that the revenue development workforce will operate more like a gig economy worker than the rep that we currently know.

What It Means for demandDrive

Truthfully, this new terminology won’t change much for us. We have, and always will, focused our business on building and managing sales development functions for our clients. That now sits under a larger umbrella that categorizes all of our services.

We’ve always been revenue-focused. After all, that’s the end “goal” for a majority of our clients. If you move downstream enough, everything we do ties back to revenue. Traditionally, it’s looked like this:

Our SDRs prospect & qualify leads on behalf of clients → booked meetings for their AEs → closed-won deals → revenue generated.

That focus on the end goal (revenue) is what always set us apart from other outsourced sales development companies. We never cared about or celebrated how many meetings we booked for our clients – what matters to us is whether or not they hit their goals. Finding the right mix of manpower and marketing to drive revenue growth is what we do.

We’ve been a revenue development company for the better part of the past ~5 years (since our DataFuel rollout). We just didn’t have an all-encompassing term to describe what we do until now.

Now that we do, and that other companies in the space are starting to increase the maturity of their offerings, it’s clear that the revenue development industry is here to stay.

Want to join us for the ride? Get in touch with our team and learn more about how we have (and continue to build) revenue development programs for our clients.

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.
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