Sales Development…Robots?

November 11, 2020

With outbound marketing and sales development making serious strides in the tech world, a lot of companies are looking to put together outbound-focused teams to support a previously untouched channel. Companies dedicated to providing outsourced lead gen are capitalizing on this in different ways. Whether it be via phone, email, social, or any other channel, these firms are around as an alternative to hiring a team internally.

When building your sales development team — whether internally or externally — it’s important that your Sales Development Reps (SDRs) aren’t robotic in their approach. Essentially, companies have to make two choices. One between building an internal or external team, and one, if going with the latter, deciding which outsourced lead generation firm to use.

Internal and external sales development teams each have their pro’s and con’s, and there are definitely some major differences between the two that are important to note before making a decision. Here are a few things to keep in mind as you decide if you want to build or outsource, in the hopes that you end up with a productive sales development rep and not a dreaded sales development robot.

Training Your Sales Development Team

When a company hires a team internally, they often misjudge the time and effort it takes to fully train those reps. The opportunity cost of training those reps is high if your closing sales reps, who should be signing business, are trying to get the new sales development reps up to speed. Often times this means the reps you hired will not be trained properly and will provide inefficient results.

Outbound prospecting has the connotation of “here’s a list, call through it,” when in reality there’s a lot more that goes into it. If your internal team is simply calling through a list, you’ve got yourself a sales development robot. Having the right training makes all the difference, and that’s where looking to an outsourced approach comes in handy. Finding a company that supplies a training program and reps that have completed it will make your life a lot easier.

More importantly, good outsourced companies tend to stay on top of best practices and trends in the outbound sales development space. This means the company gives their reps what they need to be successful, versus providing them a list to call down and little to no help on top of that. Trained reps (SDR self-starters, as we like to call them) will be able to map target accounts, deliver more personalized and relevant information, and ultimately increase your sales pipeline.

Avoiding Automation Overload

As sales enablement tools like Outreach and Salesloft continue to step up their automation game it’s important to not get too reliant on their capabilities. The difference between an average SDR and a great one is the great one’s ability to enhance their outreach with automation instead of replacing it. If you train a rep on the tools before you teach them the basics, you’re going to create an SDR without the right foundation and they’ll rely too heavily on things like mail merges and pre-recorded voicemails to get results. Tools need to complement the SDR’s abilities, not replace them. This is the modern version of a sales development robot. Just because they’re reaching out to more people doesn’t mean the outreach is worthwhile, and it’s likely not resonating with anyone it reaches.

Whether you’re building in-house or with a firm, it’s imperative that training focuses on the right skills. Knowing how to use a tool is useless if you don’t know how to do things like personalize outreach, research prospects, and create messages that resonate.

Outsourced Sales Development – Client Interaction

If you decide to go with the outsourced model, you need to make sure you end up with the right firm. Average-to-good firms will assign a project manager or sales manager, and they are the ones who interact directly with the client. That project manager reports sales numbers & metrics and communicates new qualified opportunities. In this instance, the sales development reps are almost invisible to the client, just acting as a means to an end. You might as well have a robot churning out numbers for you on a weekly basis.

In this situation, the client misses out on a lot of insight that the reps themselves can provide, and the reps miss out on clear direction from the client. This isn’t saying that the project manager is unnecessary (they are very necessary for sustained success), but the client is best served when there is consistent rep interaction. When the reps and the client are able to interact on a personal level and build rapport, the project gets the direction it needs. Hearing the roadblocks and trends from the reps who work with the product on a day-to-day basis is also beneficial, as it allows for the client to adjust their strategy when needed and act proactively rather than reactively.

Getting the best of both worlds is tough — SDR’s that work directly with your sales team to find the best opportunities, and SDR’s that are already trained on industry best practices. Finding the right firm to supply you with the traction your sales team needs is the difference between getting a sales development rep and a sales development robot.

Want to dive into our methodology on building out a sales development program? Hit the button below to get in touch with us (we promise no robots will be involved!).

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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