At Salesforce, sales development reps, or SDRs, are the “front door” to our business. They operate on the front lines of sales, providing a friendly and knowledgeable first impression and delivering world class customer service. This team of fresh-faced SDRs are particularly important to me as a Demand Generation Specialist because they’re the team that works our marketing generated inbound leads, further qualifying them before flipping them over to an Account Executive for a personalized demo of our product.
During my time in B2B marketing, I’ve grown particularly fond of SDRs and the role they play in our marketing team’s success. Not only do they handle our inbound leads, they’re also the future of our sales team. The SDR role is a revolving door that constantly introduces new faces as tenured reps are promoted up the sales ladder. SDRs take the experience and knowledge they acquire in this entry-level sales role and use it to grow and expand their abilities as they continue their career journey throughout the company. Forming a solid relationship up front ensures a tightly aligned marketing and sales strategy for the future.
Through weekly meetings with our sales development reps around the world, I have been able to crack the code on what it takes to achieve marketing and SDR alignment. These are the three most important things I’ve learned working with our SDRs:
1. Unlock the power of Salesforce Engage
As cliche as it might sound, Salesforce Engage has truly helped our SDRs sell smarter. I distinctly remember the “a-ha moment” our SDRs had the first time their Engage dashboard began to populate with real-time data. All of the sudden, productivity began to sky rocket.
With Engage Alerts, they receive real-time notifications when their leads are interacting with our marketing content. These alerts help them prioritize their leads, determine their follow up cadence, and ensure they are having relevant and meaningful conversations.
Engage email campaigns have also allowed our SDRs to harness the power of marketing with 1:many personalized email sending. By giving them a range of marketing approved email campaigns, our SDRs can automate the task of lead nurturing. Meanwhile, I can breathe easy knowing our marketing generated leads are receiving emails that are on brand and consistent with our marketing efforts.
Engage is now a pivotal part of an SDR’s every day routine and a key factor in our success. And on top of everything else, Salesforce Engage creates a true sense of collaboration and team work across marketing and sales, a luxury that isn’t always enjoyed by your average B2B marketer.
2. Keep Your Reps Engaged
In the dark days before marketing and sales alignment, SDRs would spend all day making phone calls and sending emails without any idea where their leads were coming from, what actions they had taken, or if there would be new leads for them to work the next day. While marketing automation has breathed new life into sales by providing real time marketing insight, there’s still a need to assure SDRs that a stream of qualified marketing generated leads are coming down the pipe.
When I started working with our SDR team, I quickly realized that they really longed for a monthly high-level overview of our lead generation campaigns. They needed a way to keep a long-term perspective as they went about their day-to-day. It’s easy to understand why this would boost morale: if you aren’t having much luck with getting people to return your calls on Tuesday, at least you knew that a webinar was taking place on Wednesday and there will be plenty of new leads coming your way.
One of the ways we provide our SDR team with this high-level campaign overview is by writing out a monthly marketing campaign calendar on the white board wall right next to where they sit. We use different colors for different lead sources and make notes like “1300 people registered for this webinar!” and “Pardot e-book launch!”
Now, I know not every office has white board walls and marketers who love to draw with Expo markers (guilty!), but this marketing campaign calendar can be as simple as a spreadsheet you share with your team once a month. The important thing is to communicate your upcoming marketing lead gen efforts in a way that excites your sales reps and keeps them motivated.
3. Keep Lines of Communication Open
These days, with the rise of strategies like account based marketing and inbound marketing, sales development reps are essentially becoming an additional marketing channel. Now, more than ever, it’s crucial for SDRs to have a clear understanding of marketing fundamentals including your company’s ideal customer profile, relevant industries and verticals, a break down of market segments, and the pain points your product solves for.
This is the part of my job where I work closely with our SDR team managers. By leveraging their sales expertise and my understanding of the market, we work together to create internal team resources like the “SMB Objection Handling Cheat Sheet,” a weekly email newsletter with customer success stories, and quarterly Lunch n’ Learns led by different members of the marketing team (past topics have included “The Best Content to Send to Your Leads,” “The 411 On All Things Dreamforce,” and “Pipeline Metrics and Targets Explained”).
I also meet weekly with our different SDR teams in the US, the UK, and in Australia. We chat about things like pipeline targets and actuals, different regional issues that each team is facing, and ideas they have for new content based on common questions they hear. This feedback goes towards shaping the goals, strategies, and tactics within our marketing team.
While the SDR team might not directly report to the marketing team, our relationship is bound by the common goal of increasing inbound lead conversions.The more we can do to learn from each other, the more likely we are to succeed.