Ultimate Guide to Sales Development & SDRs (Guide + Graphics)

When it comes to scaling a business, there’s no route faster than a high performing team of SDRs. They can turn a company with no customers and very little website traffic into a money making machine. It’s this potential that makes SDR teams so valuable. 

In this article we'll be covering what SDRs are and how they operate day to day. By the end, you should be ready to hire an SDR and begin scaling your outbound sales team. 

Let’s dive in!

What is Sales Development?

Sales development is the process responsible for driving customer interest at the earliest stage of the sales funnel. 

If you don’t currently have a consistent flow of customers, it’s a sign that you need to focus on sales development and possibly hire a team of SDRs. 

What are SDRs?

Sales development representatives (SDRs) are a kind of sales personnel who are responsible for driving interest from a list of potential customers. This is achieved by contacting prospects via cold emails, cold calls, LinkedIn messages, Twitter DMs, website forms, and more.

An SDRs goal is to book meetings with more senior sales team members who are responsible for closing deals, these closers are most often referred to as Account Executives (AEs). 

What makes SDRs so valuable?

The most valuable aspect of an SDR is their ability to select the accounts they want to go after. Instead of focusing on small businesses, SDRs can build a list of high value accounts with the potential to bring in six or seven figure contracts. 

SDRs are also able to A/B test different buyer personas, allowing them to hone in on customers where your product is a better fit.

And when combining high value accounts with customers in urgent need of your product, the end result is a revenue printing machine. 

Now, let’s dive into how to onboard SDRs so you can build a world class sales engine.

How to Onboard an SDR

SDRs should have extremely short onboarding timelines. Within a matter of days, they should be ready to begin executing outbound calls, emails, and any other tasks you might be running. But before they start, there’s a few boxes you’ll need to help them check off. 

1) Become a Product Expert

A sales person is only as good as their knowledge of the software. The better their understanding, the better they’ll be at selling it. So it’s important that you spend the first few days teaching them about your product, its benefits, the problem that it solves, and the competitors in the market.

2) Learn the Sales Engagement Software

I think this goes without saying, but sales engagement software can get complex. It’s important that you teach your team how it works so they can manage their day to day tasks efficiently. 

If you don’t already have a sales engagement software, you can learn more about some of the best options here

3) Practice Their Pitch 

Ensuring your SDRs know how to pitch is extremely important. 

For cold calling, this entails the opening lines and learning how to turn objections into meetings. 

For cold emails, this includes learning how to write personalized emails to increase response rates. 

But regardless of the channel, the better their pitch, the more meetings they’ll book with your AEs, and this means more closing opportunities for you and your team.

4) Learn the Ideal Customer Profile

One of the most important aspects of any business is identifying their ideal customer profile (ICP). If you don’t already have an ideal customer profile, you can learn how to build one here. 

It’s important that every SDR on your team understands who your ideal customers are. This ensures they are focusing on the prospects most likely to close.

The Role of an SDR Broken Down (Step by Step)

Here are the steps every SDR should follow as soon as they’re ready to begin outreach.

Starting from the top:

Step #1) Build a List of Target Accounts 

Before you can begin running outreach, you’ll need to define the accounts you want to go after.

If you’re using a software like LeadLoft to build your list of target accounts, you’d simply navigate to LinkedIn, and spend a day finding leads you’d like to target. You can learn more about using your LinkedIn to build a list of target accounts here

In some companies, this task may be handled for you by a lead gen team. The lead gen team will be tasked with building this list on your behalf, and when you’re ready to begin, they’ll upload it to your sales engagement software. 

Most SDRs will be engaging a list of 500-2,000 accounts at any given time. Here at LeadLoft, we like to keep this number around 1,000 so if you’re not sure where to start, begin with 1,000 accounts per SDR and increase or decrease as needed.

This list is also bound to shrink over time so whenever an account is marked “Not Interested”, “No Response”, or even “Won”, it’s the SDRs job to go out and prospect another account to ensure they’re always working at least 1,000 accounts. Many SDRs will use a tool like LeadLoft’s Prospector or ZoomInfo to prospect new accounts to engage. 

Step #2) Begin Engagement

Once your list of accounts is built out, it’s time to run outreach. This means you’ll need to hop into your sales engagement software, and enroll your target accounts into outreach Playbooks or sequences.

Here’s an example of a Playbook in LeadLoft:  

Once you’ve built a Playbook, SDRs should enroll their target accounts into the Playbook. 

Most sales engagement tools will have a feature for this. In LeadLoft, you can achieve this by filtering for the leads you want to engage, selecting them, and adding them all to the Playbook of your choice:

Your prospects will then move through your Playbooks step by step, walking you through outreach.

Step #3) Practice & Refine Your Pitch

Regardless of an SDRs performance, they’ll want to practice and improve. This includes anything from meeting with more senior SDRs to A/B testing playbooks and messaging.

For SDRs who are missing targets, it’s great to have weekly meetings with a more senior team member who can review cold emails or listen in on cold calls and provide valuable feedback.  

Step #4) Test Different Audiences

Testing different audiences is only necessary if you are running out of leads to engage or if your current audience is not performing well. 

Most companies will actually find that they’ll need to experiment a few times before they locate the right audience to go after. 

You can achieve this by duplicating your playbook and personalizing it to your new audience. You can then group different audiences into segments, and enroll them into their dedicated playbook. I know this sounds complicated but it’s actually pretty simple. Here’s an example:

Once you’ve completed all of these steps. Simply repeat steps 2 through 4 and your revenue machine is underway. 

Wrapping Up

If you don’t have a steady flow of customers or leads, you NEED to invest more into sales development. It’s how many of today’s unicorns have scaled and it’s one of the most important aspects of any B2B business. 

If you need help setting up a sales development process, feel free to reach out to our team or to learn with the below articles. 

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