In this article, Sapper’s resident sales development expert Brian Mueller sits down with us to answer your most pressing questions. Whether you’re an SDR, you manage an SDR, or are considering hiring or outsourcing an SDR, this article is for you.
Tell us a little bit about your background.
“After selling in a B2B capacity for Apple for eight years, I was looking for a change and I landed at a technology consulting company as a sales development rep. I did that for two years before I had the opportunity to lead and grow that team. I’m now excited to be at Sapper on my third leadership tour in the sales development space.”
Why do you think the need for SDRs has increased?
“The SDR role has really increased in popularity over the last five years. It’s a little bit older than that, but within the last five years, it’s really taken off.
We’ve seen a lot of software platforms and companies designed and built around supporting the sales development function. I think it mirrors the world that we’re living in where more people are working remotely, and this allows us to have a greater reach without being a traditional 90s office-to-office salesperson.
I would also equate it with the rise of services and software. So this type of sale, something complex like software, will usually involve multiple parties. We’ll see account executives now take more of a consulting role or a closing role; it’s not beneficial for them to be focused on business development because their time is spent better with the prospect or client. Walking them through the solution, bringing other team members in for a potential solution, etc.”
Tell us more about the initial touchpoints made by an SDR. If they aren’t explaining the service details or aiming to close a deal, what is their focus?
“It’s really important for the SDR team to understand the ‘why’ or the essence of a business; what is their purpose, what are the outcomes that they drive? Those things are important for SDRs to know so that they can speak naturally when a prospect might ask questions about the business.
That said, especially at Sapper, we’re very intentional about selling the meeting. We’re not selling our company (or in Sapper’s case, our clients’), we’re selling a meeting with our company. So at Sapper when we onboard a new client, we’ll work with them to understand the value in prospects taking “the meeting” with them, rather than focusing on their entire solution.
What are they going to walk away with after that meeting? Where is the value?”
What would you say are the biggest challenges facing SDRs right now?
“What’s interesting is with the pandemic, the SDR role has only continued to grow.
So the biggest challenge is competition. It’s challenging to break through the noise of other SDRs selling into the same spaces that we’re trying to sell into. Buyers are bombarded by multiple SDRs from all points of view and all channels…so the question becomes ‘how do we differentiate?’”
Expand on that, what do you think makes an SDR stand out in their space?
“The most successful SDRs build their own brand or their own playbook. They utilize their strongest skill set and leverage it to stand out in the minds of their prospects. For example, there is a software company on LinkedIn and they have an SDR who made very unique videos while wearing crazy outfits – just to cut through the noise and to create visibility for themselves and their organization.
And while that’s probably a pretty unique and far out there example, at Sapper our SDR’s focus on utilizing the phone. We know that there are fewer competitors on the phone than in email, and so we really work to hire the right people and then give them the training and coaching to be successful through that channel.”
What skills do SDRs need to be successful? What do you look for when hiring and training?
“The majority of SDRs are held back by phone reluctance and they’re afraid of rejection.
They may take things too personally instead of looking at every phone call as a brand new opportunity to build a relationship, even in a short window. So for Sapper, that’s the number one trait that we look for when we hire – our SDRs are fearless when it comes to the phone. Our team aims to have relaxed, natural conversations with prospects.”
How do you develop your strategy?
“There are a couple of widely published SDR-focused reports that I like to use as a gut check and as a frame of reference.
But ultimately, what works for one organization is not always what will work for another and best practices are always changing. For example, aspects like the best time to call changes over time.
So how do you keep up with that?
At Sapper, we like to generate our own data and make assessments based on that data.”
What would you say are the benefits of outsourcing an SDR versus hiring in-house?
“There are a few things, one would be ramp time. Most companies want to move quickly, and hiring, training, and optimizing a new SDR expends a lot of time.
Two, there’s a large technology investment. At a previous company, we invested almost twenty thousand dollars in contact intelligence and sales automation platforms just for one person to start as an SDR. Not everybody will do that obviously, but that’s the standard for using the best available tools.
Another advantage would be when you look at someone like Sapper, the volume of data that we’re able to generate across all of our clients gives us a competitive advantage that keeps us informed of what’s going on in the market.
Finally, there’s general bandwidth. You may lack the resources necessary to train and build out an SDR function. That also comes with an additional cost.”
How does Sapper utilize SDRs for our clients?
“Our SDRs live inside of our services department and they support the existing function of our lead generation systems. They are icing on the cake. They’re a force multiplier in our core Sapper offering, to either book more meetings for clients or to add another channel where certain clients may perform better than in email alone. We’re using to our advantage all the work that we’ve already done in a client’s campaign; the prospect has already connected with us previously when an SDR reaches out, so it’s a warm call.
What makes Sapper unique is that we have wicked smart systems and wicked smart CSMs that know their clients really, really well. They have the access to our SDRs and they can take advantage of these benefits to better serve their clients. We don’t charge extra for that; based on the market and our desire to live up to the promise we make to our clients, this is something we needed to offer.”
We Can Help
In a saturated market with limited resources, it can be challenging to get in front of the right prospects. We can help. Our team of experts (including SDRs) work with you to build sales pipeline and help you to grow your business. If you’re weighing your outsourcing options, connect with us for a free consultation. Click here.