What Is Sales Development?

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In the past, two separate company departments focused on generating revenue—sales and marketing. With the consistent rise of new communication platforms and ways to capture the attention of potential buyers, bridging this gap between sales and marketing has become increasingly difficult for long-term, sustainable business growth.

More often than not, that’s because they don’t have a sales development process in place to effectively prospect and nurture relationships with potential buyers. Implementing a sales development strategy into your everyday business functions allows you to find new prospects and guide them to the end of the sales funnel.

But what does a sales development strategy actually entail? Throughout this blog, we’ll highlight the following topics:

What Is Sales Development?

Sales development is a process that leads to a sales appointment between a prospective business and your company. For sales development to be successful, there must be a streamlined marketing and sales process that generates leads and guides them through every phase of the sales cycle.

Why Implement a Sales Development Strategy?

Sales development is hard work and requires a lot of sales and marketing experts. However, it’s worth it in the grand scheme of things. Many growing businesses implement a sales development strategy to:

Sales development is hard work and requires a lot of sales and marketing experts. However, it’s worth it in the grand scheme of things. Many growing businesses implement a sales development strategy to:

Close More Deals

With a sales development strategy in place, your sales and account execs can do what they do best: close business deals.

Investing in a sales development representative (SDR) team allows your sales execs to attend high-quality appointments with leads that have an immediate need. This ensures that meetings are worth the time and preparation because they will likely result in a positive ROI.

Increase Overall Sales Productivity

SDR teams are experts in all things sales development, from best practices to tools and technologies. With an SDR team, your sales and account executives can save a significant amount of time to can prioritize more pressing tasks, like crafting the perfect sales presentation. This allows them to sell sales opportunities more effectively and boost their chances of becoming a customer.

Speed Up Response Times

A sales development program enables sales, marketing, and customer service reps to respond to leads and customers at a quicker rate. This improves the lead’s overall experience with your company even before signing a contract.

With an SDR team, your account executives can prioritize customer experiences, ensuring they’re happy with your company’s products and services. This can help with customer retention rates and increase the likelihood of referrals for new business.

Build Better Relationships With Leads

In addition to quicker response times, a sales development program allows your business to build better relationships with current customers and leads in the sales pipeline.

Sales development is about building valuable relationships with other businesses in your network. With a streamlined sales development process in place, SDRs can routinely connect with leads and uncover new pain points with their current B2B product or service solution. This helps SDRs present a more targeted pitch to potential buyers, guiding them closer to the end of the sales cycle.

Boost Marketing Efforts

Sales and marketing are like fire and fuel—you can’t have one without the other.

A sales development program is beneficial for business growth because it allows you to enhance your marketing efforts. For this program to be successful, sales and marketing efforts must work alongside each other.

For instance, if an SDR sends a cold email to a prospective business, this email could include content that directs the reader to your company website. Since you’re leading them there, you want to make sure it’s up to speed and optimized for mobile users so they have a positive experience with your company from the get-go.

Responsibilities of a Sales Development Representative Team

Sales development representatives, sometimes referred to as sales appointment setters, are responsible for scheduling sales appointments between a qualified prospect and a sales executive. Their everyday tasks include prospecting, qualifying, and nurturing leads until they’re toward the end of the buyer’s journey.

Sales reps are often the frontline salespeople who directly speak with prospective businesses in your target market to learn their wants, needs, and pain points. The role of an SDR is to reach out to prospects in the pipeline through various communication channels, including cold emailing, cold calling, and networking on social media platforms like LinkedIn.

While sales development reps are tasked with setting account executives up with high-converting sales opportunities, they’re not the only experts responsible for building and maintaining a sales pipeline. An SDR team must also include the following:

  • Marketing Specialists
  • Sales Enablement Creators
  • Sales Operations Analysts

For more insight into the core responsibilities of these roles, read more here.

How SDR Teams Build Pipelines for Sales Development_

How SDR Teams Build Pipelines for Sales Development

For a sales development process to be successful, SDR teams must build and sustain a predictable sales pipeline. Without this, you risk having a poor business growth strategy and not getting the sales-qualified leads (SQLs) you want.

To build a sales pipeline that yields positive results, your sales development teams must:

Identify Your Target Market

Identifying your target market should be the first step in building a sales pipeline.

Once you pinpoint who your target market is, you can create sales and marketing content that aligns with the wants, needs, and buyer personas of key decision-makers (KDMs). This will pique the interest of potential buyers by enhancing their experience in the sales funnel.

A target market looks different for every business. Yours ultimately depends on your company’s location and industry. Here are some ways that B2B companies and sales organizations narrow down their target audience:

  • Region served
  • Industries served
  • Job title of KDM
  • Buyer persona of KDM
  • Products and services you want to sell
  • Number of full-time employees
  • Number of workstations (specifically for MSPs and tech companies)

Implement a Prospecting Strategy

Once you have an idea of your ideal business opportunity, it’s time to start finding prospects to integrate into the sales pipeline.

Leads don’t just appear at the snap of a finger. Your SDR team must have a plan for generating leads. While there are many ways you can find prospects, here are a few tips to help you start building your sales pipeline:

  • Invest in data enrichment software
  • Write SEO-focused website content
  • Create user-focused social media content
  • Ask for referrals from satisfied clients
  • Attend networking events

When it comes to building an outbound prospecting strategy from the ground up, data enrichment software like ZoomInfo and D&B Hoovers is a great place to start. With these sales tools, your SDR team can find prospects that meet your ideal customer criteria based on company size, industry targeted, preferred KDM job title, etc.

However, if you want to prioritize generating marketing-qualified leads (MQLs), the best way to integrate them into your sales pipeline is by creating and distributing user-focused content on your company website and social media profiles. Suppose a potential buyer finds your content and sees the value in what you have to offer. They can give you their information to be integrated into the sales pipeline and receive more email marketing materials, like company newsletters and promotional deals.

Engage With Prospects

After your sales team finds prospects to put into the sales pipeline, it’s time to build brand awareness. Most prospects aren’t ready to make a purchase after the initial point of contact, so it’s essential to use the first sales email or cold call to introduce your company and the products or services you offer.

Additionally, the first point of contact is a great time to qualify the lead and learn more about their current B2B product or service solution. This allows your SDR team to gather crucial market research and make sure they’re chasing leads that meet your ideal customer criteria.

Convert Prospects Into Qualified Leads

Lead qualification is one of the most critical components of a successful outbound sales development process. It ensures that each prospect chased by an SDR meets your company’s ideal customer criteria and is likely to result in a positive ROI.

When SDRs qualify leads in the sales pipeline, they must confirm the following:

  • Prospective business’s name
  • Decision-maker full name, job title, email address, and direct line
  • Business’s lead qualifiers

Lead qualifiers look different for each B2B business depending on the company and industry. For instance, many MSPs and software companies require a certain number of full-time employees or workstations for their product and service offerings. Without a lead qualification process in place, you risk wasting valuable company time and money by chasing leads that have little to no impact on your business growth.

Nurture Relationships With Leads

A lead nurturing process is crucial for building and maintaining relationships with leads in the sales pipeline. As we mentioned earlier, most leads don’t agree to a sales meeting after the first email or phone call. Therefore, SDRs must follow up and nurture relationships with leads until they’re ready to make a purchasing decision.

When nurturing leads, SDR teams need to use various platforms to build relationships with KDMs. While email lead nurturing campaigns are impactful, other methods like warm calling and sending LinkedIn messages are also vital for catching the right lead at the right time.

Through these campaigns, SDRs can send leads to relevant company blogs or marketing collateral that speaks to their pain points. On the other hand, making warm calls to qualified leads enables SDRs and KDMs to talk one on one, giving your SDR the opportunity to convince the KDM to schedule a sales appointment with one of your account executives.

While lead nurturing is a significant part of outbound sales development, it’s essential to understand when to follow up. To know the best time to follow up with a lead, SDRs must actively listen to KDMs and ask questions to learn about their buying process.

For instance, if an SDR follows up with a lead too often, that lead may be turned off from doing business with your company. On the other hand, if an SDR is too hands-off with a lead, you may miss out on a significant business opportunity. To ensure sales reps follow up with the right leads at the right time, make sure your SDR teams use a lead scoring process so they know how close a prospective business is to the end of its sales cycle.

Schedule Valuable Sales Appointments

When it comes down to it, the end goal of an outbound sales development process is to schedule a sales meeting between a KDM and a sales executive. At this meeting, the sales executive should effectively pitch a potential buyer and convert them from a lead into a long-term customer.

By practicing all the sales development actions above, SDR teams can schedule sales appointments that provide value for both the lead and your company. If you skip a step in building a sales pipeline, you risk scheduling sales meetings with prospective businesses that have little to no impact on your profits. This wastes the time, money, and effort your sales executive team spent preparing a high-quality pitch deck.

Key Takeaways

A sales development program is vital for generating new business opportunities and maintaining client satisfaction. SDR teams must prioritize building and sustaining a sales pipeline for a company’s sales development program to be successful. To build a predictable sales pipeline, SDR teams need to:
  • Identify target markets
  • Implement a prospecting strategy
  • Qualify leads
  • Practice lead nurturing
  • Schedule sales appointments
While a sales development program sounds great in theory, many B2B companies don’t realize how much time and money it takes to build and sustain one that yields positive results. When small and medium-sized companies don’t have the bandwidth to develop their own sales development program, they look for help from a lead generation provider. Sapper Consulting collaborates with small and medium-sized businesses across the country to help them build their sales pipeline and implement an outbound sales development program. If you need a hand creating a sales development strategy that works, contact the sales and marketing experts at Sapper Consulting!  

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About The Author

About Sapper Consulting

Sapper's sales prospecting team becomes a natural extension of your existing sales efforts, helping you find new leads that are a great fit for your business.

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