What Is Sales Development?

A sales development program is the key to generating consistent business opportunities. Find out how to integrate sales development into your operations.
Reading Time: 9 minutes

 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.

Sales development is vital for increasing lead-to-customer conversion rates. However, it’s not an easy gig. Sales development requires a team of high-performing sales experts who specialize in each stage of the sales development process—from sales development reps to account and sales executives

Throughout this blog, we’ll cover the following topics regarding sales development

What Is a Sales Development Representative?

Sales development representatives (SDRs), also known as appointment setters, are responsible for every task that leads to a scheduled sales appointment between a lead and sales executive. This includes prospecting, qualifying, and nurturing sales leads until they’re toward the end of the buyer’s journey. 

Sales development reps are often the frontline salespeople who directly speak with prospective businesses in your target market to learn about their wants, needs, and pain points about their current B2B products or services. The role of an SDR in sales 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.

How SDR Teams Build Sales Pipelines for Sales Development

For a sales development process to be successful, SDR teams must build and sustain a predictable sales pipeline. Without a sales funnel, 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 increases your chances of piquing the interest of potential buyers by enhancing their experience in the sales funnel.

A target market looks different for every business. Your target market 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.

Sales leads don’t just appear at the snap of a finger. Your SDR team must have a plan for how they want to generate leads. While there are many ways you can find prospects, here are a few prospecting 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 get them integrated 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 digital content and sees the value in what you have to offer. In that case, they can give you their information to be implemented into the sales pipeline to 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 introduce them to your company 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 ensure 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
  • Decision-maker job title
  • Decision-maker email address
  • Decision-maker 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 businesses 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, using other methods like warm calling and sending LinkedIn messages are also vital for catching the right lead at the right time. 

Through email and LinkedIn lead nurturing 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 the SDR the opportunity to convince them 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, they 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 have a lead scoring process in place 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 sales meeting, the sales executive should effectively pitch a potential buyer and aim to 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 attending 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. 

Benefits of Implementing a Sales Development Program

Sales development is hard work and requires a lot of sales and marketing experts to do it effectively. However, it’s worth it in the grand scheme of things.

The benefits of implementing a sales development program include:

 

More Closed Deals

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

Investing in an 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.

 

Higher Productivity

SDR teams are experts in all things sales development, from best practices to different sales tools and technologies. With an SDR team, your sales and account executives can prioritize more pressing tasks, like crafting the perfect sales presentation. 

 

Quicker Response Times

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

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

 

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 allows SDRs to present a more targeted pitch to potential buyers, guiding them closer to the end of the sales cycle.

 

Enhanced 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 a sales development 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 to your website, you want to make sure that it’s up to speed and optimized for mobile users so they have a positive experience with your company from the get-go. 

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 a sales development program 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.

At Sapper Consulting, we collaborate 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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