What Great Sales Development Teams Do

What do the world’s best SDR teams do? What actions should they take to penetrate high-value target accounts? Here’s what we’ve learned in the trenches, working with customers, and talking with other industry experts.

They run the whole play

The best sales development teams are the ones that run the whole account-based playA play is a series of steps that orchestrates interactions across departments and channels to achieve a business purpose for one or more buying centers at target accounts.

This idea of a play is a crucial concept in Marketing Orchestration. It’s the recipe for the overall account penetration program, and it should be designed up front, then improved over time. Rather than ad-hoc outbound plays, an account play enables organizations to build a systematic program of activities aimed at turning a target account into a real opportunity.

“We find that senior executives are 2.5 times more responsive to quality multi-touch campaigns than are junior executives.”
-Dan McDade, President & CEO, PointClear

They work side by side with marketing

Anyone who knows a thing or two about account-based strategies knows that silos don’t work. We’re even seeing more and more sales development teams moving under marketing.

Sales development must work with key members of the marketing team to execute ABM. For example, when field marketing is running a VIP event, they’ll rely on sales development to help run plays to the right list. After the event, sales development will help follow up with hot prospects in a timely manner with the right messaging. Another example is when early stage opportunities get stuck, they help run deal nurturing plays to get the ball rolling again.

There are countless ways that sales development can work together, but the important thing is that they do work together.

When silos are down and everyone is on the same page, you can create real engagement to land high-value accounts and expand existing relationships. You can scale your ABM by leveraging the benefits of automation where it counts, while maintaining the human element with personalization where it really matters.

They leave very little to chance

Instead of letting individual reps decide who to call, they develop target account lists and map the buying teams inside them. Similarly, the best sales development teams design the specific interactions that the reps will have, while leaving plenty of space for targeting and personalization.

“The idea is to design a surge of activity across all account stakeholders – and parlay that into richer engagement.”
-Tom Scearce TOPO

Gone are the days of one-touch, one-off email prospecting. Sales development is a strategic initiative and part of a larger plan to land and expand target accounts.

They work the whole account

Winning big deals today means working the entire account.

According to CEB research, the average buying team today includes 6.8 people. With increasing risk aversion, technology complexity and compliance concerns, few experts see this shrinking any time soon.

As every sales pro knows, the bigger the team, the less likely they are to end up buying. After all, it only takes one veto to kill a sale (or one person on holiday to stop a deal in its tracks). This risk is far higher if you’re tied to a lead-centric approach, talking to single individuals in isolation.

They harness the power of relevance

Perhaps nothing is an important to the success or failure of an account-based strategy than your ability to be relevant to your target contacts. Why?

  • Relevance separates enlightened sales development from spam.
  • Relevance earns email opens and more importantly, responses.
  • Relevance gets buyers to lean forward instead of drawing back.

Your entire program is designed to deliver relevant messages to the right people at the right time. And relevance can only come from insight: a real understanding of the buyer’s challenges, opportunities and pain points.

Related reading: How to Discover Insights and Deliver Value for Target Accounts

If you cut corners here, you risk damaging your relationships with the most important people at your most important accounts. It’s just too easy for them to hit the spam button and block you from ever reaching them again. To deserve the attention of target accounts, the best sales development teams earn it. 

What does your sales development team do to earn the attention (and business) of your target accounts?

Brandon Redlinger
Brandon Redlinger
Brandon Redlinger is the Head of Growth at Engagio, the Account-Based Marketing and Sales platform that enables teams to measure account engagement and orchestrate human connections at scale. He is passionate about the intersection between tech and psychology, especially as it applies to growing businesses. You can follow him on twitter @brandon_lee_09 or connect with him on LinkedIn.

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