It’s a familiar scenario and telling about the great SDR Marketing divide. I’m called into a company to help a sales team learn (or re-learn) how to identify and deliver qualified leads that turn into closed deals. And that’s when I discover something truly frustrating…
What I find out is so disappointing, I need to go for a long run just to shake it off.
You see, what I discover from working embedded in these companies is that their poor sales pipeline isn’t due to the usual suspects. It’s something far more sinister. (Hint: SDR Marketing isn’t really a thing.)
First, it’s NOT a personnel issue
It’s not that the sales development reps (SDRs) are necessarily bad at their job. In fact, from my observation, the SDR who can clearly articulate their role and properly define the sales qualified lead (SQL) tends to be the one who underperforms.
Contrary to what their Director may say, the SDR may not benefit from a primer on how to identify and deliver qualified leads… they don’t need to have B.A.N.T. tattooed on the inside of their eyelids like their Director has asked me to do.
It’s something else that’s holding them back. But if I keep drilling, I always find out what it is.
The reason an entire SDR team may need an overhaul is so much bigger than the individuals inside or even their leadership!
It’s the very structure of the organization they’re working in. It’s the framework itself that holds them back.
SDR Marketing: A Deadly Structural Flaw
The company that has a weak SDR team tends to be built around the dubious concept of SDR marketing. And a company built on this foundation has a very specific set of weaknesses.
It’s structured like this: either the sales team is awkwardly tucked under a company’s Marketing department wing, or it’s only nominally a sales team, because the SDR’s have been cut at the legs so they can’t actually sell.
Now let’s get to the bottom of this…
The Great Disconnect
I recently saw this painful scenario playing out again in a large corporation. I had been called upon with C-Level Partners to come and figure out what was going on and what could be improved. I’ve never done this, but I want to share with you what SDR Marketing really looks like when it’s about to turn deadly for an organization.
While I was delivering my typical line of questioning I noticed that the two top producing sales people were very quiet. You know me, I just had to ask these wallflowers to explain themselves to me, so I asked them directly, “In your opinion, what is a Sales Qualified Lead?”
They replied simply, “A sales qualified lead is somebody who has the authority to write a check.”
That seemed odd, because this seemed to throw out the idea of B.A.N.T that so many sales teams swear by. “What about the ‘NT’?” I asked.
You see B.A.N.T is classically taught as the cannon of the sales lead qualification process. The acronym stands for budget, authority, needs, and timeline. The whole concept should be a foolproof way to identify SQL, or sales opportunities that are ready to close.
What I discovered is, these two top performers aren’t worried if the prospect is a great fit for the product or even if they’re fully ready for it. It is an often overlooked key to the sales mind. The great SDR believes that it’s their job to create a sense of urgency, not to identify urgency in the prospect. It’s their job to create a need in the prospect’s mind, not ask the prospect if there’s a need.
Hence the great SDR Marketing disconnect.
RELATED: How NOT to be a Sweaty-Palm Salesman
Stop Doing these 3 Things for SDR Marketing
For those of you with a Director of Sales, or a Director of Marketing with a team of SDR’s beneath you, I’m about to do you a big favor. If you stop doing these 3 things, you’ll grow your business like you’ve never seen before.
1. Stop Discouraging Prospecting
A sales person who cringes at the idea of making a cold call is not a true sales person. Great sales people are hired and trained to have a deep desire to prospect.
2. Stop Building Fear around SDR’s Legwork
When you demand flawless, shiny little gems of SQL’s to be handed to you on a silver platter, you create a fearful, overworked sales staff. If you must cut them out of the closing process, then allow flaws and do your job to bridge the gap.
3. Stop Blaming SDR’s and the Pipeline
If you’re not closing enough deals, that’s always on the team leader. A great executive doesn’t play the blame game. Maybe I’m repeating myself, but an SDR that is using B.A.N.T. to create SQL’s… is also the closer. Rethink the role if you’re treating SDR’s like a marketing team instead of a sales team. You’re not a drive-thru order taker. You are better than this. Enough ownership from the top can really help to alleviate the SDR Marketing divide.
The Time for Change is Now
Look, we all know the past few years have dramatically changed the world. The pandemic has brought with it wave after wave of legislation and disruption to business and life.
If you run a team of SDRs or you are one yourself, I commend you. It’s not all fun and games navigating this selling climate. You’ve been pulling double duty trying to keep your eyes on the prize in the face of tremendous societal chaos and distraction.
I get that a change in your organizational structure sounds about as exciting as jumping out of an airplane with an elephant. It’s an interesting idea, but it just might be the thing that kills you!
It’s great that marketing teams want to employ sales people as early in the customer journey as possible. That makes sense to me. We salespeople are fun to be around. But you can’t convince me that a salesperson thinks like a marketer. Salespeople are just built differently.
A Note to Current SDR’s
Let’s remember what we are made for. The role of marketing is to gather information, communicate a value proposition, and generate buzz, to create a hunger and a thirst where it didn’t exist before.
But a sales person is built to hunt, find, and close deals. Trying to put us in a marketing role makes us depressed.
If you are currently an SDR and are a true salesperson with sales DNA, I hope I can inspire you to join the “great migration” and become an outside sales rep. Share this article with your Director and see if they’ll consider a new approach to your role, one that allows you to sell again. Your consistent hard work will indeed pay off if you’re allowed to enjoy the thrill of the hunt. You will fill your quota.
And Director, if you’re reading this, thank you for caring. Please heed my advice and let this SDR go out and crush it. Trust me, if they have the guts and the sense to share this with you, then they have what it takes to crush it.
A Note to Directors with a team of SDR’s
We’re all on the same team, aren’t we? We all want the prospect to taste, feel, see, and experience what our product can do for them sooner rather than later. But don’t be a hippie about it, because we aren’t actually on the same team.
The clear line of delineation between Sales teams and Marketing teams makes sense. If you’re treating SDR’s like a marketing team instead of a sales team, I implore you to rethink that. Let’s let everyone operate in their area of genius, let’s let those who deserve the sales win feel the gratification of the sales win. It’s a powerful thing.
At C-Level Partners we do sales development work, and help businesses grow by way of generating opportunity. If you’re convinced it’s not the structure of your business that is getting in the way of new opportunities, then we’re here to help. If you’re concerned that the structure of your business is one of the things holding you and your sales team back, then reach out. There is so more I can share with you that I just don’t blog about.
Until next time…