What’s the problem with technology?

Sales development has changed a lot over the last decade, there are a number of reasons for this, but a key catalyst is technology. Nowadays it there is a piece of technology or tool to help with every aspect of an SDR role whether it be a contact database such as Zoominfo or DiscoverOrg, a lead management tool such as Outreach or Salesloft or video tool like Vidyard. It appears there is a new tool coming out almost every day to help SDR’s be more efficient, target the right people, able to do more activities and so on. There is even more technology coming out to help SDR Managers coach and train their SDR’s endlessly. In the SDR 2018 report by The Bridge Group, Inc they estimate that SDR teams have on average 4 – 6 technologies in their sales stack.

These tools are great if used correctly and can have a huge impact on output and overall performance of an SDR team. There is no doubt that technology is needed for SDR’s, but it’s easy for all this tech to distract SDR’s from doing the basics of sales development. They can also encourage bad habits if not implemented, monitored or coached correctly. I have seen it time and time again where SDR’s use technology to cut corners and skip the ‘boring’ parts of the jobs. Examples include; using mail merge to spam prospects rather than researching and creating meaningful emails and bunk importing prospects from databases rather than spending the time to research the best prospects to target. This gives sales development a bad name and is not sustainable, particularly with new laws impacting the role such as GDPR.

SDR’s and their managers must not be distracted or forget the importance of doing the basics.

So what are the basics?

  1. Research – There are some tools such as Crystal Knows or Owler that can help with research, but you can’t get away from the fact that every SDR needs to conduct their own research on target accounts, prospects, and industries. SDR’s need to have legitimate reasons to get in touch with a prospect beyond the fact they would like to add them to their client list, this ‘reason’ can only be discovered by thorough research.
  1. Messaging – Without conducting research you cannot create a personalized message that is relevant and resonates with prospects. Prospects are overwhelmed by emails and calls so you need to make sure yours stands out. With tools making it seamless to create templates and mail merge functionality its too easy for SDR’s to get lazy when creating emails. It’s another task that takes time, particularly when applied to follow up email, but it will pay dividends in the long run. SDR’s are often shocked by the increase in conversion rates when they put more thought and energy in their messaging. Focus on conversion rates over activity rates!
  1. Multi-channel approach – Using all available channels when prospecting is critical. With so many options such as video, social and email it’s easy for SDR’s to ignore the more traditional channels that can often give the best results. Although it can be daunting the results from picking up the phone and calling prospects can’t be denied, calling needs to be included in your prospecting cadence.
  1. Peer Collaboration – The analytics from sales development tools can be amazing and teach SDR’s a lot, for example, Salesloft can highlight effective emails and bests times to call. SDR’s can quickly become too reliant of these analytics and forget that often the best way of learning is from your peers around you. You can’t beat combined experience.

Ultimately it is the sales development leader that needs to take responsibility on this topic and ensure their team and using tools correctly. If used effectively these tools can transform not just a sales development team but the entire organization, the trick is not to forget the basics and lay a solid foundation to work off.

-Stratford Canning-

Stratford has been in sales development for a number of years, working in both the start up and enterprise environment. He is currently leading the European Sales Development team at Forrester Research. Stratford is always keen to expand his sales network, reach out to him on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/stratford-canning/