In my few years working in sales and business development, I’ve seen the role of the sales development representative change drastically. Whether your title is Sales Development Rep (SDR), Business Development Rep (BDR), Revenue Development Rep (RDR), Inside Sales or any other of the many names for this position, you’re no longer simply expected to cold call day in and day out – don’t relax though, that doesn’t mean it’ll be easier.
But how has this role changed and what does it mean for sales?
Progressive organizations are no longer pushing for more and more call volume and are letting their BDRs prospect for and qualify leads. They are realizing that time spent researching and preparing for calls leads to more demos and more sales. Also, these prospecting and networking skills are ones any good business wants to nurture in members of their sales team – at any level.
Furthermore, a new paradigm has developed in the role. The highest performing teams are now evaluating the benefits of tying the BDR’s commission to revenue instead of how many meetings or demos they book. This approach demands more expertise from the BDR and as a result will cultivate more skilled sales reps that will be more successful later in their careers.
This means as an BDR, you can’t simply rely on making more calls to meet a quota or luck into some good leads. You need to be smart, do your homework, make connections, network, and do exactly what your title demands – develop business.
Smart organizations are also helping train and mentor their BDRs. When I started my career, it was my job to research leads, call them, qualify them, set reasonable expectations and then book demos and pass them to the account executives. My account executive would give me feedback on how demos went, things I should improve on in the future and things that were working. This close mentorship allowed me to improve my sales skills and now I’ve been promoted and am able to close deals on my own.
Some managers may be nervous to invest the time and money on their more junior sales roles for fear that they might leave. And I’ll admit, there is a high turnover for these roles at some companies. But my feeling is that’s backwards logic. You can only expect your BDRs to leave if you simply treat them as cold calling drones. An even greater detriment to the department’s success is the lack of upwards mobility for the BDRs.
Give the team an expansion of responsibility, provide your BDRs with a challenging and rewarding work environment and give them the opportunity to improve and advance. The result will be the hardest working, best performing team that will deliver the results you expect from them.
Another big change in business development is coming from new technology. There are so many tools that are changing the way BDRs do their job day to day – and I continue to use them as an account executive. Right now I use Sidekick, Marketo and our own CloudCall CTI product every single day.
There is now an expectation that BDRs should be able to quickly adapt to changing technology. The ability to use these tools effectively can make you that much more productive – setting you apart from the competition. No longer is it about picking up the phone and dialing – the game has changed.
For instance, Sidekick allows you to see information about your contacts right in your browser. This tool provides a solid foundation of knowledge before you make that phone call. Also, Sidekick lets me know when emails have been opened, when attachments have been downloaded and more. This provides helpful insight so you know when to follow up. It’s always exciting to see that little notification pop up saying that someone is reading my emails.
CloudCall allows me to click-to-call, record calls, and take call notes all from within my CRM system. As a salesperson, I live in Salesforce, and this product makes it so easy to make my calls, categorize them and take notes all in that system.
Marketo – as most of you know – is a top notch marketing automation tool that provides me insights from leads directly within Salesforce. It helps me prioritize my day, from nurturing new leads to telling me which leads are ready for engagement.
It’s tools like these that make my job easier. And while technology alone can’t make you a good BDR, it can definitely help and give you the boost you need to succeed.
There will always be a time and place for cold calling, but the role of business development cannot be limited to this. Who knows what it will look like in five years, but the role is sure to become more complex, challenging and rewarding.