How SDRs Bridge the Gap Between Marketing and Sales

March 5, 2014

The following post praising SDRs was written by Tom Heffernan, a former sales development rep (SDR) and now an account executive on the Bizo sales staff.

I have seen firsthand the importance of having sales development reps act as "human bridges" between the marketing and sales departments. And I’ve seen it from both sides, as part of the marketing department and now as account executive on Bizo’s sales team.

The best SDRs are highly skilled individuals who can speak both the marketing and sales vernaculars and ultimately increase sales efficiencies and marketing program effectiveness. The SDR is becoming a critical component of any scaling organization, and this post will reinforce how and why.

The disconnect between sales and marketing is a paradox. The sales team asks, Why can't our marketing people generate more qualified leads? The marketing team counters, Why can't our sales people shut-up and focus on what we're giving them?

In order to tear down the wall between sales and marketing, we need to find a middle-ground. Sales and marketing teams need to find something that a) will instill the "quality over quantity" mantra in sales leaders’ stubborn minds and b) will ensure marketing leaders that their leads are being worked properly. Enter the SDR. The SDR can tactfully sift through the leads and find only the qualified prospects to feed to the sales org.

A skilled SDR team addresses the concerns of the sales team by only giving them the highest quality -- and sales-ready -- leads. Additionally, the marketing department now has a specialized task-force whose sole purpose is to dig for the gems buried in the mountain of leads. The effectiveness of the SDRs will only grow as they improve their own process and approach. An efficient SDR team proves the value of their position as both a shield and a sword for the marketing and sales teams.

As you introduce an SDR or SDR team at your company, a critical first step is to define success and corresponding metrics. How will SDR effectiveness be measured? Since the over-arching purpose of an SDR is to tee-up sales-ready opportunities, "success" is typically measured by the number of opportunities they can produce in a month. Before these metrics are established, however, it's critical that marketing and sales agree on them and that they make sense for your company. Internal processes and sales cycles are increasingly varied from company to company, so applying identical key performance indicators to a drastically different sales cycle is a recipe for a discouraged SDR force. The process must be proven and tested by someone willing to put in the work prior to establishing a benchmark for success. A finely tuned team will inevitably move past the initial benchmark and set a new standard for fresh recruits to strive for.

The uniqueness of the SDR position is reflected through its influence on several departments. The success of the marketing team relies heavily on the ability of the SDR to properly and efficiently vet leads, which are then passed along to a sales team that is relying on them for qualified opportunities. SDRs can also provide valuable feedback to the product team, as they are gathering prospects’ initial perspectives on how products are being received in the marketplace. As such, the SDR indirectly benefits all departments throughout the organization -- constantly collecting feedback, and delivering it to several departments.

This highly skilled "human-bridge" is the secret to rapid organizational growth on many fronts. Just like any marketing program, successfully incorporating the SDR into your mix is going to take time and patience. However, once they're off and running, the only thing you'll be looking back on is your competition choking in the dust.

And to see another way marketing and sales can work together, download "The Guide to Generating Leads With Display Advertising."

This post was originally published on the Bizo blog. In July 2014, LinkedIn + Bizo joined forces to build the most robust B2B marketing platform available to marketers. To learn more, check out David Thacker, VP of Product at LinkedIn’s announcement blog post.

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