Five Learnings from Sales Development at LinkedIn

December 20, 2019

LinkedIn Sales Development

Editor's Note: This was originally published by Lachlan Budd on his LinkedIn profile.

My role as a sales development representative (SDR) at LinkedIn is to spearhead new opportunity creation for the acquisition team. I'm measured on how many quality conversations I can start with the right people, and (shocker) LinkedIn data is an invaluable source of information to make this happen.

Below are five things I learned during my time as an SDR. I now teach these learnings to help our customers be more productive and successful.

1. There is always more than one way into an account

According to CEB research, there are an average of 6.8 decision makers (and rising) involved in a B2B purchase decision. Additionally, there are typically countless influencers and users you can impact. These are all stakeholders who can help break down doors. If one prospect at a company doesn’t respond to you, you have the opportunity to reach out to at least 6 more to get a foot in the door.

I've found the easiest (and often fastest) way into a prospect is by warm introduction. According to Harvard Business Review, 90% of decision makers say they never respond to cold outreach, let alone respond favorably. As a result, surfacing introduction opportunities is crucial to penetrating your book of business.

Some ways are slower than others, but there is usually a way in.

2. People are time poor

When was the last time you thought to yourself "Oh boy, I just have too much spare time on my hands"? Likely not since you were last holidaying on a warm island somewhere drinking a pina colada. The people we are reaching out to are also incredibly time poor. This means your value proposition must convince them to drop one of their other priorities to spend time with you.

Keep this in mind when you are copy pasting how you can help a customer. Consider spending extra time tailoring this part of your outreach to ensure it resonates with what the prospects cares about.

Read 'negative responses' below for ideas on how to tailor your pitch.

3. We all make mistakes; learn from them

A massive driver of success in my role was trying new things. The other driver was reflecting on what didn’t work and identifying what I need to improve. When it comes to written outreach, below is what I’ve learned:

Low response rate. This probably means your message isn't being read. Reasons can include: your message is too long, your subject line isn’t catchy or your leading insight isn’t resonating. Read how to avoid some of the most common mistakes here.

Negative Responses. Likely you’ve reached out to someone who doesn't know you and is time poor, yet they have taken the time to come back to you. You are almost there. Enhancing your credibility is the first step to decreasing negative responses. Does your LinkedIn profile reflect someone who a prospect would like to work with? Some great ideas for building out your profile here.

The second reason for a negative response is usually that your value proposition isn't resonating. Look at their title, look at their job description, look at the team underneath them. These should give a clear idea of what the prospect’s priorities are and what they were brought into their role to do. Tailor your value proposition to this to ensure it resonates.

4. How to get someone's attention

The easiest way to get someone's attention is to begin your outreach with something they care about. Examples include: role changes, industry trends or corporate social responsibility. It doesn't matter the topic, professional or personal. In my experience, personal insights followed by company insight yields the highest response rate. While, industry insights establishes credibility, I tend to get lower response rate.

5. Small changes, big differences

Making a change which results in a 1% increase in response rates over a year can have a massive impact. Let's do some napkin maths. If you reach out to 15 prospects a day, that is 75 per week and 3,600 over 48 working weeks a year. A 1% lift over 3,600 outreaches is 36 extra responses. Lets say 60% of these are positive responses. That's 21.6 extra meetings/opportunities a year for you. With a 20% win rate on opportunities that is more than 4 extra deals a year. Or more than 1 per quarter.

What would adding another closed/won deal each quarter mean for your number?

The more sales activity you can record and measure, the more you can AB test and slowly but surely move the needle. Keep in mind the smallest increase can deliver a big result.

Thanks for reading and I hope my five tips will help you to be more productive and successful!

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