The sales development function has gained a lot of popularity amongst the fastest growing b2b companies in the world.
Zenefits used sales development reps to grow from $1-$100 million in annual recurring revenue in just 2 years.
Avanoo went from $0 - $5 million in a little over a year
And Salesforce.com used sales development as a major part of their growth strategy. A strategy which has made them the largest software as a service company in the world with a market cap exceeding $140 billion.
Before we push on, I’ll give you a quick definition of what I mean here by sales development as a function.
What all of these companies did was split sales into 3 broad areas, with individual departments responsible for each area. Those areas are:
Sales Development - that is, identifying prospects that you’re not yet doing business with, and reaching out to them in order to open up a sales discussion.
Account Executives / Closers - These reps are responsible for taking the meeting that the sales development reps set up and progressing the opportunity through to a closed sale.
Customer Success / Account Managers - This team is responsible for after sales support.
With this approach proven without a doubt to generate faster growth rates at greater levels of efficiency, why do large New Zealand based b2b companies prefer to make business development Managers responsible for the entire sales cycle?
Let’s break down the typical outbound sales process into its individual parts to see just how many things a BDM in New Zealand needs to be proficient at.
Sales Development Competencies
Market research - In order to prospect into new opportunities a BDM will need to be able to identify companies that require their offering and then the decision makers at those companies. They’ll then need to track down the contact information for these
people including phone numbers, email addresses and Linkedin profiles at a minimum.
Messaging - when you’re approaching cold prospects you have a limited window of attention. You need to be able to develop messaging that is compelling and speaks specifically to a prospects pain points in order to advance the discussion. This is true regardless of the medium you’re communicating through.
Cold Email - Next, they’ll need to be able to craft compelling cold emails to these prospects in order to generate enough interest in the offering for them to agree to a meeting. This involves an understanding of copywriting and also ideally the use of sales automation tools such as Hubspot or Outreach so that these messages can be sent at scale.
Cold Calling - Not everyone is going to respond to email outreach. For this reason the BDM will need to incorporate cold calling into their process as well. Making effective cold calls takes a ton of preparation, research and scripting. They’ll need to have prepared answers to all of the common objections, be able to navigate past gatekeepers and test different approaches overtime to see what works most effectively.
Social Selling - All of the data suggests that communicating with prospects through multiple channels increases the likelihood of receiving a response from that person. For that reason everyone of your sales people should be interacting with prospects through Linkedin.
Whether that’s commenting on their posts, producing their own content or connecting with and messaging potential prospects they should be active in this medium.
The other areas of required proficiency are listed below. I haven’t outlined these in detail as most people are familiar with the core parts of both sales and account management.
Account Management Competencies
Internal stakeholder management
You can you see the breadth of expertise that’s required just for a BDM to bring one new customer on board.
Your existing sales Team
You can see from the list of competencies that becoming an expert in each of these areas would be extremely difficult. Finding and training say 10, 20, 30 or 40 of these experts to fill out your sales team is virtually impossible.So if you’re taking this approach you've got people that are almost certainly dropping the ball big time in one or two of these three areas.
If you think about for just a few minutes you’ll be able to identify these people on your team.
The hunter - Has a knack for opening up new opportunities, always has a large pipeline but may not convert this as well as other people on your sales team.
The closer - Probably spends a lot of time with a handful of prospects that have come from her existing networks or referrals and closes a high percentage of them. Usually large contracts
The farmer - Would rather help an existing customer solve an operational issue than meet with a cold prospect.
Each of these people have their place in your organisation but why not put them to work in the areas they’re most effective and not expect them to do the things they’re not good at and don’t like doing?
By specialising you can easily set-up specific metrics that hold reps accountable to the tasks that they’re responsible for. A sales development rep can’t say they’ve been helping a customer to solve an important issue, a closer can’t say they spent a large part of their week doing market research and an account manager can’t hide behind proposal writing. Each function has specific metrics they need to hit every month. Just imagine the level of accountability you could create in your sales team with this kind of approach.
These metrics will allow you to drive the outcomes you want at every stage of your sales pipeline. There is no escaping individual responsibilities and therefore individual results when your team is structured in this way.
Streamlines training and personal development
By separating the functions you can also more easily identify the areas in which each of your team members needs to improve. A sales development rep might have a low email reply rate compared to their peers. Maybe you need to invest in some copywriting training for them, or get them to spend time with one of the reps who does this well.
One of your closers does a great job of closing smaller deals but not large ones. Maybe you need to work with them to make sure they’re really understanding the prospects requirements and are detailing how your solutions meets these.
Create career pathways
The other benefit that comes from this kind of structure is the option for people to move up in the organisation. You can bring in sales development reps on a lower compensation package and have them learn your business and your process from the inside. The ones that show potential can be promoted into closing or account management roles.
Specialisation leads to efficiency. It’s true in all areas of business. So if you’re looking for a way to maximise the return on your sales budget this is a sure fire way to do it without deploying additional capital. If you do if properly you could even reduce the spend in this department whilst improving results.
If you want to have a detailed discussion on how this could work at your company get in touch. We’d be glad to set-up a time to talk.