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Shabri Lakhani, Founder, Salesworks | The 4 Steps of Sales Development Success – Sales Confidence

Thank you James and good evening everyone. I’m delighted to be here this evening despite landing back from South Africa this morning after one delayed flight, two missed flights and lost luggage, but delighted to be here and looking forward to hopefully sharing with you some thought provoking insights around the four components that make up sales development success.

So as someone who technically falls under the brackets of a millennial, I’m always a little bit wary about harking on about how different things were when I started my career, but I’m sure for some of the more seasoned sales professionals in this room and some of you might remember your first Nokia work phone, we seeing flight deals on Ceefax, so I’m sure that we had it a lot easier, but when I started sales development it was just me and a phone – there was no tech stack, and there were certainly no cadences planned to the minutest of details. But what am I trying to say here? Well the reality is is that change in sales is inevitable, but nowhere is it changing faster and quicker than at the top of the funnel where SDRs operate. SDRs need to be agile they need to be quick thinking to find these strategies to react to these changes. In high performing companies STRs are generating 57% of pipeline, so when SDR teams aren’t working well and it effects the entire team, so when I have a think about what makes up a high-performing SDR team, I think there’s four components that make this up. And what I often see is companies get one or two of these right, but actually it’s the alignment of all four that creates successful and efficient sales operation so the four that luckily all begin with ’S’, are: skills, structure, strategy, and systems. So I’m going to spectrum let’s expend the next five minutes or so talking through these in a bit more detail.

So the first is skills and this is what you do to make sure that SDRs have all the right attributes to perform throughout their time with you, and there’s three things I think you need to consider here so that’s hiring, onboarding, and retention. So first let’s start with hiring so how do you make sure you’re bringing the right SDRs in when you’re typically hiring people with little to no sales experience? So you need to have a robust framework to identify and spot that raw talent where you’re hiring on attitude and aptitude. Next is onboarding, so think about how you’re bringing your sales reps in. Forty seven percent of sales reps say that their companies aren’t providing them with the right training to be successful, so think about how you can improve ramp up time, and how you can build boot camp-style impact training to actually onboard your reps, think about how your coverings sales skills, product, and process as well.

So when I was at Finastra, some of you might know Finastra, so enterprise financial software and focusing on complex lending solutions, treasury platforms, trading solutions, and we had a three week bootcamp. Week one just covered product and I remember looking around the room at the end of week one and it was just blank faces, and I thought they just had a week of product training I don’t get it. And actually what what I realized was it didn’t matter they came from finance degrees or economics degrees, we didn’t actually cover anything around the industry, they didn’t realize that the challenges that they were trying to solve through the sales process. So we revamped the whole thing – our sales training team wasn’t very happy – but we revamped the whole thing and we started with day one what is the bank. So don’t underestimate the importance of industry training, business acumen drives business conversations.

So the last point around skills is retention, so think about what you’re doing to retain your reps and sharpen their skills. So the tenure in the SDR role has increased slightly and that’s due to innovation in career paths, so new roles like SDR team leads and managers, so think about how you can build these roles into your team to keep hold of your talented SDRs along with the promise of continuous learning development. So the second ’S’ is structure so the first is organizational structure. A question I’m asked a lot is do I think SDRs perform better under sales or marketing, and I see it working differently in different companies, and the honest answer is I don’t really think it matters. What I think matters a lot more is that sales and marketing are aligned, they’re collaborating towards the same goal and leaders are creating condition for them to do. So the next is actually team structure, so have an SDR manager or team lead. I think this is incredibly important and one of the fastest-growing roles out there that I see today. It’s really important that you have someone that’s managing SDRs day-to-day effectively as opposed to them reporting to the VP of Sales who might not have the time effort or resources to manage them.

And the last is career paths so build career paths for your SDR teams that they can progress through that you can measure and manage them through over time and performance. Career progression is one of the most motivating factors for SDRs, yet one of the biggest causes of attrition, and your SDRs need to see light at the end of the tunnel.

Our third ’S’ is strategy, so think about where your SDRs are spending most of their time, and how does that fit into your overall sales strategy a lot of companies are now moving away from just inbound outbound, and one of the examples of this is account based sales development, which is one of the hottest topics in the SDR world right now. So about 41% of companies have got an account-based SDR team, and leveraging those teams to drive account based sales development and account based marketing at enterprise levels. Companies are also looking at leveraging SDRs to execute multiple go to market strategies; so there was a report recently from topic, and that showed that 19% of the organization’s are using SDRs for customer expansion and 12% to support channel partners so whatever your SDR strategy is, make sure that you’re SDR’s are supporting that and augmenting that.

The last and final ’S’ is systems, and as I said at the start I couldn’t have dreamed of when I was an SDR of having the tools and tech stack that was available today. So use lead gen tools to maximize your SDRs time and with up two-minute lead data, you eliminate that awful moment when you call someone and you find out they left months or years ago. And there’s great stuff happening in the sales engagement space right now as well, and cadence is a vital in today’s sales world. Especially where the average b2b seller gives up after four attempts and yet the average b2b buyer only engages after six. Personalization is key and you need to be able to do this at scale if you’re going to succeed, and there’s great tools like Salesloft out there that are able to do that. So as we move into the next decade and we see chat expanding as a channel, and we see AI becoming a reality as part of the SDR tech stack and we also see significant bot adoption as you begin to think about growing your tech stack out in the coming year as well.

So that’s it those are the four ’S’s, the framework that that drives everything you should do around sales development success, and as I said at the start a lot of companies have one or two of those right, and that’s the easy part. It’s getting them to a line that’s that’s key. So get granular with your SDR teams and design and deliver a strategy that delivers results.

Thank you.

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