The 4 S’s of sales development

Shabri Lakhani is an expert when it comes to bringing out the best in SDR teams. Let’s hear her four tips for success, that luckily all begin with the same letter!

Back in November, Sales Confidence staged another one of its exclusive events for sales leaders, at the Andaz Hotel in Liverpool Street. As always, we were treated to fascinating insights from a stellar line-up. Based on these talks, we put together some articles, so even if you couldn’t be there, you can still get inspired.

Shabri Lakhani

Shabri is founder of SalesWorks, a sales development advisory providing strategy, structure and insight into the B2B software and software-enabled services space. SalesWorks is a long-time partner of Sales Confidence and they do great work.

One of Shabri’s real areas of expertise is in developing SDR teams. Her day-long workshops for SDR managers are a must for anyone looking to enhance their SDR capability. When Shabri talked at Sales Confidence, she shared with us four things that you need to get in alignment, to really get things moving at the start of the sales cycle.

‘Change is constant in sales. Nowhere is it evolving more rapidly than at the start of the funnel, where SDRs operate. SDR teams need to be agile and find strategies to adapt to these changes quickly.’

1 — Skills

Our first ‘S’ is skills — what you do to ensure your SDRs have all the attributes they need to perform throughout their time with you.

The first step to achieving this is by hiring right. It can be difficult to hire SDRs as they are usually at the start of their career, with no experience to show you. You need to have a framework for spotting raw talent.

The next step is onboarding, where you train them how to do things right in your organisation. Consistency is the watchword here. Then, once they are ramped up and doing their jobs, you must reinforce their skills. Do you have dedicated SDR enablement? How do you coach your SDRs to improve?

Finally, you need to keep hold of their skills. What can you offer your SDRs in terms of career development to stop them from taking their talents elsewhere?

2 — Structure

The next ‘S’ is structure. You need to structure your sales team in a way that gets the best out of your SDRs.

Think about whether they should sit in the sales team or the marketing team. Shabri has seen both ideas work equally well; what matters is that sales and marketing are aligned and working towards the same goals.

You should also think about the reporting structure. Ideally, you should have an SDR manager or team lead managing on a day-to-day basis. VPs of Sales may lack the time and resources to manage the specific needs of SDRs.

Finally, think about progression. Is there a path for a top-performing SDR to become an AE or something else? Your SDRs need to see a light at the end of the tunnel as they deal with all the rejection that comes with their job.

3 — Strategy

Next, strategy. What are you getting you SDRs to do? How does it fit in with the overall strategy of your sales team?

Many organisations use their SDRs as part of an account-based marketing (ABM) strategy. Others use them as part of multiple go-to-market approaches, such as customer expansion or supporting channel partners.

Whatever your strategy is, make sure you use your SDRs in a way that supports it and augments it.

4 — Systems

(This is Shabri’s favourite area at the moment as it’s where the real change is happening.)

You need to give your SDRs the tools to succeed. For example, lead gen tools are essential for making the most of your SDRs’ time. With up-to-the-minute data, you can eliminate those times when your SDRs call up people who left the company months ago!

There is also so much happening in the sales engagement space. Cadences are essential in today’s world, where it takes six touches for the average B2B buyer to engage with the seller. Personalisation is vital and you need tools that help you do it at scale.

As we move into the next decade, look at tools that help with chat. AI-powered chat tools are going to revolutionise the way we do things.

Over to you

With Shabri’s 4S Methodology, you have a framework that can drive everything you do when it comes to your SDR team. However, you need to get all of them right; just one or two is not enough. Get granular to discover areas where you can improve.

Now, we want to know what you think. What do you do to get the most from your SDRs? Perhaps you have some hiring or coaching tips? Or can you recommend some tech that makes SDRs more efficient and effective?

Let us know with a comment below.

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