Sales Development Technology: The Stack Emerges

August 30, 2019

Research with sales leaders finds a new technology stack is emerging that is specifically designed for sales development. 

The original version of this article, authored by Bryan Gonzalez, was published by TOPO, now Gartner. 

As sales development has become a mission-critical element in most high-growth companies’ marketing and sales efforts, the abundance of digital information makes it harder than ever to reach and qualify buyers. Sales development leaders are in a continuous battle to manage this core tension.

One way teams are overcoming this challenge is through the use of technology, as more and more technology vendors build products for sales development. Of course, the proliferation of sales development technologies creates yet another problem for sales development leaders — how to make sense of the ever-increasing and changing sales development technology landscape.

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That’s why we have published our Sales Development Technology Report, the seminal work on sales development technology, based on 130+ interviews with sales development leaders. The report:

  • Analyzes key market dynamics from both the buyer and vendor perspective
  • Provides a canonical framework for thinking about the sales development technology stack
  • Shows how to evaluate and adopt specific sales development technologies
  • Examines 75 different technology vendors in nine different categories

Sales development technology trends

The report analyzes the trends, dynamics and drivers that are shaping the sales development technology market. Here are some of the trends that buyers and vendors should track.

Buyer behavior has made it essential to augment sales development representatives’ (SDRs') capabilities with technology. SDRs now have to make more touches per lead and make those touches more relevant and personalized. It takes 18 dials to connect with a buyer. Only 23.9% of sales emails are opened. Sales development needs to invest in technologies that help SDRs find more buyers and increase both the quantity and quality of touches for those buyers.

On average, high-growth sales development teams have five applications in their technology stack. Furthermore, the stack will continue to grow — 72.4% of companies have plans to make a sales development technology purchase.

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Adoption risk is the No. 1 challenge when it comes to sales development technology. High-growth teams have a process to ensure adoption and assess quantifiable gains. 

The sales development technology landscape

Market dynamics are also shaping the sales development technology vendor landscape. The report provides detailed analysis of 75 different vendors in nine different technology categories.

Point applications are racing to become the single platform for sales development. Forward-thinking vendors are exploring how they can offer more capabilities to grow market share.

Contact vendors, for example, are enabling SDRs to contact prospects within the platform (InMail) and are incorporating advanced sales intelligence. Sales email applications are beginning to incorporate other touchpoints like phone and social to offer SDRs a single outreach solution.

Sales development organizations should use multiple sources for contact data

SDRs need contact data providers to allow them to:

  • Find prospects
  • Research prospects  
  • Reach prospects by phone and email

LinkedIn has become a primary source of contact data for sales development teams, in large part because it makes it easier to find and research prospects with the most accurate, real-time data. However, it does not provide the phone and email information SDRs need for outreach, nor does it integrate with many other systems (e.g., CRM and sales email apps).

As a result, 89.9% of companies use two or more sources of contact data to fulfill the needs of sales development.

Technology can greatly improve the number and quality of SDR touches

Sales email applications that offer automated email capabilities, such as mass email sends, templates, and reporting and analytics, have become essential to the stack. Sales email applications have overtaken traditional email applications and email automation platforms as SDRs’ primary means of outreach.

Dialing automation is enabling SDRs to compete with severely low connect and call-back rates

It takes 18 or more dials to connect with a prospect over the phone and call-back rates are below 1%. Despite its inefficiency, the phone remains a critical touchpoint in SDR outreach.

As a result, technology vendors have responded with applications to automate sales phone activity. Dialing automation is the No. 1 buying priority for sales development with 45.3% of sales development teams planning to evaluate vendors this year.

Predictive analytics offers sales development a powerful value proposition

Predictive analytics offers a valuable way for organizations to home in on their ideal customer profile and focus SDRs on the buyers that are most likely to convert into opportunities.

This technology is still emerging, with only 15% of companies using it, but its strong value proposition for sales development will drive its continued growth in the technology stack. In fact, predictive analytics technology is the second-highest buying priority for sales development in 2015 with 36.8% of companies planning to evaluate vendors this year. 

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