Concerns over lack of adequate pipeline is driving chief sales officers (CSOs) to implement or consider investments in sales development representatives (SDRs), according to Gartner, Inc. CSOs focused on driving pipeline growth should focus on SDR teams’ productivity by improving execution in specialized coverage, data sourcing, engagement playbook and data-driven call coaching.
“SDR teams specialize in identifying prospective buyers, performing outreach to new prospects and qualifying incoming leads making this a great area of investment for pipeline growth,” said Dan Gottlieb, research director in the Gartner for Sales practice. “However, SDRs suffer productivity issues due to a combination of unrealistic quota setting and limited operational guidance.”
CSOs focused on driving pipeline growth via sales development teams should consider the following to improve productivity:
- Create specialized SDR roles to narrow scope: Specialize SDRs to focus their prospecting efforts and improve overall productivity. Specialization enables flexible resource allocation, where SDRs can be deployed against a specific audience to proactively address pipeline coverage gaps.
- Shift data responsibilities to more cost-effective roles: Using SDRs to perform large volumes of manual data entry is an inefficient use of selling resources. CSOs can redirect SDRs’ time to high-impact sales engagement tasks by dedicating demand generation or operations resources to streamline the data management process for SDRs.
- Design a prescriptive sales engagement playbook aligned to workflows: An effective sales engagement playbook simplifies SDR decision making and provides guidance on multichannel messaging and multitouch prospecting behaviors to improve SDR connect, reply and meeting conversion rates.
- Scale frontline manager coaching with conversation analytics: Develop an ongoing coaching motion, leveraging conversation analytics, focused on the behaviors that improve meeting conversion rates.
Gartner research shows messaging is a top challenge for SDRs, indicating insufficient support from marketing and enablement teams. This leaves SDRs to create their own messaging that often yields low connect, reply and meeting conversion rates. Additionally, short SDR tenure of 15.5 months coupled with average ramp times of three months leaves less than a year at full productivity.
“This puts a significant burden on frontline managers for ramp and continuous coaching to maximize the ROI of the function,” said Mr. Gottlieb. “To yield repeatable positive pipeline contributions, CSOs must invest in practical programs for their SDR teams.”
Gartner for Sales Leaders clients can learn more in the report "4 Levers to Boost SDR Pipeline Generation."
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