Sales development is one of the most important and under-appreciated functions in growth-oriented B2B companies. It’s also one of the most exciting when it comes to the evolution of technology and AI.
This has never been more apparent than in March 2019 when Outreach and SalesLoft, hosted their annual conferences Unleash and Rainmaker—bringing together more than 2,000 members of the sales development community to discuss the latest trends and innovations in this burgeoning market.
These events made it clear that new technologies are transforming sales prospecting and what it means to be a sales development rep (SDR). These days, SDRs do a lot more than simply“smiling and dialing” (and emailing) 10 hours a day hoping to bring in a few more leads. In fact, the average SDR is responsible for 12.3 deals per quarter.
With the changing behaviours of today’s buyers and the availability of new technologies, sales development is becoming a sophisticated business function that takes a strategic approach to identifying and developing new sales opportunities based a wide range of buying signals and sales engagement techniques.
On average, SDRs use six different tools. And the days of SDR teams inheriting tech from the broader sales and marketing teams—such as customer relationship management (CRM), email automation, and social listening—and adapting them to meet their unique requirements for scalable sales prospecting are quickly coming to an end.
Rise of the SDR tech stack
We’re now witnessing the rise of a sales development tech stack that is built from the ground up to help SDRs connect with more prospects, build more meaningful relationships, and book more meetings—and to do it all at scale.
The real power in this new tech stack is its focus on both automation and personalization, two forces that have traditionally been at odds with each other in the worlds of sales and marketing. Automation drives scale and efficiency while personalization creates relevance and urgency. This combo gives you more at bats and a higher batting average as a sales rep.
While technologies designed for SDRs aren’t new, we’re now seeing a tipping point where the market is moving from “lots of great tools” to an “integrated tech stack” where all of these tools can work together within a single user experience.
SalesLoft now boasts a large app directory while Outreach introduced a Galaxy partner ecosystem to enable “any action” to be taken by an SDR from within one primary application. In essence, this means that an SDR can send an email, connect on social, make a phone call, send a personalized video, initiate a direct mailer, or even start up a chat conversation all from within a single application, thanks to various third party app integrations.
It’s all about helping sellers be more efficient, more effective, and more strategic in how they sell.
Implications for B2B sales teams
The rise of the SDR tech stack has many implications for today’s B2B sales teams, both in how we empower our reps and what we need to expect from our sales leaders. The top implications that I took away from interviews with sales experts at the events included:
- Impact on sales leadership and culture: Sales leaders need to understand that the world has moved beyond the cold call list. They have a greater responsibility to understand the technology, to identify and implement new processes supported by that tech, and to train their teams accordingly. This will also make for more motivated reps.
- Automation vs. personalization: Automation and personalization are both critical for today’s SDRs, and new technologies are helping on both sides of the equation. Every SDR team needs to be conscious of how they use technology to find that optimal balance of efficiency and effectiveness. The new stack is about quantity AND quality.
- Cool tools vs. integrated stack: It’s easy to adopt lots of cool sales tools and to see incremental gains in sales performance. But the promise of the new sales tech stack is to create a step-function change in performance across your team by bringing the top tools together in a way that is easy and efficient for any new rep to adopt. More data sources plugging in to the mothership will also enable more impactful AI.
- The “next action” has evolved to include video: Most sales teams are familiar with email, phone and social as the primary “next actions” for trying to engage a potential buyer. With diminishing returns happening on these channels, we’re now seeing one-to-one video, direct mail, and chat as the next wave of “next actions” for SDRs.
To stay on top of what’s happening in the world of sales development tech, follow these super smart people who are also very generous in the content and knowledge they share online:
- Richard Harris, The Harris Consulting Group
- Lori Richardson, Score More Sales
- John Barrows, JBarrows Sales Training
- Trish Bertuzzi, The Bridge Group
- Craig Rosenberg, TOPO Research
- Jamie Shanks, Sales for Life
- Jeremy Leveille, LeadIQ
- Max Altshuler, Outreach
- Kyle Porter, SalesLoft
And to learn more about adding video to your sales prospecting, check out The Definitive Guide to Video for Sales.