5 essential parts of a sales development process (2023)

Let's say your marketing team breaks it. All the metrics they use to measure success are green. At the same time, your sales time doesn't feel the impact of their efforts and spends more time looking for customers when they should close.

5 essential parts of a sales development process (1)

What's going on here?

In many companies, there is a separation between marketing and sales:

  • The sales team says incoming leads are unqualified.
  • Marketing says the sales team just can't close.
  • There is no system to distinguish warm leads from cold leads, high quality leads from low quality.
  • It is not even apparent where the separation occurs.

Sound familiar?

The first step in correcting your marketing and sales alignment is implementationsales developmentinto your existing process.

What is sales development?

Sales development is the process of warming up leads or prospects and readying them for the eventual buying decision.

Acomplete sales processincludes the following steps:

  1. prospecting
  2. Connect and qualify
  3. To research
  4. Present
  5. handling objections
  6. Conclude

Sales development falls into phases 1 and 2 of this process, practically on the line between marketing and sales handoff.

Why a sales development process?

Sales development is crucial in inbound marketingbecause your marketing team is likely generating leads at all stages of the buyer journey. Essentially, by the time they become a lead, many prospects may not be ready to be contacted (yet!). If the lead isn't ready, calling the sales rep will only spin the wheels (or worse, piss them off).

When sales development is used effectively, prospects are primed for decision making when handed off to sales deals, making deal closure easier to achieve.

“To put it simply, sales has the function of selling directly to the end customer. The function of business development is to work together through partners to sell to the end customer in a scalable way,” he saysAndreas Dumont, who advises several early-stage startups. The better your sales development process, the more deals your sales team will naturally close and the more time they will have to focus on sales activities.

Creating a sales development process

Sales development consists of three phases:

  1. Identifying Qualified Marketing and Sales Leads (SQLs)
  2. Engage those leads
  3. Qualifying these leads into real sales opportunities

Unfortunately, this does not happen by itself, especially whenMarketing and sales are not coordinated.

Here are some steps you can take to start implementing your process:

1. Define theQualities of each life cycle phaseafter a prospect becomes a lead.

A website visitor who downloads an e-book does not automatically mean that they are a prospect. Because of this, lumping everyone together with the umbrella term “lead” leads to disorganization.

The job of the marketing team is to nurture leads that aren't ready and identify those who are close to making a purchase decision.

Ein Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL)is a lead that the marketing team marks as ready to sell. Remember that they can be right or wrong, which is why the next phase of the life cycle is so important.

A Sales Qualified Lead (SQL), on the other hand, is an MQL that the sales team has now flagged as a qualified prospect. Your goal is then to qualify and engage that SQL until it becomes a real sales opportunity.

In order for your marketing team to generate MQLs for the sales team, they must have a definition of what the sales team is looking for. This is not intended to put the entire burden of qualifying leads on your marketers' shoulders, but rather to provide a relaxed framework to increase the number of MQLs that are converted to SQLs and reduce the burden on sales reps by eliminating bad matches will.

Learn more with the free HubSpotLead Management Course.

2. Identify gaps in the pipeline.

Once you have definitions for each life cycle phaseMQL, SQL und OpportunityYou can now search where the process breaks down. Ask key people in each department questions about their efforts, such as:

  • Who are the best leads?
  • What qualities immediately disqualify a lead?
  • What needs to happen before a sales rep contacts you for the conversation to be productive?
  • Where do you waste the most time in the prospecting and engagement phase?
  • How can marketing better nurture and qualify leads that aren't ready yet?

These questions can lead to interesting insights into where the gaps are between MQLs and SQLs and/or SQLs and Opportunities.

3. Establish a process to close these gaps.

  • Is there a necessary step that falls through the cracks? If so, who will be responsible for keeping it going?
  • Which marketing activities need to be better added?sales promotion?
  • What collateral needs to be created to help sales reps have more meaningful conversations?
  • How can technology support the alignment between marketing and sales?Lead-Scoring?Automated lead nurturing?

4. Create a service level agreement (SLA) between marketing and sales.

AService Level Agreement(SLA) is a contract that specifies deliverables from one party to another. Once clarity has been established and gaps identified, you can formalize the relationship between departments with an SLA that documents what needs to happen before, during and after the handover and what success looks like.

The goal here is to get both departments to agree on definitions and roles so they can take on their responsibilities while understanding how it all contributes to the broader goals of the organization.

5. Start the process.

With clearly defined roles and a shiny new SLA, marketing and sales are better equipped to support each other and sales are better equipped to qualify and close leads.

Continue to monitor the process and don't be afraid to change it as the team adjusts and you learn more about what's working best.

Below are some additional things to consider incorporating into your sales development process as you invest more in this effort.

5 essential parts of any sales development process

Sales development processes are most effective when they include multiple strategic elements carefully designed to guide prospects through the buying journey. Here's a look at what yoursales development processshould include.

1. A CRM that supports your workflows

Customer relationship management (CRM) platforms.are only as useful as their ability to support the way your sales reps work, rather than creating additional administrative demands that don't use time efficiently.

Choosing the right CRM andsales softwarethat supports your initiatives, enables sales reps to efficiently collect lead information and conduct customer acquisition activities. “From a sales perspective, sales development is a formalization of how the team reaches their customers with their products or services. It's about making sure the method used to reach new prospects is cost-effective and effective in attracting the right kind of long-term customers,” says Mark Hunter ofThe salesman.

2. A robust lead qualification system

What qualifies a lead? atWhen does a lead become a prospect?, and a prospect getting ready to transition to your close team? Sales development requires clear definitions and processes for qualifying leads for the greatest possible efficiency. Sending unqualified leads to sales development wastes valuable time; Likewise, directing prospects to close-sellers who were not adequately informed about the product or service can result in losing otherwise targeted prospects that would have been converted with proper lead nurturing.

These definitions and the lead qualification and nurturing processes represent a lead's movement through the buying journey. Marketing, sales development, and sales close teams all require a thorough understanding of these concepts.

“Using the specialization mindset, build specific processes for your sales reps to follow. It helps onboarding employees quickly and effectively define best practices for your team. The playbook you create will be a practical guide, going from your hiring strategy to the cadence at which you reach prospects,” Greg Klingshirn suggests in oneArticle on Forbes.

3. A central content management portal

Sales reps leverage a variety of collateral and content resources to educate prospects and qualify leads. Often these assets exist in silos, forcing sales reps to waste valuable time finding the right content assets for different prospects or educating leads about a specific selling point.

Because assets are hard to find, sales reps often turn to materials that are less effective but meet their general needs. If you maintain a central database that contains approvedsales collateralUniquely labeled and classified for different buyer personas and different stages along the buyer's journey, empower your sales development team with the resources they need to influence buying decisions.

4. Sales Analytics

In addition to providing easy access to content assets to support sales development teams at every stage of the buying journey, sales analytics provide data to educate sales reps on the most effective selling materials, aligned with buyer personas and the different stages of the buying journey.

“Marketing can only optimize programs if they have the data they need to be successful. Sales reps are notoriously bad at maintaining good data, and sales leadership cares about sales forecast data (with good reason). On the other hand, well-managed sales development teams are remarkably good at delivering data. Sales development teams literally “live” in the CRM application all day and have an incentive to feed good data to marketing to make their life easier,” says Craig Rosenberg in aPost in the TOPO blog. By arming sales reps with the right materials, to the right prospects, at the right time, your lead qualification process is streamlined and your sales reps can spend more time doing what they do best: selling.

5. A means of collaboration and feedback

Sales development is truly the bridge between marketing and sales, and continuous improvement requires continuous input from both sides of the equation. The most effective sales development processes contain a built-in feedback mechanism. This allows marketing teams to educate salespeople on nuances and specific challenges associated with sales leads, while sales teams can provide feedback on prospect readiness and ease of prospect conversion, relayed by your sales development team.


Whether you define it that way or not, all sales organizations use some form of sales development process. The more carefully you design your processes, and the more thoroughly your marketing and sales teams are trained in every element of the process, the more qualified leads your teams will generate and the more sales they will close. It pays to develop a strategic, data-driven sales development plan to increase efficiency and generate higher returns.

Subjects: sales process Deal-Tracking-Software

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