The Complete Guide to Sales Development in 2018 | sales hacker (2023)

The business case for sales development is based on flawless logic and verified by market data. It's much better to sellqualified prospectsthan trying your luck on a total stranger.

The more time your closers spend moonshotting, the less revenue they actually make. That's why the world's fastest growing B2B brands also have the largest and most sophisticated sales development teams in their class.

Key Takeaway: Sales success is directly proportional to the efficiency of your sales development team.

Here are the top sales development concepts and tactics you should know:

  1. What is sales development
  2. What does an SDR do?
  3. Sales Development Strategy
  4. sales development process
  5. Sales development skills and salaries
  6. SDR versus Account Executive
  7. Sales development metrics and KPIs
  8. Tools and technologies for sales development
  9. Dos and don'ts in sales development

What is sales development?

Sales development is the field, process, or team that focuses on the early stages of the sales cycle.

This includes customer research,prospecting, Initial Engagement, Lead Qualification. Sales development teams identify the best prospects to engage with and evaluate which of these can be considered promising enough to enter the official pipeline as Sales-Qualified Leads (SQLs).

Sales development emerged in the 1980s primarily in the B2B tech ecosystem. For players in this sector, sales growth depended on the specialization of the sales force.

Different teams were responsible for different elements of the sales process, such as: B. Lead generation, prospecting, nurturing, closing deals and customer success. In many successful B2B companies, sales development has taken over the prospecting and lead qualification process.

Evolution of sales development

Over the years, sales development has become an indispensable element common to most high-growth sales organizations. without sales development,the efficiency of the sellerswould suffer, leading to a collapse in closing prices and corporate earnings.

With the advancement of relevant technologies, sales development has become even more powerful with data analysis software, real-time business intelligence services, automatic dialers, call performance monitors, email tracking solutions, automated lead generators and other sophisticated prospecting tools.

Today some organizations have developed two different roles forbusiness developmentand sales development. Although these two roles have similar functions, they are different. Business developers are just one step away from the sales team, combining marketing and sales skills to generate leads for SDRs to work with.

What does a Sales Development Practitioner do?

The Complete Guide to Sales Development in 2018 | sales hacker (1)

Sales Development Reps (SDRs) perform only a subset of the roles typically attributed to stereotypical sales professionals.

For one, SDRs don't have to make deals and are often exempt from traditional sales quotas. Therefore, the popular industry meme "always closed" applies only marginally to sales reps.

Instead, SDRs take lead generation and qualification very seriously. Instead of quotas, SDRs aim to beat a different group of activities andperformance metrics.

Customer acquisition and lead qualification

Sales reps are the experts of choice when it comes to finding prospects, evaluating the product's suitability for the market, and keeping the sales pipeline full of quality leads.

Often, SDRs create the transition point between marketing and sales by further qualifying the Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs). By fulfilling their role, SDRs enable senior salespeople and account managers to do soclose more deals faster.

Personalized e-mail address and appointment scheduling

SDRs use all available channels to get the job done. They use the company's CRM pretty much as a limb, but they also explore the deep corners of social media to discover new prospects. After that, they create highly personalized emails to make meaningful connections.

They then take dozens of calls in a day for follow-up actions and to set up appointments to pinpoint problems and determine if any of their company's solutions directly address those problems.

To give you an idea of ​​how the best sales reps actually go about their day, here's a real-life exampleup-to-the-minute reporting.

Sales Development Strategy

The Complete Guide to Sales Development in 2018 | sales hacker (2)

A company's sales development strategy greatly affects its chances of meeting sales targets and achieving growth. A successful sales development strategy involves three key elements: people, process and technology.

The sales development strategy should focus on high performance on relevant metrics, which ultimately translates into higher sales figures. This includes recruiting training and even introducing software.

In many B2B organizations, sales development is closely aligned with marketing, so their respective strategies complement each other and are congruent at many critical touchpoints.

As buyers become more sophisticated, SDRs are forced to adopt many marketing techniques such asvideo prospectingand contextual mediation.

sales development process

As the business world radically transforms into a customer-centric landscape, the sales development process should also begin with the buyer in the spotlight. That is, how a company establishes itsideal buyer personalities(IBPs) and the benchmarks it uses to define a sales-qualified lead are critical.

Only after a qualified lead has been fully defined can a team begin developing the processes, tools, and tactics that will make up its sales development apparatus.

Steps in the sales development process

1) Identify what a Sales Qualified Lead is based on

  • demographic characteristics (industry, location, company size)
  • specific role (authority) of the contact person in the organization
  • the subject's willingness to engage the sales team
  • Problem vs. product fit
  • Budget (opportunity to buy a solution or subscribe to a service)
  • situational context or urgency (timeline)

2) Align sales and marketing efforts based on the SQL definition

3) Establish process and assign roles for –

  • Incoming (marketing-driven) leads
  • Outbound leads (prospects belonging to a company's overall addressable market and discoverable through SDRs)

4) Engage the lead via email, phone call, and other channels

5) Determine the lead's likelihood of purchasing a product

6) Determine if the lead is worth pursuing –

  • Ignore lead when the resources required to sell it outweigh the potential value
  • Introduce a Vet lead into the sales pipeline as a Sales Qualified Lead (SQL) when the potential value warrants further allocation of resources

7) Pass ownership of SQL to account executives

  • Introduction of SQL and Account Executive
  • Schedule a meeting between SQL and the Account Manager to drive the customer journey

Sales development skills and salaries

The Complete Guide to Sales Development in 2018 | sales hacker (3)The SDR position represents the entry point for aCareer in technical sales. ServiceNow Senior Director Ralph Barsi outlines four key responsibilities SDRs must accomplish:

  1. Research, identify and search for new customers
  2. Make lots of phone calls and write lots of emails
  3. Schedule quality appointments and meetings
  4. Create and develop new opportunities (add prospects to the pipeline)

For their efforts, SDRs enjoy aaverage salaryfrom $48,000 according to Glassdoor, with experienced SDRs taking home up to $60,000 to $70,000.

In the meantime, sales people are employed atSaaS companyReceive significantly higher salaries, starting at $60,000 (baseline) and up to $118,000, as reported by RingDNA.

Capabilities and characteristics of the best SDRs

  1. product knowledge
  2. customer focus
  3. Full awareness of the buyer journey
  4. Active listening
  5. Marketingkommunikation (E-Mail, Social Media, Voicemail, Live-Telefonate)
  6. objection handling
  7. Familiarity with sales software and lead generation tools
  8. Drive/self-motivation

Sales Development Rep (SDR) vs. Account Executive (AE)

SDRs use all the relevant tools and tactics to find prospects in the addressable market that match the company's profile in order to obtain a Sales Qualified Lead (SQL). They use phone, email, and social media messaging to spark conversations and make groundbreaking appointments.

On the other hand, account managers are spearheading efforts to get prospects to sign deals skillfullyrun demosand tailoring solutions to potential customers' specific pain points. Account managers are also partly responsible for keeping customers loyal to the brand through ongoing engagement and sharing values.

SDR success is primarily measured by the number of qualified leads they push into the pipeline as well as the number of successful appointments they are able to schedule. On the other hand, AE's success largely depends on the number of deals they close.

SalesLoft has published a very useful oneinfographicwhich clearly distinguishes the roles of SDRs and AEs.

Sales development metrics and KPIs

The Complete Guide to Sales Development in 2018 | sales hacker (4)

Different organizations use different sets of sales development metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs) based on their business model. However, revenue performance metrics generally fall into two main categories:

1. Activity/operation

Tracks how efficiently SDRs perform essential tasks and includes the number of calls, emails, meetings, and qualified leads SDRs are able to deliver over a given period of time

TIED TOGETHER:How to Qualify a Prospect (And 6 Common Mistakes to Avoid)

2. Impact/Performance

Monitors the quality and outcome of an SDR's contributions to the sales process and includes the percentage of qualified leads that eventually become paying customers, the average deal size of those customers, and the average time it takes to transition those qualified leads from start to finish the sales cycle.

Useful key figures for sales development

  1. Number of contact attemptsper day/week/month: Tracks the number of emails, calls, and meetings that SDRs perform over a period of time.
  2. Open and Response Ratesfor contact attempts: Monitors how often prospects open or reply to emails and voicemails.
  3. Number of SQLsper week/month: Monitors how many SQLs an SDR can check in a given period.
  4. number of callsPer Win: Tracks the number of calls generally required to orchestrate a successful deal.
  5. Number of SQLsper win: Tracks the quality of SQLs
  6. Average transaction sizeper SQL: This metric determines whether sales reps include high or low value opportunities in the pipeline.
  7. SQL win rate: This metric monitors how many qualifying opportunities have been lost or won over time.
  8. Share of pipeline volume(number and transaction size) relative to SDRs: This metric monitors the relative contribution of SDRs to the organization's potential output.

Tools & Technology for Sales Development

The Complete Guide to Sales Development in 2018 | sales hacker (5)

Technology is an SDR's best friend. In fact, most of theTech stack for sales organizationsaddress the needs of salespeople.

Because many of the tasks SDRs need to perform, software automations are a very welcome addition to the SDR toolkit, especially when it comes to email and call management. Advances in AI and machine learning have also made life much easier for SDRs, improving their ability to find, engage, and qualify leads.

Top tools using SDRs

accelerate accent

Sales reps using Accent Accelerate get full visibility into the entire sales cycle. Opportunities, sales activity and customer sentiment are some key elements here.

Big tin can

Supplemented by AI, this software offers real-time information about potential customers. It also recommends the best content to engage with at each stage of the sales process.


CirlceBack helps SDRs organize all contact information from their email, phone, and social media accounts into an enhanced address book. CircleBack can be integrated with CRMs.


Powered by automated machine learning, Cognis enables SDRs to accelerate prospecting activities. This makes it easier to find and connect with the right prospects.


SDRs can use Datanyze to examine a potential client's website to get an overview of the technologies and services they use. This helps SDRs make wiser decisions about the suitability of the product.


Engagio provides a clear overview of an organization's decision-making structure. This allows SDRs to identify the best contacts to hire.


SDRs and other sales team members can improve sales performance through Hoopla's analytics, data visualization, and gamification capabilities.

lead genius

This solution processes real-time data to help sales reps better locate and target prospects.

Level Eleven

LevelEleven uses performance data to manage sales activities and drive positive sales behaviors among SDRs and their peers.

LinkedIn Sales Navigator

Most decision makers in companies are on LinkedIn. The LinkedIn Sales Navigator makes it easy for SDRs to spot and reach them.


Because SDRs use email constantly, they benefit from Outreach's voice and email automation capabilities. To save time, SDRs can also integrate Outreach with their CRM to log all their messaging activity.


Smaller teams that prefer a leaner and more visual CRM can turn to Pipedrive to get a full picture of their sales activity and goals.


For many successful companies, CRM means Salesforce. This platform's long-term dominance in the market allows it to expand its functionality with a wide range of features and integrations.


This universal prospecting platform empowers SDRs to move the needle when it comes to the number of appointments, demos, and qualified leads they deliver.


SDRs benefit from this tool's prescriptive analytics, outreach automation, and insight generation capabilities. Among other things, Yesware may measure prospect sentiment by tracking email open and response rates and other behavioral indicators.

Final Takeaways: Do's & Don'ts for Sales Development

A typical stepping stone to a sales executive career, sales development is perhaps the most activity-intensive role in a sales organization.

But it is also one of the crucial elements for the success of a profit-oriented B2B company. A sales team with a slack pipeline of low-quality leads is forgotten. In contrast, an organization with a highly motivated and effective sales development team often comes out on top.

Here are some final tips that SDRs should consider in order to achieve excellent performance.

Do your math

Prospecting and lead generation is largely a numbers game. Improve your sales activity metrics by employing technologies and tactics that help increase SDR performance. Practice effective time management so you always perform the right sales activity at the right time.

Do your homework

Numbers alone are not enough. Be the best at what you do by building skills, gaining world-class product knowledge and learning new customer acquisition tricks from mentors.

do not take it personally

Selling is rarely a piece of cake. Due to the sheer volume, the negatives seem to outweigh the positives at all times. However, the right attitude, behavior, and strategies will help you get better at attracting prospects and dealing with the hits.

Don't lose focus

Selling has become a buyer-centric paradigm, and focusing on prospects is a good tactic. Defining the right buyer personas and ideal customer profiles early on will help your team make reliable product suitability assessments later.

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