How to Lead a Sales Development Team

Posted by Phill Keene on Wed, Feb 11, 2015

leadership.jpg There's no shortage of sales development blogs offering tips on the best ways to maximize a team's output. Many posts tell readers about how to accelerate their growth and build a bigger pipeline, but often neglect the fundamentals of how to lead a team of prospectors who will be the foundation for company growth. Through interactions with my peers in other sales development organizations, I’ve identified three key areas of focus to provide a solid foundation on which each team member can perform successfully.

Understanding the product

This one seems obvious, but it’s worth saying. Your SDRs need core knowledge of the product and your company to assume the role of an educator to the buyer – exactly the role that is needed in the beginning stages of the sales process. All of your reps need to be certified on their understanding of the core of your product and how it can transform the way a prospect's company can do business and grow. Understanding the product requires fluidity with brand messaging and positioning your product in the marketplace appropriately. Messaging tells a prospect who you are, what you do and how you're different from the competition. Getting the brand messaging right enables your team to convey your company's mission to prospects. (Steve Richard’s note – prospects are trying to identify with you early in their buying journey. This is why it’s critical that you understand the ‘why’ behind what you do. Watch this excellent TED Talk by Simon Sinek to start thinking about your core values and mission.)

Enable your sales team to create a culture of learning

Enablement is more than just teaching your team how to speak competently about your product and brand messaging. It's also important to help them learn the basic skills they need to do their jobs. Teach them talk tracks, call cadences, ways to gather relevant prospect information, and provide self-enablement resources to allow them to learn more at their own pace. Your reps need to be up on the latest trends in the industry and how you compete against other products. As a manager, you can't be available 24/7 to answer questions, but you can help build a culture that encourages self-motivated learning. When is the last time you got your team excited about reading an article that your buyer would care about? Creating an environment that thrives on education only improves your reps, both individually and as a team.

Provide the right tools

Once your team members have the knowledge to do their jobs, BDRs need the tools to make their day-to-day lives easier. Of course a CRM system is essential to keeping track of prospect and customer information as you scale. Adding additional tools like data sources, dialers, sales intelligence, and email tracking can also make your team more productive.

Yes sales development is about math and science, but don’t forget the art. It takes a little bit of finesse to set meetings with prospects. Still, the most successful BDRs are willing to work hard every day. A hard worker who can semi-automate daily tasks like dialing the phone or logging calls and emails can do the job of two average reps. Enabling your team with tools can give them a way to take what they do already to the next level.

At Octiv, we have created a culture that thrives on continuous improvement. Everyone on the sales development team comes in willing to put in the work, and they clearly know what is expected of them. Throughout the entire existence of the SDR program, we have tried a lot of things to generate more leads. Some of those things have failed, and some have been wildly successful. However, we have been quick to adjust to the things have not worked and tweaked them to be more effective.

Not everything you try with your team will work, and that's OK. What matters is that you commit to improving your team by offering the basic building blocks for successful sales development. Commit to your team, and they will commit to you.

Today's guest post comes from Phill Keene. Phill is the head of Business Development at Octiv, a pioneer in sales proposal technology. 

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Topics: Team Performance