One of the most critical roles of converting leads to opportunities is in the hands of your sales development team. A high-functioning sales development strategy has major impact on your revenue, so it is critical to build strong cadences and processes within the team. Here are a few areas where many organizations miss the mark in executing sales development:

Inbound vs. Outbound:

Outbound prospecting and lead follow up/qualification and development are two entirely different skillsets and require entirely different processes. Thinking your SDR’s are going to be able to do both with success at the same time is a huge misfire. Outbound prospecting requires precision, targeting, and finesse; it’s most certainly a game of quality over quantity. Inbound lead development is about math, and maximizing the value of your lead generation and marketing investments. This is compounded by the fact that most SDR teams are singularly targeted based on metrics like meetings set and pipeline generated. Like most humans, they are going to attack what they feel is the path of least resistance, not caring about the costs associated with demand generation (and the ROI on that spend). SDRs are trained to “burn the haystack” to find the needle, costing in some cases millions in poor conversion rates on marketing generated leads. Sales development done right should be split into two teams: outbound and inbound (also known as lead development). By separating the two functions, you can specialize scripting, skill development, and targeting to maximize ROI on each separate role (bonus if inbound/lead development reports into the marketing org).

Forgetting the Nurture:

I don’t know exactly when it happened (it might have been around the time “Predictable Revenue” was published), but it seems that B2B marketers have forgotten the value of playing the long game. I don’t want to be the bearer of bad news, but “ready to buy” leads aren’t in unlimited supply. In order to meet the continually climbing revenue goals for your company, its going to be crucial that your team gets in the business of creating in-market opportunities, not chasing them. This starts with the foundation of every great sales and marketing organization – the email nurture.  The secret sauce is getting in early (at a low cost per lead), and then using a content-based nurture to assess the viability of the leads via a scoring model. When a lead “scores up”, it’s then time for the SDR team to chase it down and turn it into an opportunity. Your focus here should be two-fold—identifying leads that are in the early stages of the buying process (intent) and meet your target buyer persona. By getting in early and becoming the thought leader, your company now solves the challenge of your buyer – putting you lightyears ahead of your competitors who are chasing sales-ready leads.

Over Reliance on Automation:  

Put the robot down!!! Generating engagement with your content and website is no easy feat. In some cases, millions of dollars are invested annually to generate leads for your sales/marketing organization. Why are we taking our best opportunities and putting them in the hands of an automated bot? Thanks for coming to my website and requesting more information, your business is so invaluable to me, that I have an automated email reply bot who’s going to try and prequalify you to talk to a salesperson. This type of engagement makes me sad. I get it, automation brings customer acquisition costs (CAC) down, but I also believe it brings customer acquisition down.  Take the opportunity to zig, while the other companies zag and take a human-first approach to your sales development. You’ll stand out from the noise and drive huge ROI.

Having a robust sales development function takes meticulous preparation and execution. Putting all of the pressure on SDRs will not get you to your conversion goals. Instead, building out a team of separate outbound and inbound support will allow your sales staff to function at an optimized level. Building relationships and getting in early with leads will allow you to be a thought leader. Add in elements of humanized conversations and nurturing and you’re well on your way to crushing revenue goals through sales development.