Tyler also has his podcast “Sales Lift”, with more than 40 episodes. Make sure you check it out.
In this episode:
- What is SDR?
- How is SDR different from inside sales and outside sales?
- Should Sales Development reps be part of sales or marketing?
- In what ways the structure of business and organization influences SDR position and role?
- How the account-based marketing model affects SDR role in a company?
- What is the ideal process that put marketing and SDR together?
- What are the processes and structure in terms of nurturing and also following up?
- In what ways Sales Development representatives create a seamless customer experience?
- How can training improve marketing and sales messaging and consistency?
- What is happening with inbound leads and should a marketing team undergo some sort of pre-qualification?
- In what ways Sales Development reps help with handling data?
- What are the best ways for marketing and sales to exchange information?
- What Is the process of SDR working through the potential prospects?
- How does SDR address disqualified leads or lost opportunities?
Quotes from the episode:
“The SDR can potentially add a little bit more context, a little bit more of a human-centric element because it’s an actual individual. So they should be taking the messaging from marketing that might be more of a one-to-many message and contextualizing it for that specific client. ”
“I think that the nurturing can happen from the marketing team or the SDR team. It depends on the value of accounts, the amount of your total addressable market, how many people are actually in your pipeline at a given time. ”
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Hey everyone, a big hello from Portland, Oregon. Today I welcome a very special guest. Tyler. I love his name. Tyler Lindley. Tyler is a senior sales instructor and SDR coach at Vendition. Today we’ll find out what SDR is, and a little bit more about this sales training company. Let’s get started.
Tyler Lindley: Thank you, Pam. I’m going to bring you on my podcast and have you do that intro every single episode. (Pam laughs) That might just be my new episode forever.
Pam Didner: More than happy to do your intro and outro, but I think I am going to scare people away.
Tyler Lindley: I loved it. I love it. Thank you. Thanks for having me on.
Pam Didner: Oh, my pleasure. So, SDR. I heard about SDR. Can you explain what that is? And also, you know, people talking about inside sales and outside sales. Can you also explain that as well so we are on the same page before we move forward?
Tyler Lindley: Yeah, certainly, certainly. So yeah, SDR, for those that don’t know, is a sales development rep. If we think about what a sales development rep is, a sales development rep is someone qualifying, uh, prospects. They’re doing a lot of prospecting, a lot of top of the funnel activity, basically sitting in between marketing and sales. So if we’ve got full cycle sales–
Pam Didner: Oh, that’s a very tough, tough spot to be in. (laughs)
Tyler Lindley: [00:01:44] Yeah. It’s a tough role to fill. It is an interesting place to be. Um, just, because obviously marketing and sales and the alignment there is really important. And the SDR is a physical group of people signing up to be in between those two groups. So a very brave group of folks that do a lot of cold calling and prospecting, and it’s, uh, definitely a fun adventure being an SDR, for sure.
Pam Didner: So, how is that different from inside sales and outside sales? Can you be a little bit clear about that one too? I have my definition, but I love, love, love to hear yours.
Tyler Lindley: So yeah. Inside sales and outside sales, um, I guess the main difference is inside is typically done indoors. Uh, but it is, it is sales.
Pam Didner: We don’t go out.
Tyler Lindley: They don’t go out! Yeah, a lot of sales is now inside sales, where, you know, used to, when you think of outside sales, that was a lot of field sales where you had higher value accounts, you needed to develop relationships. So you were investing a lot more time and energy to go meet with clients in person. Uh, with inside sales, it’s kind of the new model that gets popularized by tech and software companies, where a lot of sales is happening just on the phone, on the computer. There’s very, very little travel, if any, happening at all. So everything is done remotely.
And as we know, with the big changes with COVID last year, you know, a lot of outside teams were forced to move inside. Uh, so now inside sales has become almost the default. Um, although as things continue to loosen, I’m sure, you know, some of those folks that were doing outside before will go back to that model. Still, I think you’ll also see a lot more folks, you know, maybe that moved inside to inside sales model will likely stay there in the future just because it makes maybe more logistical sense for them. And maybe they saw good results.
Pam Didner: So, is it fair to say that the role of SDR is kind of like a subcategory of inside sales to some extent?
Tyler Lindley: To some extent, yeah. If we think about SDR, the SDR role was created because we decided to separate the prospecting and the top of the funnel activities. We decided to bifurcate those roles from the kind of moving people through the full sales cycle and closing. Um, and the reason being is that it’s two different skill sets. It’s a different skill set to do prospecting. It’s high volume. The messaging matters a lot. You don’t have to have a ton of product knowledge because you’re not having very in-depth conversations.
Whereas when you move to an AE role, a closing role, you need to have more product knowledge. You need to learn how to manage a lot of different stakeholders. You’ve got to learn how to drive to the close, overcoming objections, getting through purchasing negotiations. I mean, it’s a very different skill set.
So the roles were bifurcated because it kind of just makes sense to do them separately. And then what happens is many SDRs will graduate into an AE role, assuming they’re successful.
Pam Didner: So you mentioned that SDR is sitting between sales and marketing in that very, very cushy chair, which is between you and all the sales and the marketing department. Then the next question I would like to ask you is should SDR be part of sales or marketing? What is your thought on that?
Tyler Lindley: It’s a good question. I think it depends. It depends on the structure of the organization, depends on what’s the value of a customer? I mean, and, and how many leads are we talking to? A lot of folks have moved to an account-based model and an account-based marketing model. And in that kind of a model, you know, it might make sense for the SDRs to live under marketing because they’re doing a lot of the nurturing, a lot of the qualification that is just an extension of your marketing efforts. So we’ve seen some folks pull SDRs over to the marketing function,
Pam Didner: Especially on the demand gen side of things,
Tyler Lindley: Yeah. Especially. Yeah. And if you’re doing it, yeah. A lot of inbound. If you have many inbound leads, you want to make sure that that speed, the lead, the speed of the SDR getting on the phone is very important. Sometimes, it can make sense for that to live in marketing and more of a campaign-based environment versus sales.
Now the flip side of that is that this is a sales role. This requires you to get on the phone. This requires conversations, soft skills, things that are probably better nurtured under a sales leader. Um, that’s what I think the best model is to have an SDR leader that is specific to the SDRs and that leader, I think, can work on the alignment between marketing, the marketing leader, the sales leader, and, and bridge that gap, I think a lot easier. So for me, it depends. It can go in either marketing or sales, but yeah. At the end of the day, the SD R team needs their leader. Um, because it is such a unique role that’s sitting in between those two groups.
Pam Didner: Yeah. And the based on what I have seen so far, you can comment on that as well. The majority of SDR tend to be part of the sales organization. Would you agree?
Tyler Lindley: I would agree. Yeah, I would agree. And it also makes sense more SDRs, I think, become full-cycle sales reps—AEs–than they do marketers. It doesn’t mean that you can’t become a marketer starting as an SDR, but it’s a more common path to stay in sales than to move to other parts of an organization. So it definitely, I think more likely than not, is housed under sales, but you could argue for it to be housing or marketing depending on the circumstances.
Pam Didner: Got it. So now we talk about, you know, the roles and responsibilities. And the next question I would like to ask is the process. So, now obviously, SDR can be part of the marketing organization or sales. In terms of setting up the structure and process for outbound prospecting and campaigns, what do you think is an ideal process that put marketing and SDR together and working together in terms of nurturing and following up?
Tyler Lindley: Yeah, I think that the SDRs, the messaging that marketers are using to generate interest to attract good fit potential prospects, should be the same messaging that the SDRs are using as well. I think there needs to be alignment in that messaging, and it needs to be cohesive to where you couldn’t tell if a message is coming from a marketer or an SDR.
Pam Didner: There’s that seamless digital experience, right? So your customer experience doesn’t matter what content you are using or what email you’re using. It should be very seamless.
Tyler Lindley: Very seamless. The only difference is that the SDR can potentially add a little bit more context, a little more of a human-centric element because it’s an actual individual. So they should be taking the messaging from marketing that might be more of a one-to-many message and contextualizing it for that specific client. However, it should be the same message. We should be speaking the same language across marketing, all the way to the SDR to account executives, customer success, across all of your revenue-facing parts of the organization should see be the same.
And the SDR plays a pivotal role because they’re the first person that’s, that’s contextualizing that first specific account. I’m taking this maybe more broad messaging than marketing created, and I’m making it specific to this person at this account. Why is this relevant for them? or what is relevant for them? We have all of these different things that we can talk about. What is Susie, who is the VP of Marketing, going to care about? Versus Jack, who’s the VP of sales? You know, what is he going to care about? How can I contextualize my message to make it relevant to that individual in that company?
Pam Didner: Got it. So messaging should be consistent and seamless. And obviously, there’s a training element of that to ensure that the marketing and the sales–including SDR–are trained in terms of messaging and have that consistent talking point along the way. And who should take the lead? If you have inbound leads that’s coming and, uh, who should kind of take over? Do you think the marketing team should do some sort of prequalification first? Or should that be directly just passed to SDR, and the SDR can take it and run it?
Tyler Lindley: It depends on how fast that SDR can respond. Because as we know, inbound leads, the rate of drop-off and those converting, when it takes longer and longer to respond, it just continues to drop off. If the SDRs can’t respond in real-time – if you don’t have a dedicated resource to respond in real-time – then marketing should likely take the lead in terms of just doing some initial qualification. Now, do they need to do full qualification? No, but they should at least be moving the process forward immediately and maybe scheduling a call for that SDR.
Now, if the SDR can be a dedicated resource that can respond in real-time, that’s great. In my opinion, it’s hard for that person to always be available, 24-7. Likely it’s something you should maybe automate to some extent and then have the SDR manage the actual initial conversation, um, that should potentially be automated in terms of scheduling.
Pam Didner: You know, you brought a very good point, too, you know, in terms of who should take what? And I think having a huddle meeting between, say, the demand generation team and SDR on a regular basis probably doesn’t hurt. They probably should get together on a Monday at 10 o’clock. Day 11, whatever, right early week, and kind of review the leads that came through the week before and kind of review that, maybe divide and conquer.
“Hey, you know why these are the four leads you should take over and start looking into it. There are five things. Five leads. I probably can just do a prequalification or making a call.”
But I do agree with you in addition to all that, the communication, a weekly huddle meeting that having automation, uh, set up life, for example, there are autoresponders, but make that, um, the, the email itself a whole lot more personal, uh, will be great. And having a certain kind of automation set up is very important that will help both teams, but having a huddle meeting regularly from my perspective is also truly beneficial. Especially when I was in the client, on the corporate world, having that kind of meeting, just talking things through and before moving forward to the next week. And I think that was that that’s efficient. What is your thought on that?
Tyler Lindley: Yeah, I agree. And I think that huddle meeting should start with more of a service level agreement about the definitions of an SQL and an MQL.
Pam Didner: I agree.
Tyler Lindley: I think it should, it should start with what is our, you know, requirements, the business, how quickly are we going to respond to leads? If it’s going to be a human-driven resource, how quickly are we going to do that? Just to make sure that everything is being followed upon. Every lead or prospect is getting the same experience regardless of when and how they’re coming into the funnel. So I just think there needs to be alignment for a foundation set for that meeting to happen. And then I do agree that that always needs to be updated. We need to always be communicating about what are we seeing, right? What are we understanding?
Like these SDRs are talking to customers. Listened to the gongs, listened to the conversation, relay the feedback. I mean, we have so much information. We’re drowning in information right now but, but are we actioning on it? Are we using that information to make positive change? And the SDRs could do that in two directions. They can do it backwards to the marketing team to talk about the demand gen, or they can forward it to the AEs, closing the deals. And that part of the process, they are bridging that gap, truly bridging the gap. They are the bridge. Um, so if you have an SDR team, treat them as such and meet with them regularly instead of just complaining and, “oh, man, this is not going well. They’re not qualifying, right. These leads are terrible, yada yada yada,”
Pam Didner: What?!? I love complaining. Complaining is so much easier than doing the real work. Come on! (both laugh)
Tyler Lindley: I mean, complaining is fine. It’s going to happen naturally, but at least complained together, complain about each other–like SDRs complain about the marketing team, complain with the AEs because then you’ll hopefully learn something that can affect change. Um, so that would be my 2 cents.
Pam Didner: Do you think SDRs do any kind of cross-selling and, uh, and up-sale with existing customers or purely just focused on the new logo?
Tyler Lindley: I think SDRs should only. Prospect into existing logos if you know that if that logo if it’s maybe dormant,
Pam Didner: Really big company is a very big company. They have a different division that, you know, product division, not doing different things, okay.
Tyler Lindley: Initially. Yeah. Potentially. Or if they, you know, the account has gone dormant, and we’re trying to reignite that account. I think that that should be owned, honestly, at that point by either the AE or even the customer success team because of that relationship; because we need the SDR focused on the top of the funnel, and we need them focused on net new accounts.
So I would lean for them, not that we can’t teach the AEs and the CSMs how to prospect back into those existing accounts, but I think the SCR should kind of stay in their lane and focus on net new.
Pam Didner: Got it. So with that being said the marketing and SDRs are on the front lines. They have a lot of information about what customers feel about the products sometimes. So what do you think the process should be set up? Should SDR provide the feedback, the product feedback directly to the product team? Do you think there’s a value to that? Or that’s something that needs to be done, say, you do a survey, you kind of follow up with, the outside sales team that have more in-depth knowledge or AE to provide that information.
Tyler Lindley: Yeah. You need to be learning it from both groups because if you think about SDRs, they are both qualifying and disqualifying. So they are both learning the reasons and why people are against people, you know, exploring your, your product or your solution further. So I think that there’s a ton of value there in helping to go back and define your ICP to go back and define your target buyer, your different personas.
Like, yeah, maybe we’ve got the perfect product, but we’re just going after the wrong person in the organization, you know, wherever you’re talking to the sales team, but we need to be talking to enablement or marketing. All of that information is contextual, and it should be shared back across the organization – it should be shared back to marketing and back to the product because all these things are related. I mean, your product, the messaging, and then all of the messaging you’re marketing, your enablement, your sales development team, your AEs, your customer success, like these are all related messages.
So in my mind, the most effective revenue organizations are ones that are sharing across that spectrum. Anything that they’re learning because they might learn.
Pam Didner: You can share that back with the product team.
Tyler Lindley: Yeah, you might learn something after someone’s been a customer for five years from the customer success team that would impact, you know, product. But it might be something after a five-minute conversation from someone who’s not even a customer. They’re just a potential prospect. So I think regardless of where you sit, all of that should be shared back to the product team, and the ones closest to the actual prospects should be relaying that message.
Pam Didner: Understood. Well said. When SDR is working through the potential prospects and the conversion rate, it tends to be pretty small, and they got a lot of disqualified leads or even lost opportunities. So what do you think that marketing should do with some of those disqualified leads or lost opportunities? Do you think it’s their job to actually kind of really try to revive the opportunities, or this is something that the SDR should kind of take a second look at?
Tyler Lindley: So I think it’s a shared responsibility. I think that the nurturing can happen from the marketing team or the SDR team. I think it depends on the value of the accounts, the amount of like, what is your total addressable market? You know, how many people are actually in your pipeline at a given time? Suppose you have a very small addressable market. In that case, a really valuable exercise for both marketing and the SDR team to be trying to reignite those accounts because there’s not an unlimited number.
Now, if you have a different product, maybe lower-value product where you have a large total addressable market, I would then put that in marketing shoes to reignite those types of accounts, making it more of a low touch automated, reignite fashion there. Uh, so I think it depends on how big is your total addressable market? What’s the value of a customer? And can we justify that being done by the SDR, that person, which is a lot harder to scale than having marketing do it in potential automation? Yeah. Yeah, exactly. So it does depend.
Pam Didner: So you bought a good point. I have the additional insight I’d like to add to that specific question. There’s another angle from my perspective: I talked to my client about how to address disqualified leads or lost opportunities determined by the causes of the lost opportunities or disqualification. Is it because of a lack of budget? Is it because the timing is not right? Or is it because the feature doesn’t, it doesn’t work at this time. So because of different causes, and, uh, depending on the causes, you can also create a different kind of nurturing while you can determine if you want to nurture or not. Does that make sense? Yeah, so I think the product part of it is really important, but the other one is the causes of disqualification.
Tyler Lindley: I agree. And you’ve got to set up the engine to put those causes and identify the causes. Let’s make it a dropdown select option, make it very easy for the SDR to display.
Pam Didner: I agree. (laughs)
Tyler Lindley: “Because of this reason….” Do not make it a fill-in blank cause you’ll get a bunch of garbage,
Pam Didner: You’ll get like a million choices. That’s it!
Tyler Lindley: Or you can’t do it. Yeah. Give them five choices, the dropdown selection and then, yeah, based on what they answer. You could then determine maybe this bucket. We want to reignite with the SDR team. These we’re going to do with marketing. But make it simple and easy to know what you’re going to do with each group.
Pam Didner: 100% agree. I think the biggest takeaway from today’s episode: number one, the close collaboration between sales and marketing, especially SDR and demand gen. And the second thing is to have a process in place and keep that communication going. And I 100% agree with you. Service level agreement is key, especially in enterprises.
Another one is looking to if any kind of disqualified leads and lost opportunities and have a conversation with the SDRs and determine what the causes are. And also the products themselves and then a set of processing trends or if you want to nurture them or not. So those are great, great key takeaway, Tyler. You are fantastic!
I’m going to ask you one more question. It’s a silly question, and I have two of them, and you can choose one to answer. Number one. What is the most useless talent that you possess? Or you can choose to answer the next one. Did you have a ridiculous go in your life?
Tyler Lindley: Um, Those are great questions. Uh, let’s see the most useless, useless talent. The most useless talent I possess is, um, the ability to buy a lot of technology things, kind of like we discussed the other day, Pam. Buy a lot of technology may not need it all, but, uh, but just buy it. And try to figure out the use case for it sometimes after the fact. So some buyer’s have remorse from time to time. I like shiny new things in terms of technology. And, uh, and sometimes I, I either look at the return policy or try to figure out what am I going to do with this after the fact. So I guess that’s a very useless skill and a very expensive one at that. (both laugh)
Pam Didner: Well, you and I are the same things. You and I will talk in about, um, just Tyler and I have a prep call, and we will talk in about. How should I say it nicely? How much shit we have. (both laugh)
Tyler Lindley: Way too much.
Pam Didner: The, the A/V, you know, equipment, like I have three different microphones. And I also have a lavalier microphone, And then I have an audio interface. Oh my God. And then I have webcams that we will talk about like the different, uh, equipment or the stuff that we buy, just, uh, just to set things up, especially for virtual communication is insane.
Tyler Lindley: Exactly. And we tend to buy more than one. Yeah, you need to know what that other mic sounds like.
Pam Didner: Tyler, it’s wonderful, wonderful to have you on my show. It’s fantastic. And, uh, I love all the insights that you share. I hope that you will come back again!
Tyler Lindley: Yeah. If folks want to find out more about me online, check out sales lift.com or Tyler lindley.com. I’m also active on LinkedIn. So just search me, Tyler Lindley, and I’d love to come back someday and chat, chat, more sales and marketing with you, Pam. Thanks so much for having me on.
Pam Didner: Sounds good!