Sales development research: SDRs using 4.9 tools but struggle to reach enterprise buyers

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Companies are spending nearly $4,000 on each of their sales development reps (SDRs) every year to give them CRM, social prospecting and other tools — even though they still spend nearly 40 per cent of their time working the phones, according to a study released Wednesday.

The State Of Sales Development was launched in tandem with the Sales Development Summit, a virtual two-day conference produced by and SalesHacker. The report, which surveyed 900 companies and more than 1,000 people, showed inside sales reps are being given an average of 4.9 technology tools each.

Though technology for e-mail engagement and the phone came after CRM and social prospecting, the actual activity of SDRs showed many habits are slow to change. For example, 38.6 per cent of their time each day is spent on e-mail, almost as much as making phone calls, at 39.7 per cent. Social media touches, on the other hand, accounted for only 8.2 per cent of the activities reps do every day, on average.

“Moving into 2018, you’re going to see a lot more gamification, video outreach, coaching signals and mailers,” predicted Gabe Larsen, vice-president of Labs during the conference kickoff keynote. “Guys, video is going to be huge. And direct mailers really align with the account-based movement and opens up a new modality.”

In a conference session looking at broader trends, Sally Duby, general manager of consulting firm The Bridge Group based in Hudson, Mass., noted a “return to enterprise sales.” In other words, SaaS companies and others who have been focused on the mid-market or small and medium-sized firms over the past seven years are now pushing their SDRs to larger deals with larger companies, which leads to less customer churn.

The challenge is having sales leaders align their SDRs with the multiple market segment sales teams are handling, she said, which isn’t necessarily about using technology. 

“They feel they aren’t having an impact,” she said. “These different market segments require different approaches and tactics. For example, in the enterprise we are seeing success with small field events, such as SDRs calling to get executives to at targeted companies to attend a small, intimate lunch or dinner.”

When they’re working with digital tools, SDRs also need to understand how customers will want to work with them, said Bill Butler, CEO of Villanova, Pa-based Journey Sales, in another session. Downloadable content, social media, website live-chat are all helpful, he said, but Journey Sales’ own research showed customers tend to want four things. This includes the ability to educate themselves, reliable information, access to subject matter experts and the ability to collaborate in the sales process.

“They’re not looking for full-blown sales pitches,” he said. “They’re looking to learn, to clarify information and to get themselves above the educational and engagement curve.”

According to the State of Sales Development Research, 33.2 per cent of all inside opportunities that were accepted lead to a closed deal, which means that the average sales development rep is responsible for about 12.3 deals per quarter. Other partners in the research included Drift, OneMob, Nudge, SalesForLife, Datanyze and the Bridge Group.

The Sales Development Summit continues on Thursday.

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Shane Schick
Shane Schick is the Editor-in-Chief of B2B News Network. He is the former Editor-in-Chief of Marketing magazine and has also been Vice-President, Content & Community (Editor-in-Chief), at IT World Canada, a technology columnist with the Globe and Mail and was the founding editor of Shane has been recognized for journalistic excellence by the Canadian Advanced Technology Alliance and the Canadian Online Publishing Awards.