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7 Bold Predictions on the Future of Sales Development – By Chris Pham

8 min read
Updated Aug. 4, 2021
Published Jun. 16, 2016

The future of sales development is bright, and Sr. Director at Birst Chris Pham is joining us on the Salesloft blog for the final installment of a series on trends in the industry. Today he’s sharing his 7 predictions for the future of sales development.

Prediction #1: Account-Based Sales Development will eat into Account-Based Marketing.

As ABSD and ABM mature, they will grow closer to each other. Content producers and sales development representatives are already working hand in hand to mold messaging for specific accounts.

It’s not implausible that in the near future, SDRs will produce content (blog posts, landing pages, social media), assets (infographics, whitepapers, direct mailers) and events (guerilla marketing, field events, roadshows) for specific accounts on their own.

Enabled by rigorous training, a depth of knowledge and next-generation tools, SDRs will become a channel for valuable content all their own. The further this goes, the closer SDRs will get to becoming Account-Based Marketers.

Prediction #2: Sales development work will move off of Salesforce to another platform entirely. Salesforce will stay the system of record.

Like your great uncle, it’s old, and hairy, and isn’t going to change anytime soon. It’s Salesforce. The ability to effectively prospect and deliver cadences cannot be from within Salesforce. Plenty of smart people have tried — the architecture just doesn’t support the functionality needed.

But a prospecting, emailing, and dialing platform, which integrates with Salesforce, will set the standard on sales development workflow. The ability to tailor — at scale — will necessitate an entirely different, next-generation platform.

It will do deep research into the web to bring in relevant account and contact specific information, so that SDRs can write emails and make effective phone calls — more quickly. It will suggest content and messaging based on the profile of the accounts or contacts selected. By combining web crawling with internal content, the platform will offer predictive messaging. It will help SDRs by suggesting PPOVs and build entire cadences based on the group’s real performance analytics.

There will be a portal for collaboration with internal SMEs on messaging, content and assets. Robust analytics and rigorous testing methods will ensure that not only will email templates be measured, but entire cadences, phone calls, voicemails and keywords.

Salesforce will not be replaced as the system of record and CRM (it’s in too deep to perform open-heart surgery),  but this platform in the future of sales development will stand alone from Salesforce (or any CRM), but will integrate with CRMs via an API. This will effectively separate the housing of sales data with the workflow which produces it.

Prediction #3: SDR leaders will use automated data analysis to coach and forecast in real-time.

An integrated gamification, performance management, sales analytics and 1:1 platform will change the way leaders coach and manage their teams.

With the drastic increase in sales data collected, leaders will need help with the ability to interpret all of the data and turn those insights into actionable steps. In the future, a software platform will be able to automatically detect what an SDR is doing well (or not so well) by comparing performance against industry and team baselines.

If an SDR is not being effective — with low conversion rates on his cadences — the platform will be able to identify why by comparing the email templates he uses against those of his peers and the content or duration of his calls. It will be able to point out to his coach that his subject lines are too long or that his calls are too short. It will then shoot over a recording of sample calls for coach analysis.

This platform will also be able to see if an SDR’s effort is keeping up with the team’s commitment or baseline. It will notify players and coaches if the volume of activity is abnormally high or low. It will also calculate the effective conversion rate needed for that lower level of activity to result in quota attainment or anticipate performance over quota if a high-level of activity is sustained.

All of this analysis will be pushed to both the player and coach via email, web application and mobile notification in a daily Automated Analytics Report (AAR). AARs will form the foundation of 1:1s. Coaches will continue to provide human interpretation, while assigning and tracking actions that will most efficiently lead to blowing out quota.

Forecasting will be more precise than ever before. It will be done via several models, one of which will be updated in real-time based on the anticipated activities and conversion rates based on historical data.

Prediction #4: Advanced sales analytics will begin measuring SDR Efficiency Rating (SER) and an SDR shot chart.

This same advanced analytics work will be pushed out the entire team to track not only volume, but effectiveness. It will no longer be enough to produce a high volume of activity, but to produce a high-volume of effective activity which converts into positive results. Leaderboards will go from strict volume, to include efficiency.

The movement to measure basketball players purely by Points-Per-Game (PPG) changed the day Player Efficiency Rating (PER) came into being. It’s a lot less impressive that it takes Kobe Bryant 20 shots to score 10 points at the end of his career in 2016, when it only took him 10 shots to do the same thing during his prime in 2006. He was much less efficient towards the end of his career and when he has a higher usage rate (running more plays).

Here’s the top 10 players in PPG so far this season (2016) according to ESPN. On first glance, you would assume each of these players is elite. You can see PER tells a slightly different story for players like Paul George, who should probably be taking less shots.

Screen Shot 2016-06-16 at 1.49.04 PM


In the future of sales development, activity volume (usage rate) and effectiveness (efficiency) will be needed to measure a more holistic view of performance. The ability to measure the effectiveness of each SDR (down to his emails, cadences, assets used and calls) will shed light on the effective conversion rate for each of his activities, just like a shot chart.

Sticking with basketball, this is Stephen Curry’s 2013 shot chart:

Screen Shot 2016-06-16 at 1.50.03 PM

Steph saw that he was particularly weak near the bucket, a below-average player at finishing near the rim. Using this data, Steph worked on his game and this is Stephen Curry’s MVP-winning 2015-2016 shot chart:

Screen Shot 2016-06-16 at 1.50.47 PM

Using data to identify his biggest weakness turn it into his biggest strength, Steph transformed his game to reach the next level. He led his team to the 2015 NBA Championship and began a basketball revolution.

Collecting similar data in a sales shot chart will create real-time actionable insights for sales people and their coaches. It will also create a baseline to measure SDR performance company-wide and down to a granular level. Coaches will be able to better compare SDR performance on specific skills and activities, across groups.

Driven by data-driven coaching, more SDRs will blow out quota more quickly than ever before. Quotas and productivity will rise by at least 30%. A 13x SDR Multiple will be the new standard.

Prediction #5: Account-Based Sales Development will be table stakes, and Contact-Based Sales Development will begin.

As ABSD becomes widely adopted, the ability the differentiate messaging will once again move to a more granular level. The arms race to provide more value than the next vendor will not end at the account level.

Real personalization will occur; entire cadences and marketing campaigns will target one specific contact at a time.

Prospects will receive more value from their vendors than ever before. Individualized content, agendas, landing pages and assets will be mass produced and delivered at exactly the right moment.

SDRs will be the ones crafting, tailoring and delivering these campaigns in the future of sales development.

Prediction #6: Sales Development leaders will earn their place at the executive level.

It will be the norm for a Sales Development leader to be a part of the executive team. The function will mature and become professionalized.

Investors, CEOs and Boards will realize the importance of an independent and successful Sales Development organization. They will scour the market for talented Sales Development leaders in the same way they search for a great CMO, CFO or Head of Sales.

In the future of sales development, a few Chief Sales Development Officer (CSDO) will exist in forward-looking companies.

Prediction #7: More executives will have a background in Sales Development.

The wave of talent that were trained in today’s SDR nurseries will go on to be the next wave of tech talent.

Those young professionals have now turned into an army of well-trained high-achievers across the technology landscape who will support the SDR cause because that is where they got their start, that is where they built their foundation.

Eventually, in the future of sales development, these same talented individuals will be the future CEOs, CMOs, SVPs and founders. They will find their success using the core skills and philosophy they developed as enterprise SDRs.

For a more comprehensive look into Salesloft’s internal SDR process, download our free playbook and optimize your sales efforts to start crushing your sales development goals today.