Back to Posts

Top Takeaways for How to Balance the Art & Science of Sales Development

5 min read
Updated Aug. 4, 2021
Published Mar. 8, 2016

In case you’re new to the game, we’re here at Rainmaker 2016 and we’re live blogging the keynotes, panels, and breakout sessions throughout the event.

We’ve heard from the Salesloft family during the keynote, and then 3 of the industry’s top thought-leaders: TOPO’s Craig Rosenberg, Winning by Design’s Jacco van der Kooij, and j.barrows LLC’s John Barrows shared their opinions on the modern sales model, and how to navigate the waters with agility and proactivity.

Now we’re here to join these two more sales development icons, Ralph Barsi and Rob Jeppsen, as they discuss the balance between the art and science of sales development. Both will share their wisdom on personal experience, research, and consulting within top organizations to help you combine the tangibles and intangibles of who’s synergy creates a great sales development team.

Screen Shot 2016-03-08 at 2.08.19 PM

The Art and Science of Recruiting and Onboarding

What’s the the best strategies for recruiting, hiring, and onboarding? When do you need to hire, grade, and ramp to productivity?

Ralph: On the art side, it’s all about focusing on your brand. You want to attract the best candidates possible, and you can do that best through social content. Whether it’s a well-crafted LinkedIn profile, shareable content, or something that’s going to grab the best candidates attention, then that all plays into the art of hiring.

On the science side: construct a hiring team with a matrix and roles for everybody to play in the process. Starting with a phone interview, then move into a face-to-face interview process, and really look for things like acumen and comprehensive scoring across the entire hiring team.

Rob: Hiring ideal candidates is great. But it’s what you do with them when you get them. The fastest way to onboard a new SDR is through storytelling. Focus the best stories to tell that will bring those reps to a “customer ready” level. Training is usually focused on efficiency, and just checking the right boxes, but does that help customer readiness? Make sure your reps know what stories to tell to customers to truly understand their buyer landscape.

Career path is really important, but skill development path is better.

True skill building happens is when people decide on what they want and then draw from the coaching. The goal of the SDR is to produce skills, but the goal of the SDR manager is to re-produce those skills in each of their reps.

The Art and Science of the Handoff

Describe the art of the handoff from the SDR to the AE, and the SLA between the two.

Ralph: We get our benchmarks from people like Craig Rosenberg at TOPO and Trish Bertuzzi at the Bridge Group, so that helps, but I like to focus on the criteria of an opportunity when considering the handoff between the SDR and AE. There needs to be multiple 1:1s, pre-meeting calls and post-meeting de-briefs, in-the-moment conversations, and CRM tracking to make sure all of the steps between the handoff are aligned.

Rob: It’s important to make sure you’re prequalifying based on the ideal customer profile and following all of the appropriate steps, but the most important aspect is making sure that the SDR is there and prepared to pass the baton smoothly. You have to ensure that is running proper quality assurance in the lead pass scenario before the handoff actually happens.

Ralph: P.S. Your organization is going to look at the SDR’s notes, and if there’s no quality assurance,

you’re going to show your worth through your work.

The Art and Science Behind Cadences and Frontline Best Practices

What are some frontline best practices SDRs can take away so that they’re “customer ready” and effective?

Rob: Last I checked, you can’t close it if you haven’t started it. We can calculate how many opportunity starts we need, but the question is: are we hitting it? What is our sales velocity? The number one predictor of that is to have an optimized cadence. Hope is not a strategy… there is a science behind a cadence.

And the art of best practice implementation is awareness. If we’re not coaching, then we’re not aware of what’s working (and what’s not) and able to share those with the team. If we become a learning-focused organization, it really just comes down to collecting these best practices and putting them into an ever-evolving playbook.

Ralph: We like to make sure that SDRs track opportunities throughout the entire funnel. You want to make sure that they’ve latched onto how each opp is moving through the entire sales cycle. Make sure that the SDR is coached on the mechanics of the process based on the questions tracked from the very start of qualification.

You can’t win if you don’t keep score.

You want to have a content repository for your team to refer to when they’re learning best practices. Always work to scale and leave a trail of breadcrumbs for the future so that that formula can continue to repeat itself as you grow and scale.

Thanks to Ralph and Rob, and our moderator Max Altschuler for participating in this breakout session on The Art and Science of Sales Development!

Join us in Atlanta from March 11-13, 2019 for Rainmaker 2019!

Rainmaker 2019