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Sales Development Leaders Must Serve Two Masters, Masterfully

4 min read
Updated Apr. 24, 2020
Published Apr. 29, 2016

For the best sales development leaders, or leaders in any field, the focus is on service. In the green years of a Sales Development Rep, it would bode well to explore this outlook in order to accelerate contribution to their organization, and set their career on the brightest path. But without specifics, these words of inspiration are just a bunch of platitudes…

Here’s how to genuinely apply the perspective of service to the role of the SDR as sales development leaders:

SDRs serve 2 customers: the internal and the external. We’ll start with the internal customer:

SDR Customer #1: Their Account Executive

Both the SDR and the AEs have metrics they care about. See the chart below which was originally created and presented by Steven Broudy of Mulesoft at the 2016 TOPO Summit.

You likely care about:

  • Leads
  • MQLs
  • MQL per lead
  • Follow-up rate
  • Opportunities created
  • Opportunities per MQL
  • New Pipeline generated
  • Pipeline per opportunity created
  • % bookings sourced by SDRs
  • Total bookings sourced by SDRs
  • SDR Headcount

Your “customer” likely cares about:

  • Total closed won revenue
  • Number of new deals
  • ASP
  • Win rate
  • % of opps reaching Stage 2
  • Engagement mode – are we running the right play

Studying this gives a defined perspective on our roles as sales contributors, and in order to be the best sales development leaders we can be, we’ve got to feel the pains and needs from both sides. Here, we (the SDR) see that they (the AE) need:

  1. Bigger deals
  2. Faster closing ops
  3. With better impression from messaging

The eager-to-succeed SDR inside of you may be thinking, “what does he expect us to do? We’re not supposed to close deals!”

That’s right. It is, however, your responsibility to act in a way that leads you on the path to closing deals. And for every organization, this path should be clearly defined; compiled as a service level agreement (SLA) or Rules Of Engagement (ROE) document. Both parties should be included in its creation. Build, support, memorize, and fully understand this document. Adhere to it, and always be learning new ways to supplement it, like these:

  • Schedule one lunch per week with an AE. (And don’t just chitchat and BS — bring a list of specific questions to add value to both of your roles.)
  • Read one sales book per month. (Use Kindle to better store notes and refer to it later.)
  • Sit in on at least one AE consultation per week.
  • Set up a coffee meeting once per month with a senior sales executive.
  • Read all the AE training and internal materials (These may change quarterly, so stay on top of them.)

Your empathy and obsession over your internal customer’s needs as sales development leaders will drive impact to your company’s overall success and growth. And these needs are followed closely by the needs of the second type of sales development customer:

SDR Customer #2: External Customer:

In order to best serve your internal customers (AEs), you must also obsess over your prospective external customers. These are your company’s customers, the ones whose pains you’re trying to understand and solve through the purchase of your solution.

The best outlook to have regarding external customers is to believe in your offering as strongly as you believe in anything in your career. Selling is the transference of your beliefs to another. Your sincere belief adds value to your market.

Once you’ve connected with your ideal buyer, here’s what they need you to do to earn their business:

  • Communicate with passion & professionalism
  • Establish trust through rapport
  • Ask amazing questions
  • Understand their objectives
  • Show the path from your solutions to their objectives
  • Convert the lead to a qualified opportunity and make introduction to your account executive (internal customer).

All of these skills take an exceptional level of empathy, customer obsession, and, above all else, heart of service to succeed. And whether innate or learned, that heart of service is what creates the unstoppable force of a sales development leader, business person, and human being as they relate to their customers.

It’s a heart of service that leads the best to put the needs of others first. It’s a heart of service that strives to help others succeed. It’s a heart of service that will convince you to stop watching TV on nights and weekends in order to train, so you boost your ability to deliver for your customers.