17 Key Hurdles for B2B Sales Development (Part One)

Concluding our analysis on why B2B Sales Development can feel like an Olympic-level race for companies just starting off with things in-house.

Executive Summary:

  1. You won't find free in-depth Sales Development best practices online
  2. Most employees have little or no experience in Sales Development
  3. Lack of detailed documentation and processes exist to guide SDRs
  4. Companies assume what their buyer thinks and likes
  5. Companies don’t know their total addressable market (TAM)
  6. Sales Development contact databases will never be 100% complete
  7. Email Deliverability and Spam filters are a growing problem
  8. A company doesn’t reach out as many times as they should

Sales Development is one of those crucial areas of business where all companies need it to prosper, but few employ the scarce number of experts in the field who have the experience or knowledge to deploy it successfully.

Sales Development is the field, process, or team that focuses on the early stages of the sales cycle.

Sales Development focuses on generating meetings or opportunities, then passing them to Sales reps. Sales reps close the deals, not the Sales Development reps (SDRs).

Most members of a company have never had any Sales Development experience and are fully unaware of potential pitfalls, where the gaps are, and how to improve it.

Sales Development isn't just a field of Business. It's an Art.

That’s why the option of Outsourced Sales Development is sometimes the favored approach, and utilizing it can be such a boon to businesses who need boosts to their pipeline.

But Outsourcing Sales Development isn’t always the best answer for a company. Smaller budgets, lack of direct oversight on campaign outreach, and skepticism can all lead a business to decide to keep things in-house.

For companies that end up deciding to keep things in-house, Sales Development can feel like an Olympic level race. A race against industry competitors, with large hurdles blocking the sprinting lanes.

But, like all complex industry practices, improvements can be made, techniques can be learned, and with practice, Sales Development can shift from a lagging detriment to the fuel that propels new Sales wins.

At SalesHive we believe the first step in mastering Sales Development is recognizing what frequent obstacles and difficulties arise in the field. The hurdles in your race.
Here are the first 8 of 17 key hurdles we've identified for B2B Sales Development.

No Free Sales Development Best Practices Online

One of the greatest resources we have at our disposal today is the internet. Between professional blogs, YouTube, and general search sites, just about anything on everything can be learned.

The internet allows for the beauty of self-education.

But what if the information and knowledge being sought out are gravely outdated, too in-depth for entry-level understanding, or at the very least only disseminated in choppy, unrefined, and difficult to comprehend forms.

With Sales Development, unfortunately, this is often the case.

Companies sourcing Sales Development in-house often just drop it on members of the Sales team, telling them “good luck” and to just “have at it”. Already overburdened with closing Sales, they quickly read a Hubspot article or two, then implement the source materials ideas, thinking they know what they’re doing.

Nearly every time, they don’t.

Resources like Hubspot are OK to refer to, but Sales Development is far too complex for a simple catch-all discovery in one place. There is no Sales Development Wikipedia. There's no website, forum, or blog that lists all industry best practices and standards.

More often than not, the best Sales Developers keep their tactics a secret.

Like most business arenas, Sales Development is quite competitive. It's very rare to see successful SDRs publish their outcomes, insights, and breakthroughs.

Knowledge is wealth, and dollars are at stake.

In Sales Development, you have to pay for knowledge, either by hiring a consulting firm or spending your own time working for a successful Sales Development leader.

There are just no free best practices for Sales Development online.

Limited Experience In Sales Development

Many people assume that Sales Development has a relation to Sales. But, Sales experience is not a substitute for Sales Development experience.

In fact, the only glaring commonalities between the two are Sales Development and Sales interact with the same prospects and leads, albeit at very different steps in the pipeline.

Unfortunately, most people have never had Sales Development experience, as Sales Development requires expertise across multiple disciplines.

A shortlist would be requiring in-depth procedure documents, training and ramp times for new SDRs, technology stacks to execute on campaigns, buyer expertise, target industry knowledge, high-level business acumen, recruiting skills, competent data and analytics evaluation, and SDRs must be capable of performing repetitive time-consuming tasks to stabilize ever moving pieces.

Experienced Sales Developers have an abundance of expertise across numerous domains, and if less experienced Sales Developers have to execute on filling pipelines, then they end up relying on their preconceived beliefs.

As any wise Sales Developer will attest, preconceived notions are often horribly wrong, from believing which opener on an outbound campaign will AB test better to understanding just how strict Spam filters can get.

The best way to attain knowledge in the field of Sales Development is to become a rep at a successful company.

Lack of Detailed Sales Development Documentation and Processes

Sales Development requires lots of procedures and organizational structures to execute. If an in-house rep is new to Sales Development, they will likely recreate these processes over the course of several weeks. And that's just the first step. It could then take months of experimentation, implementing practices, are refining before you begin to see any real progress.

Some Examples of typical Sales Development Documentation and Processes are:

Sales Development Playbook- There are different philosophies on how to organize playbooks. It’s generally divided between two playbook styles, either using two playbooks for Sales Development and Sales separately, which is the most common way to orient processes, and then using just one playbook for both. Every top sales prospecting team across the country and all top Sales programs have these same two fundamental documents.

The Sales playbook is more about what to do after the first meeting, and it should detail the value props to be given, how to ask effective questions, and how to move toward getting the close-win.

The Sales development playbook is different. It includes all the processes that lead up to setting the first meeting, including precisely how to set them, how to structure outreach, and how to log contact data.

Commission Doc- It is widely accepted that commission plans for reps leads to the best results. It drives Sales and SDRs alike. The commission document makes clear what outcomes are expected and how they are compensated financially for each category.

Qualification Questions- These questions are oriented around determining if a lead is worth pursuing a meeting. Sales team members don’t have unlimited time and setting them up with a prospect that won’t close-won because of lack of budget, company size is either too big or too small, they don’t have the authority to close, or the product isn’t suitable, is just a waste of time. Having qualification standards documented and cemented for contingency across all Sales Developers streamlines efficiency.

Objections- This is a pretty standard document on most Sales Development teams. It includes the common excuses that people deploy to say “no” to a value proposition. Basically predicting their concerns and arguments. Having this allows SDRs and Sales team members to be prepared for any push back, and how to react to objections and still produce positive outcomes.

Handoff process- The handoff process is important in that it details the proper manner in which the prospect goes from communication with SDRs to the Sales team. It’s solely a procedural document.

SLA- This is a second signed contract apart from a normal contract for SDRs and Sales members. It outlines the minimum level of activity and tasks that must be completed and states what your compensation will be if you close “X” number of deals, or set “X” number of meetings.

Assuming What Their Buyer Thinks And Likes

Data is king.

In Effective Data Storytelling Brent Dykes writes, “Without data companies simply wouldn't know what to improve or whether their incremental changes were successful. Data provides the clarity and specificity that’s often needed to drive positive change.”

The notion that more data is resoundingly useful is rather uncontroversial, but when implemented into Sales Development practice, data can still be woefully lacking.

Data on Buyers? Well, it often goes neglected entirely.

Every top Sales Development team has buyer personas to target, but knowing what their buyer wants, likes, and needs aren’t always clear. The data is extremely hard to find.

Ideally, you would want to know what the day in the life of your buyer is like; their time spent at work, what metrics their success is measured on, and what ambitions they have for company growth. All of this data would determine, based on your specific product, which buyers you needed to pursue and which ones would likely be pursuing you.

A lack of data on these issues makes it hard to determine who your Ideal Buyer is, and in fact, many companies are still trying to identify their Ideal Buyer in the first place. Sometimes they have a rough understanding of the makeup of an Ideal Buyer, and other times it’s about as close to guesswork as can be.

If you ask any B2B company if they have ever done in-depth buyer interviews or run buyer research groups, most will say no. In an arena of lacking data, proactive efforts should be taken to learn your buyers. It will assuredly make the pipeline flow more efficiently.

Know your buyer, build a picture of them through data, and Sales Development will be strides faster.

Don’t Know Their Total Addressable Market

The TAM (Total Addressable Market) is one of the most important outreach documents that the vast majority of companies do not have. It’s used to reference the revenue opportunity available for a product or service and is the first step in prioritizing your buyer pool and bringing your company to new levels of market competitiveness

Most companies can’t just rely on referrals to grow, so instead have to do some form of outreach to their potential customers, whether it’s marketing or cold outreach like cold calling or emailing potential buyers. All of it falls under the purview of Sales Development.

The TAM should be the foundation of your Strategy. It tells you your businesses' total potential revenue, can be used to better organize outreach, and measure the market share you hold.

The average size TAM for a B2B company is dependent on what product is being sold, and how widely needed it is. It won't appeal to everyone, as certain products don’t work for other fields or industries, but if you don’t know the market you’re trying to sell to, there’s no determining if you might have potential buyers markets of 3000, or 300,000.

Knowing your Total Addressable Market is incredibly important to make sure you have a brimming pipeline.

Contact Databases Will Never Be 100% Complete

In Sales Development, all kinds of buyer personas can be built, TAM’s disseminated, and outreach methods established, but without using multiple contact databases, all the setup work is useless.

Contacting potential clients is the final actualized metric of deciphering successful Sales Development. Did you reach the prospect or not? Even if it’s an objection, reaching them matters. But there are many occasions when gaps are found in the outreach process, leading SDR’s to struggle to figure out what the missing step is.

It’s that they are failing to branch out to numerous methods of seeking contacts.

No contact database is 100% complete. Contact databases have different industries or department strengths. Zoominfo is great for Direct Phone Lines, Apollo is good for Linkedin profiles, and DiscoveryOrg is good for local addresses.

Using more than one database source is a best practice in Sales Development. SDRs should be building outreach lists across every contact database they can find, including always having someone doing manual research online and on Linkedin.

No single contact database is 100%, so utilizing several of them helps fill in the gaps in outreach lists.

Email Deliverability And Spam Filters Will Be A Growing Problem

Spam filters keep becoming more strict, making it ever harder to reach potential buyers via email.

Powerful systems monitor the copy of every email that passes through them. Spam keywords and spam phrases that pass through these identifiers can trigger the spam filters that are set up to protect users.

Because of this, it’s important to have someone apart of in-house Sales Development teams who understand the technical aspects of email deliverability, making sure the team is executed best practices, and ensuring emails hit the inbox.

You can read our in-depth analysis of Successful Email Campaigning, but the single best practice of email campaigning is to purchase a separate domain. More specifically, purchasing a separate domain, similar to your website, and using that domain for email outreach.

If a company uses only one domain for outreach, even if precautions are taken, and it somehow becomes compromised, invalidated, or shut down, then lead development outreach stops completely.

Separate domains safeguard against any single domain being compromised.

Don’t Reach Out As Many Times As They Need To

There is a degree of rather stalwart and inane persistence that is required in Sales Development. Buyers are extremely busy, with any possible number of issues ranging from endless deadlines, budget complications, to scheduling conflicts getting in their way from replying or making a set meeting.

Some SDRs get lazy when they haven’t heard back or have no shows, moving on to easier buyers, while others simply don’t want to come across as pushy, forceful, and annoying. The thing is, buyers need to be given numerous attempts to reach back or to make meetings.

Here at SalesHive, we found that 12-13 attempts, on average, is what is required to get a response from a potential buyer. Most Sales Development Reps just give up after 2-4.

With a little persistence, patience, and extra effort, just about every interested buyer can bear fruit.

Next Hurdles

Sales Development is a complex industry practice, but knowing the hurdles above can shift Sales Development from a lagging detriment to the fuel that propels new Sales wins. Knowing what hurdles lie ahead of you is pivotal in knowing how to get over them.

Read the second part of 17 Key Hurdles for B2B Sales Development or enter your information below to find out how we can assist you in your Sales Development.

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