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Three Reasons Sales Development Reps Fail (None of Which Are the Reps’ Fault!)

Monday, December 14, 2020
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It all starts with the best of intentions. Sales aren’t where they should be. The pipeline is looking a bit dry. And so, the decision is made to invest in the hiring of sales development reps to prospect and get qualified leads flowing through the organization’s sales pipeline.

And then it all falls apart.

Why? According to Shabri Lakhani, founder of Salesworks, companies have trouble implementing a successful sales development role (SDR) program and filling sales development rep roles for three reasons.

Reason #1: Right Rep but the Wrong Sales Enablement Content

Sales management forgets that less experienced reps need to be matched with a sales enablement program that teaches them how to sell. Management focuses either too much on their lack of product skills and industry knowledge or too little on their lack of selling judgment and sales skills.

Even if a new hire has the potential to become a top SDR, without the appropriate sales development content, they are unable to succeed.

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Reason #2: A Sales Development Role Is Created but Not Respected

Often sales development roles are created as junior positions, so the respect that is required for any recommendations to be made is lacking. SDRs can also be misaligned and end up in the marketing department or as a junior role in field sales. Growing and nurturing a sales development team takes internal buy-in, recognition, and support.

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Reason #3: Sales Development Without a Mission

According to Shabri, she makes a point to ask a company’s sales leadership, “What’s your mission statement for your SDRs?” When she’s met with a blank stare, or silence, it indicates that the company’s sales development reps are struggling. Having no clear mission for the SDRs—whether it’s generating leads for the pipeline or creating a talent bench for the organization—is a top reason sales development initiatives fail.

The Four Ss of Setting Up SDRs for Success

Are some of these issues hitting home? Then it’s time for your sales organization to do some reflecting. Shabri offers a simple framework of four areas that need to be aligned in order for companies to implement a successful sales development program: skills, strategy, structure, systems.

Most companies already have one or two of the areas down. But, Shabri stresses, just one or two isn’t enough. Companies need to have all four areas in sync to be successful. “It’s the alignment of all four areas that are key to success.” Piqued your curiosity? Follow us on LinkedIn and stay tuned for more about the skills, strategy, structure, and systems necessary to get your company on the road to a successful sales development launch.

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About the Author

Dario Priolo brings over 20 years of experience in the sales enablement and talent development industry. He has led marketing and strategy as CMO for leading companies like the Hay Group, Miller Heiman and Profiles International and has been part of 4 successful exits, including his own start-up.

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