Set Up to Fail? How We’re Holding SDRs and Our Prospecting Back

Fiona O'Connor

Senior Content Marketing Manager

sales development organizationsToday’s increasingly crowded and competitive B2B markets are putting a premium on high-velocity prospecting. Buoyed by activity-focused thinking and salestech, organizations are aggressively hiring more and more SDRs to “get it done.”

Yet rather than seeing a steady increase in positive outcomes, yields from SDR work may have plateaued or even turned down. And, with the reality of the “Great Resignation” upon us, unless companies change, many SDRs simply won’t be willing to stick around. To deal with this perfect storm, sales development organizations need to quickly identify where things are going awry and get to work resolving them.

To better understand what’s going wrong inside sales development organizations – to pinpoint the major breakpoints – TechTarget, Tenbound and RevOps Squared, surveyed 218 B2B companies. Here are four key areas that stood out as hindering SDRs directly and sales development progress overall.

#1: SDRs’ metrics don’t align well with business goals

Misalignment between SDRs’ incentive measurements and the company’s overall objectives was perhaps one of the most glaring areas. By their most common objectives, SDRs are being led into a trap that can alienate them from the AEs. The majority of SDR incentive programs are activity and event focused. Objectives like “meetings scheduled” (at 63%, the most common objective) and “meetings conducted” (third at 49%) are only useful if there’s an understanding of what comprises a useful meeting for the AE that takes it. Conversely, “how much qualified pipeline is being generated” (32%) and how many activities actually resulted in closed/won revenue (32% and 37% respectively) – measures that could stimulate examination of what constitutes a good meeting – are still relatively rare.

While easy to understand and implement, activity- and event-focused measures are not enough to create the kind of well-oiled collaborative approach necessary for SDRs and AEs to succeed together as two parts of an energetic prospecting machine.

#2: SDRs have too much to do other than the actual task they’re deployed on

Since SDRs’ fundamental role is to perform high-velocity prospecting (and they’re measured and paid on that), anything that keeps them from that work hurts them both emotionally and in their wallets. Unfortunately, our survey revealed that less than half of most SDRs’ time is spent on actual outreach.

Instead of prospecting against identified targets, they’re spending time – 35-40% of it – enabling themselves with list-making, research and list prioritization. When we think of how green most of these employees are, it’s hard to see the logic in expecting them to enable themselves in a field to which they are very new.

#3: Unmanaged processes prevent scalability

Not only are SDRs spending a lot of time defining their own prospecting lists, many companies provide little to any guidance on how they should be proceeding. Our results showed that 45% of companies don’t have or don’t follow a defined process for building a good list. And 72% don’t even measure the time SDRs are spending on this work. Targeting the wrong accounts and people in them is a sure way to fail with outreach, both in the short term and long. This data alone makes it quite clear why so many young salespeople are failing to make their meeting quotas. Leaving SDRs unguided in targeting likely drags down the performance of the entire organization.

#4: Short-term “priorities” may be putting long-term gains out of reach

37% of respondents said their SDRs manage account and prospect prioritization on their own. Another 13% have the Account Executive prioritize lists and 24% have sales leadership prioritize them. Very few, if any, seem to have deployed these high-velocity resources with a long-term strategy in place. While supplementing AEs in their own efforts is certainly an important ISR use-case, the lack of a standalone strategy for the high-velocity resource as a whole suggests that rather than being managed as a fit-for-purpose unit, they are more likely to be constantly buffeted by the divergent needs of individual quota carriers.

SDR organizations can use purchase intent data to improve targeting, prioritization and outreach

High-quality intent data is ideally constructed and delivered to help SDRs pursue the best possible accounts and people within them. Furthermore, large-scale analyses have proven that when SDRs integrate intent-based insights into their messaging, they create many more conversations, more meetings attended and more real opportunities for AEs to close.

With many sales development organizations at a negative tipping point with respect to SDR retention, at a minimum, they must focus providing better support now. For the longer term, they must look to reconceive the processes and infrastructure necessary for high-velocity teams to succeed.

For a close look at the research summarized here, watch the replay of The Frightening Realities of Your SDR Program … and What to Do About Them and return in the near future for our e-book and white paper on this topic.

purchase intent for sales, sales development, sales process improvements, SDR effectiveness

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