In an ideal world, your marketing engine is working so flawlessly that your SDR team is always getting warm leads who are ready for a demo right now. All the SDR team needs to do is get these marketing qualified leads on the phone.
Unfortunately, that’s not the case most of the time, for a variety of reasons: your inbound leads are not from good-fit accounts, your scoring methodology is incorrect, your SDR reaches one contact but gets passed off to a different contact at the account, the organization just purchased a competitor’s product, the budget has gone away due to an organizational reorg. And as more and more businesses move to an outbound prospecting model, SDRs are working colder leads.
As buying cycles have lengthened, and more decision-makers are added to the process, the worlds of marketing and sales prospecting are colliding head-on, and lead nurturing is now a function that stretches across both teams.
Why should lead nurturing be a function for both teams?
The answer is that with each team focusing on what they do best within one cohesive unit, the company as whole will be able to create more opportunities from better fit accounts. Marketing can use a variety of data sources to create audience segments and deliver messaging at scale to create demand within accounts, while an SDR team can focus on a smaller subset of active accounts and turn that demand into opportunities.
In this post, I’ll offer some thoughts on how SDR leaders can empower their team to hit reach their goals. Since this is such a broad and important topic, I’ll just focus on two aspects today:
- How to set up the right nurture sequences for the SDR team
- Why you need to provide the team with contextual data to help SDRs be relevant
A Tactical Balancing Act
An SDR’s secret weapon is their own time. An SDR can do what a marketer can’t; namely, they can take the time to research prospects and then reach out with hyper relevant messages.
An SDR also has the advantage of using channels that can’t be automated, such as phone calls and social media actions. However, we know it takes several touches to convert a lead, and strategies that use four or more channels are 300% more effective.
Thus, if every single action was a manual one, an SDR would never be able to work enough leads to create sales pipeline and hit their goals–let alone, justify their jobs! But if they depend too much on automation, they’d be wasting their skills as sales prospectors. As such, many SDR teams employ a repeatable sequence of actions that includes phone calls, social media messages, and both manual and automated emails. The specific length of the cadence will depend on your sales cycle.
At Socedo, we use the following sequence:
After twenty-five days, if a contact has not responded, it’s time to move on to the next person.
The first email in this sequence is personalized, manually written by an SDR, and mentions a recent activity as the reason for reaching out, like the one below:
We only set a handful of appointments from this first email. However, we’ve found that leads who open it are five times more likely to open and respond to subsequent emails.
From there, personalization does not make a noticeable difference on our conversion rates. As such, we rely heavily on automation for the rest of the email cadence, and let our SDRs focus their time on what only they can do: make phone calls, use LinkedIn to find mutual connections that can help them get into the account, and reply to their leads’ Tweets. Thus, we can use our SDR team’s time to achieve the greatest lift.
I get that your sales cycle may be longer or shorter than Socedo’s, and you may be targeting different types of prospects. Outreach.IO recently wrote about some cadences they implemented and they separated their prospects into three tiers. You can check out their cadences here.
Give SDRs Tools to Monitor Buying Signals
Buying cycles are more complex than ever, and as more and more people are looped into the decision-making process, it’s important to keep a steady pulse on the entire account and listen to when they need more information, a demo, a case study, or just a reminder.
In addition to reaching out with a relevant, personal message, an SDR has more flexibility than marketing to reach out at the right time. When Radius used their network of over 1,000 data points to identify in-market accounts, their outbound sales reps’ response rates increased by 35%, and they hit 179% of their pipeline goal.
Beyond the repeatable sequence of actions, an SDR can respond to buying signals from prospects immediately. Unlike a marketing nurture, in which a lead is confined to one program unless they take a very specific action (like clicking a link) that moves them to another program, an SDR can look at and analyze multiple signals to prioritize accounts that are showing more interest than the rest of the pack. This way, the hottest deals move the fastest.
Contextual Data is Critical
In order to bring all these pieces together, SDRs need rich data from many sources, across the buying cycle — perhaps even more data than marketers need to create demand or account executives need to close deals. I have yet to meet an SDR who wanted less data on their leads and accounts.
While demographic and firmographic data helps prioritize accounts at the beginning, it’s behavioral and intent data that truly accelerate the sales process. Everything from a whitepaper download to a Tweet can be used as context when reaching out to a lead. In the following example, this lead has taken four relevant actions in a span of just two and a half weeks. That provides enough context for the first, personalized email, as well as at least the first three phone calls.
For even more actionable data, real-time alerts can provide a reason to “break the mold” and reach out to a prospect sooner, when they’re already active.
After receiving the above email alert, our SDR Jesse would reach out to Erin to congratulate her on Brightcove’s award nomination. He may not be able to convince her to sign up for a demo of Socedo from that email alone, but the message will be a lot more meaningful to Erin than another email about our latest ebook.
Just as marketers have their “workhorses” like Marketo, Hootsuite, and Optimizely to deliver and optimize content at scale, SDR teams are turning to sales enablement tools like Outreach, Yesware, and ToutApp to make their outreach efforts easier and more data-informed. But in both cases, filling the systems with actionable data is what really takes a cut-and-dried nurture sequence into a dynamic system of relevant communication.
For those looking to build an SDR team, start with a repeatable cadence across multiple channels to nurture leads and give SDRs the actionable data they need to reach prospects in context. While your process can and should be optimized over time, a perfect sequence of emails will never replace real-time insights on buyer behavior that allow a rep to create a meaningful relationship with their prospects.