By Matt Heinz, President – Heinz Marketing

The role of sales development is exploding, as companies exponentially grow the number of sales professionals employed and focused on lead development and appointment-setting capacities.

Simple job right?  Find the right audience, identify those with need, and get them interested in learning more.

Of course reality isn’t nearly the simple.  Yet companies continue to hire aggressively, throw people at a phone and a list, and wonder why they aren’t hitting their number.

If you’re managing a sales development or business development representative (BDR) team, make sure the following seven symptoms aren’t dragging down your results.

They lack discipline

Sales development is a difficult job.  It requires a high volume of activity that can typically only be consistently achieved by staying focused on execution for stretches of time.  This takes discipline and a set or productivity & efficiency skills that most BDRs aren’t naturally equipped with.  This training alone – helping your reps hone the ability to focus and execute – can alone significantly increase their capacity and results.

They don’t understand your customers or their industry

Sales training too often focuses on product knowledge at the expense of customer and industry knowledge.  Do your reps know who they’re speaking to? Do they know their language, their slang, their acronyms?  Do they understand the calendar cycles of their industry such that they can speak credibly, build rapport, and continue the conversation?

Their lists suck

Lists always suck.  There is no perfect list.  But too often BDRs are given lists that marketing says are fine, but in reality cause a dramatic drop in their productivity.  Those lists may “appear” find when used to send email, because the resulting response metrics look fine.  But if you require an individual rep to call each and every prospect, they’ll end up wasting time with a high volume of prospects that don’t exist, are the wrong buyer, or take five times too long to reach simply because the data hasn’t been updated in forever.

Their pitch sucks

Left to their own devices (and far too many BDRs are), and in a vacuum of customer/industry understanding, your reps will create a pitch that is product-centric.  It will confuse your prospects, delivered out of context and in the midst of a crazy-busy day that allow for zero wiggle room to interpret something new that isn’t easy to understand.  Great pitches aren’t about product, they’re about people and products.

They lack motivation

Motivation can be simple.  It can be $20 bucks in beer money on a Friday afternoon.  It can be recognition in front of their peers.  It can be the little things that help jump-start behavior and create habits.  If you think motivation is “well, they have a job and our comp plan is solid”, you’re missing an opportunity to not just drive greater productivity but retention and loyalty as well.

They’re pushing prospects too far, too fast

“Thanks for downloading our white paper, would you like to see a demo?”  Uh, no thanks.  You can’t ask prospects to sleep with you on the first date.  If your primary metric across the sales development team is demo appointments, you might be moving too fast for your prospects.  Appointments are fine, but up front they should be positioned based on the prospect’s needs, not your product pitch.

They lack empathy and customer understanding

This is a culmination of training and practice.  Of listening to those who came before you, and to the shifting needs of the prospects you’re speaking with every day.  The BDRs that care more about their prospects than they do their products consistently perform better.  Even over the phone, your prospects will hear this and respond positively to it.

Curious to hear what other symptoms of BDR failure you have seen in the field.