If You Build It They Will Come: Anthony Zhang On How To Set Your Team And Your Company Up For Sales Development Success

Collin Stewart, CEO

14 September 2017

It’s a perfectly logical idea.

You have a sales development rep, and they’re consistently booking qualified meetings. Qualified meetings are a critical component of the growth of any company, so hiring more SDRs will bring the company more qualified meetings.

Simple, right? Well, not exactly.

It is true that routine qualified opps is foundational element for company growth. And, it is true that the more SDRs your company has, the more bandwidth you have available to book those qualified opportunities.

But unless you have a clear SDR structure, process and tool box mapped out, those new reps you bring on won’t be immediately contributing to revenue growth. In fact, if you don’t design a clear method by which you hire, train and mentor your reps from Day 1, you risk disappointing your new hires and scrambling to get everything in place (while they work) so they can succeed.

Not they way you want to spend your time, to be sure.

“There is lots of stuff to do before you get started hiring an SDR, and executing on a process. People want to hit the ground running, but there is a lot to think about,” says Anthony Zhang, Head of Sales Development at hull, on a recent edition of The Predictable Revenue Podcast.

“For example, the core questions you need ask yourself are: is this scalable, measurable and repeatable?”

In other words, can we do this over and over again, with new SDRs without any trouble?

For Zhang, designing an effective sales development org, one that supports and develops its SDRs, comes down to focusing on three main factors:

  • Mapping (Salesforce operations and process, scripts, and what solutions you will be using)
  • Execution (The things I need to do, and the things I need my team to do)
  • Analysis (What are we doing right? What are we doing wrong?)

Mapping

At the end of the day, mapping can be summed up with the terms “process and operations.”

For example, you need to understand how to capture all of your SDRs activities in Salesforce. How do I report on a meeting? A connection? Where do all the different activities go?

But you also need clarity on your ICP, the success of inbound vs. outbound leads (the executives in the company will love knowing where to best spend their money), what tools to use, and how to attribute meetings and opportunities to the right SDR (they’ll surely appreciate that!).

To help ensure all of these issues, and more are thought of, Zhang has designed this easy-to-use checklist:

  • Salesforce (CRM)
  • What fields do I need?
  • What fields should I measure?
  • What does it look like from beginning to end?

  • Telephony
  • What tool?
  • What’s the script?

  • Email
  • What tool?
  • Use script?
  • Draft cadences?

  • Lead gen / data sources
  • Phone # + email?
  • LinkedIn?
  • Additional data points? Technographics? Firmographics?

  • Is the process elegant?
  • Time on phone vs. time in Salesforce?
  • Can I automate everything?
  • Room for error?

  • Ask yourself:
  • How quickly can they come in and begin to execute?
  • Is this repeatable?

“And remember, after you have thought of all of these things, ask yourself if the process is elegant. Have you designed the right process? Is it the most streamlined solution? Can we automate anything?” says Zhang.

“Of course, you’re going to have your traditional onboarding etc. But, through this initiative, you want to create a cookie cutter process. So your new SDr can hit the ground running.”

Execution

After you map everything out, it’s time to do the work and see if your process works. But, stresses Zhang, testing out the process isn’t just the job of the SDR. It’s incumbent on the SFR leader to get in the trenches and see how their designs work in practice.

As he did for the mapping portion, Zhang has designed another concise checklist to help SDR leaders ensure their plans can be easily maneuvered..

“Execute on your own methodologies. Get in the trenches, make calls, send emails! Do the prospecting. And do it until it becomes hard to balance. Do it until you have 4-5 SDRs, then scale back,” says Zhang.

“And ask yourself this: am I helping my team prepare for the worst? Am I setting them up for success?

  • Theory vs. practice
  • Make the calls
  • Build the script
  • Practice the value proposition
  • Take note of common objections
  • Get hung up on!
  • Iterate

  • Send the emails
  • Track opens
  • Track clicks
  • Track replies
  • Pro-tip: practice personalization

  • Build some cadences
  • Target ICP
  • Segmented + Relevant Messaging
  • 12-15 touch points

  • Set benchmarks
  • What’s good?
  • What’s average?
  • What’s poor?

Analysis

Okay, you’ve designed your framework, and had your new reps executing on the strategy. Now, it’s time to analyze what’s working and what’s not. If you don’t take a fine-tooth comb to your data, you’ll never know where to make the necessary adjustments, adds Zhang.

There’s always room for improvement.

Zhang’s suggestions for analyzing your SDR results:

  • Do a personal analysis vs. team analysis
  • How streamlined is the process in Salesforce?
  • Design Salesforce reports and dashboards (are we tracking and measuring everything correctly? How are we trending?)
  • Where is human error happening?
  • What are our activity benchmarks?
  • Email / cadence effectiveness – Opens? Clicks? Replies?
  • Weekly 1 on 1: SDR led, leave with one thing you (SDR manager) can help with
  • Weekly call review: 1 good call, 1 bad call, 1 misc call (up to SDR)
  • Ask yourself: what’s going well? Where are my roadblocks? What’s one thing I can streamline? How is my team feeling? How else can I support my team?

“If you don’t have proper training, framework around your SDRs, that’s where we trip and fall. Having the personal experience, knowing where challenges and objections are really helps,” says Zhang.

“If you know the hurdles, and the objections, you can tell them how you’ve handle it.”

Hiring

A quick note on hiring the right candidates for your growing SDR team: try and strike the right balance between experience and hustle.

If you hire reps with too much experience, you run the risk of having SDRs just waiting to get promoted. Alternatively, if you hire candidates that are to raw, they won’t come into the role with a realistic view of what the job entails (this is important because, let’s face it, sales development can be a grind).

“It’s interesting because you see rockstars come from college, or you encounter people that decide this isn’t for them. You want to set expectations from the beginning. Let them know how long you expect them to be in the role. Personally, I like people to have some SDR experience, an ability to engage with individuals is good,” says Zhang.

“My suggestion is to hire 2-3 reps at the beginning. It promotes some friendly competition. And, hire SDRs with management potential because as you bring on more SDRs they become player coaches.”

For more on Zhang’s thoughts on SDR leadership, check out his edition of The Predictable Revenue Podcast.