The Role of BDRs
At the heart of many successful B2B businesses is the Business Development Representative (BDR). They are the driving force behind new business growth and they do a lot more than just generate leads. They pave the way to new markets, refine customer segmentation and a lot more. For a deeper dive into their role, see our article titled BDR Meaning: Business Development Representatives. The question is, how do we maximize the BDR sales pipeline?
What Does Your Company Need?
First, there is some confusion over BDRs (Business Development Representative) vs. SDRs (Sales Development Representative). Again, I cover that in our article titled BDR Meaning: Business Development Representatives. Some might call the following SDR vs. BDR but for the purposes of this article, we are going to call everything BDR. If you want to call everything SDR (Sales Development Reps), go right ahead.
I recommend staying focused on function, more than titles. Based on your Go To Market (GTM) motion, assess your business’s needs. Do you need some or all of the below?
Outbound Business Development Representatives (BDRs)
- Proactive Outreach – Here the BDR focuses on outbound lead prospecting. Proactively reaching out through methods like cold calling, cold emailing, or social media outreach.
- Outbound Leads – A Business Development Rep will often work with a list of target accounts or industries and try to engage decision-makers within those companies.
- Qualification – A Business Development Representative will determine whether a lead is worth pursuing further and whether it should be passed on to the sales team for more in-depth engagement.
- Education and Initial Pitch – A Business Development Rep will provide information about the company’s products or services and aim to capture the lead’s attention and interest.
- Appointment Setting – A Business Development Representative will often schedule appointments or meetings for the sales team with qualified leads. Ultimately a handoff to an account executive.
Inbound Business Development Representatives (BDRs)
- Inbound Leads – These BDRs focus on leads who have filled out contact forms, downloaded resources, or interacted with the company’s website.
- Qualifying Leads – Qualifying inbound marketing leads should be a core part of training. If Business Development Reps have qualified opportunities…
- Lead Nurturing – Engage with these leads through various communication channels like email, chat, or phone to move them along the sales funnel. Transition MQLs to SQLs.
- Information and Assistance – Inbound Business Development Reps provide information, answer questions, and build rapport and trust.
- Conversion and Handoff – A Business Development Representative will facilitate the transition to a sales rep or an account executive for closing business.
- Feedback Loop – Business Development Reps often serve as a valuable source of customer insights via active listening. This info is fed to the marketing and product development teams. See the Qualitative and Quantitative Research section below.
Enhance Customer Segmentation
Almost every Business Development Representative (BDR) Agency I’ve ever spoken to says the first problem is that customer segmentation needs improvement. Let’s outline that process.
Begin with an analysis of customer data from your CRM system. Look for patterns in demographics, behavior, and purchase history. Leverage behavioral data, such as website interactions and email responses. Tailor your outreach and engagement strategies. Your messaging should vary based on the persona and where the prospective client is in the funnel (customer journey).
Clearly define criteria for segmenting potential customers based on factors like industry, company size, location, or preferences. Ensure segments reflect real differences. These bigger picture criteria are often referred to as your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP).
Create Buyer Personas
Out of the ICP you develop buyer personas to better visualize different customer segments. These “avatars” represent typical customers within a segment.
Qualitative and Quantitative Research
My favorite guides on customer segmentation come from The Lean Startup and Running Lean, written by Eric Ries and Ash Maurya (respectively). They explain both qualitative and quantitative research. Running Lean digs into the details of the exact scripts to use when conducting surveys and interviews with representative customers from each segment. These research-based approaches enable businesses to refine their customer segments. The goal is to validate hypotheses and build an outreach program that truly resonates with your target audience.
Qualitative research involves gathering insights through open-ended conversations, interviews, and observations to deeply understand customer pain points, needs, and behaviors. These interviews happen preferably in person.
Generally, you want to validate your qualitative assessments. You do this with quantitative research (often surveys). This relies on numerical data and metrics to assess the scale and significance of identified trends or patterns within a larger customer base.
Build Measure Learn (BML) Loops
The idea here is that you must test and iterate. Split-test your messaging and methods for each customer segment and persona. Experiment with different approaches. Then measure results and refine strategies based on what works best.
Use CRM and automation tools to streamline your segmentation efforts, automate messaging, and track performance.
Collaborate with Sales and Marketing
BDRs should collaborate closely with the marketing department and sales team to align strategies and messaging.
Measure, Optimize, Repeat
Continuously measure the impact of segmentation efforts through Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). Make segmentation an ongoing process that adapts to evolving customer behavior.
Identify the Best Sales Methodology
Some of the most popular sales methodologies include SNAP Selling, Conceptional Selling, Solution Selling, and The Sandler System. MEDDIC, SPIN Selling, and The Challenger Sale are currently among the most popular due to their strong emphasis on customer understanding and value addition.
Your sales methodology should be driven by your Go To Market (GTM) motion. Each of these frameworks focuses on something different. While MEDDIC excels in qualifying opportunities, The Challenger Sale and SPIN Selling redefine the sales conversation, focusing on educating and understanding the customer, respectively.
From challenging customer assumptions to focusing on solutions, these methods provide a diverse toolkit for sales professionals. It’s not just about selling a product; it’s about understanding, educating, and solving real-world problems. Let’s take a look at three of the most popular:
MEDDIC is a comprehensive and popular framework for sales professionals:
The foundation of any successful sales strategy begins with understanding the metrics that matter most to your potential customer. By aligning your solution with the prospect’s metrics, you demonstrate how your product or service can help them achieve their goals.
Establishing a direct line of communication with the economic buyer is vital. This individual holds the purse strings. They have the authority to make purchasing decisions.
These criteria may include pricing, product features, support, and various other aspects that weigh into their final choice.
Determine who the key stakeholders are and how decisions are typically made. By doing so, you can navigate the decision process more effectively.
You must uncover the challenges, problems, or inefficiencies your prospect is facing. Once you’ve identified these pain points, you can demonstrate how your solution directly addresses and alleviates them.
A champion is your internal advocate within the prospect’s organization. They can provide insights, navigate internal politics, and advocate for your solution.
2. The Challenger Sale
The Challenger Sales Model was outlined by Matthew Dixon and Brent Adamson in their book “The Challenger Sale.” Dixon and Adamson feel there are 5 different sales profiles: The hard worker, the lone wolf, the relationship builder, the problem solver and the challenger.
Their research reveals that 40% of high-performing salespeople adopt the Challenger style, making it the most successful approach. In contrast, only 7% of high-performers rely on a relationship-driven style, which happens to be the least effective.
The 3 Step Process
Teach – Challengers initiate by educating their prospects. This is not focused on a specific product or service they offer. It’s focused more on significant business challenges, innovative ideas, and insightful observations.
Tailor – Then Challengers customize their communications to suit the prospect’s unique needs.
Take Control – Challengers steer the sale by not shying away from pushing back on the customer when necessary. Their primary focus is on achieving the end goal rather than seeking mere approval.
The book emphasizes that with the right training, any sales team can acquire Challenger qualities. It requires a blend of the right skills and organizational support to facilitate this transformation effectively.
3. SPIN Selling
SPIN Selling was originally conceived by Neil Rackham in his book “SPIN Selling.” This sales methodology was developed after analyzing 35,000 sales calls to understand the success of high-performing salespeople.
Top-performing salespeople, as Marc Wayshaw notes, engage with prospects by asking insightful, conversational questions to uncover problems and provide solutions. They close deals before reaching the pitching stage because they’ve laid the groundwork effectively and identified the most critical issues, making it easy to position their product as the ideal solution.
The acronym “SPIN” represents four types of questions, which outline the process:
Ask questions about the prospect’s project management process and tools. This helps you understand which problems your product can solve.
Here you ask about communication, task management, and friction points within the prospect’s workflow. Do not delve into product features at this stage.
Prompt the prospect to consider the consequences of not addressing these problems. Make the prospect aware of their significance. Some call this agitation.
Encourage the prospect to envision how solving the problem (your product) would improve their situation.
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Training and Coaching of BDRs
One of the most basic concepts of scalability is to be able to reliably repeat a successful customer experience. This is covered extensively in E-Myth Revisited by Michael Gerber. He outlines strategies for the organization, management, people, marketing and systems. I won’t cover all of that now, but here is a basic outline for BDRs:
Define Clear Objectives
Determine the specific goals (KPIs) and objectives (OKRs) you want your BDRs to achieve. These objectives should align with the overall sales and business development strategies of your business. Clear, measurable goals are foundational.
Sales and Marketing Alignment
BDRs must work closely with sales and marketing teams. This will ensure messaging and content alignment. Share customer insights and feedback between all departments.
Lead Generation – Number of new leads or prospects generated.
Sales Qualified Leads (SQLs) – Number of leads that are qualified for the sales process.
Outreach Activities – How many cold calls, emails, and meetings scheduled.
Conversion Rates – Percentage of leads converted to opportunities and then to customers.
Revenue Generated – Direct contribution to sales or revenue.
Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC) – Cost involved in acquiring a new customer.
Sales Cycle Length – Time taken to move a lead through the sales funnel to a closed deal.
Increase Lead Generation – Aim to increase the number of quality leads by a certain percentage.
Enhance Lead Qualification Process – Improve the process of qualifying leads to ensure higher quality SQLs.
Boost Outreach Efficiency – Increase the number of successful outreach attempts.
Improve Conversion Rate – Aim to convert a higher percentage of leads into sales opportunities.
Targeted Revenue Goals – Set specific revenue targets to be achieved in a given period.
Reduce Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC) – Focus on strategies to lower the cost of acquiring new customers.
Shorten Sales Cycle – Implement strategies to move leads more efficiently through the sales funnel.
Follow a Published System
What are your lead and lag measures? 4DX provides some insight here.
Develop Comprehensive Content
Training and coaching materials for BDRs should cover a wide range of topics and skills, including:
Ensure BDRs have in-depth knowledge of your products or services. Materials should include testimonials, case studies (use cases), and value propositions.
This is addressed in the Sales Methodology section above. It will equip BDRs with effective techniques for finding new markets, cold outreach, qualifying prospects and more.
Technologies and Tools
I’m going to say it’s a given that you have invested in the best CRM systems, sales analytics and communication platforms you possibly can. Now you need to train your BDRs on how to use them. Explain how you expect them to identify and engage with potential leads using these tools. How will these tools be used to improve the sales pipeline and track performance?
Scripts and Sequences
Explain what scripts and sequences to use to conduct effective outreach via email, phone, and social media. How will they be split tested and why? What are your Build Measure Learn loops? This will cover:
Teach BDRs how to qualify leads, ensuring that their efforts are focused on prospects most likely to convert into customers.
Make sure your BDRs deliver the right content at the right time to the right customer segment. This ties back to clear communication with marketing and sales. They must understand customer segmentation and the customer journey (which is why we started with that first).
Use sales enablement platforms to facilitate content distribution and tracking. See the section above “Technologies and Tools.”
Incorporate Interactive Elements
Interactive elements in your training materials could include quizzes, role-playing scenarios, and real-world case studies. Interactive content enhances comprehension and retention for your BDRs.
Provide scripts and scenarios for role-playing exercises. Then role play.
Equip BDRs with strategies to address common objections and turn them into opportunities. Role play.
Leverage Education Technology
Online learning platforms, webinars, and e-learning modules can provide BDRs with on-demand access to valuable resources. These platforms can also track progress and assess performance.
Continuously Update and Improve
Just like you use Build Measure Learn loops with potential customers, you should constantly improve your training and coaching materials. What worked? What didn’t? Why? Also consider industry trends and evolving customer preferences.
Encourage BDRs to provide feedback on the training materials. Their insights can help refine the content and make it more effective. Feedback loops should be an integral part of the training process.
There should be a formal system in place to provide feedback to BDRs. Is your sales manager sitting in on calls? Parroting? Once a week meetings? How are your BDRs progressing against defined KPIs and OKRs? How is technology being leveraged to assist in this tracking?
Encourage a culture of continuous learning. Provide access to resources, industry updates, and best practices.
BDR Compensation Plans
Steven Covey in the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People says that we should water the plants we want to grow. Even if you get everything else right, if the compensation plan is not adequately connected with your desired outcomes, you have not maximized BDR sales. Here is a Business Development Representative compensation calculator by The Bridge Group and here is one by Open View Partners. Keep in mind compensation plans this will vary wildly depending upon sales cycle, role of the Business Development Representative in the company and your sales strategy. If you want a constant flow of new opportunities, consider the following:
This provides financial stability and ensures a minimum level of compensation.
The commission may be a percentage of the revenue generated from the leads they convert into customers. It incentivizes Business Development Representatives to focus on high-quality leads not just getting appointments for account executives.
Bonuses can be tied to achieving specific sales targets, meeting or exceeding lead generation goals, or other key performance indicators (KPIs).
The number of leads they need to convert into paying customers within a specified time frame.
As they exceed certain sales or lead generation targets, their commission percentage may increase, providing additional motivation for top performers.
Compensation can be tied to the team’s collective performance.
Stock Options or Equity Grants
This is usually only at startups or high-growth companies.
Adjustments to the compensation plan will ensures that BDRs are rewarded for their growth and development over time.
Perks and Benefits
Such as healthcare, retirement contributions, gym memberships, or flexible work arrangements, etc.
Outsourcing a Business Development Representative Agency
Engaging a Business Development Representative Agency to outsource sales activities can unlock growth for lower middle marketing B2B companies who want to scale. You can outsource Business Development Representatives to set appointments for your Account Executives (or Sales Reps). This is not an either-or scenario. You can combine the efforts of in-house and outsourced. Use Business Development Representatives to improve your customer segmentation, split test scripts and pass along everything they have learned to your sales team.
For reference, please see our article 10 Outsourced BDR Agencies Compared.
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Ready to talk about how a Fractional CMO can help your business? Click the button below and schedule a free strategy session.