What is Sales Development?
Sales development is the process of preparing leads or prospects for the eventual purchase decision. Sales development falls between stages 1 and 2 of the process, right on the border between marketing and sales handoff.
Why Have a Sales Development Process?
Because your marketing team is most likely generating leads at all stages of the buyer’s journey, sales development is critical in inbound marketing. In essence, many prospects may not be ready for sales outreach (yet!) when they become a lead; if the lead isn’t ready, the sales rep will be wasting time on a call (or, worse, alienating them).
Prospects are primed for decision-making when they are handed over to sales closers when sales development is used effectively, making the close of the deal easier to achieve.
Creating a Sales Development Process
Sales development processes are most effective when they include a number of strategic elements that are carefully designed to move prospects through the buying cycle. Here’s a breakdown of what your sales development process should entail.
1. Define the qualities of each lifecycle stage after a prospect becomes a lead.
A website visitor who downloads an ebook is not necessarily a prospect. As a result, lumping everyone under the umbrella term lead leads to disorganisation.
The marketing team’s job is to nurture leads who aren’t quite ready to buy and identify those who are getting close.
A Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL) is a lead identified by the marketing team as ready for sales. Keep in mind that they could be correct or incorrect, which is why the next lifecycle stage is so critical. A Sales Qualified Lead (SQL) is an MQL that the sales team has now identified as a qualified prospect. Their goal is then to qualify and engage that SQL until they become a true sales opportunity.
To generate MQLs for the sales team, your marketing team must first understand what the sales team is looking for. This isn’t meant to shift the entire burden of lead qualification onto your marketers’ shoulders, but rather to provide a loose framework for increasing the number of MQLs that turn into SQLs and reducing the sales reps’ load by eliminating bad fits.
2. Identify gaps in the pipeline.
Once you’ve defined each lifecycle stage (MQL, SQL, and Opportunity), you can look for where the process is failing. Inquire with key personnel in each department about their efforts. Identify the best fit leads; what factors can disqualify a lead; what are the activities that can waste more of your time in getting you prospects- these are a few of the things you must know.
3. Establish a process to close those gaps
There should be a process in place to close the gaps between departments and to ensure that communication and collaboration are maintained. This process should include regular communication between all stakeholders, as well as a system for tracking and monitoring progress.
4. Create a Service-Level Agreement (SLA) between marketing and sales
A service level agreement (SLA) is a contract between two parties that specifies deliverables. After achieving clarity and identifying gaps, you can formalise the relationship between departments with an SLA that documents what needs to happen before, during, and after the handoff, as well as what success looks like.
The goal here is to get both departments to agree on definitions and roles so that they can take ownership of their responsibilities while also understanding how it all contributes to the organisation’s overall goals.
5. Put the process in motion
Marketing and sales will be better equipped to support each other, and sales will be better able to qualify and close leads, with clearly defined roles and a shiny new SLA. Continue to monitor the process and, as the team adjusts and you learn more about what works best, don’t be afraid to change it.
List of components of Sales Development Process
1. A CRM that supports your workflows
Customer relationship management (CRM) platforms are only as useful as their ability to support your sales development representatives’ working methods rather than creating additional administrative requirements that waste time.
Choosing the right CRM and sales software to support your initiatives allows sales development reps to gather lead information and conduct prospecting activities more efficiently. Sales development, from a sales perspective, is the formalization of how the team reaches out to their customers with their products or services.
2. A robust lead qualification system
What makes a lead qualified? When does a lead become a prospect, and when does a prospect become ready to be transferred to your sales closing team? For maximum efficiency, sales development requires clear definitions and processes for qualifying leads. Sending unqualified leads to sales development is a waste of time. Sending prospects to sales closers who haven’t been properly educated on the product or service can also result in the loss of otherwise targeted prospects who would have converted with proper lead nurturing.
These definitions, as well as the processes for qualifying leads and nurturing leads, represent the progression of a lead through the purchasing journey. These concepts must be thoroughly understood by marketing, sales development, and sales closing teams.
Build specific processes for your reps to follow with a specialization mindset in place. It enables reps to be onboarded quickly and effectively defines best practices for your team.
3. A central content management portal
To educate prospects and qualify leads, sales development representatives use a variety of collateral and content assets. These assets frequently exist in silos, forcing sales reps to waste valuable time searching for the right content assets for different prospects or educating leads on a specific selling point.
You arm your sales development team with the resources they need to influence buying decisions when you manage a central database that includes approved sales collateral that is clearly tagged and classified for various buyer personas and stages along the buyer’s journey.
4. Sales analytics
Sales analytics provide data to inform sales development representatives on the most effective sales materials aligned with buyer personas and the various stages in the buying journey, in addition to providing easy access to content assets to support sales development teams at every stage of the buying journey.
Marketing can only optimise programs if they have the necessary data. Sales reps are notoriously bad at keeping good data, and sales leadership is concerned with sales forecast data (with good reason). Well-managed sales development teams, on the other hand, are remarkably good at providing data. Your lead qualification process is streamlined by arming reps with the right materials, for the right prospects, at the right time, and your reps can spend more time doing what they do the best selling.
5. A means for collaboration and feedback
Sales development is truly the link between marketing and sales, and ongoing input from both parties is required for continuous improvement. The most effective sales development processes include an integrated feedback mechanism. This allows marketing teams to inform sales development representatives of nuances and specific challenges related to sales leads, while also allowing sales teams to provide feedback on prospect readiness and ease of conversion of prospects passed on by your sales development team.
How can you offer value to customers with your Sales Process?
Every business has a sales process. In fact, every business is selling, whether or not they realize it. Whether we’re talking about a physical product, a service, or an intangible reputation, the sales process is the same. A customer will only buy from you if you can offer them something that will benefit them in some way. When you’re selling something physical, that might mean the product itself.
The sales development process is essential for making your customers happy because it allows you to identify your customer’s needs and then provide the appropriate solutions. This process can also help you connect with your customers and build trusting relationships.
Do you need a Sales Development team?
Many small businesses and solopreneurs have one or more of these five sales management issues. But if you’re like most small business owners, you probably don’t know which issues are really affecting your business’s performance and revenue. And if you think about it, you’ve probably never had an outside expert analyse your sales funnel and strategy, and give you actionable advice for improving sales performance.
A sales development team is the team that builds your sales pipeline and is key to growing your business. It’s the “bridge” between your product and your customers. It’s the link between your company and the market. But what does it mean for your business? How can you make sure that you’re building a team that actually works?
Wrapping it up
Whether you define it as such or not, all sales organisations use sales development processes in some capacity. The more carefully you design your processes and train your marketing and sales teams in each step of the process, the more qualified leads your teams will generate and sales they will close. It’s worth your time to develop a strategic, data-driven sales development plan to boost efficiency and achieve greater returns.
If you want to learn more about how to improve your sales development process, please keep in touch with Ubique Digital Solutions. UDS is a digital solutions company that offers different helpful and effective digital marketing services that will surely help you improve your sales and profits in the long run. Keep in touch with UDS.