Interview

Is there a right and wrong way to measure the effectiveness of a sales development team?

Eamon Ramsey (ER), senior business director at Foundry Sales Development Services (SDS) shares insights on whether there is a right or wrong way to measure the effectiveness of your sales development team in the Tech Sector.

With over 20 years of experience, Eamon has spent the last four years as Senior Business Director for Foundry’s Sales Development Services. During this time, he worked closely with some of the largest and most ambitious Tech companies to supply outsourced Business Development Services via Foundry’s Sales Development Services.

Read on for some great insight into how to get the best out of your sales development team.

Foundry Sales Development Services: How has the sales development space developed over the years?

ER: Historically, marketers were measured on generating Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs), but the needle has moved and they are now measured by the number of MQLs that convert to Sales Accepted Leads (SAL’s).

The Sales Development function has become hugely important. It’s the crucial link between marketing and sales, where incoming MQLs are converted to high quality SALs for the sales team to engage.

And MQL conversion is only one part of this evolution. This function has become vital for renewals and cross sell/upsell activities. This activity used to sit within sales, but more businesses are finding out that well trained Business Development Representatives (BDRs) are more efficient and cost effective. They are best placed to tackle accounts at scale and speed.

Foundry Sales Development Services: Is there a right or wrong way to measure the effectiveness of a sales development team?

ER: Yes. The right way to measure the effectiveness of your sales development team is through qualitative and quantitative measures. The wrong way is to focus on outcomes or closed business rather than individual performance metrics. You need to pinpoint how you arrive at an ideal result to identify the specific processes that need to be optimized through management or coaching. The list below shows what we should measure as best practice.

We measure:

  • Outreach volume
  • Contact rate/Open rate/Click rate
  • Conversion rate
  • BDR performance and retention
  • Data source performance
  • Data quality

To have an effective, productive, and high-performing team, the key is to measure and optimize daily. The challenge for Sales development is having too many tasks to do at the same time!

Foundry Sales Development Services: What key team structures would you advise technology companies to adopt?

ER: There are vital skill sets and structures that I have relied on over the years.

I advise to always have a Team Manager that focuses on the productivity of the team as a whole. The Team manager is ideally analytics driven and can quickly identify training needs or data performance issues early.

The actual coaching and training requirements should be driven by a different specialist team, who have the time and ability to put BDRs on track quickly. This is vital, because it’s  difficult to hire and keep experienced people, so a culture of coaching and development is essential.

Finally, have somebody who can focus on reporting and analytics. It’s essential that your team has visibility of the right data at the right time so you can make optimizations at pace.

In smaller in-house teams, it’s often too costly to employ all the team specialisms, which is where team performance falls down.

Foundry Sales Development Services: You mention staff retention. How do effective performance measurements impact that?

ER: Anybody who has worked in this space will tell you that hiring, training, and keeping experienced team members is a struggle. Sourcing, training, and bringing a BDR up to peak performance can take 3-6 months and the average tenure is just over a year, so you want to make sure you have a robust initial training programme in place. Supplement this with a coaching model that enables you to have well performing BDRs that are always improving. You will get attrition, but a solid structure that allows you to keep good BDRs will be hugely beneficial.

If you want the best ROI, you really need to invest in people.

Foundry Sales Development Services: What role does technology play in the way you measure the effectiveness of your team?

ER: Technology plays a key role in how we measure the team and is used to understand activities and trends and provides the foundation for improving performance. One technology that has become hugely relevant is sales engagement platforms. We can use them in multiple ways with multiple segments to enable ownership of the sales pipeline through active targeting.

Foundry Sales Development Services: What common pitfalls do you see a lot of companies fall into?

ER: The most common mistake is deploying a team of BDRs without management and supporting infrastructure to help them be successful. This leads to unrealistic expectations burdening the team, and high turnover that stems from frustrations and a lack of perceived success.

Another common problem is not understanding data metrics. We often talk to technology businesses about their poor or lack of data, only to find that they rely on engaging leads one to three times, or only via one channel. Data sets can be fruitful up to and over a year old and, if you tackle them the right way. The technology is out there, not only to enable activity, but to supply the metrics you need to make data actionable.

Finally, we see a lot of companies focus on the “now” leads and not put nurture processes in place to engage the “not yet” leads. It’s a competitive world, so you need to nurture every relevant lead to keep them close for the right time to engage.

Foundry Sales Development Services: How can we measure changes in performance, and how difficult is this to measure?

ER: We need to master the basics of performance measuring. I don’t think performance is becoming more difficult to measure, but the expectations on the Business Development Team have become more nuanced. BDRs were once used as a transient resource where cold calling activities were business as usual. Now we expect BDRs to master new technologies, hold complex conversations, follow processes and still be highly productive. To work at the pace required, it’s down to the management team to monitor activity quickly and optimize in real time. This takes expertise and the right tech stack to facilitate it!

The other key factor for effective performance measurement is understanding the role of the Sales development function as part of the overall customer journey. Similar to Sales, Marketing and Customer Success, strong communication is critical to overall success. To make sense of performance data, it’s critical to establish what each department input and returns are, then measure performance against these metrics. If you don’t master this early, conflict and finger pointing between the departments are inevitable.

Ultimately, ROMI is a great performance measure, but companies need to be ready to invest time and resources in the right strategy and infrastructure before they expect to see a step-change in performance.

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