How To Start & Grow Your Business

10 Darn Good Sales Development Essentials

Greg Klingshirn
Oct 21st, 2015
  • Estimated reading time: 6 min read
  • Hummy's

    1Create specialized roles and document them clearly. 2Hire "hungry up-and-comers" with ambition. 3Incentivize them to bring in only qualified prospects.
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Sales Training

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“What can I do to build a successful sales development team?” It’s certainly not easy to build a team of Sales Development legends overnight.

When revenue is on the line, even one false start can be a recipe for disaster. It is absolutely crucial to focus on the right strategies early on. That’s where these 10 ideas can help.

Implement them into your process and watch your numbers skyrocket:

1. Specialize Sales Roles

Specialization is the heart of the 21st-century sales development process.

It pumps life into the rest of the process by providing a framework around your sales team.

The concept is simple: create at least two roles. Your Sales Development Reps (SDRs) will prospect and schedule demos and qualified appointments. Your Account Executives will close deals, only.

Some businesses specialize even more, developing roles for geography, inbound, outbound, and other categories. has 14 specific roles.

Using this strategy allows each role to be extremely good (and fast) at what they do—because it is their primary focus and objective.

2. Build a Playbook

With the mindset of specialization in place, build specific processes for your reps to follow. It helps onboard reps quickly and effectively defines best practices for your team.

The playbook you build will be a soup-to-nuts guide that includes your hiring strategy to the cadence you use to reach out to prospects.

You’ll be better off building a playbook with as many specifics as possible and updating it as you discover best practices for completing individual tasks. You eventually want your reps to be creative and come up with ideas on their own, but it starts when you can hand over a tried-and-true manual.

3. Hire Hungry Up-and-Comers Who Can Punch Above Their Weight Class

Your hiring strategy must be focused on recruiting reps who are highly motivated and hungry to succeed.

They should have the ambition to talk to executives and prove themselves as not only competent, but incredibly skilled. Because sales is a game of confidence where two people come together, the person with the most confidence influences the other.

4. Provide Adequate Tools

Your sales development team will be completing repetitive tasks by nature.

Removing as much manual labor from these tasks will make them not only happier, but also more productive.

Try using list building tools like or SalesLoft Prospecter coupled with a CRM and dialer ( or Velocify) to speed up your reps’ days and reduce manual labor.

On top of the necessities, there are great tools that can help reporting, training, and coaching. Leaderboards help spur competition and maintain a strong sales culture.

Identify what your team needs and use technology to supplement a streamlined process.

5. Compensate the Team on Performance Incentives

Your sales development reps schedule qualified appointments and demos, and that’s how they should be compensated.

While closed deals are great for your business, your SDRs don’t have control over the final conversation. If a struggling Account Executive blows it, it shouldn’t be reflected on the paycheck of your best Sales Development Rep.

6. Source Accurate and Targeted Prospect Data

Calling incorrect numbers and emailing addresses that don’t exist are sinkholes for your Sales Development team.

Do everything you can to get your reps clean data.

Prospect on LinkedIn for accurate information on the people you’re interested in. It is the best source for up-to-date information, because individuals are responsible for updating it themselves.

More accurate contact information yields more meaningful calls and emails, translating to more demos, and ultimately more revenue.

7. Use Qualification Criteria to Pass Over Appointments

It is key that the appointments and demos your Sales Development team is setting are qualified opportunities.

While not every demo will result in revenue for your business, you want to weed out the completely unqualified prospects at the onset.

Ken Krogue popularized the ANUM strategy in inside sales.

Rather than the traditional BANT concept, ANUM (Authority, Need, Urgency, Money) shifts the focus from budget to authority and need. It is fueled by the concept that finding a decision maker and demonstrating value is more effective than honing in on a prospect’s wallet.

In the simplest terms: Generate enough interest, and a prospect will find a way to pay for it.

Make sure the Sales Development team focuses on the right people at the right companies. If you can do this (and what you’re selling is valuable), you’re golden.

8. Train the Team on Top-Of-Funnel Objection Handling

Your Sales Development team will hear completely different objections than your closers.

Instead of opposition to your product, prospects will be opposed to giving you their time, tell you they don’t have a need, or be confused about why you’re calling in the first place.

“People are busy. They’re not objecting to you, their objecting to the experience of being cold called.” —Steve Richard

Speak from the perspective of a prospect’s peers. If you’re selling to VPs of Marketing, start a conversation with, “I’ve been speaking with other VPs of Marketing and most of them seem to have trouble generating inbound leads. Does that sound familiar?”

Empathize rather than pitch. You need to earn the right to every conversation and that starts with acting like an advisor.

9. Provide a Career Path

Sales Development is often an entry-level role filled with young talent who are at their first or second job.

Their ambition translates into eventually wanting to become an Account Executive or team lead, but they lack the necessary experience. Joining a sales development team is a great place to start. By detailing a plan that shows each rep exactly what they’ll have to do in order to be promoted, you’re likely to find better talent.

10. Foster a Great Culture

“Our number one priority is company culture. Our whole belief is that if you get the culture right, most of the other stuff like delivering great customer service or building a long-term enduring brand will just happen naturally on its own.” —Tony Hsieh

At SalesLoft, we hire the top 1% of individuals in their fields who are positive, supportive, and self-starting.

By hiring around core values, employees are not only motivated, but get along well with one another. Keep culture at the forefront of your hiring process and you’ll build a great team.

Once these ideas are implemented, there is a huge opportunity to tweak smaller processes to fit your team. Stay committed to these 10 strategies, and your team will be able to hit their quota without batting an eye.

This article was written by Greg Klingshirn and published on the Salesforce blog. 

Greg Klingshirn is the Content Marketing Manager at SalesLoft, one of the fastest growing startups in Georgia. His goal is to plan and create content to make sales professionals’ jobs more productive and enjoyable. Connect with him on LinkedIn.

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