I've long argued that the effective use of a Sales Development team is an essential component to a truly high-performance revenue engine. This team is also sometimes called Lead Qualification or even Business Development, but regardless of what you call it, this team has one exclusive focus: to review, contact and qualify marketing-generated leads and deliver them to Sales Account Execs.

In March, 2011 I authored a Marketo ebook called The Definitive Guide to Sales Lead Qualification and Sales Development.  (It has since been updated, download the latest copy here.)

Here are a few highlights from the guide, starting with Seven Ways that Sales Development Reps Drive Revenue:

  1. More consistent and better quality follow-up on leads = better conversion of leads into opportunities. When you have a qualified lead, it's too valuable to call once and leave a voicemail.  You want someone whose sole job is to contact your leads, answer questions, make sure they are a fit, and get them connected to sales teams.
  2. Faster lead response times = better conversion rates. When a lead submits an inquiry on your website, the faster the response the better.  According to a Lead Response Management study, a five-minute lead response is 21X more likely to convert than after 30-minute wait.  SDRs can focus on this fast response time.
  3. Better economics. Salespeople are expensive and you want them focused on closing business, not qualifying raw leads, talking to people who don’t want to talk to them, or worse, wasting time with unqualified prospects. It makes sense to have lower-cost SDRs talking to leads and passing just the right ones onto sales. 
  4. The human touch enhances lead nurturing. Whether or not leads are sales-ready, SDRs can nurture relationships with each interaction. By talking with more leads, you can offer personalized thought leadership and value around a lead’s individual pain points, and cultivate future demand. 
  5. Superior data. It's easier to require SDRs to enter proper information about lead qualification and disposition, so marketing gets better data accuracy and information they can use to optimize future efforts.
  6. Improved revenue cycle analytics. By adding a stage between marketing and sales, you’ll be able to track conversion rates for each step. This means you can isolate problems and resolve them faster than if you lump together the responsibilities of qualifying and closing leads.
  7. Talent development for sales. Your Sales Development reps can play an important role in your sales talent pipeline, effectively serving as your “farm team” for future quota carrying reps. 

The guide goes on to cover these common questions about the sales development process:

  1. When Should Marketing Pass a Lead to the SDRs?
  2. When Should SDRs Pass a Sales Lead to an Account Executive?
  3. How Do You Determine Which Leads are Accepted by Sales?
  4. How Should I Allocate Leads to SDRs?
  5. What Kind Of Conversion Rates Can I Expect?
  6. Should Sales Development Report to Marketing or Sales?
  7. How Many SDRs Do I Need / How Big Should The Lead Qualification Team Be?
  8. How Can I Hire the Best SDRs?
  9. How Much Should I Pay My SDRs?
  10. How Should I Best Train my Lead Qualification Team?
  11. Can I Outsource My Lead Qualification Or Do SDRs Need To Be In-House?

Check out my Definitive Guide to to Sales Lead Qualification and Sales Development for my detailed answers to all these questions.