A dedicated team of sales development reps (SDRs) might be the quickest way to scale your business. An SDR (also known as a sales prospector) is a rep that focuses solely on searching for new sales leads. An SDR’s only mission is to find new leads and convert them into sales opportunities. They don’t follow up with inbound leads or close deals, those tasks are left to other members of an inside sales organization. SDRs have the power to find leads who know little-to-nothing about your brand and transform them into valuable opportunities for your account executives.
Sounds pretty good, right? But where a lot of companies go wrong is assuming that the same skills that make quota-carrying account executives succeed are the skills to look for when hiring dedicated prospectors. Sure, there’s definitely some overlap. You always want to hire reps with a competitive spirit and a desire to win. But there is one key skill that prospectors MUST possess, that’s not quite as important for account executives. That’s the ability to write really great emails.
I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that for SDRs, writing well is even MORE important than verbal communication skills. Your SDRs need to be good on the phone with prospects, but it’s your account executives who will have to get on the phone and really close the deals.
While account executives need to be able to effectively communicate with prospects that are already in the pipeline at an opportunity stage, your SDRs will be writing emails to total strangers. These emails need to be so darn compelling that they’ll actually inspire responses. It’s a task that requires reps with powerful written communication skills.
Since sales prospecting is essentially a form of lead generation, your SDRs need to be mini-marketers. They need to be able to be great copywriters that can, in a single email, generate demand from valuable prospects.
When many people think about sales prospecting, the image that comes to mind is something out of the movies Boiler Room or The Wolf of Wall Street. A lot of reps in an open floor plan, dialing down lists of seemingly random leads. Yes. In some industries this is still the reality. But this type of prospecting is really more suited for B2C industries. If you’re selling carpet cleaning services, penny stocks or refinancing plans, you might simply need to hire prospectors that can keep qualified leads on the phone.
But in most B2B industries, emails are becoming more and more important. Reps should send emails in advance of calling prospects. This tactic is really powerful because even if prospects don’t respond to the email, just reading it familiarizes them with your brand and your rep’s name. So when your rep does call that prospect, the call can be couched as a follow-up call.
And after calls, it’s really important to be able to send a great follow-up email. There’s little room for error during the lead-to-opportunity phase of the buying cycle. Once leads are qualified for sales, a great follow-up email can be enough to initiate that crucial conversation between prospects and your account executives.
So if you are selling B2B solutions or B2C solutions with more complex value props, the best thing you can do is hire reps who are great writers.
Email With Reps Prior to Hiring Them
This may seem like common sense, but during the recruiting process, email back and forth with prospective SDRs. How do their emails look?
Administer a Writing Test
Some companies even go as far as to offer a test to new recruits, in which they are asked to write a sample email. Look for reps that can say a lot with a little. Long prospecting emails rarely work as well as emails that are short and enticing.
Hire a Manager Who Can Coach Reps to Write Better
Remember that with the right training, even really good writers can get better. That’s why it’s important for the leader of a prospecting team to not only be a great written communicator, but also develop best-practices that can help every SDR on your team send more effective sales emails.
Interested in learning more about building a sales development team that can deliver maximum revenue? Check out our latest eBook How to Fast-Track Revenue Growth with a Dedicated Sales Development Team.
Jesse WestDirector of Lifecycle MarketingringDNA
Jesse Davis West is Director of Lifecycle Marketing at ringDNA, focusing on improving the experience and maximizing the lifetime value for customers across their entire journey. Drawing on 9 years of B2B marketing experience, Jesse is passionate about communication, branding and strategic marketing. He also plays a mean lead guitar and can throw down at karaoke.