I had the opportunity to coach my son’s pee-wee football team this past Saturday. My personal football experience consists of two things: playing Madden and watching football on Sundays. Needless to say, I don’t really know much about coaching a football team. Thank goodness that even though our head coach was going to be away for the day, I had a playbook to rely on. Truth be told, I had two other coaches with me, but they really let me run the show that day. Much like I needed a copy of the playbook, your sales development reps need their own playbook, too.
Let me take a pause here for a second: if you haven’t read Trish Bertuzzi’s The Sales Development Playbook, go and do so. I’ll wait. Seriously – this blog will be here for a while. You want to build your own SDR function/unit, that’s the book you need to start with.
An SDR playbook can look different (and will look different) from company to company, B2B versus B2C, but they really should all have the following seven components to them:
- Product/Services Overview
- Lead Qualification Criteria
- Messaging Guidelines
- Objection Kill Sheet
- Competitor Kill Sheet
- Customer Stories
- Industry Glossary
The first, and most important piece, of your SDR playbook needs to be an overview of the products or services that you offer. It needs to be put down in the simplest terms possible. SDRs do not necessarily need to know exactly how the sausage is made, but they need to have a pretty good understanding. Here’s the thing – they’re going to get asked questions about what it is that your company offers, and they need to be able to handle a first level-layer of questioning. They need to be able to transition more difficult questions into a meeting with their AEs, but if they use the phrase, “that’s a great question! Let me find out for you and get back to you,” too many times, their credibility, and thus your company’s credibility, diminishes. Give them a great reference tool that they can go back to time and again, and you’ll really set them up for success.
Lead Qualification Criteria
What does the perfect qualified lead look like? Spell it out for your sales development reps. Your AEs salivate over certain meetings, so figure out what those prospects all have in common and document it. On the flip side, what’s the least amount of information that your AEs need before they accept a meeting from your SDRs? Write that down, too.
Not everything is going to be wrapped up in a nice little bow, so help your SDRs know how big the ball field is that they’re playing in. You want to be as specific as possible here. Do you only work with companies that have 500 employees or more? Let them know, and let them know if there are any exceptions to that rule. For example, if your SDR uncovers an opportunity for a company with 300 employees but they’re doing $500MM in revenue, will you talk with them? You want your SDRs to be able to quickly and easily determine who your AEs want to talk with and who they do not. Bullet it out and be exact here.
I’m 100% against making your SDRs follow a script. That said, I know they need it when they first start, especially if they’ve never done the job before. What I’m suggesting is that you give them a modified script; guidelines, if you will. Give them ideas on what they can use to get a conversation started. The name of the game here is choices. Bullet out the most important parts of your message, and let them practice putting those points together into a business conversation.
Chances are good that your SDRs are straight out of college and this is their first real job. What they need is to be taught how to have business conversations, not read a script verbatim like a robot. If you don’t have the time to let them practice making your message their own, then I would say you’re not ready to have a sales development team. I’d suggest you get help from your marketing team, but I’d rather you get help from your AEs on how to talk to your prospects. Marketing is great, don’t get me wrong, and theirs is a difficult job, but most of the time they’re not the ones talking with your prospects on the front lines. Enlist some help from your sales team because they’re the ones that know what resonates with prospects and what does not.
Make sure you come back here in two weeks for part two of the 7 Components of a Killer Sales Development Playbook!