Right now, Sales teams continue to face one of the toughest sales environments in memory. We may not technically be in a recession, but for years now, companies have been tightening their belts against spending that’s anything less than a sure thing.
It’s no longer enough to have a kick-ass product or the best service on the planet. Your SDRs have to be able to cut through the competition of everyone else’s SDRs (not to mention prospects’ own busy schedules) just to have the chance to talk about your value prop.
In other words, SDR leaders and teams need to learn how to get to the part where they can actually do what they do best.
Here are eight actionable ways you can tee up your SDRs for ultimate success.
ICP part one: Revisit your ICP in a big, big way.
Without a doubt, your team has been selling according to your organization’s ICP. Great. Now, answer this: How often does the company revisit that ICP, and how thoroughly does the ICP understand your best customers?
If you want to identify your best prospects, it needs to be comprehensive. Like, way more comprehensive than it is right now.
Far too often, a company’s ICP fits on a PowerPoint slide. It’s made up of perhaps half a dozen bullet points, highlighting firmographics such as size, industry, location and revenue. These are all relevant characteristics—yet highly superficial ones.
To connect the traits that make your best customers your best, an ICP needs to dig beyond how those customers look on the surface to how they behave on the inside. Their interior operations, the way they approach fulfilling their mission: these are what make them your best customers.
In short: Your SDRs need to be able to focus their time interacting with companies that have the characteristics you care about most—the companies that look- and act- alike.
ICP part two: Provide your team with a dynamic ICP.
SDRs also need to be able to adapt as your customer base evolves. The landscape, as you well know, is constantly shifting. Your best customers this quarter may not match your best customers two quarters from now.
An ICP that can re-evaluate your top customers will help your SDRs understand not only how companies behave, but how they change over time—and a truly dynamic ICP can predict which companies will benefit from your offering even before they realize they need it.
Rev’s AI-driven ICPs do just that: they use exegraphic data (our B2B version of the psychographic data used in B2C) to build more dynamic customer profiles. Yet even with more traditional ICPs, steps to improve their dynamism will take your sales team farther than any PowerPoint slide.
ICP part three: Share the insights from the ICP.
A truly dynamic ICP will provide you with a dynamite target list. That’ll set your SDRs up for success. But it’s not enough: they need to understand the ICP and what makes these targets truly top prospects.
This will require more legwork before your SDRs start winding up fresh batches of cadences. It’ll also prevent them from chasing down the wrong accounts, or striking up the wrong conversations with the right accounts.
When your SDRs know what traits make up your best customers, and why those traits make them the best, they can better customize their outreach. They’ll have big-picture insight into what makes prospects tick and how to speak to their pain points—before ever picking up the phone.
Nail the first 15 seconds of cold calls.
Once your SDRs do pick up the phone, they want to win at cold calling. They’re as prepared as they’ll ever be, with the backing of a quality ICP. Yet to win more consistently, you can help them hone those first 15 seconds.
James Buckley, sales guru at JB Sales, gives these immediately actionable tips. This script transforms your SDRs’ cold-calling game by making the conversation inevitable:
- “Hi, is this Maria.” Let’s say you’re calling Maria. You start, naturally, by asking if you’ve reached the right person. Ditch the question mark with its upward inflection: ask the question like it’s a statement. Use downward inflection. James calls this “authoritative voice.” Maria can only say, This is Maria or No, it’s not Maria.
- “Maria, thank you for taking the call. Do you have a moment before your next meeting.” Again, downward inflection. Now, Maria can only say Yes, No, or (more common) Who the heck is this?
- “This is James.” “If they say Who is this? I’ll say This is James, but not where I’m from—they didn’t ask that,” he explains.
- “The reason I’m calling you is…” If they say they have a moment, don’t bother worrying over your name or who you’re with. They don’t care who you are—they care what you can do for them. “I’m calling you because you’re a VP of Sales, and we help VPs of Sales and their teams accomplish X” gets right to the meat of it.
- “Do you want to have this conversation now, or do we need to put something on the calendar?” Downward inflection once again—and Maria now has a simple choice between I have ten minutes or Let me get my calendar.
“I use this opener all the time,” James says. “It really gets the conversation going in the right way.”
Learn from Marketing.
Even if you have a healthy relationship between Sales and Marketing, where Marketing responds to your SDRs’ needs and creates useful sales collateral, that’s too often the extent of the collaboration.
Change that dynamic: actively partner with Marketing to understand the content they’re creating, how to best use it in your outreach and how Sales can improve their own content creation.
- Marketing can teach SDRs how to best use the collateral they’ve created over time. Marketing materials are made deliberately, often at the request of Sales; their guidance in how a sales piece is built, and how it can be leveraged, can maximize its value.
- How does the web copy fit into the sales messaging? Marketing shapes your company story, but SDRs are the ones telling the story. Learning how Marketing’s language can make sales messaging more effective (and consistent with all the materials a prospect sees) can leverage the work that went into that story.
- Compare cadences. Marketing is likely crafting drip campaigns. Compare how their open rates compare to yours. If they’re seeing higher rates, find out what the difference in approach is and share that knowledge with your SDRs.
Get to the point.
Speaking of outreach: Keep your written messages on point.
An evaluation on LinkedIn shows that 90% of InMails are more than 400 characters long—but InMails with fewer than 400 characters achieved response rates 22% better than average.
Cut everything you can. Like in this section—itself 330 characters, including spaces. Boo-yah.
Urgency drives sales. But you can’t reliably manufacture urgency; rather, your SDRs need to discover the urgency already there.
Back to James Buckley’s wisdom: In order to uncover urgency, SDRs have to get prospects talking about the things that matter to them. Namely: what are their priorities?
“Instead of telling them you’re from this company and we’re the number one provider of X, which is how cold calls begin, you want to say, Here’s what I know about you guys already,” James says. “Normally when I talk to people like you, they’re worried about this, this and this. Which is your priority at the moment?”
Here’s the funny thing about choices: when you give prospects one, they make it. They’ll tell you which one is their priority. Or, if none of them are they’ll tell you that too.
Now your SDRs know what the prospect’s most urgent needs are—and can set about addressing them.
Disqualify bad prospects early.
Deals are taking more time and effort to close now—and your SDRs need to focus on the ones that show promise.
After all, by letting a bad prospect go, they’re not losing a deal; they’re clearing the way for a better prospect.
But letting go is hard to do. It’s on leadership to educate SDRs on when to disqualify a prospect:
- Check the levels of engagement. And we don’t mean a prospect’s enthusiasm. Help your team set expectations around when they should anticipate setting up a demo, knowing who all is on the buying team, agreeing to a mutual action plan—basically, what are your team’s touch points for knowing the sales process is on track?
- Set the right values. If you value a high pipeline coverage ratio, SDRs will be more loath to let a prospect go. If you expect perfect close rates, they’ll let too many go—including qualified leads that might require a bit of extra work. Vocalize and demonstrate what you value from the sales team, even to the point of micro-celebrating the times that reps let a big one go.
- Provide more quality prospects in the pipeline. Providing hyper-clear definitions of what an ideal prospect looks like for your sales team in real time, and a healthy list of prospects that match that profile, means your SDRs don’t have to feel stuck milking bad prospects out of desperation to close a deal.
We started with the ICP, and we’re going to end the same way: A truly dynamic customer profile, such as Rev’s aiCP that can reconfigure itself with each new input, provides and prioritizes lists of best-fit target accounts. That way, your skilled sales team gets to focus on the prospects where they’re most likely to succeed.
Want to see a dynamic ICP in action? Contact us, and we’ll conduct a free ICP audit for you.