Oct 13, 2020 11:44:14 AM
When I joined Columbia Road, they had been working on solving the problem of many B2B companies – the sales team was so busy with forming proposals and account management, that following up on potential leads earned through marketing activities was too often pushed back in the prioritisation list.
To tackle that, a sales development function was set up: to bridge the gap between marketing and sales, to reap the fruits of marketing efforts, and to amplify sales and account management activities.
You might wonder what is sales development? Shortly put, sales development is a function that works between, and closely with, sales and marketing, and is in charge of the very top of the sales funnel. Sales developers plan and communicate with marketing, while they prospect and book for sales. Modern sales development happens digitally and is largely automated.
Columbia Road had been working with sales development for some years when I joined. The early minimum viable product (MVP) included a semi-automated process where sales development was responsible for following up all contacts who attended Columbia Road’s events and webinars. It was a simple no-fuss sequence with 5 touchpoints and a resting period. The main tools were HubSpot, LinkedIn, and calling.
In the beginning, as a new sales developer, it was thrilling to realise I had sent personalised emails to hundreds of qualified contacts with just a few clicks – and even more thrilling was the fact that they were now all carefully looked after in my sequence, no one was left without attention. Already within the same day, I was booking very interesting meetings with very appealing contacts right into our sales team’s calendars. It was all very exciting!
When Columbia Road started doing sales development a few years back the goals were set high – we wanted to get 10x more new business meetings than before sales development, and to harness the full potential of marketing efforts. We quickly reached our goals and kept getting even better results. For each event and each new area sales development entered, we always set ambitious goals – and reached them. We’ve been able to book a large quantity of fruitful meetings, of which several have eventually turned into valuable clients.
Sales development works as the bridge between sales and marketing, enabling efficient cross-collaboration between these two teams that also should be well aligned. It’s valuable work that makes the whole process of converting leads into clients more organised and goal-oriented. Marketing activities first generate and warm up leads, while sales developers validate and push sales qualified leads into, and through, the sales funnel creating new business meetings. Sales team’s work in turn is much more efficiently supported.
Utilising a sales development function is a best practice that all B2B companies should have. It is efficient for consulting companies and SaaS companies, as well as large traditional organisations, when implemented into the correct functions. It’s a vital part of modern sales processes. The key to making sales development successful in turn is having the right People, Processes and Platforms (the 3 P’s) in place.
At Columbia Road, we’ve been very happy and satisfied with the results, and are currently ramping up the team on all our sites. We're also sharing our learnings and best practices with many interested companies!
I truly feel like I’ve learnt a vast amount of very valuable skills and mastered the use of the most modern sales tools. I’ve been part of the process of scaling up a sales development function first-hand, from acquiring and constantly developing related tools, as well as gained an understanding of what modern digital sales looks like, and how to do sales analytically.
During my time at Columbia Road, I’ve understood the value of being at the top of potential clients’ minds – being actively available when they do need help. Sales development offers the tools and processes for being actively available for thousands of contacts efficiently, and in a personal manner. Reaching out to contacts and just asking how things are going gets you very far.
If I had to choose the most important skills for doing sales development, I’d say the ability to read the situation, and utilising sales development automation wisely. Just shooting messages to every direction mindlessly and automating too much too soon is not going to take you far. It is crucial to build different sequences for different situations and profiles, and also to know when manual contacting is the best option – you should always contact people as a person, not as an automation.
If sales development were a machine, it would be a machine that requires precision engineering, and my job as a sales developer is to fine tune it and to build new parts and capabilities while making sure the base mechanics stay well oiled. It really is it’s own kind of art that requires careful attention and the right kind of mindset.
If you have questions about the process or want to hear more, don't be afraid to shoot me a message on LinkedIn or via email. I'm happy to share what I've learned and to help your organisation to set up, or optimise sales development activities – and to make sure your digital sales processes are reaching their full potential!
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