Sales is changing, but it has always changed.

The Sales Development Rep (SDR) role was developed to free the Sales Executive, a face-to-face sales person, from prospecting.  Why?  So that they could focus on customer meetings.

The idea was that the SDR would be top-of-the-funnel (ToFu) and about "desire creation", where as the Sales Executive would be middle-of-the-funnel (MoFu) and bottom-of-the-funnel (BoFu).

The SDR Role Has to Change

Back in the 1990s when you cold called you could make 40 calls a day, have 10 conversations and get one meeting.  I'm hearing that there is cold calling inflation, the number of dials goes up and the number of meetings goes down.  Each year that goes by, the number of dials goes up and the response goes down.

A friend of mine runs a marketing agency and he was employed to create Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs) for the SDRs to qualify into Sales Qualified Leads (SQLs) because they were unable to to create any. Even though they had $8,000 worth of sales tech being spent on each SDR.

Now was that the fault of the SDR? Was it the fault of the Sales tech?  I suspect it's because the role of the SDR has changed .... or should I say the market conditions of the SDR has changed.

Transforming The Roles of SDRs

We all know that the old ways of interruption that SDRs use come from a different world.  Cold calling was devised in the 1980s and email marketing was devised in the 1990s.  Many people reading this wasn't even born in that time, so why would you use last century activities to market in 2020?   Do you still use fax machines and Sony Walkmans? No, we have moved on. 

The way we buy has changed from when the time when the SDR role was defined.

If I Tell You The IPhone is the Best Phone In the World - What Do you Do?

The first thing you do is go online.  We all do, and even more so now during the Covid 19 pandemic, as more of us are used to being online.

We would read content, not corporate brochures as they just tell us how great something is.  We look for opinion, insight, something that will educate us.

We might even ask our networks a question to validate.

You would probably come back to me and tell me that actually your prefer a Samsung, you might push the boat out and tell me the Samsung folding phone is worth the extra money. 

I don't know, what your answer would be, but you will have got there, not by being cold called and not by having email thrust down your throat. You will have got there through social.  In fact, now, if you invest in email marketing and cold calling, the above example just demonstrates about how you are driving business to your competition who ARE active on social media.

So How Big is Social?

In this report by Simon Kemp he outlines the extent that social media has become part of our lives.

Linkedin have just announced there are now 706 million people on Linkedin. 

The internet and Social media isn't a fad and it's not going away, in fact usage is accelerating, and now a tipping point has been reached. 

Simon points out that there are now more people on social media than not on social media.  

But is that about sharing cat photos and photos of your lunch?

In fact Simon Kemp stated recently that 4 out of 10 of the global social media users, use social media for work related purposes. 

The recent research from Transmission shows that there has been a 900% increase in articles on LinkedIn and 1611% increase in engagement on Linkedin.  But where are your SDRs in all of this transformation, still using the telephone? 

If you are not on social, you are invisible to the modern buyer, you won't be being asked to bid for work, which means you are missing out on the few contracts that are available right now.

There is no Time to Wait - Digital Is Accelerating

What’s more, the pace of growth appears to have accelerated in recent months, despite the global total having already passed the halfway mark. 

In fact this research shows that we have gained ten years of digital transformation in just 3 months. 

Where as a B2B Business With SDRs Should I Place My Bets?

In a recent article by University of Edinburgh, Ewelina Lacka is a lecturer in Digital Marketing and Analytics she said about their research

"What the decision-makers made clear to us was that the most significant influence on their commitment to a supplier was its presence on LinkedIn. This may be explained by the purpose of LinkedIn, which offers a closer bond than the one-way relationship often found on Twitter and Facebook. The expectation of a supplier having a presence on LinkedIn may also offer a sense of security and transparency."

If you are in B2B (Business to Business) you need to be on LinkedIn.

Your SDRs Need to Be Building Trust in Their Prospects and Customers

The latest Edelman Trust Barometer Special Report: Brand Trust in 2020 reveals that "brands face a fundamental reordering of priorities amid a global pandemic and societal outcry over systemic racism prompted by the murder of George Floyd."

The Edelman Trust Barometer report goes onto to say 

Brand trust is earned, not bought.  Earned media is the battleground where trust is won or lost. Personal experience and earned media were found to be the most important factors in the gain or loss of trust amongst respondents. 

Influence is built through authority and empathy, with industry experts and people like themselves rated as most credible Advertising’s effect has become diminished. 

Now, nearly 7 in 10 say that they use one or more advertising avoidance strategies. The shift from 2018 to 2020 has shown double digit increases from those who avoid ads by using ad blocking technology (+10 pts), paying for streaming services (+15pts) or findings ways to avoid almost all ads (+12pts).

What Does This All Mean for SDRs

This means for SDRs that Social Media usage and Social Selling is not a fad and it's not going away.

In fact a company's presence on social is now a business imperative for CEOs. 

Simon Kemp's research..

"Given the broadening role of social media in people’s lives, it’s important that marketers and communicators think more broadly about where social media fits in their plans.

Critically, social media is increasingly a ‘layer’ that permeates almost every aspect of our audiences’ daily lives, rather than being a distinct ‘destination’ with a more siloed sphere of influence.

The trick to making the most of social media today is to understand how these platforms can complement and augment all of our marketing and communication activities.

My advice would be to think less about populating a content calendar, and focus more on identifying and initiating the conversations that matter most to you and the audiences that you care about. 

So How Are You Going To Create Business?

You want pipeline, you can see that the current efforts of email and cold calling results are getting less and less, where as your audience has shifted onto social.  Maybe it's time to take your SDR team and get on social too?

Not as a "random act of social" but with a data driven sales methodology.

Social Selling Case Study

Eric Doyle, he's a partner of ours.  He posted a piece of content, it currently has 165 likes and 37 comments and has been viewed 18,292 times.

It's created for him 124 leads.

28 outbound connections.

13 new inbound connections.

6 meetings (1 CEO, 1 COO, 2 MDs, 2 FDs)

1 Proposal

All from 10 minutes of work, all for free!

(I wonder if you can create 6 new business meetings in 10 minutes from advertising, cold calling or email marketing? ... I doubt it, but let me know if you can).

As one client said to us "I cannot believe this, you are in fact just busing prospects to have meetings with my sales team".  Now I know I'm biased and there are millions of people on Linkedin with a quick fix to your pipeline problem.  What you have to do as a leader is pick the one that will make your business survive. 

If you want more information about how we turned social selling from being an art into a science contact me here.

https://www.linkedin.com/in/timothyhughessocialselling/