29. 06. 2018

Is Your SDR / AE Collaboration Optimized For Success?

The best SDR / AE combos are well-oiled sales partnerships that qualify and sign-up prospects in a continual flow, carefully and efficiently sidelining those who aren’t the right fit. 

That’s not everybody, though. Teams are blighted by everything from poor qualification processes to inconsistent workflows, and the result can be too much tail-chasing and not enough contract signing.

From our experience working with SDRs and AEs across SaaS companies in MarTech, FinTech and other high-growth verticals, here are some thoughts on four simple things that help build a quota-busting partnership.  

Let’s kick it off with the SDRs – here are the two most frequent comments we hear from Account Executives on what their top SDRs do that others don’t.

1. Push on budget. The most important thing an AE needs to know before scheduling time for a prospect call is whether the customer is serious about spending money on a solution.

Many SDRs will go through the motions of asking about budget but will take whatever answer comes first, and then move on in their vetting process. Often customers will explain that they don’t have a fixed budget or are just exploring the market, giving SDRs little to work with. That lack of info then moves upstream, and the AE then has to commit to a call without much sense of financial potential or fit.

Feedback from the AE side is that while it’s important not to scare a prospect off, it’s helpful for SDRs to have a few follow-up questions lined up when customers don’t offer a firm budget. This could mean determining whether the prospect is themselves the budget-holder, getting an idea of their overall marketing budget or learning how much they currently spend on other related tools.

2. Establish context. Aside from budget, an SDRs function is to help figure out whether a customer’s needs are met adequately by the solution.

AEs still have a long road ahead of them if they jump on a prospect call knowing little more about the prospect than they would have been able to find out on line with a simple LinkedIn search, so simply providing this basic data isn’t setting the AE up for a win. SDRs can be very valuable here in asking detailed questions such as what the customer’s team hierarchy and structure looks like, what their current workflow is, whose initiative the potential purchase is etc. This can generate more useful information than simply asking the prospect how many users they think they’ll need – something many customers either don’t know or won’t want to commit to.

A strong SDR should be able to present their AE counterpart with a helpful inside look at the customer scenario, allowing for a productive second call focused on a solution.

OK AEs, your turn next.

Hey, it’s a partnership, right? Gotta go both ways…

1. Help your SDR help you. SDRs love working with AEs who are pro-active in coaching them towards delivering higher-quality leads. Although SDRs are typically targeted and compensated on volume of appointment-setting, the majority are also hoping to graduate to a closing role in future, so learning about the full sales cycle and not just throwing dead-end meetings into their AE’s calendar is in everyone’s interest. AEs that work closely with their SDRs by providing feedback on preliminary prospect notes, scheduling regular internal meetings to analyze calls and sharing their own pre-call notes not only help the SDR along their career path, but also fine-tune the lead service they receive from them. Win-win.

2. Bring business knowledge to the table, not just product. AEs add a new level of sales experience when they join prospect discussions, but it’s not just the ability to demo a product in depth or drive a conversation towards pricing that SDRs benefit from exposure to. A frequent observation on what makes a top AE is their ability to quickly understand the customer’s problem from a broader business angle. This can actually mean less initial time spent talking about the product and more time discussing the customer’s workflow, goals, clients, competition and current technology setup. Expertise in fluidly creating a 360 snapshot of the customer’s on-the-ground situation then creates a platform to bring technical and closing skills to bear.