There’s no doubt that technology has changed the way sales professionals operate.
The capabilities are simply amazing, but can also be rather costly, which is why many companies turn to using fractional SDRs, or outsourced sales development representatives, to expand their sales reach.
When a company works with outsourced sales development teams, they gain the experiences, efficiency, and effectiveness to do more with a fractional resource then can often be achieved with a full-time internal hire.
What is a fractional SDR?
To understand the role of a fractional SDR, we first need to understand what SDR, or sales development rep means. Becoming an SDR is typically an entry-level inside sales job for college graduates in B2B companies. Their role is to target and engage a specific client profile and buyer persona through the means of outbound phone, email, and social media outreach to create awareness and prospect interest to schedule a sales meeting.
Often their goal is to sell the value of the meeting and move a marketing qualified lead (MQL) to a sales qualified lead (SQL) by following a specific script with anticipated objections. You can say an SDR is the expert on setting the meeting, whereas an account executive (AE) is the expert and trained on the product, differentiation, and value proposition for the company.
A sales development rep’s success is typically measured with an operational production mindset focus on the number of calls per day, emails per day, LinkedIn connections per day, meetings set, dial to conversation rates, conversation to meeting rates, meetings held rates and the meetings accepted in to funnel by AE.
Because an SDR’s role is measured with operational metrics, it can quickly be determined if a company could become more effective utilizing a fractional team powered with a sales technology tool set capable of producing greater results in a fraction of the time.
An outsourced fractional SDR utilizing the best tools can and will accomplish more favorable results in a fraction of time. Because of this, small to mid-sized companies can gain the value of consistent outbound efforts to expand their reach in a cost-effective value equation.
The ever-evolving sales landscape
Here’s the truth about sales: it is an ever-growing and ever-changing organism. Sales development practices have been around since about the 1980s and are still popular among B2B companies as an important element of their go-to-market strategies.
This is because it is essential for a growing business to reach its full potential. Especially in a competitive landscape with many options. A business must be proactive in generating interest and pulling prospects into a conversation. Here are a few things from the history of the sales process about how to strengthen a program.
For some reason, there has always been a negative stereotype attached to sales. However, it doesn’t make much sense why it is that way. A sale is basically the exchange of money in return for a product or service that will generate value in some way. It’s basically a business transaction. The only thing that gives it a negative feeling is our preconceived notions about it.
In order to build a better sales prospective for a business, it is important to make sure the sales approach is consultative and demonstrates a commitment to clients achieve their desired outcomes. For instance, guide the sales process in a manor enabling clients to understand why a service will help solve a problem so they internalize the value and visualize the benefits of the purchase.
Perhaps the biggest development in the sales world has been the way content is being marketed to prospective clients. Previously, a client had to look at the physical product to make a decision about it. In today’s times, most clients have already made their decision about the product before even leaving their homes.
This is because there is so much content marketing sales collateral material available, which provides all the information a client may need about the product or service in advance. This makes it easy for them to make a decision. This is why it is necessary to make sure to have high quality content to market.
Previously, it was normal for various businesses and companies to follow similar sales processes for all of their clients. What works for one should work for another, right? While this may have worked previously, the one-size-fits-all mindset may not work with the interconnected world of today.
The reason most email funnels and sales follow-ups often end up failing is because they think of all their customers as a generalized group. However, this approach doesn’t work anymore. It is important for a good sales process to look at their clients as individuals and target them accordingly.
Of course, it won’t be possible to target each and every customer individually, but we can work to make them feel the initialization. This can be done by dividing into tighter, more specific groups by title, department, company size, geography, technographic, and other data types. This will make it much easier to market and build sales messaging around a product or service in ways that will actually attract interest.
Understanding the process of an SDR
If a company simply hands sales resources a list of prospects with instructions to cold call, it is likely not be very successful. The sales resource may have old contact information, no tested script, no measurement of success, and not tools to optimize for efficiency. For these reasons and many more, it is important for the SDR to be aware of the process to make better progress.
The first step is to make sure the team is aware of their role in the overall sales process. An SDR works a targeted prospect list to set meetings and qualify for the sales team. They know the business problems their prospects often experience and the value their program brings to solve those problems. By taking this message outbound they create awareness and interest to activate meetings and grow net new top of sales funnel opportunities.
ICP and buyer persona development
Ideal Customer Profiles (ICP) and buyer persona creation will not only help find targeted leads, but also helps qualify them beforehand. In addition, this helps drive individualization by tailoring sales scripts and messaging to the audience to increase interest and conversion rates.
Contacting prospective clients
This is where the real work begins, as it is the most important and most challenging part of an SDR’s role. To be effective an SDR must work a pre-planned sequence of attempts to contact the prospects and do so across multiple channels of communication such as phone, email, and LinkedIn.
By varying the method of communication, timing, and being consistent will increase the likelihood of success. That said, communication starts doing A/B testing to optimize the highest converting scripts and messaging is a full-time job.
Phone calls – and more specifically – conversations, are still a very effective method of prospecting. A lot of people believe that cold calling is dead, and other methods, such as email and social media, are more effective. However, this is simply misunderstood. It is true that dialing 10 digits, waiting for the phone to ring, getting through gatekeepers, navigating phone trees, and getting to a live voice is time consuming and inefficient.
As a result, technology has enabled fractional SDR teams to use high-velocity sales dialing software using artificial intelligence (AI) or human assistance to make multiple calls at once, listening to a live voice to generate the high volume needed to make business-to-business phone calls a very effective method. So do not undermine the importance of a phone call as it can help generate a lot more successful leads as compared to other options.
For an SDR to increase awareness, create interest, and connect with a prospect it is essential to deploy a strategy around outbound contact efforts across multiple channels. Most common are social media connections, email, and phone. Generating a playbook or sequence for timing, frequency, messaging, and method all increase the ability to generate leads.
In order to keep track of these activities and not miss follow up there are many sales technologies available to help ensure the SDR can handle high volumes of prospects while not missing the activities needed to drive proper outcomes.
When an SDR begins generating outbound conversations to build sales pipeline there is a huge amount of information gained from the market. These learnings should be recorded, studied, and evaluated to enable the company to improve messaging, adjust scripts, and increase both efficiency and effectiveness in program outcomes. A solid SDR program is constantly listening to the market A/B testing and iterating with the goal of optimizing the outbound program.
Benefits of outsourcing sales development
The reasons to outsource sales development is to leverage experts that help enable companies to grow and scale faster with limited risk.
Building internally is a large investment. A fully loaded SDR covering salaries, technology, training, etc. will likely exceed $100,000 per resource plus ramp time. By working with a fractional SDR, it is less expensive and generates less cash flow burden on the business.
It saves a lot of time
Establishing an internal SDR is a slow set-up. It is essential to hire the right candidate, train, coach, mentor, guide, and measure. Meanwhile, an outsourced SDR will not only be aware of their job in advance, but they will also be an expert at it - helping generate more leads faster and more efficiently.
It’s a lot less effort
Management of a successful SDR program takes time and effort to track operational performance and iterate on strategy. When working with an outsourced team their operational structure will drive the management and success outcomes.
It’s a level up
Building internally requires expertise in sales development to generate optimized outcomes and can be the difference in creating a successful program. Using outsourced resourced professionally trained and focused on lead generation gains advantages of getting the program off on the right foot.
Fractional SDR technology
It is also important to note a fractional SDR uses technology that can be of huge help. A parallel dialer with artificial intelligence or human assistance can make over 140+ dials per hour. This means an SDR can do more in one hour than most sales reps can do in an entire week.
Couple this with the ability to use sales enablement tools to handle high volume of cold emails, social media interaction, and not miss a follow up can be the difference in getting the meetings to fill the sales funnel. The efficiency and effectiveness of the program through professional teams can be a game changer for companies.
Auto dialing tools, sequencing tools, CRM integrations, and data sources are not cheap. Most tools integrate smoothly but set up and optimized utilization is often complex. To make best use of these tools is time consuming at best. Therefore, working with experienced outsourced professionals can help get the program up and running fast. In addition, it significantly reduces the time, cost, and hassle of do it yourself strategies.
Most outsource companies implement the solutions and view a successful engagement outcomes when a client has proven the ROI and decides to transition to an in-house model after building externally.
How fractional SDRs can take a business to the next level
Outsourcing sales development reps on a fractional basis can help enhance leads that are generated for a business. Hiring a sales development rep on a fractional basis enables a company to efficiently increase its reach and awareness. It will also help expand a sales funnel in a format that is lower in risk.
Keep in mind marketing works to engage an audience via social media, newsletter, email, web, conferences, webinar, and so on to generate brand awareness. Taking the prospects, or marketing leads, from these activities and consistently contacting them via an SDR team helps activate marketing investment and drive the conversations into the sales pipeline. With fractional SDR work, companies save time and money while generating meaningful positive sales opportunities.
Finding the right fractional SDR partner for your organization
There are many organizations out there, how will you decide which one is a good fit for your organization?
There is no silver bullet, and the best bet is to interview a few options. When evaluating here are a few areas to consider:
Pricing model: The outsourced fractional SDR industry has various pricing models, but all come down to a monthly budget expense.
Technology tooling: Some teams have very high-end technology solutions while others will use basic solutions. Understanding tooling and how it is used to drive production will have an impact on the overall program.
Engagement methods: What are the methods of outreach the outsource team will use. Based on the size of your target market the answers should and will vary. Be sure the find the partner that has an opinion here and is willing to configure the ideal solution for your organization. One size does not fit all in this case.
Production: How much time, contacts, or dials are committed per week or month. Know the service level commitments a prospective outsourced SDR team is committing to at the production level. The more production the greater the statistical likelihood of achievement of the desired outcomes.
Reporting: As an outsourced SDR is acting as an extension of your team, being able to see in real time the dials, conversation notes, emails sent, connections, meetings, and so on are a great way to build confidence in the activity that will inevitably drive outcomes. Make sure the partner will have pre-planned weekly and/or month engagement and strategy calls to increase program success.
Characteristics of successful fractional SDRs
Here are a few characteristics of what makes for successful fractional SDRs.
Outsourced SDR teams vary in price and location. One of the first areas to consider is where the SDR will be geographically located. As these resources will represent your brand and be engaging with your market there is often a strong correlation in outcomes. We have found companies in the US are more likely to take a call from a US-based SDR vs. a globally sourced SDR. There’s no right answer here, but when evaluating outsourced providers this is something to strongly consider.
When working with an outsourced SDR team, it is essential to select a firm that has a workforce able to quickly adjust based on the data. The exhaust data from making dials, sending emails, and having conversations tells a story. Sometimes industry or persona targeting is off, sometimes it is the script or the objections.
In any case, it is important to work with an outsourced team that is looking at the data and had the agility to iterate quickly and help land on the right audience and message that increased the conversions.
An outsourced SDR team needs to be exceptional at active listening and plan objections as the primary course of the conversation. Being an effective listener and quickly able to pivot a conversation into a value driven conversation that creates interest is an important component in driving successful outcomes.
Selling the value of a meeting is very different then selling a prospect on why they should buy a product or service. As such, SDR resources have very different mindsets and goals than a AE or senior sales resource focused on consultative selling and product differentiation.
Running a business and selling in a competitive landscape is tough. This is why it is necessary to invest in outsourced, fractional, sales development. It is a small investment that will result in huge benefits and return on investment in the long run.
Ben Goldberg founded SalesGig to help clients stand out and share their value at scale. Prior to SalesGig, Ben was President and owner of an employment screening company leading the organization from 20 employees to 700 employees and 6,000 global clients. Ben received an MBA and Bachelor's degree from Colorado State University.