Sep 26, 2023

How Marketers Can Leverage SDR’s to Drive Pipeline

By Matt Dodgson

Co-Founder - Recruiter & Marketer


In today’s competitive business landscape, driving pipeline growth is essential for the success of any organisation. Marketers play a crucial role in generating leads, raising brand awareness, and ultimately fueling the sales engine. One often overlooked resource that marketers can leverage to maximise their pipeline is the use of sales development representatives (SDRs). And in today’s podcast, we will explore what SDRs are and how marketers can effectively utilise them to drive pipeline growth.

Today’s Guest

Who they are: Catarina Hoch is VP of Global Marketing at Operatix

A bit of background: Back in 2015, Catarina arrived in the UK after working in marketing for a multi-media news group in Brazil. Being half German and half Brazilian, she used her language skills and took on a role as an SDR for Operatix, covering the DACH region. After six months in the role, she moved into marketing and, in 2020, was promoted to VP Global Marketing. 

Where you can find Catarina:

Connect with Catarina on LinkedIn here

Prefer Video? Watch the full video of the podcast here.

What is an SDR?

Before diving into how SDRs can support marketers, let’s first clarify what an SDR is. A sales development representative is a member of the sales team whose primary focus is on prospecting and qualifying leads. They are responsible for converting marketing-generated leads into sales-ready opportunities.

SDRs play a crucial role in the sales process, acting as the bridge between marketing and sales teams. They are the frontline warriors, armed with the knowledge and skills to identify potential customers and nurture them through the sales funnel.

Catarina explains:

‘If we keep it very simple, an SDR typically will engage with a specific set of accounts and people through a multi-touch approach. They will cold call, they’ll send emails, they’ll connect on LinkedIn, they will send voice notes, they will send video notes, they’ll send gifts, whatever. They’ll find a way to connect with your target accounts and target personas and set up an initial sales engagement between your company and the company you’re targeting.’

But what does a typical day in the life of an SDR look like? Let’s take a closer look.

SDRs typically work closely with marketing teams, receiving warm leads from various marketing channels such as webinars, content downloads, or event attendees. These leads are the result of marketing efforts to attract potential customers and generate interest in the product or service.

Once an SDR receives a lead, they embark on a journey of personalised outreach. They craft compelling emails, make phone calls, and even leverage social media platforms to engage with these leads. The goal is to establish a connection, understand their pain points, and present a solution that aligns with their needs.

But it’s not just about reaching out to leads. SDRs also need to qualify them. They ask probing questions, conduct thorough research, and analyse the lead’s behaviour to determine their level of interest and readiness to make a purchase. This qualification process ensures that the sales team focuses their efforts on leads with the highest potential for conversion.

Once a lead is qualified, the SDR’s role shifts towards scheduling meetings or demos for account executives. They coordinate calendars, find a mutually convenient time, and ensure that all parties are well prepared for the meeting. This seamless handover from the SDR to the account executive ensures a smooth transition and maximises the chances of closing the deal.

SDRs are not just salespeople; they are relationship builders. They establish trust and rapport with leads, acting as a resource and guide throughout the buyer’s journey. By providing valuable insights and addressing concerns, SDRs help potential customers make informed decisions and move closer to becoming loyal customers.

So, the next time you come across the term SDR, remember that they are the unsung heroes behind the scenes, working tirelessly to connect marketing efforts with sales success. They are the driving force that turns leads into revenue and helps businesses thrive.

How does an SDR fit into a typical sales team structure?

To better understand how SDRs can be effectively leveraged by marketers, it’s important to understand their place within the typical sales team structure. SDRs often work in tandem with account executives (AEs) and report to sales managers or directors.

While AEs focus on closing deals, SDRs serve as the “feeder system” for the sales team. They are the frontline soldiers, conducting initial outreach to potential customers and identifying those who are most likely to convert into revenue.

By setting up this specialised division of labour, organisations can ensure that their AEs are spending their time on high-value activities, such as nurturing qualified opportunities and closing deals, while SDRs handle the initial outreach and qualification process.

SDRs play a crucial role in the sales team structure by effectively bridging the gap between marketing and sales. They are responsible for prospecting and generating leads, which are then passed on to the AEs for further engagement. This division of labour allows for a more efficient and streamlined sales process.

When it comes to the day-to-day activities of an SDR, they are often engaged in various tasks such as cold calling, email outreach, and social media prospecting. They are skilled in conducting research to identify potential customers and understanding their pain points and needs.

Additionally, SDRs are adept at qualifying leads. They have the ability to assess whether a lead is a good fit for the company’s product or service based on specific criteria such as budget, authority, need, and timeline (BANT). This qualification process ensures that AEs are only spending their time on leads that have a higher likelihood of converting into paying customers.

Furthermore, SDRs are responsible for building and maintaining relationships with potential customers. They act as the first point of contact for these prospects, establishing rapport and trust. Through effective communication and active listening, SDRs gather valuable information about the prospect’s pain points, challenges, and goals, which can then be used to tailor the sales approach and provide a personalised experience.

Another important aspect of an SDR’s role is to collaborate closely with marketing teams. They provide valuable feedback on the quality of leads generated through marketing efforts, helping to refine and optimise marketing strategies. SDRs also work closely with marketing to align messaging and ensure a consistent brand experience throughout the sales process.

Overall, the integration of SDRs into the sales team structure is essential for maximising the efficiency and effectiveness of the sales process. By leveraging their expertise in prospecting, lead qualification, relationship building, and collaboration with marketing, SDRs contribute to the overall success of the sales team and the organisation as a whole.

How does Operatix structure its sales team?

Catarina explains that offering an outsourced SDR service means that Operatix has two sales teams. One that works for their clients and one that supports revenue generation for Operatix itself.

If we’re talking about the latter, Operatix has the following structure in it’s sales team:

  • MDR – the Marketing Development Representative is responsible for qualifying inbound leads 
  • SDR – the Sales Development Representative is responsible for generating initial conversations through outbound prospecting
  • AE – the Account Executive is responsible for closing deals 
  • Sales Manager – someone who is responsible for managing the sales team 

This structure is fairly common, but in some companies, the SDR team reports into marketing, and in others, they report into sales.

Should the SDR team report into sales or marketing?

How to successfully utilise SDRs to elevate your pipeline

Now that we understand the role of an SDR within a sales team, let’s explore how marketers can effectively leverage them to elevate their pipeline and drive revenue growth:

1. Alignment and Collaboration: It is crucial for marketers to establish a strong working relationship with the SDR team. Regular meetings, shared goals, and open lines of communication will foster collaboration, ensuring that marketing efforts align with the SDRs’ outreach strategies.

When marketers and SDRs work closely together, they can create a seamless experience for potential customers. By aligning their strategies, marketers can provide SDRs with valuable insights into the target audience, allowing them to tailor their outreach efforts accordingly. This collaboration can lead to more effective lead qualification and a higher conversion rate.

Catarina goes on to explain how this works in practice at Operatix:

‘We have a one-hour sales call once a week with the whole sales team, and I join that call. Then I have a weekly call with our VP of sales, where we discuss the campaigns and things like that. Then I have a weekly call with my marketing team and then one-on-one meetings with each of them. The marketing team members don’t join the sales call, but I do. Then I communicate with them about what we are doing from a marketing perspective, how we can support them, and things like that. Then I also have a one-on-one with my CEO every week. Every other week, the VP of sales also joins that. We talk a lot.’

2. Targeted Outreach: Marketers can provide valuable insights to SDRs by sharing buyer personas and key messaging points. By arming SDRs with these resources, they can tailor their outreach efforts to resonate with the target audience and maximise lead qualification.

By understanding buyer personas and key messaging points, SDRs can craft personalised and relevant messages that capture the attention of potential customers. This targeted outreach approach increases the chances of engagement and conversion, as it speaks directly to the pain points and needs of the prospects.

3. Content Creation: Collaborating with SDRs on content creation can yield powerful results. SDRs are on the front lines and have firsthand insights into the pain points and objections voiced by potential customers. By utilising their feedback, marketers can create more targeted and effective content that speaks directly to the prospects’ needs.

When marketers involve SDRs in the content creation process, they gain valuable insights from those who interact directly with potential customers. SDRs can provide feedback on the effectiveness of existing content and suggest improvements based on the objections and pain points they encounter. This collaboration ensures that the content produced is highly relevant and resonates with the target audience.

4. Continuous Training: To ensure SDRs remain effective, ongoing training and development are essential. Marketers can contribute by providing relevant market insights, competitive intelligence, and sales enablement resources. This allows SDRs to stay up-to-date with industry trends and deliver valuable messaging during their prospecting efforts.

By providing continuous training and development opportunities, marketers empower SDRs to excel in their roles. This can include sharing market insights, competitor analysis, and providing access to sales enablement resources such as playbooks and training materials. Equipped with the latest knowledge and tools, SDRs can confidently engage with potential customers and drive revenue growth.

What are the best tools for SDR’s to use?

Equipping SDRs with the right technology stack is crucial for their success. Here are a few tools that can significantly enhance an SDR’s productivity:

  • Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software
  • Email automation platforms
  • Prospecting tools
  • Social media monitoring tools
  • Sales engagement platforms

And Catarina describes the toolkit that SDR teams can use in their SDR Handbook which you can download for free without giving your email address.

By leveraging these tools, SDRs can streamline their workflow, automate repetitive tasks, and gain valuable insights into prospects’ behaviour, ultimately driving better results for the marketing and sales teams.

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software is a vital tool for SDRs. It allows them to efficiently manage and organise their contacts, track interactions, and monitor the progress of their deals. With a CRM, SDRs can easily access important customer information, such as contact details, previous conversations, and purchase history, enabling them to personalise their outreach and build stronger relationships with prospects.

Email automation platforms are another essential tool for SDRs. These platforms enable SDRs to automate their email outreach, saving them time and effort. With email automation, SDRs can create personalised email templates, schedule follow-ups, and track email open and response rates. This not only increases efficiency but also allows SDRs to focus on building relationships with prospects instead of spending hours on manual email tasks.

Prospecting tools are invaluable for SDRs, as they help identify and target potential leads. These tools provide SDRs with access to a vast database of contacts, allowing them to search for prospects based on specific criteria, such as industry, job title, or company size. By using prospecting tools, SDRs can quickly find and qualify leads, ensuring they are focusing their efforts on the most promising opportunities.

Social media monitoring tools have become increasingly important for SDRs in today’s digital age. These tools allow SDRs to monitor social media platforms for mentions of their company, products, or industry. By staying informed about relevant conversations and trends, SDRs can engage with prospects in real-time, providing valuable insights and building credibility. Social media monitoring tools also enable SDRs to identify potential leads and gather valuable information about their interests and preferences.

Sales engagement platforms are comprehensive tools that bring together various functionalities to support SDRs throughout the sales process. These platforms often include features such as email automation, prospecting tools, call tracking, and analytics. By using a sales engagement platform, SDRs can have all the necessary tools in one place, making their workflow more efficient and effective. These platforms also provide valuable analytics and reporting capabilities, allowing SDRs to track their performance and make data-driven decisions.

Should you hire an SDR team or outsource the function?

When considering whether to build an in-house SDR team or outsource the function to a specialised agency, there are several factors to consider:

  1. Cost: Hiring and training an in-house SDR team requires a significant investment. On the other hand, outsourcing can provide cost savings by leveraging an agency’s existing infrastructure and expertise.
  2. Expertise: If your organisation already has a solid understanding of lead generation and qualification, building an in-house team may be a better choice. However, if you lack the necessary experience or resources, outsourcing to an agency with specialised knowledge can be a game-changer.
  3. Scalability: Organisations experiencing rapid growth may find it challenging to recruit and train SDRs at the same pace. In such cases, outsourcing can provide the flexibility to scale up or down quickly as needed.

During the podcast, Catarina talked about a couple of common use cases for companies that do decide to outsource their SDR function:

  • Early-stage startups: useful if you don’t have a clear idea of your ICP
  • Scale-ups and established brands: it can supplement your existing teams, help you enter new markets or add an ‘outbound’ function if your SDR team are primarily focused on inbound

Ultimately, the decision to hire an in-house SDR team or outsource the function depends on your organisation’s specific needs, resources, and strategic objectives.

By effectively harnessing the power of SDRs, marketers can optimise lead generation efforts, increase pipeline velocity, and drive revenue growth. By aligning with the SDR team, providing targeted outreach strategies, collaborating on content creation, offering continuous training, and leveraging the right tools, marketers can unlock the full potential of their pipeline and reach new heights of success.

A few other highlights to look out for in this episode:

  1. Where Catarina goes to stay up-to-date on the latest trends and insights in the SDR space
  2. Tips for dealing with attribution