Sales Development Report: Bots, Chat Will Be the Next Big Thing, Live Call Still Dominates and GDPR Drives Changes

Third Annual Report Reveals New Sales Development Applications Across Organizations; Key Areas in Which Teams Are Challenged and Successful

GDPR is forcing sales development functions to adopt LinkedIn as one of the top outbound channels for Sales Development Reps (SDRs), according to new research released today by research and advisory firm, TOPO. The 2019 Sales Development Benchmark Report analyzes top trends, strategies and tactics adopted by today’s leading sales development organizations, detailing what B2B organizations need to be successful in the ever-changing, new paradigm. The research uncovers ways businesses can remain competitive and resilient in the face of a changing marketplace, including ways to evaluate overall go-to-market (GTM) strategy, identify effective teams, process, technology, and tactics and the key metrics for governing organizations and optimizing programs.

Sales development is a critical function for world-class B2B sales and marketing teams, playing as a centerpiece of account based programs—one of the most disruptive go-to-market transformations in B2B sales and marketing today. As the commoditization of digital buying experiences drives the demand for account based experiences, marketers have never been more incentivized to partner with sales development. The 2019 Sales Development Benchmark Report clearly illustrates the importance of establishing a baseline for sales development organizations based on GTM strategy.

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TOPO surveyed 180 practitioners at high growth, B2B sales development organizations to identify patterns and metrics. Among the findings are the below key takeaways:

  • LinkedIn has the potential to become the top outbound channel–GPDR and cluttered inboxes are forcing SDR teams to increase usage of LinkedIn. The triple touch (phone, email, LinkedIn) has been widely used for the last 4-5 years. Now usage is increasing, with 42% of respondents reporting between 2-5 LinkedIn touches in their touch patterns. Faced with strict enforcement of email and phone restrictions, European SDR teams are largely adopting LinkedIn, with some SDRs reporting LinkedIn as their only outbound channel.
  • Chat will be the next “table stakes” SDR channel– 25% of respondents cited chat as a channel, with that numbers predicted to increase by at least 50% in 2019, moving closer to becoming a standard for inbound SDR follow-up.
  • Artificial Intelligence and bots have arrived as a new SDR channel– AI bots are slowly becoming a reality in the SDR tech stacks, with 8% using AI-driven email tools. This number will increase slowly in 2019, with 2020 being a likely launch point for significant bot adoption, particularly around straightforward and non-mission-critical touch patterns.
  • SDRs are the most significant pipeline drivers in world-class companies– SDRs generate, on average, and 57% of overall pipeline. Because of this, more organizations are assigning resources dedicated to support SDRs (versus shared resources with the sales team).
  • SDRs are the most important channel for successful account based programs– Of account based marketers, 88% cite outbound SDRs as an important channel in their marketing strategy. Because of this success, 41% of organizations have built a dedicated account based SDR team.
  • Sales development is moving to support expansion and the channel– Sales development is such a proven commodity, it is being applied to multiple go-to-market strategies. Of survey respondents, 19% have SDRs dedicated to customer expansion, and 12% have a team dedicated to support channel partners.
  • SDRs are having conversations with prospects again–  Today, organizations are creating processes and enablement to bring live SDR conversations back into the qualification process. 40% of respondents cited live call execution as the key factor in their success.

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“Sales development is arguably the most critical investment for developing pipeline in today’s B2B businesses,” said Dan Gottlieb, TOPO’s Sales Development Analyst. “It’s also the function in an organization where change is rapid and constant. The 2019 Sales Development Benchmark Report is a comprehensive guide toward navigating the present and future, so that leading organizations are building sales dev teams that are resilient and can adapt quickly.

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