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Three Key Elements for a Successful (and High-Powered) Sales Development Organization

5 min read
Updated Oct. 18, 2023
Published Jan. 12, 2016

There are three key elements that make up a successful sales development organization: people, process, and tools.

First, in order to run a high-powered sales development organization, you need amazing people. From aggressive recruiting and interviewing on the front end, to intentional hiring, training and onboarding — all of these things play into the culture (core values), personalities, and reporting structure visibility of your team.

The second piece of the puzzle is the process. Are you using account-based philosophy? How are you distributing leads to SDRs? What’s the dividing line between inbound and outbound? Hammer out these key elements — then define the role of email, phone, metrics within those processes.

The third element is comprised of what tools your sales development team is using for each of those roles, along with tools for coaching, organizational health, and productivity.

A few weeks ago, Kyle Porter had a conversation with Steven Broudy of MuleSoft to talk in depth about the first two elements: people and process. The MuleSoft team has tripled in size since it’s early days, so we wanted to hear their philosophy behind hiring great talent in the sales development role, and their process once those unicorns are onboarded.

Located right in the middle of one of the most challenging SaaS markets (San Francisco), Steven and his team had to be creative in order to attract the best talent possible. From a strong brand, to the kind of culture that resonates with the candidates you’re looking to attract — these are the kinds of things they focused on when building a team.

Broudy breaks down their hiring must-haves into four major traits:

1. High Sales DNA. The best sales development reps are the ones with innate sales DNA and an energy built for high velocity sales.
2. High cognitive horsepower. A highly technical sales process requires a high level of intellectual curiosity and a high cognitive horsepower.

You need to have this learner mindset. You need to be able to understand the businesses that you’re attempting to connect with and in order to do that you need to constantly be seeking to improve yourself.”

3. Winners driving winners. MuleSoft defines their culture as “a group or a team of winners who drives everyone to want to win.” Look for reps who demand excellence, with a do-what-it-takes attitude and a level of fearlessness.
4. The Lone Wolves. Those who are fearless, and have a bias towards action, tend to be on the lone wolf spectrum of the sales world. The Challenger Sale calls “lone wolves” the second most successful type of reps.

Those traits, along with exceptional character, are critical to building an organizationally healthy sales environment. At Salesloft, we look for people with experience in the sales and persuasion game. Somebody who believes in themselves, believes in the product, and believes in the company — and can transfer that belief to someone else.

But what do you do after you’ve hired that great talent?

No longer is it acceptable to just throw new reps to the wolves and say, “Hey, go get ‘em.” Some companies do — and in the past that’s what sales development was all about. Let’s hire 20 people fresh out of school, throw them in the lab, see which ones sink or swim.

Now, we apply professionalism to our sales development organization. We asked Steven how his team gets new hires up to speed — and what expectations should be put on new reps.

It’s critical to empower and enable a new SDR whether this is their first sales role or the beginning of their real career. You need to empower them to succeed.“

Steven recommends focusing on creating a high-class industry training program for SDRs. Diving into the technology and sales fundamentals, and give them an opportunity for on the job training. Think of it as a flash-MBA in sales.

Set SDRs up for success and enable them by exposing them to best practices. Give them a framework within which they can work and within which they can succeed. Within that framework, help them to understand the thought process behind everything you, as a team, prescribe.

And as for data…

“Don’t be crunching those numbers in the dark. Crunch [data] in Excel, and make it visual — make it digestible in a format where the team can read it, see it, understand it, and feel a sense of ownership.” -Steven Broudy

This is where the tools come in. Find out what tools for sales development metrics such as activity metrics, data metrics, and productivity work best for your team. Take these tools and implement them among your team quickly and efficiently to get the best ROI.

We loved getting to talk to a sales leader of a high-velocity SDR team and pick his brain about our core sales development elements. What kinds of people, processes, and tools do you have in place for your growing sales development organization? Comment below and let us know!