8 Data-Backed Ways to Boost Performance in a Sales Development Team

The sales development role is here to stay. We’ve long known companies employing sales development (or business development) representatives see higher revenue and return on investment. When the sales development team has good communication with account executives and marketing, the sales machine works efficiently and results are impressive.

In an effort to understand the sales development function and its role in the sales process, InsideSales.com Labs conducted a study of over 1,000 companies showing how companies build, scale, and execute strong sales development teams.

The findings show high performance results correlate with good team communication, excellent execution, and adoption of the right tools for the right sales environment.

The Sales Development Role and Daily Activities

There are typically four steps a sales development rep takes to be successful: Identify the correct leads, contact prospects, qualify them, and pass the opportunity to the account executive.

We found sales development reps did an average of 93.8 daily activities:

  • 37.2 phone calls (39.7%)
  • 36.2 emails (38.6%)
  • 15.2 voicemail messages (15.2%)
  • 7.7 social media touches (8.2%).

These activities led to an average of 13.6 meaningful a day — a 14.5% conversation rate. These 13.6 conversations resulted in an average of 22.5 appointments set per month — a 5.5% appointment rate.

We also found, from start to finish of the sales pipeline, it takes an average of 458 activities to close one deal per quarter (assuming 60 work days per quarter).

Call volume has a lot to do with sales development success, but list quality and accuracy of list — and knowing when and who to call with the right message — is paramount to an SDR’s success.

Using the Correct Lead Qualification Model

BANT (Budget, Authority, Need, Timing) is the most traditional qualification model — and the most common — used by 29% of SDR’s. Other models like ANUM (Authority, Need, Urgency, Money), and its abbreviated form, AN (Authority, Need), have also become popular — used by 9,8% and 22% of SDR’s, respectively.

However, 21% of SDR’s included in this study reported they do not use any kind of qualification model. The use of qualification models seems more prevalent in companies with larger deal sizes.

Successful SDR’s Meet Regularly With Account Executives

Nearly 80% of companies (78.3%) of respondents in the InsideSales.com study reported SDRs in their sales organization meet and coordinate with account executives at least once a week. Naturally, better coordination between SDRs and AEs showed higher rates of appointment holding and opportunities successfully passing.

Appointment hold rate for SDRs and AEs who meet daily is 17.7% higher than for those who only meet once a week. More importantly, quota attainment is 7.2% higher for those companies with daily communication between SDRs and AEs.

Good SDR’s Are Social. Great SDR’s Pick Up And Call

Email and social selling have become popular methods of sales communication, however successful SDR’s don’t discount phone calls as an effective way to reach targets. This research shows using the phone is slightly more popular than using email (37.2 calls per day versus 36.3 emails per day).

Almost all SDRs use email (96%), however it only represents about a third (37.6%) of SDR’s activities. 63.9% of sales development representatives reported using social media for prospecting in their daily routine, but it only represented 8% of daily activities.

SDRs viewed LinkedIn as a research tool more than anything else (64%). And research and direct communication like InMail were seen as more effective than traditional “social” features like commenting and sharing posts.

Inbound or Outbound SDR’s? Together Is Better.

U.S. census data from 2017 shows the estimated number of professional salespeople in the U.S. is 5.7 million, and about 677,479 of those are sales development reps. This means there’s a ratio of about one sales development rep for every three account executives.

While in some companies, sales development teams are inbound or outbound only, it’s important to mention 54% of sales development reps report performing activities that blend both models.

For comparison, blended teams set an average of 61% more appointments than outbound teams alone. They also have higher rates of appointments held than outbound- or inbound-only sales development teams.

Choosing The Right Technology For Your Sales Development Team

The nature of the sales development role lends itself to more automation than other roles in the sales department. However, choosing the right technology for an SDR team is not easy.

Sales development tools for automating and tracking follow-up sequences like sales cadence tools are a major factor when increasing productivity in SDR teams. And this is proven by their widespread use — sales cadence has an adoption of 37% among sales development teams.

They automate complex sales sequences met in relational sales environments, set follow-up reminders, send automated emails or pre-recorded voicemails, and allow the use of templates to make the job easier.

If you’re wondering about the cost of these tools, our data shows companies spend around $3,827 per sales development rep every year. The study shows blended teams adopt more technology than inbound- or outbound-only teams.

Companies who focused on larger deals also tended to use more technology than companies focusing on smaller deals. Larger deals often come with more decision makers and higher complexity, so companies might be more inclined to use sales technologies to assist their SDRs.

Best Tools For a Sales Development Rep

Here are the top five tools in SDR arsenals today:

Technologies like gamification, video outreach, sales coaching, sales signals, and direct mail are among those expected to grow significantly in 2018.

Sales Development Performance Measurement and ROI

The study revealed the average base salary for sales development reps is $43,499 with average on-target earnings (OTE) of $83,484 and an average 60/40 split for base versus variable compensation. Companies also reported using and average of 2.6 metrics to calculate variable compensation.

The most common metrics used were closed revenue (37.3%) with an average quota of $89,333, number of opportunities accepted (19.2%) with an average quota of 15.2 opportunities, and number of appointments held (12.6%) with an average quota of 19.2 appointments.

Considering all quotas, companies report 63.8% attainment for SDRs, with inbound SDR’s having a slightly higher quota attainment than outside sales development representatives.


The average tenure of a sales development rep is 2.7 years which includes a four-month average ramp time. To make sure they retain sales development reps and maximize peak productivity, companies should have the right compensation, structure, and tools in place. Technology will be key in improving efficiencies and productivity in the sales development department, as with any other sales role.

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