Why Data Beats Talent in Sales Development

Editors Note: Phill Keene writes about data’s role in sales development as a prequel to our Tuesday, August 18th webinar where he’ll be discussing the topic with Liz Cain, Jaime Muirhead, and Max Altschuler.

Many seasoned sales development managers know that, given the choice between an exceptionally talented sales development rep (SDR) and a highly accurate database, data trumps talent every time.

Now, no one’s suggesting a manager shouldn’t search for top talent to add to his team. But no matter how talented an SDR is, there are advantages to providing SDRs with the most detailed and accurate information available. And when it comes to performance, an average SDR with better data will outperform a talented SDR with little or poor data every day of the week.

In sales development, everything matters: time management, information management, gatekeeper and decision-maker messaging. Each of those elements relies on accurate data.

So why is data so important?

Data Provides Focus

Accurate data saves your team both time and hassle, keeping your team from having to research contact information like email addresses and phone numbers. The market is full of tools that make it possible to start with good individual contact data. In some cases, SDRs may need to find a secondary source for more firmographic data like SIC codes, employee count, industry or annual revenue.

Since an SDR can save time on researching basic contact information, he can use that time to research the account instead. This gives SDR the opportunity to develop a more educated approach when he contacts the company. The more relevant information you can pull about things the company actually cares about, the more specific you can get with your messaging.

This initial data arms your team with the necessary ammunition to call the right person, at the right time, and to convert the lead to a meeting, demo, or an opportunity. The SDR will be able to identify the problems that the potential buyer has, and have a plan of action of how they will articulate the solution to their problem. Today’s buyers don’t buy features, they buy solutions – and they are better educated about solutions than they have ever been.

Data Provides Guidance

When you can get on the phone with a direct dial, you will more likely reach the decision-maker. According to Vorsight, you are more than 46 percent more likely to be successful when you reach a director, and a whopping 148 percent more successful when you reach a VP. If you can’t talk to a prospect on the phone to explain your solution, the prospect is likely to make a decision based solely on how they interpret what you wrote in an email or what’s available on your website. This could be fine, but often leads to lofty expectations that are hard to meet.

Too few managers are teaching their SDR team to look deeper than what they can find on LinkedIn or Twitter. It takes additional research to find decision makers in the C-Suite, because nearly 40 percent of them are not on LinkedIn today. No matter where you find them, it is crucial to find an internal champion who can influence the decision-maker. The more data you find out about the account, it allows you to have a greater understanding about the true issues your solution solves.

Data Provides Speed

Data is more than just contact information. Today, CRM gives you the ability to input more firmographic data, which helps create a more consistent and repeatable process. This also allows you to target more specific types of accounts that are more likely to buy, and buy quickly. And because those accounts should see a higher level of success for what your solution has to offer, your churn will likely go down as well. Sales development is hard enough without a leak at the other end of the funnel, so you need to target the right accounts from the top of the funnel down.

The more that you input into your CRM, the more you can fine tune your sales development efforts. This will accelerate your team’s ability to acquire new companies and to grow current clients.

In sales development, data is king. But bad data can take a serious toll on a sales organization, and it is much more cost-effective to invest in good data up-front than to clean up bad data later. No matter how hard you try to keep your records clean, however, they will always have a certain amount of inaccurate data. Create a culture around ensuring what goes into your CRM is completely accurate, and your organization will thank you for it.

Phill Keene brings commitment to learning and development to the inside sales space. He currently leads the sales development team at TinderBox, and through his experience he has learned how to be a strategic resource to companies trying to reach their revenue goals and attain quota. He brings best practices around sales productivity, lead generation, and technology. Connect with him on Twitter @PhillKeene

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