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The SDR Struggle Is Real: Here's What Gives for Sales Development Representatives

29 June 2021

How often do you hear the word "Nope." or "No way.", or if you're lucky, maybe, "Eh, maybe later."

If you're a sales development representative, you probably hear it at least a few times a day. Even with thick skin, it can get to you. Besides that, you're juggling sales reps, marketing teams, and your own quotas.

Most sales development reps are measured on their ability to move leads through the sales pipeline. Rather than focusing on closing, they focus on prospecting and nurturing. Then you turn over the best prospects to your sales reps to close the deal.

It can feel like a thankless job.

At Leadfeeder, we know the SDR struggle is real. Over the past few years, we've learned a thing or two about the SDR struggle, both from our customers and selling our own product.

Recently, we sat down with Marcello De Crescenzo, SDR at Bloomreach, to talk about the top struggles that sales development representatives face — and how to overcome them.

Note: Leadfeeder is a powerful sales prospecting tool. Bonus, there's a free 14-day trial! Sign up, install our tracker, and start uncovering hidden companies today.

Struggle #1: Not having the right sales tools (specifically for sales development representatives)

One of the biggest challenges SDRs face is not having the right tools — or in some cases, too many tools.

sales tools Buzz Lightyear meme

There are hundreds of platforms promising to make the sales process easier. The truth is, building the right sales tech stack is a hassle —  and you might not even have complete control over what tools your company uses.

So, what is an SDR to do?

The solution:

Spend a week noting how long you spend on specific tasks, then look for tools to streamline the most time-consuming tasks. If you spend 30 to 40 percent of your time prospecting, look for a tool that improves the process.

Then, review the tools you do have to ensure you're making the most of them. Online training might help you find features you aren't using.

For example, Leadfeeder Academy shows you how to use our tool to prospect, nurture, and close deals. Platforms like Salesforce offer training on their tools and sales in general.

Finally, make sure all the tools you do have access to are integrated. Many platforms can share data, which can save you a ton of time.

Struggle #2: Finding high-quality prospects

SDRs spend a lot of time prospecting, which makes sense — the success of the entire sales process relies on high-quality leads. The problem is, finding high-quality prospects has always been a challenge.

Plus, you don't want to be one of those annoying sales folks targeting people who just aren't interested. It's not a good look. 

SDR meme

The solution

Finding better quality prospects is hard, but not impossible. The solution will depend on your company, industry, and target audience. Marcello De Crescenzo suggests relying on other SDRs to understand what works and what doesn't. He shares:

"Understanding what's working well and what isn’t is invaluable. 

Marketing also plays a huge part, it’s a two-way street with constant feedback. I am always striving to improve sales and marketing relationships."

Here are a few other strategies to weed out those prospects less likely to convert: 

  • Account-based marketing: Rather than casting a wide net, ABM allows you to focus specifically on prospects interested in your solution and target them directly with custom content. 

  • Use prospecting tools: Prospecting tools like LinkedIn Sales Navigator and Leadfeeder provide invaluable data about prospects so you can focus on those most likely to convert. 

  • Refine your lead scoring process: If you have plenty of leads but they're low-quality, it might be time to revise your lead scoring process. Look for clear indicators of interest and intent to purchase.

SDR struggle #3: Prospects are busier than ever

Email, Slack, smartphones, cloud storage, and SaaS solutions were supposed to make life easier — in many cases, it's made us busier than ever.

Your prospects don't just have one phone and one email to check; they might have several messaging apps, conference calls, and text messages to answer.

When prospects are busier, your contacts don't stand out.

Everything in the SDR role revolves around timing. You might try not to book things when the prospect has more pressing matters, but it’s a guessing game. Do they have a weekly meeting, a yoga class they can't miss, or a deadline? It can be incredibly challenging to know when to reach out.

The solution: 

Be the expert. Prospects are busy, but they still need answers. Establish yourself and your brand as a trusted filter that helps them cut through the noise and offer real solutions. Don't just hawk what you have to offer; find ways to make their job easier. 

Struggle #4: Cold calling isn't as effective as it used to be 

The standard process for most SDRs is sending out emails, calling, leaving voicemails, and then rinse and repeat. 

The problem? It’s no longer working well.

cold calling meme

SDRs are in a unique position to help account executives close deals. While the traditional way of doing outreach might work for some businesses, older strategies like cold calling and emailing aren't working for many companies.

In fact, cold calling is only effective around two percent of the time — which means 98 percent of your efforts are landing on deaf ears.

The solution:

Try new strategies, test, and try again--leverage new prospecting strategies like automation, video calls, and social selling. Clever emails sent at 5 am might also land — you won't know unless you try. 

Marcello shares this advice:

"Use different strokes for different folks, some like a call, others an email. Don’t be afraid to chuck a video in there too.

Fall in love with the process, enjoy working hard to get a meeting! Bottle that feeling up and on your bad days go back to what was working and that feeling of booking a target account."

SDR struggle #5: You can't find the right people to contact

Sometimes finding the right prospect isn't the issue; it's finding the right person to talk to.

Say you are selling an HR software — talking to the Director of Marketing isn't going to do you much good (unless they are BFFs with the head of HR!)

Decision maker meme for salespeople

So, how do you find the right person so you don't waste time pitching to non-decision makers?

The solution:

Once you've landed a solid prospect, head to LinkedIn to find the right person to contact or ask your current contact if they would mind introducing you. Consider using email lookup tools to find contact information.

Pro Tip: Don't assume non-decision makers have no impact on the buying process. Those lower down the totem pole might just become an advocate if you convince them your solution is worth it.

Solution: Leadfeeder helps you overcome common SDR challenges

As an SDR, doing your job more effectively (and efficiently) is a top priority. We can help.

Leadfeeder makes it easy to find and nurture prospects by showing you which companies visit your website, even if they don't leave contact info. We match those companies with our contact database so you know who to reach out to, and even throw in sales automation features to streamline your sales process.

Want to give it a try? Sign up for a free 14-day Leadfeeder trial and start uncovering hidden companies today. 

Alicia Murphy
By Alicia Murphy

I help others achieve quality results & adopt new solutions, strategies and technology. As a process driven innovator, my focus is blending relationship skills with aggressive growth initiatives. I am motivated by enabling teams to bring sales, success, support, product and leadership together to grow their business.

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