How Salesforce Does Sales Development

Learn what premier cloud-based software company Salesforce does to hire, train, and manage their sales development department.

In this article:

  1. The Significance of Sales Development Structure
  2. Shahad Parshad: Vice President of Salesforce
  3. SDR Structure of Salesforce
  4. Salesforce SDR and BRD Organizations
  5. What the SDR Team of Salesforce Does
  6. How Should Sales Development Teams Engage Prospects?
    1. Persistence
    2. Response Time
    3. Follow-Up Calls
  7. Sales Development Representative Salary
  8. Generalized vs. Specialized Sales Development Teams
    1. Speed
    2. Complexity
    3. Diversity
    4. Uniform Accountability Model
  9. How Does Salesforce Push Boundaries to Achieve Sales Development?

How Salesforce Handles Sales Development Department

SDR Definition: This stands for Sales Development Representative. Their role is to move the leads to the pipeline.

The Significance of Sales Development Structure

It’s very important for sales professionals, leaders, managers, and agents to learn how to structure sales development teams so they can rethink how they approach business. That way, they can create a system that focuses on growth and innovation.

Shahad Parshad: Vice President of Salesforce

Shahad Parshad is the vice president of Salesforce, a cloud-based software company in San Francisco, California. He specifically manages the Salesforce’s SDR organization.

This team focuses on handling and qualifying inbound leads that come in through calls, emails, chats, and website forms.

SDR Structure of Salesforce

Team meeting in board room | How Salesforce Does Sales Development

Sales Development team meeting

Salesforce has three macro segments: enterprise, commercial, and SMB (small and mid-sized business). The sales development teams aim to support these businesses by providing modern, effective solutions depending on their needs.

Salesforce SDR and BRD Organizations

SDR, the department that Parshad handles, is in charge of qualifying all the inbound leads. This is an entry-level position newly hired employees commonly apply for.

After 12 months, Salesforce promotes them to the BDR (Business Development Representatives) organization. Their primary duty will switch from handling inbound leads to making outbound sales calls.

The SDR usually handles SMBs while the BDR organization commonly contacts prospects from commercial and enterprise segments.

SDR sales reps cannot handle inbound leads that the BDR organization previously engaged with. When a prospect previously contacted by BDR goes through their inbound hotline, the SDR directs them to the BDR.

Of course, this rarely becomes an issue since the SDR and BDR handle different sectors, prospects, and segments.

What the SDR Team of Salesforce Does

The sales development team of Salesforce is relatively large. This department is responsible for:

  • Handling the real-time data Salesforce gets from their lead generation techniques.
  • Generating the inbound leads from the 1-800 hotline, website’s live chat, email inquiries, and event leads.

Note: All of those leads go through Salesforce’s automated system for quality control. The system separates any inbound leads that the BDR organization previously engaged with.

  • Checking these qualified leads for consistency and quality.

Trivia:  The SDR organization handles about a million leads annually. They do a million phone calls and end up setting around 100,000 sales meetings.

How Should Sales Development Teams Engage Prospects?

Bearded man making a call | How Salesforce Does Sales Development

Sales Development representative contacting prospects

With more than a million leads to qualify annually, what system does Salesforce’s SDR team employ to maximize efficiency? Parshad states that sales development teams should consider these when contacting inbound leads:

1. Persistence

The cadence, persistence, and client feedback are very important key indicators in the buying process of the sales cycle. But they also need to be careful not to waste time with senseless callbacks.

Parshad only allows their SDR team to contact qualified leads up to five times. Afterward, any prospects who don’t pick the phone up will go directly to the marketing team.

2. Response Time

Every five minutes of prospect waiting time, the chances of buying significantly drop. Salesforce made it their goal to decrease their prospect response time.

Right now, their sales development reps average at a 15-minute prospect response time.

3. Follow-Up Calls

Despite the technological advancements in sales marketing today, Parshad still believes sales calls are the best lead follow-up method to get in touch with decision makers. This aggressive follow-up method is what generates results for Salesforce.

Parshad continuously develops new methods and tactics to better understand buyers and hasten the sales process.

RELATED: Five Tips to Build a World Class Sales Development Team

Sales Development Representative Salary

Parshad compensates sales development reps based on the amount of ACV they produce. The sales development representative commission method stimulates growth and motivates sales reps to outperform themselves.

Of course, Parshad acknowledges that this compensation method may not be best for everyone. This works well for Salesforce because they have a very short sales process.

Within a matter of weeks, sales development reps can already reap the benefits of their ACV. Companies with sales cycles that last for months should think twice before deciding to pay their reps on a commission basis.

Generalized vs. Specialized Sales Development Teams

Companies can create either generalized or specialized sales development teams.

A specialized sales development team handles prospects with inquiries limited to their areas of specialization. If the prospect is inquiring about software creation, then it will go to the sales team handling that specific product.

A generalized sales development team handles and qualifies different types of prospects. A sales development representative contacts prospects and leads no matter what their inquiries are.

For Salesforce, they chose to create generalized SDRs. This is more effective when handling inbound prospects and qualified leads for Salesforce.

Here are the reasons why Parshad chooses to train generalized sales development reps:

1. Speed

With a generalized SDR, every sales agent can attend to any prospect that’s up next on the queue. In fact, Parshad indicates that they have successfully minimized their clients’ waiting time to an average of 15 minutes.

On the other hand, a specialized team can only handle specific clients. Even if a few sales representatives are available, they can’t attend to a prospect inquiring about a product they don’t specialize in.

2. Complexity

For a CMR (customer-managed relationship) or sales system to work, it needs to handle complexity. That’s why sales development teams often utilize the technology they have at hand.

It’s equally important to minimize the amount of complexity that the system undergoes. A high amount of complexity leaves SDRs and sales teams prone to errors.

3. Diversity

Your customers’ needs can easily change during a sales conversation. If you’re working in sales development, you need to find a way to provide better and customized solutions to your clients.

With a generalized SDR, they can offer a wider range of products for clients to choose from. Rather than limiting prospects to specific products, they can choose the solution that suits their needs.

The best part is there’s no need for multiple agents to handle the call. A single sales development representative already carries an array of choices for their prospects and clients.

Sales managers should consider training their SDR and sales teams on the different products that their sales organization offers.

4. Uniform Accountability Model

With a generalized SDR, the sales leader, the manager, and the agent have equal footing. No one has an advantage over the other.

Parshad’s goal is to create identical teams who can handle various types of prospects from their sales pipeline.

How Does Salesforce Push Boundaries to Achieve Sales Development?

Happy team celebrating | How Salesforce Does Sales Development

Celebrating growth as a Sales Development team

Parshad emphasizes that Salesforce is a growth company. So like any other growth company, their goal should be to scale and expand at a steady rate.

As a sales leader, the question he asks himself is how can he train his sales managers and sales agents to push themselves to achieve growth and innovation?

For Salesforce, sales development department can achieve growth through three things:

  • Talent: Knowing how to spot, hunt, and develop talent is very critical for them. Parshad is proud of how quick Salesforce can mold newly hired employees into results-producing salespeople. Their sales development program focuses on honing the natural talents of their employees as fast as possible.
  • Technology: Apart from acquiring technology, Salesforce focuses on maximizing and utilizing their current systems. It’s not about getting the latest technological advancements. Rather, it’s about using them to your advantage.
  • Operational Efficiency: Operational efficiency is not a step growth. It consists of multiple small initiatives that eventually build up. One thing he does is list 10 points the SDR team needs to improve, then immediately work on them.

Sales executives and managers running sales development teams don’t necessarily have to copy Salesforce’s SDR structure to achieve success in marketing and sales. This information can serve as an inspiration to help you understand how sales development teams can improve customer success rates.

The best way to continue growth is to put yourself out there in the community. Connect with other entrepreneurs and sales development leaders so you can share tips and tricks for brand expansion and acquiring sales skills.

How do you manage your sales development team? Share your experience with us in the comments section down below!

Up Next: How To Become An Agile Inside Sales Rep

How Salesforce Does Sales Development

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