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5 SDR statistics that can help B2B marketing improve performance

A survey by the sales consultancy The Bridge Group found SDRs in B2B average 104 outreach activities leading to 3.6 “quality conversations” per day; prospects require on average 11.3 attempts in the SDR sequence

If you’ve ever filled out a registration form to download content, chances are you received a follow-up email or call asking for a meeting or pitching a demo. The people making those calls are sales development representatives (SDRs).

B2B marketing tends to be quick to critique messages they get from SDRs, but the fact is this team is an important link between sales and marketing. This is the team that filters through a list of people who traded contact information for content and identifies qualified prospective buyers.

With that in mind, it’s worth examining the relationship your own marketing shop has with the SDR team. A survey report produced this year by the sales consulting firm The Bridge Group provides good context for doing so.

The company has conducted this survey every year since 2007. For this latest report, they polled 365 B2B companies. Most (69%) are U.S.-based and about one in five (21%) are global. Responding companies had a median revenue of $45 million with an average selling price (ASP) of $52,000.

Below are some SDR statistics that can help B2B marketing improve performance.

1. Reporting structure: most SDRs report to sales or marketing

About six in 10 (64%) SDR teams report to sales, according to the survey, while about one-quarter (24%). SDR teams are typically organized around the territories of account executives (AE). On average there is one SDR for every 2.3 AEs.

Comment: I’ve seen hybrid reporting structures too, where SDRs report to marketing for short periods of time. This followed events where marketing spent a boatload of budget to exhibit at a conference, scanned hundreds of badges, and two weeks later many of these “leads” hadn’t even been touched once.

Perhaps there should be certain criteria that have been met before conference badges are scanned. Or perhaps there’s a savvy email that marketing can send that will help segment the list, narrow it down or prioritize who SDRs call first.

The point is, there are all sorts of reasons why something like this might happen, but this shouldn’t be the first moment that marketing gets interested in the SDR team. If marketing learns to ask this team the right questions, you can learn a lot about what’s working in marketing and what isn’t. That will go a long way toward being a good marketing partner for B2B sales.

I can’t remember where I saw this, but I saw a really smart comment recently to the effect: When new marketing leaders join a company, they want to change the website, but if you really want to have an immediate impact, start by fixing lead routing. Seems to me, spending some time with the SDR team can help you do that.

When new marketing leaders join a company, they want to change the website, but if you really want to have an immediate impact, start by fixing lead routing. Seems to me, spending some time with the SDR team can help you do that.Click To Tweet

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2. Experience: SDRs tend to be junior and have a short tenure

The survey found SDRs need just about one year of experience to land an SDR role. This is down from 2.5 years of experience required about a decade ago.

Once an SDR is hired, it takes 3.2 months on average to get them on-boarded and coached up. Since the average tenure of an SDR is 1.4 years, this means most B2B companies get just 12-17 months of productivity from a solid SDR.

Comment: There’s a whole other HR discussion to be had here, but right now, the first person-to-person contact a prospective customer gets is with a very junior employee. This should scare the heck out of any marketing leader, and it means marketing has a key role to play in onboarding and coaching new SDRs.

Whatever part marketing does play, it needs to be repeatable too. A CMO will have 2-3 groups of SDRs turnover given the average CMO tenure. It’s also worth thinking about their career path too: the SDRs of today are the AEs of tomorrow. So, having an interest in SDRs helps to build that future relationship with sales.

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3. Activity: Hundreds of touches for just a few quality conversations

The survey found that SDRs engage in 104 outreach activities today. Most of these are phone calls and emails, but also some social selling efforts. For all that effort, the average SDR has just 3.6 “quality conversations” per day.

Add to this, the average prospect requires 11.3 attempts in any outreach sequence before an SDR lands a quality conversation. “This figure has been on the rise for a decade,” the survey noted. “As buyers have become harder to reach, reps have increased their persistence in lock step.”

The average prospect requires 11.3 attempts in any outreach sequence before an SDR lands a quality conversation.Click To Tweet

Comment: This finding mirrors a Ziff-Davis survey of B2B tech buyers a few years back that found prospects consume 11 or more pieces of vendor content as they research and evaluate options. The takeaway for marketing is that you need to think through carefully what you are giving SDRs to work with.

Does that mean marketing is writing sales emails for the SDR team? Maybe. I know that’s rough on a small startup marketing team with a to-do list that’s a mile long. I’ve been there too.

However, you should definitely spend some time thinking through the message, cadence and sequence with your counterpart in sales. An even better approach is to think about it from the buyer’s side: what might they need from you?

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4. Leads: Qualified leads have a clear pain and a compelling reason to buy

The survey breaks the conversions that SDRs earn into three classifications:

  • Contacts that convert to introductory calls;
  • Contacts that convert into semi-qualified meetings; and
  • Contacts that convert into fully-qualified meetings.

Looking at the graphic below, and for the sake of understanding the point I’m about to make, review those that converted to fully-qualified meetings (I circled this in red):

  • 94% were in the right profile;
  • 98% had a need – a pain point identified;
  • 92% had the authority to drive a purchase forward;
  • 80% had a compelling reason to buy;
  • 48% had the budget; and
  • 55% had a timeline identified.

Comment: Nailing the ideal customer profile (ICP) is table stakes. Yes, it’s important but what percentage of your addressable market checks all of those blocks right now? 2%? That’s probably generous.

Especially in B2B tech, sales cycles are getting longer and involving more stakeholders. That means marketing needs to “create a customer” as Drucker said. The way to do that is to focus on the pain. What is the pain you are solving? This is the starting point for sales and marketing alignment.

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5. Measurement: Six in 10 SDRs meet their quota

The survey found 63% of SDRs achieve their quota on average. The report notes there has been “remarkable consistency around this metric over the years.”

Comment: This is a solid number for assumptions and forecasts. Further, if 63% of your company’s SDRs aren’t hitting their number, then marketing should be part of the triage process and solution.

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What did you think? Leave a comment below or hit me up on Twitter or LinkedIn.

The Bridge Group has produced this report every year since 2007. The full report had much more to offer and I recommended taking time to review it. Download it here: Sales Development (SDR) Metrics & Comp Report.

Do you need help with B2B tech marketing and PR? I’m a seasoned consultant that can both bring big ideas and execute them; I’d be glad to speak with you about your needs. Here are some useful links: aboutservices and contact. Or just reply to this message if you are a subscriber and received this post by email.

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Image credit: Report by The Bridge Group and DALL-E “a diverse group of salespeople sitting in cubicles making sales calls in the style of van Ghoh”

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