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January 06, 2020 // Jeff Harsh

Seven B2B Sales Development Trends to Watch in 2020

The B2B sales development landscape is always changing. Buyers have access to far more information to help them make an educated buying decision prior to even talking with a salesperson. As a result, the sales development team landscape continues to become more complex and sophisticated.  Any good sales / marketing leader must be aware of the evolution of the overall process – not just what’s happening in their company.  Below are key B2B sales development trends to make note of heading in to 2020.

1. Utilize CRM to Expand Your Lead Generation and Lead Nurturing
While CRM (customer relationship management) tools are not new to sales or business development, their importance continues to rise because of the prospect profiling and lead quality data accessible to sales teams. As the buyer journey continues to get more complex, a means to track contact/account information, interactions/activities, and next steps is vital to ensure the best customer experience.

Ensure that all departments and teams who may interact with prospects and customers (ex. sales development, accounts, and customer service) have access, visibility, and are trained on how to leverage the CRM to ensure that everyone is on the same page throughout each step of the sales process.

Be sure to utilize and maximize the capabilities and features (quote creation, automation, approvals, reporting/dashboards, etc.) within your CRM to ensure that your team’s processes are streamlined rather than additional steps added.  

Two of the CRM leaders that we see continuing to set the bar in the CRM space are Salesforce and HubSpot. Check out the list of leaders in this space.

2. Marketing Automation

While CRM is the cornerstone of logging and tracking every step of the customer journey, using an effective and robust marketing automation software helps organizations by simplifying tasks that the marketing/sales teams previously handled manually.  

While the name sums it up, automation is essential when it comes to the execution of effective marketing strategies. Once you develop the ideal journey of a prospect or a customer, a marketing automation tool allows you to ensure the journey is executed at the exact time and trigger you prefer. Rather than relying on individual team members to execute each of these activities, effectively leveraging a marketing automation platform can improve efficiencies and save both time and money.

Maybe the most important component of a marketing automation software is the ability to effectively report on your marketing campaigns to measure the impact of an entire campaign across segments and channels against KPIs and campaign ROI, as well as the impact of campaigns on company revenue.

Two of the leaders that we see continuing to set the bar when it comes to Marketing Automation are HubSpot & Pardot. Check out more of the leaders in this space.

Another point to note about successful marketing campaigns is that consistent and compelling messaging are key to your buyers’ journey.  You can have all the right automation in place but not get any conversions if the messaging is weak or lacking.

3. Sales Engagement Technology

Sales engagement technology software streamlines the sales process through integrations with sales communication channels and tools, management of sales messaging and materials, and automation of tasks, messages and workflows.

An effective sales engagement tool is a sales development rep’s best friend. It helps ensure consistent messaging and outreach, as well as, increases efficiency and output through ease of navigating and prospecting large data sets.

By standardizing both messaging and the overall sales experience, teams can report on the effectiveness of specific messaging and tactics while also reducing administrative tasks for sales representatives. Sales engagement software will integrate with existing sales solutions, such as a team’s CRM software, email software, email tracking software, outbound call tracking software, sales intelligence software or lead intelligence providers, among others.

Two of the leaders that we see continuing to set the bar when it comes to sales engagement software are SalesLoft & Outreach. However, for those leveraging HubSpot, this can also be built out using their sequencing tool. Check out more of the leaders in sales engagement technology.

4. Research Tools & Sales Intelligence Software

You may have heard an adage of “garbage in, garbage out” which often refers to the state of the data in a database. As a sales development representative, having effective tools to research data to identify key account and contact data is essential - not just for data quality, but also for data efficiency and speed of prospecting.

Sales intelligence software helps companies bring in new data from external sources, but it can also allow users to merge, append, and cleanse existing data to improve their sales and marketing efforts to build lists of leads, prospects, and accounts. Many of these tools are able to directly integrate into CRMs allowing for the research process to be a seamless part of the sales development representative’s prospecting process.

The leaders that we often see in this space when it comes to B2B include LinkedIn’s Sales Navigator and ZoomInfo.

5. Be Available when Users are on Your Website with Chat Services

With marketing efforts continuously evolving, many organizations are driving website traffic from a variety of different sources including organic search, paid search, and social media. Many of these sources are geared towards driving anonymous visitors to your website. While form fills will continue to be a relevant stream of leads, website chat is becoming increasingly more utilized by B2B prospects as their first engagement point with a company.

Incorporating chat management as a lead channel to your Sales Development activities in a trend that continues to increase across organizations. Not only does having chat on your website provide another means of capturing leads and engagement, but also allows for more real-time conversation outside of phone and email with prospects.

Organizations are developing sophisticated chat-bot processes to help funnel prospects to the appropriate rep and then transitioning from a bot over to a live-person for real-time conversation. In many cases, marketing automation and/or CRM platforms such as HubSpot and Salesforce are incorporating chat technology into their software to allow for seamless integration and tracking of these interactions with prospects.

6. Dedicated Sales Development Focus

When Concept started back in 2002, the thought of separating sales development activities from that of traditional sales and account management was a new concept, hence how Concept was born. Throughout the years, this separation and dedicated focus has resulted in increased results and continues to become more of a recognized model among B2B organizations.

According to TOPO’s 2019 Sales Development Benchmark Report, sales development representatives (SDRs) are the most significant pipeline drivers in world-class companies and are the most important channel for successful account based programs.

7. Focus on Attribution

As the landscape of B2B marketing and Sales Development continues to evolve and become more complex. Organizations are looking for ways to quantify and associate revenue dollars to all aspects of their Marketing & Sales funnels.

Marketing attribution is a reporting strategy that provides visibility on the impact of Marketing and Sales Development strategies on a deal/sale.

Historically, organizations spent the majority of their time trying to associate revenue to Lead Source. However, in today's landscape, the steps necessary to progress a lead from it's Source to a closed deal are becoming increasingly complex. As a result, Marketing and Sales Development teams are seeing an increased need to be able to associate attribution towards each step, campaign, and touch along the funnel to be able to accurately report and tie revenue to each step of the funnel.

If your organization is unable to show and/or report on attribution, this needs to be a focus.

What’s In It for Me?
As the B2B sales development landscape continues to change and advance, sales and marketing leaders need to continue to evolve with it. Ensuring that your team stays focused on the areas listed above can help best position your team for sales development success.

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*Updated June 2, 2020