People.ai

In many organizations, sales development representatives (SDRs) work in close collaboration with marketing to nurture leads and move buyer’s through the funnel. When SDRs and their content marketing colleagues are in synch, there’s a seamless transition from marketing to sales, providing the right increased level of attention at the right time.

But when that relationship is broken, the handoff of leads from marketing to sales can derail a customer journey. That’s why some organizations have moved the SDR team under the marketing organization. Is this the trend of the future or a fad that will die out? The panelists at our recent San Francisco Sales and Marketing meetup were split in their opinions and current approaches.

SDRs + Marketing = Better Together

When an organization is in a high-growth phase, installing the SDRs under the marketing umbrella can drive quicker sales and marketing alignment. And in a company’s early growth stages, it helps sales focus on winning target accounts and not the transactional part of opening up accounts.

“One huge key to marketing and sales being aligned is having marketing be aligned with sales development,” said Kristin Alexander, VP Marketing, Certain. “Those teams have to get along and be working together on a daily basis. You’re executing campaigns on a regular cadence, and it’s important that those two things tie together. I’m a fan of sales development reporting to marketing, at least for some period of growth. And then if it hits a large scale where it makes sense to have a sales leader over that team, then it may be more logical to be in sales over the long-term.”

Sales is the Right Home for SDRs

Not all sales leaders think the marketing team will attract the right fit. If your SDR team is intended to be the farm team for uncovering future salespeople, having the team be part of the sales organization is critical.

“ I’m looking to farm those people into salespeople down the line, right?” said Susan Zuzic, SVP of Global Sales, Wayin. “In the past, I’ve seen SDRs hired who were really interested in working at the company, but weren’t necessarily the best fit to be salespeople. Today, I won’t hire anybody unless they want to be a salesperson in that role. So, I feel like having them reporting to marketing, it just sets a different tone. The aggressiveness isn’t there.”

The ‘Right’ Place in the Organization for SDRs? It Depends

Having marketing and sales report into the same company leader is integral to aligning the two functions. But where the SDR team fits best depends upon whether your sales team is focused on inbound or outbound sales.

“I hired the first SDR team here, so I’m definitely biased,” said Michael Raab, Head of SMB, Lyft. “But I think that there’s also a space for marketing response people as well, depending on how much inbound you have going on and how the structure is.”

Raab added that for heavily outbound organizations, he agrees with the need for aggressiveness and having an upwardly mobile career path to attract great candidates for the SDR roles. But for primarily inbound focused teams, it’s a different story. Raab noted Lyft has dabbled in marketing response associates that handle inbound leads, and focus on inbound marketing as an overall career path.

What’s your perspective? Where do SDRs fit in your organization? Let us know by giving us a shout-out on Twitter @ppl.

Transcript
Kristin Alexander, VP Marketing, Certain
Susan Zuzic, SVP of Global Sales, Wayin
Michael Raab, Head of SMB, Lyft

Kristen: I would answer that question with step one, which is, I think one huge key to marketing and sales being aligned is having marketing be aligned with sales development. Because the rhythm of … whether or not it reports to either organization, just those teams have to get along and be working together on a daily basis. Because the rhythm of marketing and the rhythm of sales development is very similar, in the sense that things are fast-paced. You’re executing campaigns on a regular cadence, and it’s important that those two things tie together.
I’m a fan of sales development reporting to marketing, at least for some period of growth. And then if it hits a large scale where it makes sense to have a sales leader over that team, then it maybe more logical to be in sales over the long-term. But in the early growth stages, it kind of helps so that sales can focus on sort of the target accounts and not the transactional part of opening up accounts.

Susan: So, I’m gonna disagree with you a bit here. I think I look at that function as … at least if you’re focused on the enterprise, like we are, we’re calling these people ADRs because they’re more account focused. And I’m also looking to farm those people into salespeople down the line, right? So, in the past, I’ve seen at my company, they’ve hired people who were really interested in working at the company, but maybe weren’t necessarily the best fit to be salespeople. So, today, I won’t hire anybody unless they want to be a salesperson in that role. And so, I feel like having them reporting to marketing, it just sets a different tone. The aggressiveness isn’t there.

And I want my people to be outbound, right? I think there’s a role to have inbound people that field leads, that then funnel the sales in under marketing, so I kind of agree with you. But from an account-based perspective, I feel that they should live under the sales org and be incredibly aligned, because then they can grow on their team, and then they also with the salespeople. But that would be my perspective.

Oleg:
Michael, which one to belong?

Michael: No, which camp do I go with? Can I pick the middle? So, I think if you’re in B2B sales, the most successful situation, I’d say, is taking a step back, is having those … we’ve gone towards it because we’ve gone towards it, but having at least the VP mark in your head of marketing and the head of sales, VP of sales, rolling up to a chief officer or CRO, having that at least top level alignment. Now, where I agree with you on the SDR components. I’m probably biased, so I’ll just put that out there. I hired the first SDR team here, so definitely biased. But I think that there’s also a space for marketing response people as well, especially depending on how much inbound you have going on and how the structure is.

So, are you really heavy outbound? I would say I agree with the aggressiveness and the sort of upward mobility to attract for the SDR roles. But as well, we’ve talked about hiring for inbound. We’ve dabbled in marketing response associates that would actually handle inbound, and that as an overall career path. And I think it could go either way, depending on your organization and your size. But I think even importantly for me is that top level marketing and sales alignment drives a lot of problems, or hopefully a lot of solutions.