If you’re just putting a sales development function in place for the first time, one of the primary questions you need to answer is when an SDR should turn an opportunity over to a sales executive and move on to the next opportunity. The short answer is — it totally depends. Below are some of the factors that influence the answer to this question:

  1. How complicated the company’s products and services are,
  2. How many different personas are involved in the sales process, and
  3. How complicated the sales process is.

Example A

Let’s look at a relatively simple example. Company A sells a piece of software to IT professionals in enterprise companies from a variety of industries. The software has a well-defined set of features and benefits. No one outside the IT function is involved in saying yes to the sale so the persona involved in the introductory meeting is fairly consistent. Because it’s a fairly straight-forward sale, it’s pretty easy to train sales development reps to drive the process nearly to the point the prospect is ready to sign on the dotted line.

Example B

Alternatively, consider a company whose software is a platform that can do many different things for many different people. It requires approval from several functional areas before the prospect can say yes to the sale. Its features are broader than the first example and consequently the benefits. There are more personas involved in the buying process. People from cross functional areas must be sold on it before anyone can sign on the dotted line. This makes the sale much more complicated than the first example. Because of the complexity, it takes much more training to keep this type of deal moving forward beyond the introductory meeting.

When to do the handoff

If your sales process is straight forward, and you have very clearly defined personas to target and clear prescriptions to overcoming objections, your SDRs can drive the process much further into the sales process. The more features and benefits the products and services have, the more personas being targeted and the more functional areas involved in saying yes to the sale, the more complicated the sale and the more likely the sales executive is best positioned to drive the process beyond the introduction.

One of the advantages of building an SDR team is that you can take relatively inexperienced and often lower paid people than your sales executives to do the company’s prospecting. If your sales process is by nature very complicated like that in example B, you are setting up your SDRs for failure if you expect them to drive the process much beyond the introductory meeting. It’s better to give them a well defined prescription for opening the door to new opportunities, letting them host the introductory meeting or call, and if a viable opportunity is identified, let the sales executive run with it. Then the SDR can go find the next deal.