Let us imagine for a while that your marketing team is rocking it with the kinds of measures they are undertaking. Concurrently, your sales team is not realizing the effects of their measures and is spending a lot of its time in prospecting instead of closing deals. What does it signify? There is discord between these two teams, and most probably, your organization won’t achieve the desired sales target. 

What’s the fix, then? You must consider incorporating sales development into your existing process to rectify marketing and sales alignment. 

A Sales Development Process

A sales development process is crucial in improving your marketing and sales alignment. It cheers up leads or prospects and prepares them for the subsequent buying decision. 

An entire sales process comprises of following steps: 

1. Prospecting 

2. Connecting & qualifying

3. Researching 

4. Proposing 

5. Handling disagreements

6. Closing

Why is the sales development process critical? 

The importance of sales development can be highlighted in inbound marketing. While your marketing team strive for generating leads, it is the sales team that pushes prospects for decision-making. Thus, closure of the deals becomes easier. 

The robust sales development process work through partners for selling to the end customer in a scalable way. It also ensures the closing of more deals and offers more time to work on selling activities.  

Stages of creating a sales development process

A sales development process primarily includes the following three stages: 

1. Acknowledging Marketing and Sales Qualified Leads (SQLs) 

2. Engaging leads 

3. Converting leads into real sales opportunities

It is important here to note that sales development can be realized successfully only when sales and marketing teams are aligned.

Following are some of the steps that help you get started with implementing your process: 

1. Assessing the qualities of each lifecycle stage

You cannot label a mere website visitor as your prospect. Thus, your sales team must acknowledge and categorize visitors who are close to a purchasing decision. 

There are two kinds of leads- A Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL) and a Sales Qualified Lead (SQL). 

A marketing team flag a lead as an MQL if he is ready for sales. On the other hand, a SQL is a lead who is being flagged as a qualified prospect by the sales team. It’s then their target to engage that SQL till they convert into a real sales opportunity. 

A sales team need to define what they are looking for to help the marketing team generate the right MQLs. Moreover, a sales team need to offer a rough framework to increase the number of MQLs that convert into SQLs and minimize the sales reps’ burden by removing bad fits.

2. Figure out gaps in the pipeline

Once you have categorized each lifecycle stage-MQL, SQL, and Opportunity, now is the time to identify gaps in the pipeline. You can consider asking few questions to identify the gaps like-

  • Who are the best-qualified leads? 
  • Where are you wasting your resources in the prospecting and engaging stages?
  • What measures should the marketing team undertake to nurture and convert leads who are not ready yet?

3. Set up a process to close those gaps 

Initiate marketing activities that help improve sales enablement. Also, consider defining collateral needs so that reps can begin to have more meaningful conversations. Besides that, incorporate technologies that support the alignment between sales and marketing.

Now, let’s understand the five building blocks that constitute every sales development process: 

1. A CRM platform 

A CRM (Customer Relationship Management) platform is necessary to support your workflow. It eliminates additional administrative requirements that usually consumes a lot of your time. 

Moreover, the right CRM helps sales development reps collect lead information and run prospecting activities adeptly.

2. A Lead Qualification System 

A sales development process acquires greater efficiency with more qualified leads. However, who is a qualified lead? At what point a lead becomes a prospect, or when does a prospect close the deal with the sales team? You must gain insights into the answers to these questions to save your valuable time. 

If you send non-qualified leads to sales development, then it would be a waste of your resources. Similarly, sending prospects to sales closers without educating them enough about your products or services can lead to mismanagement.Thus you need a lead qualification system in place.

3. A Central Content Management Portal 

Sales development reps need diverse collateral and content assets for educating prospects and qualifying leads. A central database comprising approved sales collateral that’s clearly tagged and categorized for various buyer personas can help the sales development team create an impact with buying decisions. 

4. Sales Analytics

Sales analytics tools support sales development teams by offering easy access to content assets, providing data on the most effective sales materials in accordance with buyer personas. 

If a sales team is equipped with the right tools, for the right prospects, just at the right time, then a lead qualification process becomes more efficient. Thereby, your sales team can save their time and focus on the core task, i.e. selling.

5. A channel for collaboration and feedback 

Sales development connects the gap between marketing and sales in a real sense. It provides ongoing input from both sides and thereby enable continuous improvement. 

The robust sales development process includes a built-in feedback mechanism. It facilitates marketing teams to notify sales developments representatives about the challenges related to sales leads while allowing the sales team to offer feedback on the preparedness of prospects.

Concluding Thoughts

Whether they define it or not, all sales organizations are likely to make use of the sales development process in some way or the other. However, suppose an organization construct these processes carefully and train it’s both marketing and sales teams in each aspect of the process thoroughly. In that case, it tends to generate more qualified leads, thereby closing more leads. Thus, you as a developing sales organization must build a strategic, data-driven sales development plan to boost the efficiency and gain magnified returns.