Do SDR roles still work in the modern sales structure?

I’m having a “debate” with our marketing team right now about building out our SDR function. Their view is that the SDR model is dead and that all their work can be automated.
I on the other hand disagree completely with their view. Our current SDR makes great appointments for the team and they converting to sales. You would think that evidence alone would be enough to convince them but sadly it hasn’t been.

I’m keen to get the sales worlds view on SDR teams and how best to utilise within a sales function.

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      Profile picture of AJ Alonzo
      ( 4.7k POINTS )
      1 month, 4 weeks ago

      Heavy (heavy) bias from me, but I think sales dev is alive and well.

      If you think you can automate the function, in my opinion, you don’t:

      A) Understand the full scope of what sales development is and isn’t. Sure, some of the function could be automated. But that’s only if you do the bare minimum and keep your reps on a short leash. The role is inherently human to human, not AI to human.

      B) Have a complicated product. Or you have a trial/freemium model that can have a large chunk of the pre-sales work automated. But even then, there needs to be a human to human conversation at some point (upselling, buying enterprise-level licenses, asking for help/use cases, etc.)

      C) Have too much faith in technology. Sure, there are a lot of tools out there that can automate some of the most basic of activities. But how are those tools going to personalize a message to your whale/target accounts without sounding robotic? Because let me tell you, I’ve received hundreds of “personalized” messages that read less exciting than a wet napkin.

      Bad, untargeted, “boiler from” SDR work can and should be replaced by AI. But if you really care about the function as a revenue-generating arm, you can’t replace it with technology. Supplement yes, but replace never.

      My 2 cents.

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        Profile picture of Stewcra
        ( 640 POINTS )
        1 month, 4 weeks ago

        Really appreciate the reply and you’re so right that sales is human to human. We can complement the SDR role with technology and automation but the lions share of the work has to be done by a human.
        Thanks again

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      Profile picture of Tess Brown
      ( 1.5k POINTS )
      1 month, 3 weeks ago

      Hey @stewcra – I’ve been thinking about this question a lot lately, and how it ladders into the current economic situation.

      Frankly, I am torn. As a recession looms above all of us, the need to do more with less (or the same) is integral to the survival of many organizations. That may mean slashing headcount or automating work to increase efficiency. That being said, I still believe the human touch cannot be replaced and gives folks a feeling of being heard, understood and connected. That cannot be replicated via a fully automated solution.

      I’m eager to hear thoughts from everyone else!

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      Profile picture of Pascal Ambauer
      ( 315 POINTS )
      1 week, 3 days ago

      This is difficult i think… my opinion is, that the world is going into in completely automation world, so in long term we might dont need the SDR role anymore. But otherwise a human always wants a human to talk to. It gives them safety. We, for example, dont work with the SDR role, because we want to stay in touch with the customer from the beginning to the end (as biz Dev).

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