Mark my words: 2016 will be the year of the Demand Generation Consultant.
Spurred by the rise of account-based sales development, the role of the sales development representative (SDR) is rapidly evolving – shifting from the role of a mere meeting scheduling assistant into a new role: that of a trusted advisor and member of a joint account team.
Let me be clear – the notion of a new sales development paradigm and the evolving role of the SDR into the demand generation consultant is not a clever re-branding of the SDR title.
It’s important to juxtapose the difference between a demand generation consultant and a sales development representative. In dissecting the two paradigms, the difference – as well as the reason for the rise of this new paradigm – should be apparent.
My prediction is that you should expect to see the new demand generation consultant rising to eminence in forward-thinking sales development organizations.
Under the old sales development representative paradigm:
- There is a clear delineation of roles:
- SDRs have ownership of pipeline creation
- Account executives (AEs) have ownership of the closing process;
- AEs hand over to SDRs a list of named accounts, instructing the SDR to “go get me meetings in these accounts”
- In a strong SDR, the AE relationship is characterized by “getting along,” and “working well together.”
- Excellence is measured by the number of meetings set with contacts in target accounts.
Under the new demand generation consultant paradigm:
- SDRs and AEs work together as members of a joint account team;
- The account team, collectively, creates and drives a joint account penetration strategy for target accounts;
- SDRs serve as subject matter experts on-demand generation, consulting with the broader account team to both drive and enable pipeline generation for members of the account team;
- SDRs equip their AEs with a well-researched point of view, describing how their company is able to tangibly impact critical business outcomes within a target account;
- In conversations with prospects and customers, SDRs and AEs serve in a trusted advisor capacity, responsible for uncovering, and subsequently delivering on, the critical business outcomes companies are seeking to drive within their business;
- Success is a function of opportunity quality, sales velocity and, above all, ensuring that the account team exceeds prospect and customer expectations in every interaction.
Challenges to the new paradigm
For a company’s SDR team to succeed in adopting the new demand generation consultant paradigm, it is first necessary that a mind-shift take place – both among members of the SDR management team and members of the broader field team.
I predict that as SDRs step into a more involved role on the account team, there will be push back with echoes of:
“I don’t need my SDR to come equipped with a point of view on the account. I just need them to set me meetings, and give me the opportunity to sell!”
Indeed, many of those AEs grew up as SDRs themselves, products of a bygone era where reps were compensated for total dials, an age when entire sales development teams would turn over every six months.
But it’s not just AEs from a past era that will likely stand in the way of adopting the new paradigm. Indeed, the biggest hurdle in attempting to field a team of demand generation consultants is the caliber of talent that a company brings on board.
Adopting the new paradigm to drive success
At MuleSoft, where we’ve proudly championed the new demand generation consultant paradigm among our account development team, we bring aboard only the best and brightest.
Our Account Development role has an infinitesimal, three percent candidate throughput rate. By setting the hiring bar at reps who will raise the bar, MuleSoft has been able to build a team of not just winners – but also winners who actually inspire each other to win.
They credibly deliver a hyper-informed hypothesis on why prospects or customers within a target account should engage with us.
They connect the dots in their conversations, and shape a vision of how our platform, our IP, and our team are uniquely capable of delivering on the transformative initiatives that the modern enterprises must accomplish in order to remain competitive.
Success in the sales development consultant paradigm is contingent on the ability to create a vision, not just manage a prospecting process. Sales development consultants serve as the premier evangelists within their respective companies. They set the tone for the engagement in initial conversations, enable the team to drive high quality, high velocity opportunities, and most important, exceed prospect and customer expectations in every interaction.
As leading sales developments teams increasingly introduce account-based prospecting to keep up with the move towards increasingly complex, strategic engagements, expect the old sales development representative paradigm to fast move towards obsolescence, while the Demand Generation Consultant paradigm will rise to primacy.