A CMO of a B2B company once told me that sales development must report into marketing. The power of brand identity cannot be understated, as every call and email are a representation of your brand and the value proposition of your business.
Your sales development team is on the front lines of your company. The BDRs, SDRs, or whatever you call them have the tough job of reaching out to potential new customers to try and generate demand.
And as the days of smiling and dialing drift away and email becomes an increasingly difficult way to connect with net-new prospects, your SDRs have to get even more creative with their outreach activities. This is why marketing has to be in sync and aligned with sales development every step of the way, if not having the SDRs report directly to the marketing team.
Conversely, I have heard sales leaders say SDRs must report into sales since that's where they get the love, attention, and measurement. For career development, most SDRs have plans for the future to become an account executive (AE).
This makes sense because an experienced sales leader is better equipped to train an SDR. However, a marketing leader who has spent years in the industry also knows the type of messaging, activities, and tactics that work to help drive demand.
If you've worked in the B2B industry, you may have seen the BDRs/SDRs report to a variety of different functional departments. In a recent conversation, my colleague Trish Bertuzzi said that SDRs should...
"Report to the person/group that has the bandwidth, passion and expertise to build something outstanding. That is all that matters!"
Throughout my career serving in roles at B2B technology companies as Director of Demand Generation, Head of Marketing, and now as a CMO & Co-Founder of Terminus, I have seen it work both ways (good and bad). Most commonly, I've seen sales development report to a VP of Sales or Chief Revenue Officer as the role of sales development is to put new business into the pipeline to help drive revenue.
Contrary to all, I have heard CEOs say that they don't really care. What really matters is proper hand-off for qualified prospects and results from opportunities so we know what's working to generate new sales.
More than ever before, there's a huge emphasis being placed on marketing and sales alignment, given the rise of account-based marketing (ABM).
Taking an account-based approach, your sales development team is focused on generating demand within best-fit accounts that align with your ideal customer profile (ICP) or the "dream companies" you want as customers for your business.
Regardless if an SDR reports to the VP of Sales or the CMO, the sales team has to be aligned with marketing! It's the marketing team's responsibility to define their "dream accounts" and help the SDRs determine which accounts to go after. There are a number of software tools to help support these efforts, but we all know that technology is nothing without a strategy.
Getting the right team and process in place for sales development is essential for a successful organization. Whether you're a startup or a billion-dollar business, having alignment between sales and marketing on go-to-market strategy is critical.
Your company's mission, vision, and product value statement are all messages that need to be locked down. This same messaging should echo in every conversation your sales teams have with their prospects and opportunities.
For example, at Terminus, our mission is to make every B2B marketer a hero in their organization through account-based marketing. While our software is what we sell, what our SDRs communicate from the start in their outreach is how ABM is a larger programmatic effort across the organization.
We try to do a good job of "eating our own dog food" or "drinking our own champagne" by recognizing that marketing and sales alignment takes effort every single day. Our marketing team supports sales by:
- Determining target accounts
- Launching advertising campaigns
- Providing new content
- Inviting qualified prospects to events
These activities support SDRs and provide "air cover" while they are also calling and emailing contacts in those best-fit companies.
At the end of the day, it's not about if sales development reports to sales, marketing, or the CEO, it's about what's working to communicate your brand's value and how your company provides a solution to a problem that your customers are facing.
If the sales development team is aligned with marketing are aligned on these items, then the results will speak for themselves.