Episode OneHundredThirtySix

Business Development Is Neither Sales Nor Marketing

Guest: Joe Venuti, Senior Director of Inside Sales at Sendoso

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About This Episode

If you asked 10 people, you’d get a 50-50 split.

Sales development reps should be sales. No, they should be marketing.

Or — and here’s a crazy thought — they could be their own department.

I got to sit down with Joe Venuti, Senior Director of Inside Sales at Sendoso, to talk about positioning SDRs inside the company. His take is that it all depends on the company.

“The more that you try to segment all of the different areas of business development, the more need for a true leader in that org,” Joe said. 

But let’s back up to what business development is actually for.

3 Primary functions of business development

Business development fills 3 main roles in an organization (which in turn influences where SDRs are positioned… but more on that later).

1.Pipeline generation

If you have invested a lot of time, energy, and trust into an outbound SDR, that is where a lot of your revenue is coming from.

2. Brand influence

It’s not talked about enough. Business development is often the first interaction that a customer or potential customer has with your organization.

In those interactions, they’re basically in charge of your brand.

3. Internal breeding ground

A lot of people come into work as sales staff reps and they want to move to account executives. What better place to hire from than internally, right?

Joe intentionally built his SDR comp plan around internal promotions. “There’s a lot less stress when you’re promoting solid people from within versus scouring all the job boards to fill these roles,” Joe said.

So… are SDRs sales or marketing, then?

“If you asked me this question a year ago, I immediately would have said sales 100%,” Joe said.

His new CFO helped modify that opinion somewhat. Joe’s official answer now is this: “Each organization has to answer that for themselves, because there is no perfect answer. There’s pros and cons no matter where you align sales development.”

More important than what place SDR falls is who leads it.

“The bottom line, you need to build a sales dev team leader who is able to partner with both sides,” he said.

The team leader is the middle person who communicates with both teams (regardless of which team they “officially” belong to.

So much friction between sales and marketing.

  • Marketing passes over leads
  • Sales says the leads aren’t good.
  • Marketing says nope, the reps aren’t closing enough.
  • Back and forth and back and forth…

“If you treat business development or sales development as its own individual department, let them be the source of truth,” Joe said. His point is that it’s the qualified opportunities, the good quality potential customers to sales, not where they land organizationally.

“There’s a middle ground, and where they actually report is not as important as whether they’re viewed as their own individual organization inside of the top of it,” Joe said.

Wait, could “VP of Business Development” be a solution?

“I don’t think that we’re too far away from potentially even seeing the C-level get some of the seats at the table strictly responsible for development,” Joe said.

2 tactical tips & 3 takeaways

Top tip for BDRs today? 

“At this split second, personalization rules. You cannot treat all prospects the same,” Joe said.

The emails he responds to stand out because of research and personalization. They answer the question, What’s in it for me?

Top tip for business development leaders?

“Take care of your people,” Joe said. “Don’t be a manager. Be a leader.”

Learn where your team members want to go so you can take them there.

Joe’s top 3 insights from this episode:

  1. Leadership is all about taking care of people.
  2. Personalization is key as you’re trying to break through.
  3. Start to view sales development or business development as its own entity.

“If you just lump it into sales or marketing, you’re probably missing out on a lot of different avenues that this team could generate for you,” he said.

This post is based on a Sales Engagement podcast with Joe Venuti. To hear this episode and many more like it, you can subscribe to The Sales Engagement Podcast.

If you don’t use iTunes, you can listen to every episode here.

About The Podcast

The Sales Engagement podcast is the #1 podcast focused on engaging your customers and prospects in the modern sales era. This show features real-life stories and best practices from revenue leaders doing the job day in and day out, in a casual, radio-like talk show.

Each episode features modern tactics, strategies, hacks, and tips to get the most out of your sales engagement strategy and help you navigate the next generation of sales. You’ll find energetic talks that will provide you with real actionable value around building meaningful connections and creating a better selling experience through authentic conversations that you can measure.

The Sales Engagement podcast is here to help B2B sales leaders, customer success leaders, and marketing leaders innovate and usher in the next era of modern sales by building pipeline, up-selling customers, and ultimately generating more revenue with more efficiency.

Hosted by Joe Vignolo, Senior Content Managing Editor at Outreach, and Mark Kosoglow, Vice President of Sales at Outreach.

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