You know what cracks me up? Memes. Especially those ones with the caption “you’re doing it wrong.” To the laymen, the “you’re doing it wrong” catchphrase is commonly associated with “fail” images or videos. The phrase suggests there is significant room for improvement…to say the least.

A picture of a hand mirror duct taped to a broken side view mirror of a car…”you’re doing it wrong.”

Cauliflower pizza crust?? “You’re doing it wrong.”

A tech company without an effective sales development process? “You’re doing it wrong.”

OK, so I made that last one up…but it’s true!

It still surprises me when I learn that some organizations DON’T have a firm process or function in place around sales development. You’re not just missing out on potential opportunities, but also valuable market intel that can be gained from those “boots on the ground” prospecting sales development reps.

As a Manager of Customer Success, my job typically revolves around not only being the day-to-day point of contact for our clients but also educating them on what components make up a successful sales development function. I’ve found that creating a successful sales development process comes down to a few key ingredients:

Ingredient #1: Clear and concise messaging.

I often hear about sales organizations who put their lead gen teams through weeks and weeks of training. Or sometimes no training. Do you know how long it takes us to get a rep up and running on an account? Five business days. In general, we have found that sales development reps are most successful when they are kept on a “need to know” basis in regard to product/service material. Instead of overloading SDRs with product knowledge, we focus more on tailored, specific probing questions designed to discover pains and needs and establish qualification criteria to determine if an organization would be a fit for a particular offering. Now, not only have you gathered market intel on an account, but you’ve also identified the pains within an organization that creates the need for the prospect to move forward to the next stage in the sales process.

Ingredient #2: A highly targeted database of prospects to call.

Ideally, 500 accounts that meet the criteria of an ideal customer and a total of 1,500 contacts is a good starting point for the size of an SDR’s database. Out of those 1,500 contacts there should be at least 3-5 contacts per company of varying job level and title. An SDR should be canvassing an organization and navigating to the right point of contact rather than calling down a list of CIO’s and saying “OK, get me leads!”

Ingredient #3: An action plan to get prospects on the phone.

Providing an SDR with a list and no subsequent attack plan is like giving a driver an unfamiliar destination with no map. Call plan is key. When we compare organizations who leave their reps to prospect on their own versus those who HAVE a call plan, the results are staggeringly in favor of a call plan. They have more quality conversations, speak to more people within each target organization, and pass over more qualified opportunities. Period. End of story. Fourteen years in this business has taught us that.

Whether you are a start-up just trying to figure out what you want the sales function of your organization to look like, or a company that’s been in the game for years, reexamine your current processes. Does it contain each of these ingredients?