SiriusDecisions: Predictive Intelligence for Sales Development


In the fourth and final installment of our Implementing Predictive Intelligence series, we look at SiriusDecision’s recommendations for rolling out predictive to tele-prospecting and qualification teams. In our previous posts, we’ve explored Cisco’s path to predictive intelligence, Where Predictive Fits In and 4 recommendations to ensure your predictive efforts stick.

This post will uncover the pitfalls you’ll need to avoid and the actions you’ll need to take when incorporating predictive intelligence into your sales development and qualification teams’ processes.

Understand Your Sales Development and Qualification Team

Few people in your organization are more process driven than your sales development reps (SDRs). Every part of their day is regulated and standardized, from who they’re allowed to follow up with, when, how and what they’re allowed to say when they do. I would challenge your legal counsel to come up with as many rules-of-engagement as your sales development team has.

Sales development reps are also remarkably metrics-driven. Their job depends on the activities and conversations they post daily and the number of qualified leads they are able to pass to sales. A bad week or a bad month affects their pay, their ability to get promoted and could even put their job in jeopardy.

5 Steps To Empowering Your Sales Development Reps with Predictive

The combination of these two realities creates an atmosphere, which makes the implementation of new processes as difficult as it is dangerous. There is no change too small, no process shift too insignificant to throw a sales development rep off and cause them to disengage.

The following are 5 points to keep in mind as you rollout predictive intelligence to your team.

1. Be ready: good predictive models produce surprises

Predictive intelligence data can often surface unexpected results. For example, it may uncover prospects who don’t look like your typical buyers but who are exhibiting strong buying signals for products and services that your company provides. These discoveries are what can help you expand your currently pipeline and expand your business to new industries and regions. Certain prospects uncovered by predictive models will be highly likely to buy in the near-term, but may not have previously engaged with your brand.

It’s essential that the emails and call scripts used by your qualification team are modified to account for these realities. Since many SDRs are trained to only follow up with inbound leads that have already expressed interest, you will need to provide the right guidance and materials to help your SDR team make the most of predictively scored leads.

2. Know what your SDRs consider a hot lead 

The metric-driven, month-to-month reality of the sales development function, drives a strong preference for prospects who exhibit a single characteristic: the openness to having a conversation. Most likely your SDR team is well versed in the signals of demographic fit and behavioral data captured through marketing automation. However, indicators such as a prospect’s research behaviors off your site might make less sense to an SDR than a prospect who has asked for a follow-up call or better yet a demo.

You’ll have to re-train your sales development team to value high-intent leads as much (or more) than a prospect that comes  through a contact-me form.

3. Explain why predictive signals matter

To help your SDR team internalize the value of intent data, you’ll need to explain how time-sensitive buying signals correlate with where a prospect is in the buying process. Providing SDRs with case studies of internal or external results is a great way to win over more conservative reps.

4. Use a gradual rollout process for predictive intelligence

The best way to set yourself up for success with predictive intelligence is to roll it out gradually. This approach will allow you to create benchmarks and proofs of concept with small groups of SDRs. Working with smaller teams will also help you build relationships and develop champions in the lead recipient role who can help communicate the value and expedite the adoption of predictive intelligence across the organization.

5. Create a Service Level Agreements (SLAs) 

SLAs define best practices for follow up and help you establish a better working relationship your SDR team. The last thing you want at the end of a rigorous, data-driven campaign is an individual SDR calling the shots on which leads they’ll call and which they won’t.

6. Create enablement play books and training

Finally, to succeed with prospects uncovered by predictive intelligence, your sales development reps will have to shift their approach. To convert predictive prospects, SDRs will have to be comfortable with initiating open-ended conversations focused on customer challenges and value.

Culture is more important than technology

Years of implementing tele-prospecting and qualification team frameworks have taught Kerry Cunningham of SiriusDecisions that culture and process is more important than any technology could hope to be. Focusing on how your SDR teams operate and how predictive can help add value to their day-to-day lives will ensure that you not only gain adoption, but that your approach delivers positive results.

If you want to learn more about how Cisco and Xactly use predictive intelligence check out our webinars on Rolling out Predictive Intelligence and Finding In-Market Buyers.

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