Sales Development Representatives create the pipeline, account executives close the deals…
The line is self-explanatory, isn’t it? To start with, account executives are the driving force behind B2B sales, serving as the primary point of contact for clients. Sales Development Representatives (SDRs) are the front-line soldiers, responsible for identifying potential customers and nurturing them into sales-ready leads. Together, these roles form a powerful team that drives revenue growth and customer acquisition for B2B organizations.
There are many roles in a modern sales organization – business development representatives, sales development representatives, sales executives, and account managers. Here, we will discuss AEs (account executives) and SDRs (sales development representatives).
Let’s learn more about each of them individually before we discuss their differences.
Who is a Sales Development Representative?
At the start of each financial year, B2B companies set revenue targets. For example, to hit $X in revenue, they must retain Y% of their current client base and close Z new deals per month.
These targets hit the SDRs, as it becomes part of their responsibility for outbound prospecting. It is up to the SDRs to generate enough leads to land those X sales deals in a month. This is taken into account by the company’s average conversion rate of leads to sales.
As the targets are identified and broken into smaller, team-level goals, sales development representatives begin cold prospecting via email and phone. They reach out to prospects, strike conversations, and move prospects down the sales funnel.
Who is an Account Executive?
Account executives support clients’ accounts for an organization. Once the front-line sales rep has brought the client in, an account executive nurtures it further.
AEs are responsible for closing the deals as the qualified lead has been nurtured by the lower-level salesperson. The AE is responsible for:
- Building the relationship further.
- Identifying up-sell and cross-sell opportunities.
- Handling contract renewals.
Responsibilities of AE’s and SDR’s in a B2B organization
The Role of a Sales Development Representative
When defining the role of a sales development representative, sales volume is everything. In general, the more calls and emails one sends, the greater the chance of converting prospects into leads.
With that in mind, many sales development representatives have immense workloads and a regimented life. Observing a typical day in the life of an SDR will look like this:
- Check the calendar for day appointments
- Checking emails to see if prospects respond.
- Going to the voicemail and checking everything.
- Attending the daily standups.
- Checking social media for direct messages and engagement.
- Cold prospect to convert more prospects.
- Sales meetings, follow-ups, and requests via social media.
- Having one-to-one reviews with the social manager.
The Role of an Account Executive
AEs have different roles. He or she might not have a large team to report to, but the role they play is vital to building a long-lasting relationship with clients. Here are some roles an AE plays in any organization:
- In some organizations, AEs are responsible for closing a final sale with the prospect.
- Some organizations hold AEs responsible for identifying new prospects and guiding those prospects through the entire sales process.
- They may also get involved with the prospect once the deal is closed.
Account executives mostly deal with clients directly but they may also communicate with account managers, sharing relevant information that will help account managers take control of the account.
Differences between AE’s and SDRs
Let us now distinguish between an AE and SDR based on their roles in an organization:
1. Prospecting and Lead Generation:
Sales Development Representatives (SDRs) play a pivotal role in the early stages of the sales cycle by prospecting and generating leads. The primary objective is to identify potential customers and qualify them before passing them on to Account Executives (AEs). SDRs employ a multi-channel approach, use various strategies and tools to connect with potential customers and nurture them through the early stages of the sales funnel.
Account Executives (AEs), on the other hand, focus on nurturing and closing deals. They leverage the qualified leads provided by SDRs, engage in consultative selling, and build relationships with key decision-makers.
2. Relationship Building and Consultative Selling:
As deals progress through the sales pipeline, AEs step in to establish deeper relationships with potential customers. They invest time in understanding client pain points, aligning solutions to specific needs, and presenting compelling value propositions.
On the other hand, SDRs, while still focused on building rapport, operate at an earlier stage of the relationship. The primary goal is to establish initial interest and qualify leads based on predetermined criteria.
3. Sales Cycle Length and Deal Closure:
The sales cycle length and deal closure rates differ significantly between AEs and SDRs. InsideSales.com research shows the average sales cycle length for AEs is 3 to 6 months. This depends on the complexity of the solution and the industry. Their focus is on navigating complex buying processes, addressing objections, and negotiating contracts to secure deals.
Alternatively, SDRs operate in a shorter sales cycle, typically focused on generating initial interest and qualifying leads. Success is measured by the number of qualified opportunities they generate and hand off to AEs.
To optimize your sales process and drive revenue growth, it is necessary to define the roles of an AE and SDR in your B2B organization. When we recognize the unique contributions of each role and foster collaboration and communication between them, organizations can harness the full potential of their sales teams. It will enable them to achieve exceptional results.