Maximize the effectiveness of your pre-sales team through 6 steps. Aligning them to your sales teams with these techniques to increase conversion rates, shorten sales cycles and increase deal sizes.

I often meet with clients who tell me that the relationship between their Business Development Representatives and their quota-carrying sales reps (inside and out) is discouraging.  I recently sat in on a meeting where the mistrust, finger-pointing and lack of cooperation was alarming. The lead generation efforts were labeled “poor” on the one side and the effort made to convert leads (number of calls made to prospects in this case) was called into question on the other.  I would suspect that many of them are likely to be updating their LinkedIn profiles and calling recruiters sooner that they will be cashing any commission checks.


As I researched opinions on this topic, I came across a self-described “expert.” His advice was to promote more social interaction outside of work and between the teams.  That advice could not be any worse; consider geographic issues, generational preferences and the biggest issue of all: the opportunity for something to go horribly wrong at the event.  I thought of the words of an old mentor; “all the balloons in the world don’t cheer you up when you lose.”  Save the beer-bash-fund money and make them successful.


If your GTM model involves Business Development Reps or Lead Development Reps, then you have already done the math on having your selling teams burning through leads versus spending time with customers.  You are insourcing for efficiency and you are exhibiting a best practice.  Building a productive team requires additional alignment.


Defining an Ideal Customer Profile can be difficult if it is based on opinions alone. Download the ICP Evaluation Tool to use the included table at your next sales meeting to see if your team thinks the way you do about who you should be selling to and why.


Symptoms that your BDRs and Sales teams are misaligned:


  1. They debate what a “good” conversion rate is (MQL/SQL/Closed-Won)
  2. High turnover of BDRs/LDRs (<1 year)
  3. High no-show rates for first appointments
  4. Poor results including consistent missed targets


A misalignment issue is an indication they need leadership. Here is how you fix it:




    If your BDRs and Sales teams cannot clearly explain what a great customer looks like and why they are ideal, you have work to do.  ICP’s must be universally understood, documented and taught well before an email is sent or a phone is dialed.


    Start with why a customer is ideal.  Industry, likelihood to spend with you, product or service match, size, internal structure – there can be dozens of indicators but point your teams to the right buyers.


    The lack of clearly understood ICPs will result in poor conversion rates.  Here is a quick test – look at a list of MQLs and determine if titles, industries and potential deal sizes have consistency.  If they are all over the board, you may want to dig deeper.




    BDRs are often the entry level into a sales organization.  Typically, they are younger and have not even met someone like the person you are asking them to sell to. Not enough life experiences at this point.  They need to understand how that prospect thinks, acts and feels. Beyond that they need to know when the prospect buys, why they buy, what they buy and how they buy.  If your persona book is 80% pictures and graphics, you should question whether the profile is robust enough to be of valuable.


    Personification requires interviews that fall within (and outside of) your ICPs.  It requires win/loss interviews and a good deal of research including touchpoint analysis, c-sat surveys and spending time during real sales calls with an objective eye.




    The minimum expectation to pass an MQL to an SQL status in your CRM is the establishment of Budget, Authority, Need and Timing.  There is no grey area here – SOP.  A marketing qualified lead for best-in-class B2B companies, also require grading and scoring criteria, source information, and they enrich the lead with information about the viability of the prospect beyond these basics.


    Whatever your standard, there can be no such thing as “bad leads” only leads that do not conform to a stringent set of requirements before being moved forward.  Establishing these requirements and consistent enforcement is a management function.




    I have yet to meet a BDR that wants to make a career out of being a BDR.  They are as interested in advancement as they are in making commissions.  If there are no interactions. the morale and productivity will decline in downward spiral of dissatisfaction and discontent.  Beyond that, alignment can only happen with frequent interaction at an account and contact level.


    Knowing each other’s pipelines, opportunities, and issues is the only way to avoid misunderstandings, increase conversion rates and improve customer satisfaction.  Does your team have the permission and tools to interact beyond IM and email?




    Employers that make it a practice to pay BDR commissions by reducing the commissions of their sales reps create a zero-sum game.  Add a competitive aggressive selling team (that you should strive to have) and it becomes the perfect recipe for “Us-vs-Them.” If you must, reduce ALL commissions to pay for this new team but never on a deal-by-deal basis.


    Formal and informal peer-to-peer recognition is the least expensive and potentially the most powerful way to align BDRs. Many of our clients organize in their teams in Pods and some go so far as 1:1 relationship to improve teamwork.  When the great things that teammates do for one another are celebrated publicly it fuels the desire to do a good job.




    A BDR will learn from what happens as the lead moves through the sales process.  Having both the salesperson and the BDR on the first call to the customer is not only a chance to get better but this habit also avoids misunderstandings with the prospect.   The first few minutes of the call should be handled by the BDR reconfirming expectations and confirming the value of having this “expert” take over and answer the prospect’s questions.


Consider these six activities a start.  Consider them a minimum level of effort you owe to your own future.  There is always room to improve the effectiveness of your BDR team by aligning them to your selling teams (and to the broader organization).  This team could be your future. When managed correctly they will fill future openings faster, ramp faster to quota than outside hires, demonstrate greater loyalty and serve as roll models to their own replacements.


Defining an Ideal Customer Profile can be difficult if it is based on opinions alone. Download the ICP Evaluation Tool to use the included table at your next sales meeting to see if your team thinks the way you do about who you should be selling to and why.



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