March 21, 2017 // 11:00 am

What is Sales Development? (And Why You Need It)

By Chris Muldoon

Account Development. Inside Sales. Demand Generation. Hybrid Sales. Account-Based Marketing.  Confused? We don’t blame you.

Often the myriad of terms to describe the different bits of the sales process can stump even those of us who work in sales and marketing, let alone our prospects. But there’s one term we thought it was important to clear up any confusion over – sales development.

It’s a vital part of the sales cycle and it’s what we’re passionate about, but what is sales development and why is so important that your business has a sales development strategy?

What is Sales Development

So What is Sales Development?

Put simply, sales development is the process of filling the top of the sales funnel with leads through outbound prospecting. Trish Bertuzzi, author of the Sales Development Playbook, suggests that whilst inside sales has become a bit of an umbrella term for anyone working client-side trying to generate sales leads and revenue, sales development is a particular function that falls under that umbrella.

The focus of sales development is getting the pipeline filled with opportunities and creating either introductory meetings or qualified opportunities for account executives/sales closers, sales people whose specific job it is to close deals and pull those opportunities over the line. This is done by using a combination of the phone, email, voicemail and social media to connect with prospects and develop a potential relationship that could lead to a sale further down the line.

It differs from the old unsolicited cold calling approach in that it uses data-driven insights to offer greater value to prospects. These could be research into the goals and challenges faced by your typical buyers, or leveraging relevant news about the contact, company or marketplace. Using this kind of information to build relationships with prospects is a key part of sales development.

The sales development role has three important functions –

1. It Brings in A-List Targets

New customers and clients are the lifeblood of any business. In order to grow and develop, you not only need to delight your current clients but attract new ones. In particular, the kind of large clients that can take your businesses to the next level.

Whilst sales enquiries coming into your business are great, it’s a rare occasion that a big company that fits your ideal client profile will get in touch with you on their own steam. Most of these large organisations will never need to go out looking for suppliers, they have enough of a reputation that they will always have potential vendors knocking at their door.

That’s why you need a proactive strategy to go after those big targets, with a message that’s relevant to them.

2. It Helps Assess Inbound Leads

As our friends over at HubSpot know very well, inbound leads often aren’t ready to buy. By using a sales development strategy to segment and qualify your inbound leads, you can manage those leads much more effectively.

Prospects who are ready to buy can be handed off to the team responsible for closing new business, and prospects who may need more nurturing can be given the more focused and personalised attention that the sales development process entails, to develop that relationship of trust until the point when they are ready to become a customer or client.

3. It Puts a Human Face to Your Company

Many experts predicted that the rise of digital technology and online marketing would bring about the end of the traditional interaction between a salesperson and a prospective customer.

But ultimately, even with all the available technology and market intelligence at your fingertips, and even with an amazing product or service, the buying decision today often comes down to a simple question – “who do I trust to deliver what I need?”

Your sales development team are the people who can create that trust between you and your future buyers.

Still wondering “what is sales development?” In a nutshell, it’s using approaching prospects using the phone, email and social media, with information and a message relevant to them, and developing a relationship until the point that they’re ready to purchase.

Building Pipeline



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