2019 B2B buying trends – the demise of the SDR?

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I called up one of my SDRs a few weeks ago, a few days after a webinar we had that brought in close to 300 leads. We had about 110 join live, and the rest registered but didn’t show up. We split the list of actual attendees in half and assigned them out to our two SDRs for immediate phone follow up.

Marketing: “Hey Pete, how’s it going with the leads from Tuesday’s webinar?”

SDR: “I’ve called them all, multiple times, but no one’s picking up the phone. I’ve literally gotten through to like 2 people.”

Marketing: “2 people? What do you mean? Are you sure you tried them more than just once? Try calling back several times within a few minutes.”

SDR: “I have. I am not getting anyone.”

My first thought was that the SDR was an incompetent buffoon,” but I quickly corrected myself. It wasn’t fair to blame him – there had to be a better explanation. I mean, these were hot leads that had just participated in our webinar – some of them even asked really relevant questions during the Q&A. WTF?

And then I put myself in the shoes of one of our leads for a minute, and I realized that I almost never answer calls from numbers I don’t recognize either! If I’m interested in buying something – whether it’s for work or for myself – I like to do it on my own schedule, when it’s comfortable for me, and NOT when some sales rep gets around to calling me back (eye roll). Moreover, I don’t ever want to actually talk to anyone if I can avoid it.

While some data suggests that people are more likely to answer calls from numbers that are at least local, it’s time to face the cold, hard truth.

Our list of B2B buying trends for 2019:

Instant gratification is the name of the game

Let’s say your boss just asked you to look into a specific B2B software. You start Googling, and you get to a site that looks like it could be relevant, but you need to get a feel for the pricing and understand whether it can work with the systems your organization already has in place. Yada yada, you know the drill. But, you can’t seem to find what you’re looking for on the site, so you probably get a bit annoyed and submit a form via their site hoping for the best. When you don’t get an answer back within a few minutes you say screw it and move on to one of your other 800 tasks. Sound familiar?

Of course it does. This is how things work today. But many SaaS companies are realizing that this is ineffective, and are choosing to move to live chat and bots in order to provide a faster, more real-time experience for prospects.

It’s all about live chat

People today want answers to their questions right now. No one wants to wait around for an SDR to get back to them, waste time emailing back and forth, or even talk on the phone anymore.

If the site you were on had a live chat option and you could have just started chatting with someone to get answers to your questions in real time, the whole process would have been streamlined and a lot more pleasant for everyone involved.

The transforming role of the SDR

If people aren’t answering their phones anymore, then the SDR (whose sole purpose has traditionally been to pick up the phone and qualify leads) is stuck between a rock and hard place. Continued dialing is likely to bring minimal results, which won’t justify the SDR’s salary. So, unless we adapt the SDR’s job description, we’re looking at what is likely to quickly become an obsolete role.

As more and more companies are starting to add live chat and bots to their funnels, the SDR role can thankfully be salvaged – simply by taking lead qualification to live chat and ditching (though maybe not altogether) website forms and emails. With SDRs on live chat they can qualify leads much more quickly and efficiently – and hopefully overwhelm the sales team with promising opportunities.

So, no, B2B buying trends today haven’t killed off the SDR. Yet.

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