For account-based organizations, there’s no doubt that SDR activity is one of the most important tactics (if not the most important) for generating revenue. But as account-based marketing evolves, B2B leaders are asking, “Should SDRs report to marketing or sales?”
Sales reps function as a bridge between marketing and sales—typically, performing both inbound qualification and outbound prospecting. Ideally, they form a well-oiled machine that hands off the best quality leads to sales. Given that SDRs tend to occupy this in-between space, it makes sense that we’re debating where they should live.
Most teams still have their SDRs report to sales (roughly 65% according to The Bridge Group’s Sales Development Metrics and Compensation Report). But the thinking around this is shifting, and there are strong arguments both for and against moving (at least some) sales reps under marketing. Here are a few of the pros and cons to having SDRs report to marketing instead of sales.
Pro: Faster Response Times on Inbound
To have the best chance at booking a meeting, SDRs must respond quickly to inbound leads. But in reality, this doesn’t always happen. If dropping the ball on inbound leads is a problem for your org, you may want to have a contingent of SDRs report to marketing to handle inbound specifically. This way, you can ensure that your low hanging fruit isn’t plucked by a competitor.
Pro: Measure Outbound Campaigns Like Marketing Campaigns
SDR activity is now supported by a ton of automation on sales engagement platforms like Outreach. Often, this activity resembles marketing campaigns more than it does traditional sales. While sales engagement platforms are excellent at providing volume metrics, they aren’t as good at providing conversion metrics. Developing more meaningful, campaign-style metrics for outbound sales sequences may be a task better suited to marketing than to sales.
Pro: High-Value Account Prioritization
Companies are spending a lot on tools that help identify priority accounts, for example, intent tools. But if taking action on the insights provided by these tools is left up to sales, it can be easy to miss the signals and under-utilize this expensive tech. In order to make the most of these tools, SDR processes need to consider all aspects of account prioritization, including buying signals. This is another reason to have some SDRs report to marketing. A process-oriented marketing department may be the most effective choice for handling this.
Con: SDRs Should Be Managed Like Salespeople, Not Marketers
No matter how much outbound sales has come to resemble marketing, an SDR position is still, at its core, a sales position. Typically, an SDR works for commission, and there’s a strong emphasis placed on quantitative measures of performance. Marketing may not have the resources and knowledge to get the most from this high pressure, high turnover role.
Con: The Need to Cultivate a Pool of Sales Talent
The next step for many high-performing SDRs is a promotion to Account Executive. Companies should be looking to promote their best and brightest sales reps into open AE positions before looking outside of their organization. This process is more effective when sales is in charge of hiring, training, and managing SDRs.