The Battle for BDRs: Should they report to Sales or Marketing?

Learn how UserGems and Qualified organize their BDR reporting structures and ensure cross-functional alignment no matter which side of the org they sit on.

The Battle for BDRs: Should they report to Sales or Marketing?
Shelly Weaver
Shelly Weaver
May 23, 2024
min read
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In the Demand Gen Roundtable at our Spring' 24 Pipeline Summit, we had the privilege to hear from two leaders in marketing and demand generation: Sarah McConnell, VP of Demand Gen at Qualified, and Trinity Nguyen, VP of Marketing at UserGems.

The session, moderated by Matt Heinz, Founder & President at Heinz Marketing, shed light on the strategic importance of Business Development Representatives (BDRs) in marketing and sales alignment, as well as the potential of AI in augmenting their effectiveness.

1. Management and role of BDRs

Sarah and Trinity shared insights into the organization of GTM teams at their companies––Qualified and UserGems. The dynamics and challenges depend significantly on whether BDRs sit within the sales or marketing function.

At Qualified, Sarah revealed that BDRs roll beneath sales, promoting solid alignment with sales reps. This arrangement, however, has its challenges, namely keeping pace with enabling sales reps on marketing material.

Conversely, UserGems’ BDRs report to Trinity's marketing team, which benefits the alignment and orchestration of account-based marketing strategies. Trinity highlighted the dilemma of balancing such integrations with providing a clear career pathway for BDRs.

2. The importance of KPIs

Both marketers agreed on the significance of key metrics in gauging the effectiveness of their teams and making sure that both sides of the house are aligned on these goals.

Revenue is, unsurprisingly, a critical metric.

Other KPIs of interest include Stage 1 and Stage 2 pipeline—meetings booked and sales accepted—and tracking these by marketing source.

Curious how Qualified handles maintaining alignment on these KPIs when BDRs are reporting into sales and not marketing? Download the Pipeline Council template we use for a weekly cross-functional alignment meeting to keep track of our pipeline goals.

3. Managing the "Messy Middle"

A major part of the discussion was dedicated to understanding and handling the "Messy Middle", the process of lead handoff and interaction between marketing and sales.

For UserGems, this "Messy Middle" falls between Stage 1 and Stage 2, since they center their efforts not on MQLs but on demo requests.

They have structures in place to ensure that the right personas and accounts are engaged during this phase.

Similarly, Qualified actively manages the "Messy Middle" by working collaboratively with the SDRs, focusing on the alignment between marketing and sales.

4. BDR enablement

Sarah underscored the importance of equipping BDRs with good dashboards in Salesforce to identify target accounts and access relevant data. She also sees value in persona-based training, which she believes leads to better engagement outcomes with personalized emails.

5. Integrating BDRs with marketing

Sarah also stressed the importance of coordinating BDRs within their Account-Based Marketing (ABM) movement, advocating for integrated plays from advertising to outbound messaging.

Trinity’s views reflect a similar perspective––highlighting the value in allowing BDRs to have insight into marketing processes.

6. AI: The future of BDR effectiveness

With AI tools becoming such a major part of sales and marketing toolkits, Trinity and Sarah identified ways in which it can augment the effectiveness of BDRs.

Trinity pointed out how AI speeds the generation of personalized prompts, supporting BDRs in their role. Sarah endorsed this, noting how AI can equip SDRs with quicker and better responses, freeing them to concentrate on outbound efforts.

Overall, the discussion emphasized the importance of coordination, efficiency, and the leveraging of AI. Sarah and Trinity provided valuable insights on managing BDRs, maintaining alignment with sales and marketing teams, and methods to improve the effectiveness of outbound activities.

If we learned one thing from this event, it's this: To stay ahead, organizations must be flexible in their approach to managing BDR functions, adapt to technological trends like AI, and foster a seamless connection between their sales and marketing teams.

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