Updated: Mar 6, 2020
You have likely seen or at least heard of both scenarios; the sales development reps (SDRs) or business development reps (BDRs) reporting into sales and marketing. But is one better than the other in terms of output and success? Let's look at each scenario as it relates to the focus on the SDR team which is to turn MQLs into meetings and deals.
Marketing Owning the SDR/BDR Function
Lead generation efforts provide fuel to the SDR teams. It is the primary responsibility for the reps to turn marketing's MQLs into meetings for the sales team. They are a critical piece that sits smack dab in the middle of your funnel and they will make or break it. All the awesome MQLs in the world won't matter if your SDR team stinks at turning those leads into meetings.
Considering this relationship between the SDR function and MQLs, it makes sense that this position would fall under marketing. Marketing is 100% reliant on the SDR team to turn their leads into meetings that get handed to sales and eventually converted to customers.
Sales Owning the SDR/BDR Function
Now let's look at it from the other end of the funnel. Sales is 100% reliant on the SDR team to book them meetings that will lead to closed won deals and customers.
And, the SDR is a sales person and sales knows sales. Does this put sales leadership in a position to train them differently and understand what to do with the leads and how to work them?
Does It Even Matter?
I've seen fights for ownership of the SDR team and it's not pretty. In fact, it wastes time putting energy where it's not needed. If fingers are pointing and frustrations are escalating, it's likely a problem bigger than the SDR team and their performance (perhaps not though).
Marketing and sales MUST work together. The SDR team does sit between the two groups but divider they are not. Looking at it from each side, there is logic in each scenario but the value is different for the SDR team itself which is why we need to consider what is best to make that function work really really really good.
Marketing needs to be able to influence the SDR function and understand how they are treating the leads being delivered to them and identify areas to improve conversions based on the quality of the leads.
Sales needs to be able to train the SDR function and understand the interactions they are having with the leads and identify areas to improve conversions based on sales skills and their ability to turn leads into meetings.
TIP: Regardless of who the SDRs officially report to, have weekly meetings with the SDR team, sales leadership and marketing leadership. This will allow everyone to look at SDR activity, share information about lead programs, get feedback on quality of leads and have open discussion about what is happening on the sales calls.