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Enablement, Sales Development

3 Things Every Marketer Should Know About Supporting Sales Development

Jacco van der Kooij

Written by Jacco van der Kooij

Founder, Winning by Design


Over the past months, we have held public classes of our Customer Centric Sales Mastership program around the world. The last one was held at the historic Bently Reserve in San Francisco. Most of the participants were in sales development, but two marketers attended as well. In the beginning of the day, the marketers worried to be labeled as imposters, posing as sales people. In reality, nobody benefitted more from this class than the marketers. Marketers and sales development have much in common: they share a common goal to create pipeline for the sales team. For this reason, some companies have their SDR team successfully report to the CMO.

We have seen it time and again: when marketers learn about outbound prospecting and sales development, they find new ways to add value.

Here are some things your marketers will learn in sales training:

  1. The best top of funnel content is emotional content.
  2. Sales Development needs value to give prospects and stories to tell, not features and benefits.
  3. Sales Professionals needs persona specific questions to ask, not decks to pitch.


People Make Decisions Based on Emotions

I recently returned to the United States after traveling the world with my family for a year. I had pictured my return to the Golden State in a convertible car, enjoying the mild California weather with the top down. Never mind that neither my husband, nor I, had returned to the workforce yet. We still needed a car to get around. I felt I really had to have this convertible car. Then I reasoned with my husband that a used BMW 3-Series is the best selling convertible car and that it’s resale value is excellent. I bought this car with my emotions first, then rationalized the purchase with facts and figures.

People make decisions based on emotions first, which they then rationalize with fact and figures.

It is no different in business.

The Customer Centric Buying Experience Starts With O’Shit

The first thing we teach Sales Mastership Students is not the sales stages a client goes through along a dusty old funnel — but rather the experiences a Customer goes through to help them solve a problem they are experiencing. We call this Customer Centric Buying.

the customer centric buying experience starts with oshit

Picture me standing outside the Paddington Hilton hotel in London some years back. I am rushing for a cab to make it to Heathrow to fly back home on a Friday morning — on time for my daughter’s birthday. A stoic London cab driver refuses to take me. “There is too much traffic on the M4. If I take you now, you’ll just end up cursing me once you miss your flight,” he said. “O’Shit,” I think, “I have a problem!” [EMOTION]

“Can I help?” the distinguished concierge from the Hilton has stepped out on the pavement. I explain my predicament. His facial expression brightens. “But ma’m, do you realize that you are standing on top of Paddington Train Station? Downstairs is the Heathrow Express, which can take you to the airport in a mere twenty-three [check] minutes.” “A Ha,” it dawns on me, “this is the solution.” [EMOTION]

faster, but also cheaper than the cab. “Sure enough, downstairs I discover that the Heathrow Express is not only Wow! This is great!”. I even upgraded to first class. [RATIONAL; FACTS AND FIGURES]

My mood further brightens once I use the train. YeeHaw, I’m off and I am going make it on-time, as promised, and well within budget!

Awesome I arrive on-time and can buy a coffee at Costa and some gifts for the family. This is absolutely, positively so much better than I had expected.

As I take off in the airplane I think to myself OMG why did I not know about this. I should tell all my friends about it (which I am doing now).

Note that the critical stages in the buyer’s experience are highly emotional: O’Shit and Aha.

Emotional Content is Visual

To connect with a prospect in the top of the funnel, during their O’Shit and Aha experiences, you will need emotional content, not rational content.

I was one of those marketers who pushed customer studies onto the sales team that read something like this: “Company X achieved 80% improvement with our solution.” This is a rational statement, that will work well in the selection stage of the buying process, but will not work early in the sales cycle, when prospects might not even realize they have a problem yet.

Emotional content tends to be visual. Remember, I pictured myself in that convertible car. It is the same for prospects. Videos and infographics make for excellent top of the funnel content.

Here’s an example from one of our early customers, Totango, which sells Customer Success Management software. It’s a very simple graphic and it doesn’t talk about their solution, but if you are in the software-as-a-service business, you might look at this and think “O’Shit — what am I doing about protecting the bulk of my revenues?”.

emotional content is visual


A Framework For Flawless Emails

After the Customer Centric Buyer Experiences, students in our classes learn about a framework for writing flawless emails.

  • Perform research — Don’t write cold emails, but make every email relevant for prospects by first doing your research.
  • Relate to your customer — Connect to a prospect’s problem and establish yourself as an expert (who can help them solve that problem), by referring to another real person who ran into a similar problem.
  • Offer a reward — Offer something of value in every interaction with the prospect. It could be a factoid, a link, a piece of content, an invitation to an event, a free consultation.
  • State a request — End your email with the ask, which is rarely a request for a meeting. Prospects are too busy for “meetings”, but may be interested to “learn more from an expert”.

The two key elements in this email framework are:

  1. The “reward” — the piece of value that the SDR can “give” the prospect
  2. The “story”-about another real person who ran into a similar problem

Marketing can help by providing the sales development team with lists of rewards and customer stories organized by persona (and vertical) to be used in their emails.

Blueprint for Curiosity Inducing Customer Stories

The customer stories that are being used in the early stages of the sales process have a very different format that the traditional customer case study.

Here’s an example:

Joe, the Director of Security Operations at BigCo in Seattle, was unable to keep track of half a billion company, product, and employee mentions in the open, deep, and dark web and to pick out all threats.

One client I worked with called these “appeteasers” rather than customer stories. Here’s the Anatomy of the Flawless Customer Appeteaser:


Appeteasers should:

  1. Be short
  2. About a person with a real name (Joe)
  3. About a peer of to the prospect (person and company) you’re targeting
  4. Describe a problem, but NOT a solution
  5. Not identify Joe as your customer (that is implied)

Remember, the goal of this story to establish the SDR as an expert and to start a conversation. If nothing else, this story is curiosity-inducing and might give a first O’Shit experience. Prospects like talking to vendors because they can learn what their peers are doing. Use this to your advantage. Offer to schedule a call to tell the full story.


Questions To Ask On An Outbound Call

The last thing we teach students during our introductory, public classes is how to initiate an initial dialogue with a prospect by asking the right, relevant and researched, questions. What is the first thing the concierge did when he met me on the wet and chilly London streets that faithful morning? He asked me a question. For inbound prospects the question can be as simple as “How can I help?” as the act of requesting a demo already demonstrates that I (the prospect) know that I have a problem. However, for outbound prospects it’s not that simple.

The questions you can ask on your very first call to a prospect have the goal of initiating a dialogue for which you need to establish yourself as somebody they want to (continue to) talk to:

  1. A (prepared) professional by asking researched questions (Customer reaction: “This person has done their research. What do they want?”)
  2. A subject matter expert by asking informed pain questions (Customer reaction: “This person knows their stuff. What is in it for me?”)
  3. Who has solved their kind of problem before by sharing appeteasers (Customer reaction: “This is relevant to my business. I want to learn more.”<-BINGO).

Examples of research questions:

“The reason for my call is that I noticed on your website that you are several hiring security analysts. Is that correct?”

“So, if I understand it correctly, you are short-staffed and haven’t found a good way to measure miss rates. Did I get that right?”

“The reason for my call is that I noticed that you are using Magento. Is that correct?”

Examples of pain questions:

“Short-staffed security operations teams often struggle to measure miss rates. How do you know that you have not missed any security attacks?”

“Fast growing teams like yours often struggle to ensure reps can recite the most recent customer stories. How do you tackle this?”

“Some peers I talk to have problems with Magento’s native search. Are you satisfied with your browser to buyer conversion?”

As marketing, you can help your sales team by creating a cheat sheet with these type of questions, organized by persona. A blueprint for such cheat sheet could look something like this:

cheat sheet

A cheat sheet like this will have a much higher impact on SQL to Opportunity conversion than features and benefits lists every could.


When it comes to modern sales, a customer-centric marketer will focus on:

  1. Create emotional content that SDRs can use in during the early stages of the sales process
  2. Help SDRs write flawless emails and cadences
  3. Help collect, write, and get approved short customer stories (appeteasers), organized by vertical and by persona
  4. Organize value bits (your emotional content, events, etc.) by vertical and by persona, for SDRs to “give to get”
  5. Help put together persona specific questions, based on research and about customer pain points, to ask on the first call

You, too, should send your entire marketing team to sales training.

Include the marketing team in your upcoming sales kick off or send them to one of the Winning By Design public Open Courses.