August 1st, 2019 | by

We spend an enormous amount of time trying to hire sales professionals that we think are “A” players.  

We then (hopefully) invest time training those reps before turning them loose on the phones … only to ask them to do several different roles.  

We’ve essentially taken our A players and forced them to do 2-3 different roles, making them B or C players at both.  I hear this time and time again, and it’s a mistake we made personally too.

Does this problem sound familiar?

Watch the video:

How to avoid an unfocused, inefficient sales team

Specialize sales roles

Specializing roles in the sales department helps build specific skills. On our sales team, our Account Executives (AEs) focus on strictly net new, while Customer Success Managers (CSMs) focus on the customer and upsell and renewal opportunities

1. Separate prospecting and closing roles

First, eliminate the Account Executive role where reps self-source their own leads and close them. Sales prospecting and closing are two very different skills: Reps who are born closers aren’t usually great prospectors as well (and vise versa)!

2. Separate Inbound and Outbound sales development roles

Splitting outbound inbound sales Anthony Johnson

Just like step one: Inbound and outbound are two very different sales skillsets as well! Forcing SDRs to do both roles compromises their ability to do a great job at either one.

Create inbound-only and outbound-only sales development roles.

Read it: AJ’s Story: Specializing Inbound and Outbound Sales Teams

3. Specialize account executive roles

Next, segment your AE roles even more: Establish roles based on your lines of business, or however you classify accounts. At DiscoverOrg + ZoomInfo, we break it down by size of company:

      • Ramp team specializes in small business accounts
      • Mid-market team
      • Major enterprise accounts team

4. Create a sales team mentality

customer retention and successPair each Account Executive with a dedicated outbound SDR.

This alignment provides for far better account penetration, because they each understand the other’s priorities, tendencies, and approach.

Read it: Matt, Kyle, and the Less-Traveled Road to Customer Retention

5. Let inbound SDRs pivot and respond quickly

Inbound SDRs should round-robin leads across all teams, as needed. This lets the inbound team focus quickly wherever they’re needed – such as leads from an event, inbound leads from a webinar, etc.

Speed to lead is critical for converting those leads to demos (at DiscoverOrg + ZoomInfo, we aim for 90-second “speed to lead” response time!) has found that if you reach out within the first 5 minutes of someone filling out a form on your site, your chances of connecting with the sales lead increase by 900%.


6. Don’t overlook sales knowledge transfer

  • Knowledge transfer: Everyone needs to speak the same language, from your inbound and outbound SDRs, all the way to the Customer Success Manager.
  • Automate data-sharing wherever possible: The easiest way to ensure that institutional knowledge stays with the company when salespeople leave is to make some fields required in your CRM. For example:
    • When prospecting to a new company, require certain elements of their tech stack.
    • Or when a sales rep loses a deal to a competitor, require a reason.
    • When Customer Success Managers interact with user at an account, require a note about the interaction. 

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About the author

Steven Bryerton

Steven is responsible for Enterprise Sales at DiscoverOrg. Steve has grown with DiscoverOrg with positions in Research, Lead Generation, Marketing, and is now as the VP of Sales for the Company. Before joining the team at DiscoverOrg, he worked in sales and marketing at IT firms including Cxtec and Orion Systems Integrators. Steven graduated with a degree in computer engineering from the University of Miami, where he played for the club soccer team.