Accelerate Your Growth Strategy

Best Practices Checklist to Help Impact Your 2017 Sales Development Strategy

Written by: Tricia Washington


There’s a lot of searching these days for the elusive magic bullet that creates leads to drive sales growth. We’re here to tell you there is no magic bullet. It takes consistent, ongoing, cyclical, targeted outreach to generate net-new leads and to keep those leads moving through the funnel. Add a dash of end stage leads converting back to middle stage leads. And then repeat. Over and over.

Generating sales development activity is laborious. It’s time intensive and requires lots of consistent, repetitive outreach via numerous channels, including the human touch. To help you be most effective, here’s a best practices checklist to help you develop your new business strategy for 2017:

1. Utilize a data-driven marketing approach: Before making decisions, look at your data from the year and conduct an analysis to see how your lead channels performed comparatively. Which segments of your market are gaining more traction and from which messages? What can you do more of (and less of) and where should dollars be invested?

2. Address keeping your CRM up to date and validated: Natural movement in the market results in an average 20-30% annual churn in your database contacts. To fuel your strategies and plans, you need to ensure you are reaching the right audience. Make sure before executing, you’ve got the right players identified.

3. Review your email automation end game: Email automation “is not the be all, end all.” Be sure to regularly review which inbound leads have gone through a full email cycle and haven’t moved forward in any meaningful way. Who is falling into a never ending black hole? Add new and different touch points and steps designed to move warm leads deeper into the sales funnel.

4. Identify those prospects that didn’t materialize into customers: Unfortunately, really good leads that are a perfect fit don’t all materialize into customers – right away. Fortunately, with planned strategies, those leads can be your best customers – someday. Be sure to develop a strategy for continuing to reach out and win-back old prospects you didn’t win the first time. Create a two-way street where marketing feeds qualified leads to sales and sales sends leads back to marketing. Those leads typically need more time, more information and more nurturing.

5. Find your fan base: That’s right. We all have fans out there. More and more, companies are buying from trusted advisors and lucky for you, you have an established fan base that you can continue to develop for future opportunities. In today’s market, people change jobs all the time. Every executive you worked with at Client Company A is now a “fan” at their new places of employment. Those fans represent new business opportunities at new potential companies. You just have to find them.

6. Account based marketing: This is a tried and true method that still applies. Take a look at specific companies you were hoping to break into throughout 2016. Refresh the list. Conduct research to drive thinking around how to target these entities. Plan your communications. Execute.

7. Brainstorm on strategies for driving net-new leads throughout the year: The top of the funnel needs to constantly be addressed. What strategies will continue to drive those early-stage leads into the top of your funnel? Without attention there, your pipeline will eventually run dry.

8. Maximize timing: This year, we worked with many of our clients to create “90 Day Sprint Campaigns” where we designed business development strategies aimed at specific market segments during critical points in the year. In some instances, we wanted to maximize a hot time of year. In others, we aimed to impact a stalled step in the sales process. And in yet another situation, we simply wanted to create momentum to impact year-end goals. As they say, timing is everything.

9. Avoid creating a black hole: This is where leads are passively nurtured through email only without timely calls to action and the human touch. Regardless of the trends that come and go, developing a lead requires a human touch. And in fact, a lot of it. Now more than ever, it takes a lot of time, effort and touch points to get your sales or business development professionals in front of the right decision makers at the right time.

What we find in working with our clients, the sales development funnel should be treated as a growing, living, breathing entity that is cyclical and always revolving. Those leads that come in at the right time move forward. However, those right time, right place scenarios typically represent the lowest percentage in your sales activity make-up. Therefore, when planning for 2017, you want to have strategies to keep filling the top of that funnel while also addressing moving the middle forward and keeping the late stage from ever truly going away.

Now that’s the art and science of it.

Until next time,


Posted in > The Art and Science   

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