Why chatbots are changing the SDR role for the better

How sales development is being transformed by automation

Main illustration: Judson Collier

Historically, the role of the sales development representative (SDR) has been to collect qualification criteria so they can determine if a prospect is promising enough to be introduced to an account executive.

However, SDRs today, especially at Intercom, are doing much more than that – they are accelerating the sale by providing prospects with value early on.

“Now sales teams can automate away so many of the tasks that used to be manual and repetitive”

Thanks to automation technology like chatbots, sales teams can automate away so many of the tasks that used to be manual and repetitive. Nowadays, SDRs can collect information from leads and answer basic product questions in the middle of the night while they are sleeping soundly in their beds. It frees up their time when they’re awake to focus on higher impact work further down the funnel.
Example of a qualification chatbot on a pricing pageRight now our SDRs spend most of their time keeping pre-qualified prospects’ interest in using our product high by identifying which problems Intercom will solve for them. That means providing prospects with educational content and jumping on discovery calls to make sure that initial intent is carried through.

Whereas before, our SDR team was incentivized to identify and pass along stage one opportunities, or leads who have met certain qualification criteria, now we’re incentivizing them to prioritize stage two opportunities by having conversations and confirming customers’ use cases.

Ultimately, we try to have our chatbot do the stuff that bots are good at – capturing a lead’s details, asking some simple qualifying questions – and leave the stuff humans are good at – understanding customer pain points, solving their problems and building relationships – to the humans.

“Chatbots will make sales reps even more important, not less”

The effect of this is that SDR teams are shifting from repetitively posing questions to being seen as increasingly strategic assets to the sales organization. In the years to come, we’re betting that chatbots will make sales reps even more important, not less.

Chatbots for sales – 2019 updated images