How to Structure Your Sales Development Team


Aoife Daly

How to Structure Your Sales Development Team


Reading Time: 5 minutes

How to Structure Your Sales Development Team


Aoife Daly

Content Marketing Manager, Operatix

While purposeful, well-planned recruitment is seen as a vital part of creating a successful team, there is one element that is often overlooked – SDR team structure. Assigning your sales reps to the wrong department results in bad management and misalignment, particularly if the department doesn’t have the resources or expertise to nurture the sales development role. 

In this blog, you’ll get an insight into the differences between inbound and outbound sales and the benefits and drawbacks of reporting to either the sales or marketing team. Lastly, a conclusion will be drawn about outsourcing sales versus building an internal sales department.

This blog is part of our SDR Handbook, a complete guide to recruiting, building and maintaining a sales development team from scratch. Discover our expert tips by downloading this free comprehensive eBook here.

Inbound vs Outbound Sales

Both inbound and outbound sales have their benefits and complement each other, which is why a hybrid approach is key. Prioritizing one may yield some success, but you’ll be missing out on the opportunities the other approach tends to bring about. Below are some of the key differences between the two strategies that will affect their daily activities and goals.


In short, inbound sales are those in which the prospect initiates contact with the company first. This may be by interacting with a piece of content, contacting the sales team via the website, attending a tradeshow or webinar, submitting their information in exchange for content, and so forth. 

Inbound sales is a much more natural approach to sales, as the lead will have prior knowledge of the services you’re selling and likely expect you to reach out. They may already be interested in having a meeting and are open to being pitched to, leading to warmer conversations. 

However, it’s worth noting that marketing and branding are essential when it comes to inbound sales, both of which can take a while to take effect. This is why having an element of outbound sales rather than relying solely on inbound is fundamental, especially for less established companies.


Outbound sales, on the other hand, require the representative to reach out to the prospect first. They initiate the first point of contact, typically using cold calling, email or platforms such as LinkedIn. The representative must first qualify the prospect, ensuring they’re a good fit from an ICP perspective, as well as seniority level. 

Unlike inbound where it can take months for the marketing efforts to see results, outbound sales tend to yield quicker results. You can start selling from the get-go, allowing for more predictable revenue and target decision-makers in key-target accounts. Not only that, but parts of outbound sales such as email sequences and follow-ups can be automated, making it an efficient and reliable way of getting your company in front of prospects.

SDR Team Structure: Reporting to Sales or Marketing

While the SDR role traditionally aligns with the sales team, there has been an increasing debate regarding if they should instead be reporting to the marketing department. Given that an SDR uses both sales and marketing tactics in their approaches, it’s easy to see where the debate arises. After all, the role bridges the gap between sales and marketing. 

The recent Tenbound Sales Development Report 2022 revealed that 55% of business leaders have their SDR function fall under the sales department, while 35% report to marketing. However, it isn’t always right to follow along with the majority. If you decide to have a primary focus on inbound sales and account-based marketing, it may be best to have your SDRs report to the marketing department. 

On the other hand, those who want their representatives to utilise outbound sales could have them report to the sales team. Aligning your representatives with the primary part of the sales funnel and method is always going to yield better results.

You may want to answer questions regarding who will have time to manage the team, track KPIs, coach the reps and help nurture their growth. The best SDRs are the ones that are nurtured and coached throughout their career, not to mention the fact that their manager should have time to analyse results and ensure they’re living up to expectations. 

Likewise, if you decide to build an internal career path for SDRs, you should consider which remit they will be able to develop into. Larger organizations tend to have a separate Sales Development Department, often led by a Head of Sales Development/VP or Chief Sales Development Officer. 

The department will still work very much aligned with Sales & Marketing but will have its own infrastructure and leadership team.

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Outsourcing or Having an In-House Team 

Outsourcing your sales development team can often be seen as a costly option for businesses, but when you take a closer look at the investment that goes into building an internal SDR team, you may be surprised by the results. All things considered, outsourcing sales development can save you a significant amount of money, not to mention the time it takes to build a successful team.

A great way to start defining how big your SDR team should be is to identify how many inbound leads your marketing team is producing. As a guideline, we suggest that a single sales resource should be working through 300 marketing-qualified leads every month based on 20 working days at a disposition rate of 15 leads per day. Anything less than this and the resource will most likely be making up the rest of the available time doing hybrid activities, which can be difficult to manage. 

It’s also worth considering the territories that your inbound leads are coming from. If you have 150 coming from the US, 50 from the UK, 50 from Spain, and 50 from Germany, hiring a sales rep will only be worthwhile if you can pull off the minor miracle of finding a trilingual salesperson. 

You may also find that if you’ve hired a full-time resource that is dedicating a large amount of his or her time to proactive sales activity due to a lack of inbound activity in their native tongue, it can be very difficult to motivate and manage this element of their role. 

The bottom line is if inbound demand is very clearly demonstrable for your company and manageable in terms of language restrictions: go ahead and build your own sales team. If you are lacking inbound demand, then you’d better hope you have an extremely strong, disciplined, and consistent management system overlooking your sales team. Otherwise, outsourcing your sales development is likely a more beneficial and efficient choice.

The Cost of an Internal SDR team vs Outsourcing SDRs

Many people are under the impression that recruiting your own sales development team is more logical than outsourcing. This is mainly because they believe that outsourcing comes at a premium and that developing your own team is much more cost-effective. 

Businesses can easily overlook the true cost of hiring sales representatives, as there are a variety of factors to consider when comparing hiring an internal team with outsourcing. We’ve detailed the true cost of building an internal team vs outsourcing in this blog post, as well as in the SDR Handbook.

SDR Team Structure Summary points: 

  • There is a big difference between inbound and outbound sales, so differentiating the approach you want your SDRs to take is important 
  • SDRs bridge the gap between marketing and sales, which is why there is debate as to with department they report to
  • The majority of SDRs report to the sales department 
  • While building a sales team of your own may seem like the more cost-effective option, this is unlikely to be the case due to the amount of hidden costs 
  • There are a number of benefits of outsourcing sales, even if you do decide to build an internal team simultaneously


About Operatix

Operatix is a Sales Acceleration company specialized in supporting B2B Software vendors to identify new revenue streams, increase qualified sales pipeline, and accelerate channel development across Europe and North America. Operatix has a wealth of experience in working with the biggest tech players worldwide as well as a multitude of emerging software vendors.

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Channel Transformation

Digital transformation is changing how companies buy and use business solutions, making vendors re-assess the capabilities of their channel ecosystem. With channel dynamics in constant flux, vendors need to be ready to cut ties with partners that don’t share their vision or have connections with the right B2B buyers.


Operatix has supported numerous vendors in their path to Channel transformation by assessing current partners and recruiting new partners that are more aligned with their new channel strategy. Once the right partners have been identified, Operatix built scalable outbound sales development programs that accelerated their routes to market.

Inbound Response Management

In a competitive industry like technology every lead counts. Operatix can help you maximize conversion from MQL to SQL and from lead to pipeline, increasing both your revenue and ROI on marketing activities.

Account Identification

Identifying the accounts that are more likely to buy from you is part of our expertise. We will research the market, identify verticals and industries that can benefit from your solution and set up qualified sales engagements for your teams to kick-off the sales process. 

Cold Prospecting

Our team will identify new sales opportunities within the strategic accounts that you haven’t been successful in penetrating through your sales & marketing efforts. By applying the ‘Challenger Sale’ methodology we use a tailored, multitouch approach to connect with prospects, generating qualified sales engagements for your team and ultimately increasing your pipeline.

Outbound Sales Development

Using a proactive outbound sales approach has been proven to be one of the most effective methods to engage with prospective customers. By applying the ‘Challenger Sale’ methodology we use a tailored, human approach to getting in touch with prospects to increase your qualified sales engagements and ultimately generate more pipeline.

Outbound Sales Development

Using a proactive outbound sales approach has been proven to be one of the most effective methods to engage with prospective customers. By applying the ‘Challenger Sale’ methodology we use a tailored, human approach to getting in touch with prospects to increase your qualified sales engagements and ultimately generate more pipeline.

Partner Concierge Service

Our Partner Concierge Service helps vendors accelerate their channel programs, by engaging and nurturing channel partners and supporting them to get to revenue quicker.

Demand Generation

Whether you need to implement a demand generation strategy or get more results out of your existing demand gen engine, Operatix can work alongside your marketing team to yield better results out of your demand generation programs.

Account-based Marketing

An Account-based Marketing strategy is only as successful as the revenue it generates. At Operatix we will support your 1:1, 1:few or 1:many approach to get your team in front of decision makers in the accounts that matter the most to you. 

Lead Qualification

If your marketing leads aren’t converting, it might be a lead qualification issue. Operatix can help sieve through leads that need further qualification, so they are ready for an AE or sales team member to engage with.

Account-based Selling

At Operatix we will support your 1:1, 1:few or 1:many approach to get your team in front of decision makers in the accounts that matter the most to you. 

Pipeline Generation

Generating Pipeline for our clients is our key-objective. And we do that by using a multi-touch, multi-channel approach to generate qualified sales engagements for our customers’ sales teams.   

Account Intelligence / Deep Dive

Understanding buying centres, hierarchies and relevant personas in strategic accounts is a fundamental step to increase conversion rates. By leveraging account intelligence in a sales conversation your team can tailor their message and provide value to their prospective customer. But sales & marketing teams often struggle to dedicate time and resources to do the deep research and this is where Operatix can help.

DMID – Decision Maker Identification

Finding quality data is an on-going challenge for B2B Tech vendors. The accuracy of data platforms is questionable and that is why Operatix developed a manual process to identify & verify contact details for decision makers within strategic target accounts.

Playbook design

Operatix can develop Sales Playbooks that enable teams to sell more effectively. Your Playbook will be fundamental to get your messaging right, accurately position your solution against competitors, and adapt the communication of your value proposition to different buyer personas.

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Sales Playbook Development

Operatix can develop Sales Playbooks that enable teams to sell more effectively. Your Playbook will be fundamental to implementing the correct messaging, accurately position your solution against competitors, and adapting the communication of your value proposition to different buyer personas.

Lead Qualification

If your leads aren’t converting, it might be a lead qualification issue. Operatix can help filter through leads that need further qualification, ensuring that they’re ready for an AE or sales team member to engage with and progress through the funnel. 

Partner Portal / Marketing Concierge Service

Vendors often spend thousands of dollars building multifunctional Partner Portals to help channel partners educate their teams, manage opportunities, and create marketing programs. Still, these portals are often underutilized due to lack of bandwidth and capacity from vendors to offer support in enabling their partner community. Operatix, through their Partner Development team, can support your partners to make the best use out of your partner portal, managing the relationship with your partners and helping them set up co-marketing campaigns to drive more revenue for both businesses. 

Marketing & Sales Alignment

The sales development function is often seen as the “glue” that brings sales & marketing teams together. By working as an extension of your teams, Operatix will be your predictable source of pipeline, sales & revenue.

Optimization of MDF

Market Development Funds are an important component of any channel ecosystem, though vendors believe they are not maximizing the return on investment they should be getting from their MDF programs. At Operatix, we build scalable outbound sales development programs that will give you the visibility of return over the invested spend and will provide clear value for your channel partners.

Increase Partner Productivity

The 80/20 rule is still very applicable to the channel, which means that investing in partner productivity should be a priority for vendors looking to grow their businesses. Operatix can increase partner productivity and shorten sales cycles, by identifying ready to engage sales opportunities for your most valued channel partners.

Virtual Channel Account managers

Our VCAM team is responsible for building, maintaining, and managing sound relationships with current and prospective channel partners. They can get involved in opening up new sales conversations as well as closing small businesses up to $ 10k.

Tier 1 & Tier 2 Activation

Whether your business decided for a Tier 1 or Tier 2 distribution model, Operatix can help your channel partners get to revenue quicker. By providing qualified sales engagements to your channel partners we can accelerate your route to market with tangible and easily measurable results.

Solution Selling Training

Far too often vendors insist on enabling their channel partners to talk about features and technical details of their solutions. Customers don’t buy features; they buy the benefits your solution can bring. Operatix will work with your partner community to train them in articulating your message from a high-level business perspective, enabling them to talk to prospects about the value your solution can bring to their company from a board-level perspective.

Channel Enablement

Enabling your channel partners have measurable wins for your business when done right. Operatix has a proven track record in enabling channel partners from a sales & marketing perspective, providing them the knowledge and tools to successfully pitch your solution and sell the value & benefits of it. 

Partner Recruitment

Recruiting the right Channel Partners is the first step for a successful channel program. Operatix has helped over 350 B2B Software vendors recruit suitable channel partners across EMEA and North America, supporting them to scale and expand their presence in different geographies and verticals. 

Risk/Reward Business Model

To truly work as an extension of our client’s sales & marketing teams, we have also adapted our business models to show how our clients operate, and how their success is measured. With our risk/reward business model your investment is proportional to the results our team delivers.

Sales Qualified Leads

On average, 52.5% of the sales engagements set up by our team progress into a next step in the sale process. That means that 5 out of 10 meetings will progress either into a POC, a Demo or a pipeline opportunity.

Geographical Scale

Trading in different geographical markets not only requires a knowledge of the native language, local rules & policies, but a deeper understanding of the local culture and habits. We have the ability to deliver campaigns in multiple countries with flexible resource allocation. This is through our team of international speakers, who have the ability to sell in 17 different languages across the globe.

Increase Revenue & Decrease Cost

Building an internal sales development team comes with many additional costs and challenges that aren’t always taken into account: recruiting resources, training and enabling them etc. You also need to take into account the need for having the data and tools to make them successful, which in turn requires time, capital and effort. By outsourcing your sales development to Operatix you will see your revenue increasing, while decreasing costs and business risk.

Predictable Pipeline Generation

On average, our clients see a 26X ROI on the programs we deliver. By understanding your revenue targets and sales pipeline gap, we will work on a sales & marketing plan that will deliver tangible results.

Vertical Growth

Entering new industries or launching new product lines? Operatix can accelerate your growth by supporting your go-to-market strategy, and getting your sales teams in front of decision makers in key target accounts.

Reduce Headcount

By outsourcing your sales development and partner programs to Operatix; we reduce headcount and the challenges that come with managing people, technologies, and processes. We take care of your sales development, so you can focus on what matters the most: growing your business.

Revenue Acceleration

Operatix helps your business get to revenue quicker. By providing qualified sales engagements for your direct sales team (to kick-off new sales cycles), or by accelerating the growth of your channel partners, our focus remains on delivering tangible results for your business. 

Persona-based Selling

Operatix team will design specifically tailored messages to influence the different levels of decision makers in the sales process, tailoring the communication according to each job function. Our focus is to sell the value of your solution from a business perspective, not its features.    

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