What To Look For in a Successful Enterprise Sales Development Manager

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Enterprise sales development managers are responsible for leading the teams that sell products and services to a company’s largest and most important customers, making them critical to an organization’s growth. From their most productive daily activities to the skills that the best ones tend to display, here’s everything that you should look for in a successful Enterprise SDM:

The Daily Roles and Responsibilities of an Enterprise Sales Development Manager

An enterprise sales development manager is responsible for motivating sales representatives to exceed sales targets and increase revenue. In addition, they oversee a variety of other objectives, like prospecting and qualifying new leads, managing outbound communications with prospects, monitoring leads as they move through the pipeline, helping SDRs set and manage their sales targets, and more.

Prospect and qualify new enterprise leads

Good enterprise SDMs will take ownership of their pipeline and make sure that they are filling the sales funnel with their own leads, not just relying on marketing or their SDRs to provide them.

Manage outbound communication with decision-makers

Enterprise sales development managers don’t only oversee sales, but brand and reputation as well. Large customers make for complex sales processes, and prospects at these types of companies will expect a seasoned point-of-contact to guide them along the way.

Monitor leads as they move through the pipeline

Enterprise sales from introduction to close typically require several touch points spread across multiple channels. A successful SDM should have a knack for understanding where prospects are in the sales cycle and how to best move stalled deals forward.

Set sales targets and supervise SDRs to meet them

As the leader of the enterprise sales development team, the SDM is responsible not only for their own performance but the performance of the rest of the team as well. The SDM should have a good understanding of the market they are selling into and the revenue that is attainable each quarter, and then should be able to effectively coach SDRs to reach their goals.

A good benchmark for goal setting comes from the S.M.A.R.T acronym, which states that any goal should be simple, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-based1. This has been applied to a sales quota setting in the following ways:

  • Simple – Sales quotas must be in their most basic form. This ensures that they are easily understood. This clears any questions about what exactly quota is, and most importantly, how to achieve it.
  • Measurable – Naturally, quotas must be based on measurable numbers that sales teams have deep insight too. Without insight, teams will not be able to replicate or improve their performance.
  • Achievable – 80% of sales reps should be able to achieve their individual quotas. A lofty sales quota that no one can reach does the reps, neither their managers any good, nor the company as a whole. You should want your salespeople to succeed. When they are successful, everyone is.
  • Realistic – Set your sales quotas on realistic expectations. Pick numbers that the majority of the team can reach, and do them for metrics that they actually have control over. Do not set quotas on things your team cannot control.
  • Time-Based – All quotas must be set for a given time frame. This way, salespeople know exactly what they must accomplish, and when. This gives them the ability to pace themselves and set personal goals so they can reach their quotas.

Successful, and fair, enterprise SDMs use the S.M.A.R.T acronym or something similar to make sure they are building out a sales quota that works for the company as well as individual salespeople.

Hire and train SDRs

Enterprise SDMs will have some sales experience of their own and were likely even SDRs themselves at some point. Part of the leadership expected of a good Enterprise Sales Development Manager is to know what to look for in a prospective SDR hire and be willing to train them with the organization-specific knowledge that they’ll need to succeed in the role.

In the video below, the founder of SalesRoads, David Kreiger, discusses how to improve sales growth by coaching sales reps with proper methodologies. The most important factor in coaching, he says, is to focus on one issue at a time and move on to another after seeing the improvement in the performance metrics.

Collaborate with AEs to find new opportunities

Many hands make light work, and the best way to tackle the complexity of the enterprise sale is to do so as a team. A good SDM won’t allow themselves to be siloed within the sales development team but instead will make a concerted effort to cross-pollinate with related departments across the larger organization. Account executives, Marketing, and Customer Success can all help each other when it comes to identifying and executing new opportunities.

Handle customer complaints

Even the most successful organizations sometimes have customers that complain about the products or services that they were sold. A good SDM won’t shy away from dealing with these issues head-on and working with the customer to find a solution. A steady point-of-contact with an unhappy customer can save renewals and lead to expansion revenue – so thick skin helps!

Prepare sales reports for management

As the conduit between the sales development team and upper management, the responsibility falls on the enterprise SDM to present sales reports to the leaders of the organization. A good enterprise SDM will keep a close eye on trends, activity metrics, and sales pacing throughout the year to make sure that these presentations go smoothly.

The Most Important Skills That a Successful Enterprise SDM Should Have

Sales professionals often overlook the role of personal development when building a self-improvement strategy. While business skills such as networking, prospecting, and closing are the focus points of most sales training, there’s still not enough talk on how many benefits arise when combining those skills with personal growth. 

Presentation skills

Successful enterprise sales development managers don’t just oversee the performance of their SDR team, they present directly to prospective clients as well. A good SDM should be able to communicate business value through compelling storytelling in a way that engages an enterprise prospect and moves the sale forward.

Relationship building skills

Enterprise sales are large revenue drivers that require multiple touchpoints and typically take months to close. Successful SDMs don’t treat this sales process as a numbers game, but rather they take the time and put forth the required effort to build solid relationships with each of their enterprise clients – leading to more favorable outcomes over time.

Teamwork skills

Successful enterprise sales takes a village, and a good SDM should take advantage of all of the help they can get from the rest of their organization. From customer success teams that can ensure an enterprise prospect that they are in good hands, to product teams that can differentiate against the competition, willingly collaborating with others is a skill that can win more deals.

Exercises to Help Enterprise SDMs Develop the Required Skills to Succeed

Sales training programs improve the skills of your sales team, support customer understanding, and increase revenue. Your team will benefit from solid training during onboarding and at regular intervals throughout their time with your company.

Exercises to develop presentation skills


Role-playing is often an ongoing exercise for enterprise SDMs and a valuable training mechanism for salespeople of any kind2. Role-playing introduces a number of different scenarios that could arise during the course of a sales call or presentation, allowing the salesperson to prepare for all possible responses and objections during the real thing. Good role-playing will often teach salespeople to extract valuable lead information from a prospect without coming off as pushy or interrogative.

In the video below, SalesRoads’ president, David Kreiger, talks about the importance of SDR role-playing as a part of an ongoing training program for your campaign:

Public speaking

Public speaking is a sought-after skill in the business world at-large, and a confident and clear speaker that can easily articulate the complexities of an enterprise sale will often make for a great SDM. Public speaking is a skill that is perfected largely through repetition, with team presentations and sample demonstrations usually serving as good formats for practice.

Rejection training

It can be natural for rejection to impact morale in a negative way, but the most successful enterprise SDMs are those that minimize the emotional response to rejection and can recenter the conversation. Rejection training can be done in conjunction with role-playing, as a salesperson can be confronted with rejection to a number of their proposed points and develop rebuttals accordingly.

Exercises to develop relationship-building skills


Even though the persona of many prospective enterprise clients may be the same, successful sales development managers know that they need to sell to the individual and not the title. Researching a prospect before making contact and then referencing some details specific to them during an introductory meeting is a great first step in building a strong long-term relationship.

Mentorship programs

One of the best ways to become successful as an SDM is to seek out mentors that have already held the role and fully understand the challenges that enterprise sales development managers go through. Not only can mentors lend their perspectives, but they can also help with accountability and personal development.

Social selling

Many, if not all, enterprise sales prospects have profiles across various social networks, and this can be an extremely valuable channel for enterprise SDMs. Social networks allow salespeople to learn about their prospect’s interests and personalities, and the most successful SDMs will share content and provide value to these prospects before ever engaging them in a sales-focused conversation.

Exercises to develop teamwork skills


Rising tides raise all ships and this is as true in the sales department as anywhere else across the organization. Salespeople should not be competing with each other for individual success, but working together as a team to collectively move deals forward. Successful SDMs map out their ideal sales process ahead of time and work with other stakeholders (SDRs, AEs, marketing, customer success) to ensure that all parties are on the same page and contributing their pieces to the overarching goal.

Sales call reviews

Analyzing successful – or unsuccessful – sales calls can be an important practice for the entire sales organization. SDMs can sit with their SDRs either individually or in a group setting to review the details of each call as part of an ongoing continuous improvement initiative.

Team building tasks and projects

Hands-on collaboration within the sales team is one of the most effective ways to develop a solid foundation of teamwork across all members. Group role-playing, call and presentation reviews, and rejection training can build trust & camaraderie from the sales development manager all the way down to the most junior SDR. Sales is a team sport and the team that practices together, wins together!

Bottom Line

Enterprise sales are complex processes that most often lead to successful outcomes when guided by a steady and seasoned hand. Enterprise sales development managers must keep keen attention to detail across a number of touchpoints and many months in order to successfully close deals, and they must do so while also managing relationships within their team and collaborating with other stakeholders across the larger organization.

In short, it’s a hard job done well by specialized individuals that do not come cheaply. According to CompGuage’s compensation report shown below3, enterprise SDMs in San Francisco earn over $200,000 per year, and enterprise SDMs in the top 6 most expensive markets in the US all earn well over $100,000 annually:

LocationAvg. Enterprise SDM Compensation
San Francisco$204,000
New York$193,000
Washington, D.C.$141,000
Los Angeles$140,000

Luckily, with the rise of remote work, outsourcing sales to a dedicated and properly trained appointment-setting company has become a popular solution for organizations that sell to the enterprise. In fact, companies like SalesRoads can provide experienced, reliable sales managers that are seasoned in selling to the enterprise, and they can do so at much less of an investment than hiring an enterprise sales development manager internally.

If you’d like to hear how we’ve trained our enterprise sales development managers for success, reach out and request a quote here.


  1. https://www.revenue.io/blog/sales-quotas
  2. https://hbr.org/1987/05/role-playing-as-a-sales-training-tool
  3. https://compgauge.com/account-size/enterprise/sales-development-manager/
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