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Sales Transformation: The Rise of the Full Cycle Salesperson

Discover how the resurgence of the full-cycle salesperson is changing the sales landscape in modern businesses.

There were two ideas that caused sales leaders to hire SDRs and BDRs instead of full-cycle salespeople. The first idea was that adding people to do cold outreach would ensure they had more opportunities. In part, this is because pipeline coverage is considered by many to be the Holy Grail. The second idea was that they could keep their best salespeople closing deals that were spun up by the lower-paid sales roles.

This approach led to all kinds of poor strategy decisions, starting with hiring salespeople solely to make cold calls and even colder emails. Companies using this strategy were modeling a process used by Taylor and Ford, who applied it to their manufacturing lines. The BDR or SDR was responsible for prospecting and qualifying the prospective client, as the closer sat by waiting for an opportunity to progress. As this assembly-line approach became more common, we skeptics watched the sales profession get sliced into thinner and thinner roles.

I cannot recall how many SDRs and BDRs emailed me to ask how to get a job that would allow them to do more than prospecting, qualifying, and pitching a demo. Many didn’t consider it a great opportunity to meet with another salesperson who would take over the sales conversation after they had gotten things to a certain point.

In an attempt to reduce the cost of the sales force, these companies added more roles, which meant more paychecks and all the other expenses of an employee. Instead of one salesperson taking care of a potential client from start to finish, several people worked with the same prospective client. Despite paying a lower base rate, these companies still pay for the benefits they offer. (I am an expert on labor and employment.)

Navigating Sales Career Progression: A Guide to Upgrading Your Role

The first SDR that called me asked me what he would have to do to get a full-cycle sales role. I explained that it is incredibly easy to get a sales job. If you want to leave the SDR or BDR role, all you need to do is identify a company you want to work for and identify a vice president of sales there. Once you have the phone number, you call the VP of sales and say, “I am calling you today to ask you for an interview, and just like I am calling you, I will call every client in my territory.” Every SDR and BDR who has followed this advice got an interview and a new job.

This works because it makes you the only person who does exactly what the VP of sales needs a salesperson to do. It is difficult to say no to someone who has proven they will do the job they are seeking.

Full-Cycle Salesperson: Mastering Sales From Start to Finish

The sales industry is reconsidering BDR and SDR roles. It may be because the model failed to reduce the cost structure, but it may also be because a good full-cycle salesperson is capable of winning clients without a BDR or SDR to do the grunt work for them. Some of us struggled to understand why a salesperson capable of winning enterprise-level deals would sit in neutral, waiting for a BDR to give them a qualified opportunity.

Essential Skills for a Full-Cycle Sales Professional

  1. A full-cycle salesperson can do their own prospecting. Just because the tech companies use BDRs and SDRs doesn’t prove that their model is better than the traditional sales role.
  2. A full-cycle salesperson can book a first meeting and do discovery without having to wait for another person to get involved. Note: I worry that companies following the same thinking that resulted in BDRs and SDRs will reassign those tasks to AI, which is even cheaper than a BDR.
  3. A full-cycle salesperson can manage the sales process without another person’s help. For a very long time, the salesperson has walked into their prospective client’s front door and sat across from them. There is nothing to suggest that this no longer works. In fact, it is what works best.
  4. A full-cycle salesperson can close the deal alone. They can also upsell, cross-sell, and grow their clients over time.

Strategies for Building Efficient Sales Teams

  1. Never hire two people when one person can do the job.
  2. When I was a teenager, my mom used to ask me if everyone jumped off a cliff, would I follow. I told her that I would wait until the bodies were stacked high enough that it would break my fall. This is to say that you should see how things go before you commit to following the lemmings off the cliff. Many sales organizations did just that.
  3. Hire the best salesperson you can find, even if it takes more time or money. You want a full-cycle salesperson because they pay for themselves.
  4. Long ago, the sales process went nonlinear. Your sales process is not a manufacturing line with one person doing one function and handing deals off to another person who completes the next step.

In the future, you will see more sales organizations returning to a full-cycle model. Decades of results prove that full-cycle salespeople generate revenue without a BDR or SDR. In an environment with plummeting demand, you may not want to pay multiple people to share something that one person can do with no problem.


Sales Work 2024
Post by Anthony Iannarino on June 25, 2024

Written and edited by human brains and human hands.

Anthony Iannarino

Anthony Iannarino is an American writer. He has published daily at thesalesblog.com for more than 14 years, amassing over 5,300 articles and making this platform a destination for salespeople and sales leaders. Anthony is also the author of four best-selling books documenting modern sales methodologies and a fifth book for sales leaders seeking revenue growth. His latest book for an even wider audience is titled, The Negativity Fast: Proven Techniques to Increase Positivity, Reduce Fear, and Boost Success.

Anthony speaks to sales organizations worldwide, delivering cutting-edge sales strategies and tactics that work in this ever-evolving B2B landscape. He also provides workshops and seminars. You can reach Anthony at thesalesblog.com or email Beth@b2bsalescoach.com.

Connect with Anthony on LinkedIn, X or Youtube. You can email Anthony at iannarino@gmail.com

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