Sales Development Representatives (SDRs) are important members of a company’s revenue team, adding value by successfully prospecting, executing outreach activities, qualifying leads and guiding those qualified leads further down the buying journey to eventually meet with Account Executives (AEs) to engage in closing discussions. 

You’ll immediately recognize the value of a high performance SDR team the very moment you don’t have one, as an effective team executing against its top-of-funnel accountabilities keeps your sales pipeline growing.

SDRs are empowered by processes and systems that allow them to focus on activities that hold the highest expected return. The best SDRs are methodical and organized on how they devote their time, avoiding potential distractions and focusing with laser-like precision on their key personas within the accounts that have the highest propensity to see the value of your solution and ultimately buy. 

With a decade of experience in Sales, I’ve had the pleasure of leading some exceptional SDR teams. Below, I share six tips to build – and maintain – high performance SDR teams to drive your company’s revenue growth. 

Onboard properly

A proper onboarding experience is a must for every position in a company, but it’s particularly important with respect to SDRs. Consider the following statistics from The Bridge Group’s 2021 Sales Development Report:

  • The average required work experience for an SDR hire is just 1.2 years
  • The average ramp time for a newly hired SDR is just 3.1 months
  • The average tenure of an SDR is just 1.8 years
  • The median time of full productivity (tenure minus ramp) is only 17 months

SDRs tend to be starting their careers, and as such, they are both eager to learn and ripe for coaching and development. However, there’s no time to waste – the demands of the business require they get up to speed as quickly as possible.

Most important to onboarding is a crystal clear understanding of the company, its mission and its products, solutions and services. SDRs need to know your solution inside and out, and a big part of that is understanding all the industry-specific terminology, both from prospects’ perspectives of challenges and pain points, as well as your company’s perspective of benefits and solution features. 

Clearly define an SDRs target audience, provide them with tools to succeed, teach them how to prospect, and establish a mentoring relationship for their continuous development. 

Create a best-in-class sales stack

Every SDR’s toolbelt requires the right amount of prospecting, lead management and engagement technology tools to assist in their daily activities and ensure they’re targeting and engaging with the right individuals at their top accounts. 

According to The Bridge Group, the median sales tech stack consists of a CRM plus 4.5 additional tools, while High Growth companies report one additional tool compared to Laggards. For my money, the sales stack should include, at a minimum, the following:

  • Marketing Automation
  • Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
  • Lead-to-Account Matching and Routing
  • Lead Scoring & Intent
  • LinkedIn Sales Navigator
  • Data provider
  • Sales Engagement Platform (SEP)

Constantly check new and evolving solutions in the marketplace, and ensure your SDR team has the best tools available to them, empowering them with a big strategic advantage over your competitors. It’s important as sales leaders that we’re aware of the latest sales technologies on the market, so say “yes” to that next SDR that reaches out and educate yourself on a new tool. If nothing else, you might observe something that SDR did that you want to add to your team’s quiver.

Keep your team excited and motivated

A common challenge for SDR leaders is keeping everyone on the team excited and motivated. It’s truly an important consideration.

The nature of the SDR role is to reach out to prospects, and not making calls is not performing in the job. Convincing a prospect, a person who does not know you, to take time out of her day to take a call or meeting and view your solution can often be a daunting task, and every SDR at one time or another struggles with overcoming the inertia of avoiding the task.

Take effort to ensure your team is having fun and feels valued. Get to know what makes each individual on your team tick, and hear them out on what’s most important and valued for each of them individually. Just as an SDR’s marching orders are to “leave no lead behind,” your marching orders as an SDR leader are to “leave no rep behind.”

Ensure there’s no gap between Sales and Marketing

Your Sales Development team is a logical bridge to bring, and keep, the Sales and Marketing teams in alignment. Work closely with your Marketing leaders to fully understand their strategies and campaigns as they will directly influence the leads and accounts that filter down the funnel and reach SDRs for action.

Additionally, partner with your representatives in the account-based work they are doing on the Outbound side of the ledger. Remember the old management adage, “measure and reward the outcomes you want to achieve,” and recognize and reward reps not just for diligently following up with their Inbound leads, but also for being avid Outbound “hunters” too. 

Promote continuous development

Continue to grow your SDR team’s abilities and capabilities, and strive to create a diverse team with a wide range of talents, experience and interests. Over time, promote the more experienced top performers into leadership roles, and look for opportunities to have team members move cross-departmentally at your company. One of your key leadership roles is to help your team members accelerate their careers. 

Within the Sales Development team, test and learn to increase the effectiveness of your representatives and the team as a whole. Experiment with different messaging, different tools, different strategies and different channels to reach prospects and raise awareness of your company’s solution across the marketplace.

Keep your recruiting pipeline strong

One of the primary jobs of a good sales leader is to continuously recruit the best talent possible. Never slow down when it comes to networking, interviewing and hiring.

In a previous post, “Hiring a World-Class SDR Team,” I highlighted three attributes – Intellectual Curiosity, Character and Coachability – I look for in every SDR hire. Even with no previous experience, candidates with those three attributes are highly sought. I’ll take will over skill all day anytime, every time, and anyone who comes in eager to learn, with high character and a willingness to be coached, will become a superstar not only on the SDR team, but eventually as the next SDR Manager or Account Executive (AE) as well.

Summary

Leads are the lifeblood of every go-to-market GTM) process, and an organization’s SDR team is usually the first point of contact with them. As such, the Sales Development team is essential to an efficient and effective process.

However, SDR positions are usually springboards to other roles in Sales and the wider organization, so every SDR leader should have a core set of practiced skills and processes to attract, onboard, develop and manage the team to have it hit its maximum potential. 

rob-simmons
Rob Simmons
VP of Sales Development at

Rob Simmons has led software sales teams for 10 years, separating his team from the competition by investing in his people, leveraging a best-in-class sales tech stack, and developing scalable sales processes. Rob is currently the Vice president of Sales Development at LeanData, the top provider of go-to-market automation solutions and G2's leader in the Lead-to-Account Matching and Routing category. Connect with Rob on LinkedIn & Twitter.