It’s no secret that having a healthy pipeline can help you exceed your revenue goals—but what is it that keeps your pipeline healthy? SDRs!
Sales development teams are responsible for initiating their business’ sales cycles, and those who run these hard-working pipeline machines are known as sales enablement leaders. Or, as we like to call them, Revenue Rockstars.
In this series, we chat with a few of these revenue rockstars to understand how they’ve gotten to where they are now, and find out what keeps their team focused as they work towards success.
1. What makes a killer SDR?
The number one thing that makes anyone in general successful—not just a sales rep—is grit. Angela Duckworth at University of Pennsylvania is a leading psychologist and thinker on the topic, and she defines grit as “perseverance and passion for long-term goals.” This is someone with high drive, motivation, and determination to succeed.
Next, the best reps think critically and ask the right questions. If you aren’t asking the right questions, then you’ll have a hard time finding the right answers. It’s a huge part of the SDR’s job in qualifying leads and accounts at the top of the sales funnel. Some of the best SDRs (and sales reps in general) are the most curious people I know.
Communication is another major part of the sales development role. It’s an SDR’s job to communicate effectively all day, every day. They’re constantly on the phone making cold calls, writing emails, tweeting, etc. Rockstar SDRs can communicate their ideas, both verbally and in written form, clearly and concisely.
Lastly, they have good time management skills. All SDRs have 24 hours in a day. The best reps spend their time on the right things. An SDR’s time is highly valuable. In fact, the true cost of an SDR is much more than you would think. The ability to know where they should be spending their time, then being able to focus their energy and resources there, is a huge advantage.
2. How do you motivate an SDR team?
First and foremost, the SDR has to join your team for the right reason. They have to believe in what they’re doing and why they’re doing it. Motivation and drive are key traits that I look for in a sales rep. It’s an uphill battle if you have to constantly worry about how to keep your salesforce motivated. Naturally driven people tend to stay driven on their own—they don’t need external motivation.
Having said that, there are things you can do to avoid reps dropping into a slump. No matter who you are, everyone has an off month, so put the structures into place to minimize the harm. When SDRs are given regular coaching and training, it’s easier for them to get over the slump and back to their quota-crushing selves. Also, making sure the reps know they’re valued, their voices are heard, and they’re given the proper recognition will keep turnover low and numbers high.
3. How do you maintain the culture with a high turnover rate position like an SDR?
The cutthroat, boiler room culture dramatized on the big screens is, unfortunately, a reality at many companies. However, it shouldn’t be.
Culture starts from the top. I’m not talking about the sales leader, I’m talking about the company leader—your CEO. Your company’s culture defines the environment, which dictates how people behave at work. There are many things that contribute to culture, such as vision, values, norms, systems, language, assumptions, etc.
This is the number one reason I believe that Engagio has a huge success story right out of the gates—Jon Miller and Brian Babcock defined and clearly articulated their core values before writing a single line of code.
To directly answer your question, we maintain a healthy culture by openly communicating to the SDR function; and, more broadly, the sales function—that this is a team sport, and we’re all in it together. Everyone, from marketing to customer success to engineering, knows that they must support everyone else, including sales.
4. How do you celebrate wins on the SDR team?
If there’s one thing that I’ve learned about SDRs (and pretty much anyone), it’s that they respond to incentives. A good sales SPIFF goes a long way. A good manager knows when to use an individual SPIFF versus a team SPIFF, but I’ve always felt that team incentives were more effective.
We also have a pretty unique deal bell—it’s a high-striker. Think of those games at carnivals to test strength whereby someone uses a mallet to strike a lever, which sends a puck up a tower to ring a bell at the top. After the AE rings in the new deal, he or she acknowledges and thanks everyone involved closing the account.