Best Practices on the SDR to AE Handoff in Salesforce CRM

*Editors Note: This article is part of our series from our Sales Hacker Community on LinkedIn. Each article is a summary of a thread that was curated and brought together by the community of Salespeople across the world. Please join us in the group if you’d like to listen, share your experiences, or get involved in the conversation.

The Handoff From SDRs to AEs in Salesforce

Today’s question from our LinkedIn Community is a great one for all our Salesforce users out there who are struggling with the SDR to AE handoff process.

The conversation was originally posted in the group by Tom Lee, Director of Sales at FlipTop | @TomMLee

“I currently let my SDRs create stage 0 opps when they book a meeting, however we have been creating too many opportunities and now my opportunity win rate looks poor.

I was thinking of changing my process to hold booked meetings as an SQL and only let the AE create an opp after the meeting occurs. I would also remove stage 0 and go straight to stage 1.

Would be interested to hear how other people have tackled this process inside SFDC.”

Link to Question Here

Here are Some of the Best Answers From our Group:


SDR creates the meeting. If meeting does not occur then the SDR owns it until it does. AE should have defined criteria which allows them to convert the first meeting to an opportunity. Don’t let no-shows skew your numbers….meaning don’t let the setting of a meeting represent an opp. Use the reasons for not converting the meeting to an opp as training for SDR’s.

Again, create transparent criteria so AE’s don’t have subjective nor discretionary reasons to not convert the meeting to an opp.

– Alan Tarkowski, VP of Sales at SocialChorus


I liked the idea that SDRs work leads and AEs work contacts… But in practice, this never works. If a lead is converted, has a first meeting, but isn’t in their buying cycle, the SDR should be responsible for getting this person back into a new opportunity in the future. And you can’t “un-covert” a contact. So once I figured out SDRs need to deal with both contacts and leads… I preferred the SDR convert the lead to an account/opp. And, I simply remove Stage 0 from my win/loss ratios.

I create Stage 0 opps to easily figure out which prospects are waiting for the first meeting to happen. Plus- when an SDR converts the opp- it becomes more visible to the organization so that pressure keeps them from converting things that they know shouldn’t be converted.

Another report I find very valuable is which prospects didn’t get past the first meeting. In your old model you could just pull a report of all Stage 0/Closed Lost/Reason. This report is very valuable to understand if there are execution problems in a specific sales team, territory or product.

Maybe the AE needs coaching on how to conduct the first meeting/give a demo. Or an SDR is scheduling meetings where customers aren’t showing up. This report is really hard to get using a lead record and task.

– Nilay Patel, CEO at Selligy


My team does a couple of things- the SDR books an activity, in this case a meeting. The meeting is held, and the AE has the responsibility to update the necessary fields like “meetings notes”, “next steps” etc.

If the meeting qualifies for an opportunity to be created following BANT criteria, then the AE creates the opp. We are most likely moving away from BANT, so the process will be tweaked but that’s how are process currently is.

– Kyle Poretto, Director of Sales Development at NewsCred


I like SDRs converting leads after qualifying the lead and booking the meeting. To me, that’s the definition of an SQL. If the win rate isn’t where it should be, the way to fix it is to tweak your SDR qualifying or first AE interaction. The bad win rate isn’t a symptom who creates the Opp and when, it’s a symptom qualification or first meetings are off.

I’d ignore the lead conversion noise and see why the AE/SDR handoff is a leak in your pipeline.

– Mark Kosoglow, VP of Sales at


We believe that leads are basically “cold dark strangers” waiting to get called on. Once they get in contact with an SDR, they become a “contact” with which whom you can either schedule a demo off of, or mark it unqualified (non- DM / influencer / champion, etc).

This provides great visibility and insight as you can now have multiple contacts associated with one Account, vs random leads all over the place. Teams can have a hierarchical / organized view of prospects / members within an account and more effectively navigate through these accounts. You don’t necessarily have to create an opp to create a contact, when you convert. However, when an SDR schedules a demo, we definitely consider that an opp.

– Anthony Zhang, VP of Sales at SalesLoft


We moved to an appointment system where the SDR sets a task action for a future date in SFDC and assigns it to an AE. The AE marks the appointment complete once the meeting happens. The AE is then responsible for converting the lead to a contact/opportunity. SDR gets paid and credit for both.

Prior to this system, we added rejected as an opportunity stage to omit it out of the pipeline when we calculated close rate.

– Phill Keene, Director of Sales Development at Tinderbox


We are similar to you in our opp creation process. In order to not have stage 0 opps hurt us, we require every SDR to log an activity in the opportunity and the due date is the date the appointment is set for which is usually a few days out to a week out.

Then when I run reporting I just exclude opportunities that have a task which has a date that is greater than today (in the future). The Sdr is responsible for updating this task date if the meeting gets rescheduled. That way the rep has to do less work and we can own the process more.

– Erik Gonzalez, Director of Sales Development at Glassdoor


For me and the folks I have worked with in the past, I strongly believe the SDR should convert to an Opp once a meeting / demo has been booked. That makes the handoff clear and easy to track. To Mark’s point, the issue could be in the qualification criteria and you wouldn’t know that unless you converted to an Opp 🙂

You can also bucket the “No shows” and filter them out of your reports for your Net Win/Loss Rate.

– Craig Jordan, Founder at Red Bridge


How about just changing Stage 0 to a forecast category of omitted. If you are using a 3rd party tool to calculate win rate, it is likely they are plugged into Salesforce’s native forecast categories.” (Many agreed with this simple move.)

– Matt Bertuzzi, Sales and Marketing Ops at The Bridge Group


I think both options (creating an opportunity when a meeting is scheduled or keeping the Lead as SQL until the AE’s assessment) have merits and depend on the context.
Here at our company, if a prospect agrees to a meeting, he or she is highly qualified so worthy of an opportunity.

In other companies, prospects take meetings earlier in their journey, maybe out of curiosity. You have to assess which situation you’re in.

– Nicolas Vandenberghe, Founder & CEO at Floating Apps


I do the exact way you describe, but just omit stage 0 from my win rate and my calculation of pipeline. Everything starts at stage 1. This also makes it easy to track SDR conversion = % of stage 0 that get to stage 1.

– Emmanuelle Skala, VP of Sales at Influitive


We do the same thing, when the SDR pass a meeting to the AE, a Stage 0 opportunity is created. In this way, it’s very easy to know what deals were passed by the SDRs and it helps to track past activities at the Account level (“we had a closed/lost opportunity with this account last year….”).

If you just pass contacts, you will have troubles with attribution and the rep might convert a different contact into opportunity. The win rate is not an issue, just exclude Stage 0 oppts.

– Franco Caporale, Director of Global Demand Gen at Duetto


What do you think are the best ways to track the SDR to AE handoff in Salesforce?

Please jump in the group and let us know your thoughts or leave a comment below!

Max Altschuler is currently the VP of Sales Engagement at Outreach. He is as passionate about the sales profession as they come. He created the premier B2B Sales media company for all things sales innovation, Sales Hacker, and ramped them up to over 150,000 monthly visitors before joining Outreach through acquisition. At Outreach, he leads all things marketing, along with the continued evolution of the Sales Hacker community. Max is a highly regarded sales thought-leader published by Forbes, Time, Inc, Harvard Business Review, and Quora. He wrote the book on modern sales called Hacking Sales: The Playbook For Building A High Velocity Sales Machine, which was published by Wiley.

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