How To Keep SDRs Happier and Performing Longer

*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.

How To Keep SDRs Happier and Performing Longer

A question popped up in the community recently that built a lot of buzz quickly. It revolves around SDR happiness and keeping them in a role longer, even though many of them would like to move up as fast as possible.

The question was originally posted in the group by Sean Kester, Director of Sales Development at SalesLoft  |  @TheSeanKester

SDR happiness and tenure is a hot topic right now. The average tenure today for a sales development rep is between 10 – 12 months.

The question is, how do we get them to stay longer, motivated and not begging to move into an Account Executive position after 6 months?

What are some strategies for setting a transparent career path (mini promotions) and glorifying SDR’s along the way?

Here are Some of the Best Answers From our Group:

Happy SDRs and ADRs are armed with the right tools that make them effective. Being chained to an autodialer all day is no fun. Cold calling uninterested prospects is a necessary evil but can suck the life out of a person.

Investigate and invest in new tools for your reps so they continually improve and simultaneously add the latest tools to their resume.

They may stay longer if they are having fun, doing well and adding to their resume.

– Dan Arra, VP of Sales and Services/Co-founder or Altocloud  |  @danielarra

Assuming they’re not rightfully graduating to AE, it would have to do with engagement. Now, I’m no different than any other schlup panhandling stats, but this one caught my eye in reference to your question. I couldn’t not post it.

According to CSO Insights, sales forces with low engagement lost 14% of their people involuntarily. This percentage shrank to 8% at organizations with high engagement.

Active engagement is neither happenstance nor simply a ‘nice’ idea,” the report states. “Rather, the data show that highly engaged firms, especially their managers, are supported and actively ‘in the game,’ coaching their reps and being supported with timely/accurate metrics — all of which translates into better performance numbers.

– Jon Birdsong, CEO at Rivarly  |  @JonnyBird

SDR’s are no different than anyone else. They all want to succeed and contribute. Companies have been giving them tools for years now and the average time on the job is still less than 10 months.

What SDR’s need to know Is HOW to use the tools. They need proven, predictable ways to execute their job that will actually achieve the outcomes to match the expectations management puts on them.

We have seen dozens of companies that have been successful at doing this. They see 200% or more increase in results. They positively attrit many SDR’s and keep them around much longer.

Among the things that all these companies have in common, is they they have processes that help SDRs see success very early on. They help SDRs understand WHY things work they way they do and (perhaps most importantly) they take the guesswork out of every aspect of the SDR role.

– Mike Scher, Chief Demand Creation Architect, at FRONTLINE Selling  |  @FRONTLINE Selling

Cold calling, although essential skill, is only a small portion of selling. For the benefit of all there should be an intermediate step up from DR to AE, an Inside Sales role. Inside Sales should be more of the same cold calling with closing of smaller, less strategic deals.

My experience is strictly in larger enterprise sales, and understand this doesn’t work as well for SMB, but SMB shouldn’t have DRs supporting them to start with.

– Jason Stefani, Account Executive at Box  |  @jstef10

Something that has worked well for us is “newness”. Make sure there are new things happening on a constant basis.

A lack of newness is how any and every relationship (working or personal) goes stale.

The SDR role is a very repetitive position. Even if you’re extremely good at it, you’re generally doing the same thing every single day.

We’re always doing coaching and training, tweaking the scripts, emails, etc, but I’ve never heard an SDR go “AWESOME! A new script! YES!” The 1-on-1 meetings are always a good time to keep people engaged, but obviously there needs to be something more.

Having a clear path to success and promotion is huge too, but it does not motivate or keep people pumped up on a day to day basis.

Here are some things we do to try and incorporate newness:

  • Random power hour of calls. Get the team together and just crush for 1 hour straight.
  • Make calls standing up or pacing around.
  • Top dialer picks the in-office Pandora station.
  • FLASH contests AKA next meeting scheduled gets free lunch. $10 is taped to the board.
  • Unknown Competitions. Picking a day and myself saying, “The first dial of the day is getting X” and rewarding that person at the huddle. They didn’t know the contest was even happening.
  • Tie Tuesdays – ditch the jeans and come in looking sharp for a day.
  • Even something as dumb as a desk switch up.

Things that haven’t worked:

Spiff’s – The classic if you hit X then you get $$, as you might know well, $$ is not a great motivator of activity

– Kevin Dorsey, Corporate Sales at H.U.M.A.N

100% agree with Kevin here. We create new campaigns/initiatives monthly. The primary KPI’s stay the same, but we add spiffs and contests built around these new campaigns. As everyone has stated, the jump is HARD. But a little gamification goes a long way.

– Preston Clark, CRO at LawRoom

Please note that this is a perspective on a longer sales cycle versus something more transactional.

ADR/ SDR roles are essential roles in the sales process and need to be looked at as not a stepping stone role. As long as sales reps are doing well, then they will like their role. I believe that the initial expectation is important of being transparent about the role, but at the same time, there needs to be incentives, realistic goals, appropriate feedback on performance and a change in structure.

Additionally, Expectations shouldn’t be tied to the number of dials or amount of time on the phone, but their real success to the organization and what they are actually adding.

Here are some of the questions you should ask yourself, the manager:

  1. What type of sales cycle are you supporting?
  2. If there is a high attrition rate, then why?
  3. Are you hiring ADRs or account executives?
  4. Are you being transparent?
  5. How can I make employees happy and excited to come to work?

– Joe Corrales, Strategic Account Manager at Questel SA

Max Altschuler is the General Partner of GTMfund. He previously founded Sales Hacker, a premier B2B sales media company, and scaled it to over 150,000 monthly visitors before its acquisition by At Outreach, Max served as VP of Marketing for four years. During that time, he built an incredible team that helped the company 3.5x ARR in under two years, while building and becoming the leader in the Sales Engagement Category. A recognized thought leader, Max has been featured in Forbes, Time, Inc, Harvard Business Review, and Quora. He is also the author of “Hacking Sales: The Playbook For Building A High Velocity Sales Machine,” published by Wiley.

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