Categories My Journal, Sales, Strategy

10 Red Flags to Consider when Interviewing or Creating your SDR Practice

Over the past year, I have had the opportunity to interview hundreds of candidates for Sales Development roles. While my primary goal is to hire the best and the brightest to build out our team and continue the team growth over time, I have learned so much from prospective SDR’s and some horror stories about their previous experiences.

No intention of naming names, calling anyone out or pointing fingers here so, please do not ask, but here are some things that SDR’s who are interviewing for new roles and employers who are serious about developing a solid SDR practice need to avoid!

1. Commission Only? Seriously?

If an organization is going into an employee relationship without putting some skin in the game be wary. Onboarding and training is not skin in the game; it is a requirement to make sure the people you hire are well equipped to do the best job. Having a base salary that is reasonable plus an incentive for hitting targets is the minimum that any SDR should accept. This shows the company wants your basic needs taken care of. I for one, don’t want anyone on my team worrying about how they are going to pay their rent or buy food while on the job. I want them to know their needs are covered, and they have the ability to earn more if they meet and exceed their targets. Commission only tells me that it’s all upside for the company without risk. i.e. they don’t care. Now if you are a risk taker go for it. But you can do better.

2. Unclear Targets

An employer must be able to communicate exactly what targets an SDR needs to meet to be considered successful. This includes the number of calls to be made every day, number of qualified appointments to be made, how SDR’s are measured and how they are comped. Not only should these targets be easily explained in the interview process, but they must also be in writing in the offer of employment.

3. Unclear Comp

Now that SDR’s know how they will be measured, how will they be compensated? I wholeheartedly recommend a solid base + bonus at a minimum. Commission only is a cop out. Are accelerators to be had? How are they calculated? Is there any additional revenue-based incentive? Do SDR’s get a piece of the action when a deal they have sourced closes? If not, why not? How often are employees paid? When are bonuses paid out? All of these terms need to be answered thoroughly during the interview process and clearly outlined in the offer of employment.

4. Opportunity Embellishment

Have any of you ever heard this? “If you play your cards right, you can make a million dollars.” Be wary of words like “unlimited potential” or “the sky is the limit.” The better question SDR’s can ask is what does the typical upside, bonus or annual comp look like in the first year. Get granular with some concrete examples of what SDR’s who have been in that role have pulled in. It’s better to be realistic with the opportunity as both an employer and SDR than to be baited and switched.

5. Bring your own EVERYTHING?

There is one thing to have a solid BYOD policy, but it is another to cheap out on getting equipment for staff. If a company will not provide the tools required to do the job, be wary.

At a minimum you will need:

  • laptop
  • headset
  • phone on your desk or reliable softphone
  • reliable internet
  • licenses for tools to manage your cadences and your leads (Salesloft & Salesforce for example)
  • a dedicated, comfortable workspace
  • office supplies

In addition, SDR kits could also include:

6. Make a Kajillion Calls A Day

Who cares about quality when you can have quantity! Some people interview with me and think that it is impressive to say they can make 180 calls a day. That tells me that there is zero time to have quality, human conversations. There is no ability to connect with other humans if you are making 180 calls a day. In my not so humble opinion, it’s not even something to brag about. The role and only role of the SDR is to attract perfect fit customers to a company to generate revenue. They source, qualify and connect. They are not there to find “any” customer, they are there to find the “ideal” customer. You can’t do that with 180 calls a day. Our benchmark is 50 calls a day, 250 a week or 1000 a month. The SDR has the flexibility to determine when those calls are made. As long as they meet their targets, how many calls they make a day is their responsibility.

7. Time’s UP!

One potential SDR told me that they were limited to spending 2 minutes per prospect. If that time was exceeded, they were reprimanded. Let’s put yourself on the receiving end of a sales call that you weren’t expecting and that interrupted your day. How would you like to be pushed into a decision within 2 minutes? I can tell you, a limited time approach results in many more no’s than yes’s. No one wants to be rushed. People want to be heard. They want their questions answered. SDR’s should be empowered to answer top of the funnel questions and address those top level objections, not just dial for dollars. As long as targets are being met, there should be no time limit for authentic conversations. Now if authentic conversations aren’t part of your business model…well then, no words really.

8. Stay on Script!

Why be human when you can be a robot? Why think when you have a script? Why have a meaningful human to human connection with a prospect when you can stay on message. Have you ever felt that someone on the other end of the phone was reading a script or that you are just on the receiving end of a copy and pasted or automated message that isn’t tailored to your situation or personalized for you? Scripts make people nervous, on both sides of the conversations. The SDR is worried about doing it wrong, and the receiver isn’t about to trust a regurgitated script. Talking points are helpful, but the SDR’s personality, humanity, and empathy has to come through loud and clear if the conversation is going to go anywhere. Scripts are like bad first dates. They turn people off.

9. Sink of Swim Baby!

I have spoken to SDR’s who had an onboarding plan that consisted of a script, a prospect list and a phone on a desk and those that have been fully trained for each campaign they work on. Unfortunately, the former is usually the standard which doesn’t do the company nor the SDR any good. It certainly doesn’t increase odds for success. An onboarding program should consist of education on the company, products, services, messages, role plays, certifications, training on tools and best practices, a tiered ramp up plan, mentoring and clear measures of success along the way. That is a minimum. If you are being asked to get results immediately without sufficient training, consider finding a company that will invest in your skills and knowledge so you can both be successful.

10. Nowhere to go but…staying there.

SDR’s on our team, learn about our buyer persona’s, our products, services and pricing, our competitors, our strengths, our people, our partners, the company culture, the industry and so very much more. After the first year of employment, we have fully trained people who can hit the ground running in new roles such as:

  • SDR Team Lead or Manager
  • Sales
  • Customer Success
  • Marketing
  • Onboarding
  • Support
  • and more!

Trained SDR’s are golden and would rival the skills of any external candidate for these roles due to their SDR experience. The biggest complaint I receive when interviewing is that there is no career path for them in their current role. Many companies are underestimating a value of a fully trained resource who would be ideal candidates outside SDRland. When interviewing, make sure you not only have a place to land but a place to move! If recruiting, have career paths in place and plan for SDR’s to move after 12–18 months elsewhere in the organization.

Much of this may appear to be common courtesy, professionalism, and sense. If I am hearing this from prospective SDR’s, repeatedly, it means change is required and in order. A solid SDR practice can dramatically and predictably increase revenue. Let’s establish standards and best practices in building great SDR teams!

Thinking of starting an SDR practise? Looking for ideas on your current practise? Want to compare notes? Let’s talk!


Author: Anastasia Valentine

Positive Instigator, Speaker, Author, Business Strategist.

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