How To Onboard and Prepare Your SDRs For Long Term Growth

July 27, 2015 Josh O'Brien

Image Source: Entrepreneur Start Start Up Career Man by geralt CC0 Pixabay

Listening in on the selling conversations of experienced team members and practicing objection scripts with colleagues are examples of time-tested strategies that accelerate the SDR learning curve. But how else can you instill habits that will make new hires instinctively push forward in the face of your prospects’ trickiest side-stepping attempts? And what can you do to ensure that they’re solidifying the proper insight and fleshed out technical skills that sophisticated selling requires?

We’ve outlined how to prepare for and nurture a sustainable, long-term mindset when setting up a team of skilled SDRs who will understand and be excited about confronting the daily realities of being a sales rep.

Understanding the natural personality spectrum of incoming hires

When taking on new people, recognize that their behavior will likely need to be tailored to the job at hand, as it’s extremely rare that you’ll encounter a fresh out of college grad perfectly suited for the SDR role. But if you hire the right individuals, all it takes is a slight bit of fine-tuning before they’ll quickly become self-sustaining. Here are two main types of hires you will run into when building a sales team:

Type A refers to the ambitious / audacious / fiery / willing to press the status-quo kind of person. They’re prone to initial success, because they’re extremely comfortable with the amount of real-time, personalized interaction involved with being an SDR. This individual is the one who exudes confidence, which is a huge advantage if and only if this confidence doesn’t bubble over.

Type B we’ll describe as the more reserved / methodical / analytical kind-of-person. This sort of mindset lends itself to deeply understanding individual pain points and drivers, which is great when it comes to personalizing outreach. Conversely, they tend to not push as hard in real-time conversations, which will become obvious when they’re selling. It’s their incessant reservedness that could lead to their downfall.

So how can you leverage this information?

Step 1: Deliver a clear, unified message to SDRs through your words, actions, and company culture

For better or worse, no matter which “type” they are, hires are going to need some hand holding early on. In general, expect them to require a period of training and orientation before you judge them too harshly. As far as how to actively onboard your hires, you shouldn’t label or cater to any one group or individual; treat them the same by asserting a distinct, unified message in line with your company’s culture, in a way you deem fit.

There are many methods to achieve this, but one thing’s for sure: it’s absolutely crucial to get employees mentally bought into your company and services. Their positive view of the product they’re selling and the brilliant people they work with should be bulletproof, which will ensure they’re always excited to help the company grow.

Step 2: Teach them how to connect with prospects

First, make the ideal company profile (ICP) your reps’ number one reference point, day-in and day-out. Next, understand that organizational roles often correlate with personality traits. As an example, people who have taken risks and endured failures – like CXOs and VPs – are likely to enjoy the benefits of increased self-esteem, self-assurance, and self-worth. As a result, they want to deal with like-minded others who have strong personalities.

To CXOs and VPs, multiple outreach attempts are a must, mostly because their days are filled with long to-do lists, and they honestly don’t have time to look into every solution that comes their way. So when they give you a “No,” take that as a “No – because I get 50 emails a day, and I don’t have time for yours right now. Try again later.” This is your opportunity to bounce back with a message along the lines of “I know how your team operates. I can help, and this is how.” They want to be sold to; they’re always looking for solutions that will generate additional revenue.

As far as conveying personality, it should come as no surprise that sales is a game of confidence, so push hard. Better to err on the side of confidence at the risk of arrogance, than reservedness at the risk of being ignored. Showcase how you’re the expert in this space – you know and love the product, what it stands for, and how it helps people. But be aware that sales is just as much a game of empathy. Using techniques like mirroring your prospect’s personality and matching their tone can work, but you’ll run the risk of coming off as insincere if it’s not natural and grounded in substance. Focus on being polite and making them feel good. Emphasize the idea of growing together and maximizing your partnership.

Lastly, in terms of overall presentation, know that hyper-personalization really matters. It’s the biggest factor you should be thinking about when wondering: “Am I being a pain in the butt, or just consistent?”

To really become adept at this, you should allow yourself some creative leeway to find something that will pique their interest. Figure out how you can speak to what’s going on in their life. How can you understand their pain points before you talk to them? Use what they share publicly: answers to these questions may involve looking at what blogs they read, which posts they liked / commented on, or what they tweet about. More pointedly, are they a sports fan? Did you or any of your friends go to the their college? Use knowledge like this to naturally build conversation. Any way you can create an even playing field with this person will allow you to hone in on the magical line between pissing that person off and gaining their respect.

Step 3: Implement a simple, structured, and repeatable training system

A hiring system should routinely summon the best aspects of your team’s personality, all while spawning personal and professional growth toward optimal levels of both confidence and empathy. When creating one, realize there’s no reason it needs to be overly complicated: if you’re in control of the company culture, the details will largely sort themselves out within a safe, encouraging, and competitive environment, where SDRs are judged on response rate and revenue drive. Realize there is zero room available here for the old school mentality of measuring salespeople by how many dials they make.

If you’re wondering about specifics on salary increases, make the decision with a couple facts in mind. The goal of offering sizable wages to SDRs is to effectively remove the traditional SDR → AE hierarchy that so often causes headaches within the team. And further, since sales development drives the revenue engine through the booking of meetings (the hardest part of the sales process), you know they are an integral driver in your company’s bottom line. Why not pay them handsomely?

Essentially, creating an onboarding arrangement involves a simple, two step process:

  1. Give your new SDRs warm leads to set them up for easy wins, which will drive home the point that they can be successful in this role.
  2. Gradually ramp this up over a short period of time with multiple quota and salary increases. Our SDRs are expected to be setting meetings by week two, and crushing demo quotas within five weeks.

After a month of booking progressively more meetings with bigger and more challenging prospects, your reps won’t think twice about firing back confidently when someone gives them some push back. This confidence, coupled with pride for the company, a market-level salary that reinforces their worth, and an intuitive understanding of the sales process is the formula for great onboarding and a high-powered sales development team.

Featured Image Source: Entrepreneur Start Start Up Career Man by geralt CC0 Pixabay

About the Author

Josh O'Brien

Josh is a world traveler, sales extraordinaire, culinary bad-ass, part-time day trader, and pitbull advocate. You probably owe him money… and, if you’re not sure, you should probably just pay him.

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