When launching from square one… damn near absolute zero, you’ve usually got a choice of two routes you can take to generate leads (because, let’s face it, a lot of startups don’t have the budget for both right away):
- Build up our your online content marketing, maybe throw up a few Google ads, and pray to the inbound gods that something catches and people decide you’re worthy of receiving their email.
- Start selling immediately. It’s probably going to be at least 95% cold outreach, but at least you’re taking things directly into your own hands.
Lots of people choose to put their eggs in the content basket (we’re huge fans of content ourselves), but the gut instinct of most entrepreneurial types is to go for the one that you’ve got 100% control over (and can get the data on the effectiveness of it immediately). That is, option number two—to start selling right away.
With this route, you don’t have to spend the time required to build up a huge content bank to funnel different types of prospects through.
It was the route we took when we were starting out.
Because time-saving (and making more sales more immediately) is a major deal-maker for going with the cold sales side of the gamble, it’s important to get the SDRs (sales development reps) you’ve hired up and running into appointment-setting machines ASAP.
In a world where 74% of sales reps are failing at their jobs, we wanted to ensure we had something better for our company. We didn’t want to “train” people to wing it, because we knew we’d never optimize our earning and growth potential that way. So we did something else.
We didn’t have a marketing budget in the early days, so we used a quizzing system (and still use it today) with our SDRs. This provided a non-threatening but reliable form of accountability to keep them moving forward while learning simultaneously. This enabled them to start setting as many quality appointments with our account executives as possible.
When they started selling, the results were definitely something to be proud of. When we hire a new SDR now, they’re hitting the same quotas as our veteran SDRs by week four.
The 2 Quizzes We Use for Holistic Training
Here’s the gist of the quizzes themselves, to adapt with your own company-specific information:
Quiz 1: Role-Specific
This is the first quiz we start with, and it covers any possible situation our SDRs might encounter while interacting with prospects.
- How to do research
- How to use Datanyze (our own product) to make their work more effective
- How to find the right companies to contact
- How to find the right people within those companies to start a conversation with
- How to use the other tools we employ as a part of our sales development process
To help them study to better prepare for this quiz, in addition to our office-hours training, we give each new SDR we hire an SDR playbook, which is a detailed document of our sales process.
(The SDR playbook was created with our first SDR hire, who is now our SDR leader. We hired someone who already knew what he was doing when it came to B2B software sales, and as he employed and tested different processes, he documented the most effective ones for our company.)
Quiz 2: Product-Specific
Beyond the frequently asked questions that SDRs run into 80% of the time they spend interacting with prospects, SDRs need to be fully prepared to answer the harder questions as well.
We give this product-specific quiz once per month even after the training period to make sure each SDR keeps learning more and more about the product we offer, therefore getting even better at their jobs.
It covers the questions we most often receive from prospects and additional information like:
- Use-case scenarios
- How to assess a realistic numbers potential for prospects if they start using our product
- Case study examples
- The scope of what can be accomplished with individual features
- Tips to help customers get the most out of Datanyze
- Software updates and what they mean for the customer
Starting with the 80/20 principle, it’s important to make sure SDRs are well-versed in the 20% of the questions they run into 80% of the time to get them on the phone with prospects and setting appointments sooner. But as they continue training into the full-fledged role, we use this quiz to make sure they become well-versed in the finer details as well.
Our Training Assessment Accountability System (How We Use the Quizzes)
Rather than giving quizzes haphazardly and whenever we feel like it, we have a system. This system, over time, has given us valuable benchmarks to know how well SDRs should be scoring with each successive quiz. That way, we can tell them if and where they need to spend more time studying.
Our quizzes, then, start on day three of training.
Then we quiz on day five and in week two.
We start with the role-specific quiz first. We hit this one heavy, giving it frequently in the first few weeks after someone joins our team, and doing brush-ups along the way, just to make sure they’re still on top of their game.
For this quiz, SDRs can use their playbook to study up, especially if they’re finding one particular part of the process difficult to grasp.
The next quiz, which we give more heavily at first, is more product-focused. We continue to use this quiz once a month even after the training period is over.
Obviously, the purpose during training is to get SDRs ready to answer product questions. However, it’s equally important that they have the accountability to stay on top of product evolutions and feature tweaks to give prospects the most relevant information.
First of all, both quizzes let us know if we’ve hired the right people, rather than using blink trust. Secondly, they show us if and where our SDRs need to improve, and if there’s a particular place where we need to up our game with training. We don’t want those appointment-setting numbers to suffer, after all.
And third, even after the training period is over, the policy of giving a product quiz once per month creates a non-threatening accountability presence, so if an SDR feels hazy about something, they make sure to get clear on it quickly.
“If Your Training Structure Is Winging It – Every Time… Your Cash Flow Will Prove It”
“I can’t overstate the importance of making sure SDRs are professional, they’re trained correctly; because inevitably they’re the ones that can decide whether you’re going to hit your revenue goals or not. If you’re not investing in their training and the resources they need to make sure they’re staying consistent, concise and accurate in the things that they’re doing to represent the company professionally, then you’re gonna leave a poor lasting impression in somebody’s mind, and you certainly don’t want to do that.”
-Ben Sardella, Co-Founder of Datanyze
More than having a way to get paying clients quickly without a marketing budget, we set up this quizzing system because the core of our company is about helping sales, and we knew that fully-trained SDRs would be 357 times more effective than SDRs who wing it. (approximate figure)
How do you train your SDRs? Let us know in the comments below!
This post was written by Chelsea Baldwin, freelance writer and marketing consultant at Carolina Freelance Writer.
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