5 Common Mistakes Sales Development Reps Make in their First Week

March 11, 2015 Sam Laber

For sales development managers, onboarding new reps can be pretty stressful. You’ve got a variety of new personalities to manage, aggressive new goals to hit and a wide array of professional backgrounds that must all be brought to the same level of comprehension on your product and internal processes in just a few weeks. Oh! And just like any new hire would, your SDRs are going to make mistakes — delicious, excruciating, tear-out-your-hair-and-step-outside-to-scream mistakes that you, the SDR manager, must address calmly and with a smile on your face.

In the below, we’ve picked out a few common errors that new SDRs make during the ramp-up process and provided a few ways you can prevent them from happening in the future.

1. Trying to do too much

From day 1, many SDRs want to prove their worth by sourcing the most leads, sending the most emails and making the most phone calls. While this enthusiasm is often beneficial in the long run, it can often lead to an onslaught of CRM duplicates, and a ton of unlogged emails and calls. No one wants a messy Salesforce, so what can you do to bottle this enthusiasm, but prevent the side effects?

For starters, we recommend setting a weekly lead, email and call goal for your new SDRs that increases as they ramp. Here’s an example of what this might look like. In this table, we assume that each lead will be emailed once a week and leads entered in the current week or week prior will receive one call per week. Feel free to shift these activities around to your liking.

Now that you’ve outlined a framework for your reps to follow for their first month, we highly recommend setting up a dashboard to monitor these activities and spot outlier behavior as it occurs.

2. Spraying and praying

For SDRs managers, this term is cringe-worthy to say the least. In a CEO’s mind, the whole point of building out a sales development team is to break through a prospect’s noisy inbox by creating relevant, personalized product pitches. This doesn’t mean copying and pasting prospect X’s email template and using it for prospects Y and Z or reaching out to multiple prospects at a given company on the same day.

To help prevent spray and pray tactics, we recommend trying the “one company, one contact” rule. This means that the 30 new leads your SDR finds in their first week must come from 30 different companies. Note: this one’s pretty easy to track with lead views if you’ve got them.

To discourage your reps from sending out impersonal emails, try creating some incentives. For example, in the weekly sales meeting, choose one extremely personalized email or phone call that one of your SDRs made and feature it in the weekly sales recap. If you’re recording outbound calls, playing back the recording of a particularly interesting (and, in the end, successful) phone call can be pretty entertaining for the team and also gratifying for the rep that made the call.

3. Not structuring their time

Whether you’re an SDR, account executive or CEO, having good time management skills is often the difference between succeeding and failing in your role. To help get your new SDRs organized, we recommend sitting down individually with each one to sketch out a rough overview of their day. During this conversation, feel free to make suggestions for when certain activities should be done, but ultimately let them decide what process works best with how they work.

Struggling to find a daily routine that gets the job done? Here’s one.

4. Giving up after the first “no”

Let’s be honest — if SDRs had to give up the instant their prospects said no, business would never get done. Thankfully, overcoming objections is something SDRs become quite good at, but not without a little coaching.

One exercise we find to be pretty effective is cold calling your own company (yep, seriously). Have your new SDRs call your veteran SDRs, your account executives and even your sales managers and tell each group to be absolutely ruthless with their rejections. If there’s anyone who knows the common roadblocks to selling your product, it’s the people pitching it everyday.

5. Not listening to sales demos

Finally, one of the fastest ways for your new SDRs to develop product fluency and gain confidence fast is to listen in on sales demos every day. During the first few weeks, make sure your reps listen in on demos prepared by a variety of account executives so they get a feel for the different styles of pitching your product. Also, encourage them to take notes during each demonstration that address the following:

  • Was the prospect a good fit? Why or why not?
  • What was the prospect’s main pain point?
  • What solutions did the account executive provide to address this pain point?
  • Did the prospect give any objections?
  • How did the account executive speak to these objections?
  • Did the account executive outline next steps? If so, what were they?
  • What will be the biggest obstacle for closing this deal?

Having your SDRs answer questions like these will help keep them engaged in the conversation, while also providing constructive feedback for your account executive to use for her next call.

About the Author

Sam Laber

Sam is the director of marketing at Datanyze. He's a big John Hughes fan who occasionally fills the DZ office with the sweet sweet sounds of 90s rock giant, Creed.

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