3 Key Factors to Building a High Performing SDR team

December 11, 2015 RingLead Inc

Everyone is trying to build a high performing SDR team these days. At first glance it seems simple, right? You think, if I just hire a few hungry young SDRs, the demos will start to flow in like crazy…wrong! Without these 3 key factors you may find yourself scratching your head thinking…what am I doing wrong?

high performance - flying jetsI’ve spent the majority of my career, performing or managing the SDR function. I worked on teams that were very high performing, and also others that were not so effective. I founded and built my own company, NetTel Partners, into a team of over 30 outbound reps with clients such as Avaya, Juniper, NetApp and others. Over the years I’ve worked with 100’s of Inside Sales Professionals/SDRs, and have learned something from all of them.

Here is what I found to work across different organizations.

1. Culture

To me Culture is the single most important factor in having your SDRs outperform consistently. When talking to companies, I find that most companies don’t understand what a good culture is. Some think that making a lot of money is a great culture, some think that letting you bring a dog to work marks an excellent culture, but I’ve found it starts with having a team mentality centered around Fairness, Honesty, Respect and Trust. It seems cookie cutter, when written like that, but it’s true. Most bad cultures start when there are loopholes in the commission plan or in distribution of the leads, that are ALLOWED to be exploited. It is nearly impossible to eliminate the loopholes, but when reps feel like they have an unfair disadvantage they don’t work as hard to compete for the top spot. They give up thinking they can compete and accept being mediocre. You need to address these exploited loopholes head on. In the past, I’ve used SDR committees to resolve these issues and based on their recommendations, devised a plan to stop the problem. This helps to create a Team Mentality, where everyone is competing, but also working together and not infighting.

For the Culture to really thrive, it’s important that someone manages the team who promotes respect and trust. When the team knows you have their back, they work harder for you. There are times when the SDR Manager will have to go to bat for their team, against Sales or Marketing or maybe even Finance, but these moments make your team trust you, and in turn, they work harder for you, even when you are not looking.

Of course there are a bunch of minor things you can do to cultivate a great culture like Happy Hours, Potlucks, giving them company swag (t-shirts, sweatshirts, stickers, etc), but, without the basics, all the perks in the world don’t make up for it.

2. Fueling the Team with Data

The second most important factor is data or leads. This is the fuel to get your SDR engine running. There are a million and one ways to get data, you can buy it from various sources, you can build lists internally, you can have your reps find the data on their own, etc, etc. This process should not be done on an individual basis unless you want to have a really erratic team. Dedicate someone who can consistently distribute lists to your SDR team. Come up with a plan, for which lists you will target and with what message and content. As an example at Ringlead, each BDR targets 200 Small and Medium sized prospects from roughly 50 companies each week, and 3 Enterprise companies with 25 prospects each. Lay out the process for how you want your team to attack the data…# of calls, emails, social touches before it should be moved to nurture. By allowing your SDRs to focus on calling, emailing and social selling, you will have them doing what they do best, while allowing someone else to specialize in creating/buying great lists. Your team should still be augmenting their lists using LinkedIn and the web to find additional contacts, verify existing contacts or to add prospects to a target company, but the bulk of the heavy lifting should be done by your list specialist. This is the fuel, and you don’t go and build your own oil refinery to get gas for your car, you allow a specialist to do it.

If you don’t already have a good flow of inbound leads, you should consider upping your content production. Produce blog posts that your ideal customers want to read and spread them around on social media. Host webinars alone or with a partner, to help drive more attendees. Lots of ways to get your inbound engine running, too many for me to cover here.

3. Comp Plan

Someone could write an entire book on how to create the perfect comp plan (and probably already has), but here are a few steps to get you started. Keep your SDR comp plan focused on what you want them to do, meaning the majority of their commission should be based on scheduling qualified demos/appointments that occur. Many companies like to tie SDR comp with Closed Won business, and this can work well as a minor component of the comp plan, but should not make up the majority of it. Why? The reason is, that you are asking the SDR to schedule demos that are qualified (based on your standards) and are not a waste of time for the sales rep. Once a sales rep indicates that the meeting met the criteria, the SDR has little or no control over it’s ability to close. The sales rep has a number of steps that they can either nail or fail at, all of which are totally out of the SDRs hands. Define what a qualified meeting is, create a way to track it in your CRM, and then compensate the SDRs based on them producing what you’ve asked them to produce. Keep the plan simple, a plan that is too complicated ends up driving the wrong behavior, or worse, not driving any behavior.

If you follow these 3 simple steps you will be well on your way to creating a high performing SDR team. Of course there are plenty of other aspects to the success of your SDR team, most important of those not on this list is the tools you give them, like CRM, Emailing, Gamification and others, but I’ll leave that topic for another post. I’d love to hear what drives your high performing team. Feel free to reach out with any questions you might have!

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