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How to find good SDRs?

Hey Sales Savages,


Happy Friday! I am the first sales rep startup which just recently hit 1MM ARR in 11 months and working on moving up market since we're crushing the SMB and Mid-Market side but as you all know SMB leads to churn so we're focusing on bigger deals now and competitor switches.


I currently have 2 SDRs and aren't the best. They continue to not hit metrics and their manager is a marketing guy that's never sold. It's frustrating to see the lack of performance and the team just bought zoominfo which they said would help. I do have quite a bit of sway in the org so I was thinking about proposing on putting both on PIPs and hiring a new team but don't want to make mistakes. So what are some skills I should look for in SDRs and make sure they're trained up and executing ASAP. We do have some budget constraints so that maybe the big issue but I've always been able to do more with less.

โ˜๏ธ Software Tech
๐Ÿ‘ฅ Hiring
๐Ÿงข Sales Management
37
Beans
Politicker
+5
Account Executive
Hungry coachable grads, and restaurant/service industry folks looking for a change.ย 
CaneWolf
Politicker
+12
Call me what you want, just sign the damn contract
Yep, hire for the right people and then train them. I really don't get the idea of hiring BDRs/SDRs whatever from other places unless the perfect person just falls into your lap.
TheSolicitorGeneral
Politicker
+6
Small Market AE
This times 1000. There are so many good "people" people in the service industry that would snap at the chance to jump into a corporate job. I suggest looking at fast-cas joints.
Beans
Politicker
+5
Account Executive
Exactly, it takes a lot of patience and grit to deal with the shit at restos, and once they've gotten over the late nights they've got all the interpersonal skills you want, and they're ready to be molded to your products.

College/University degrees don't carry the weight they used to when it comes to real world experience.ย 
Show 1 more replies
HoosierDaddy
Opinionated
+3
SDR
This former service industry guy agrees
Beans
Politicker
+5
Account Executive
Bartender throughout university, owe that vast majority of my soft social skills to those nights.
TheDirector
Good Citizen
Sales Director - Government
100%
funcoupons
WR Officer
+11
up in Fiji, under paddy
Manager being a marketing guy who's never sold is the major problem here, not the SDRs. He needs to go and a real sales manager needs to be there to support the SDR team.ย 

If you're looking at hiring good people, internal referrals are always your best bet. Strong employees usually know other strong employees. Providing a bonus for a successful hire is a good way to get some decent referrals.

If you do go the job ad route, screen the hell out of people. And don't be afraid to hire based on soft skills vs hard skills. Sales skills can be taught, drive and personality cannot. Be sure candidates know what they're getting into - my hiring manager actually tried talking me out of my SDR role when I applied..."here's what we do every day, here's what sucks...why would you want to do this?" You need to disqualify people who think it's going to be easy or are just taking the job as an in between placeholder until they find something better.ย 
JustGonnaSendIt
Opinionated
+4
Burn Towns, Get Money
100% agree with your comment on the manager. The most critical thing for a team of good SDR / BDR is a really solid Director of Business Developement.

The best results I've ever seen from SDR / BDR has been from that scrappy kid with almost no experience that wanted to learn and worked hard. I would hire more on character and willingness to learn than any previous experience.

IMO, SDR / BDR's should he hired with the mindset of hiring an apprentice that you want to help grow. Hire people you are willing to invest in, then show them the path.

Harder work than just having a meat grinder? sure. But the results are worth it over the 3- 5 year timeframe and beyond.
NoSuperhero
Politicker
+6
BDR
Yeah I think finding people that are never afraid of a challenge is important. The lack of grit from people is def something to look for and disqualify from the process
paddy
WR Officer
+10
Account Executive
Legend has it that there's a 50 foot deep well somewhere remotely located in the Great Basin between the Rocky Mountains and Sierras. If you choose to make the trek, bring a bottle of Kahlua. Once you find the well, pour half the bottle of Kahlua down and recite the following:

"Forgive me Paddy for I have sinned,
An SDR I request, and perhaps some gin.
I call upon your mercy to grant this request,
More Kahlua for you, at your behest"

Within 1 week, I will summon a hungry and vigorous SDR. They will approach you and say "the Kahlua is in the basket, here is my padfolio."

That is the one.

Here are the coordinates to the well:ย ย 40.6667ยฐ N, 117.6667ยฐ W

You're welcome
Oz
Ozz
Politicker
+6
Account Executive
Thanks, I'll go check it out this week.ย 
Beans
Politicker
+5
Account Executive
Curious why their manager has no sales experience? That's a bit of a red flag, how can they teach what they've never done.ย 
Oz
Ozz
Politicker
+6
Account Executive
Our marketing and development is outsourced to India and honestly I don't have the bandwidth to manage right now until I can get a qualified AE (will be a big challenge since already having problems hiring). He's a great guy in marketing and says he has worked with SDRs but I don't think he understand that he has to hold them accountable to that's why I'm going to step in.ย 
CuriousFox
WR Officer
+11
Needer of Life Alert
Why aren't they the best? Have they had thorough training? I'm guessing not.
Oz
Ozz
Politicker
+6
Account Executive
Yeah, the training has been pretty poor. I just expect people to be self-starters but that a bad assumption.ย 
TheGreenSide
Opinionated
+3
Enterprise AE
Thereโ€™s a difference between being trained and being a self-starter. Theyโ€™re not mutually exclusive.
Re
RedLightning
Politicker
+7
Mid-Market AE
I'd go for experienced SDR's who want to move into management. SDR's need coaching. Find a few that want to coach and go from there.ย 
Oz
Ozz
Politicker
+6
Account Executive
Agreed, but I doubt we have the budget for that - wondering if I should just hire one experienced instead of the 2 we have currently and have him build up the team himself.ย 
Re
RedLightning
Politicker
+7
Mid-Market AE
It sounds like you dont' have the capacity to build out an SDR program yet, so you need someone who can come in and be self sufficient.ย 
Show 1 more replies
Thesamiam
Arsonist
+6
Sales
I know that SDRs can fall under either marketing or sales, but I read a study that SDRs perform better under sales.ย 
Oz
Ozz
Politicker
+6
Account Executive
Yeah, we did it because that's how it was done at my previous employer but agreed on it being part of sales.ย 
SaaSguy
Politicker
+5
Account Executive
If you want reps to work you need to instill a working culture. Ive been at companies where sdr's are the scrappiest, hungriest people in the entire office and foaming a the mouth for meetings. Ive also been at companies where they are pampered and as an AE im setting more than these people whose jobs are to set meetings all day. Set expectations and let them know they NEED to perform- it may sound like basic advice but it makes a big difference.ย 
Oz
Ozz
Politicker
+6
Account Executive
Yeah, I just got off a serious call with this guy. He's complaining that ZoomInfo isn't syncing with salesloft and I said why does that matter? Just manually add it. I think we bought way too many tools as a startup - should of just gotten the team laptop and cell phone.ย 
SaaSguy
Politicker
+5
Account Executive
When I started as an SDR i got a phone and salesforce license. I had to earn zoominfo privileges- and we only split an account between a handful of us so we had to schedule our time getting to use it!
Show 3 more replies
BurnedOutSalesman
Good Citizen
Co-Founder
I'd fire the marketing guy first or take him off the BD team.

Anyway, I know a guy who's done well in real estate wholesaling on his own. Closed about 7 deals over the course of the year strictly from making cold calls. He wants to switch to tech sales. Hit me up if you'd like an intro
Oz
Ozz
Politicker
+6
Account Executive
That's awesome - we actually license a capital raising and investor management platform for RE. We have plenty of guys that used to wholesale and now syndicating their own deals. Love to connect with him. What's the best way to get in touch?
CaneWolf
Politicker
+12
Call me what you want, just sign the damn contract
If you want good people, you train them. I'd focus on getting rid of the manager more than the SDRs. Doesn't sound like they're the problem.
JC10X
Politicker
+8
Senior Sales Manager
I think a bit of training might help! Ive worked with horrible reps that become #1, consistently.ย 
Willygggg
Good Citizen
+1
Founder
I like military people. They will work their ass off with 100% conviction. ย I think hiring a person who worked as an sdr at 3 different companies is a bad idea.ย 

find someone who has been successful at literally anything in the past. Skateboarding, video games, doesnโ€™t matter. Shows they can work towards a goal.ย 


being an sdr sucks. Letโ€™s be real. They need a high pain tolerance. You can teach the rest.ย 

my two cents.ย 
sadness2
Inside Sales Manager
I have a few thoughts:ย 

1. You are growing fast and the company seems to be financially sound so why are the SDRs not performing? If the SDRs are producing all the leads for the sales team then you should just readjust SDR goals and metrics to align. It's okay to have SDRs miss one month and Sales hit but it should go back and forth not one winning all the time. If the AEs are crushing it because of their own out-bounding efforts then yeah, you have an SDR issue and see point 2.ย 

2. Don't toss the baby with the bath water. Your SDRs need to hit their KPIs daily first and foremost. If they can't do that you have an effort problem. The KPIs should be directly reverse engined from their quota and they need to see it. If not they will never trust in them and won't hit em. If they are hitting their KPIs you need to be coaching them. If they are not taking the coaching then, sure, have the tough conversation and let them go.ย 

3. For hiring. You want someone who has strong character (integrity, problem solver (this job is not just smile and dial you have to be creative and take action), Grit (mental toughness), Communication (have them do a role play in their interview)

Final thought:ย 
You are looking for a unicorn SDR if you are hiring people with no sales experience and expecting them to pick this job up remotely in a few months. 80% of the SDR job is between the ears. If they aren't in the right mindset they won't perform.ย 
Oz
Ozz
Politicker
+6
Account Executive
Great feedback. I will bring this to the team.ย 
dmtaggs
Account Executive
career fairs, recruit graduating collegiate athletes
What
Opinionated
+3
Enterprise
Any previous success where hustle/grit was required - former athlete, commission-only sales, real estate, etc.
Saskatooner
Senior AE
Just keep digging a ditch
anbapo
regional

First, what do YOU look for in candidates?ย 
Also, Is there a clear variable compensation plan and career advancement?
All the best
Oz
Ozz
Politicker
+6
Account Executive
I look for self-starters, guys that are hungry to work, and growth potential. Yes, the variable is clear and I'm happy to promote since we're still in growth phase now. As long as you hit your metrics, you can grow into the role and not have that 18-month BS you deal with as an SDR before or ever getting promoted. I think what I'm realizing is our training is poor that's leading to bad performance so we'll have to correct that ASAP.
anbapo
regional
Thatยดs a solid response. Have you tried personality tests as part of the hiring? I've used Cultural Index and it's an indicator if they are a "fit" on the sales floor.ย 
Show 1 more replies
Panda4489
Valued Contributor
+4
Business Development Manager
Coach them up. That's how they're found
alecabral
Arsonist
+8
Director - Digital Sales Transformation
Quick thought: rather than suggesting to put these guys on PIPs, why not develop a training plan for them?ย 
Oz
Ozz
Politicker
+6
Account Executive
Yup, will need to dive deeper and figure out training.
bamageorge
Celebrated Contributor
+9
International Sales Director
Iโ€™m here for the answers!ย 
girheakinna
Opinionated
+3
da best SDR
Find hungry people who are willing to try and train them well
Kinonez
Celebrated Contributor
+9
WR Enthusiast
Itโ€™s all about the coaching, you have to make their weakness their strength! Itโ€™s not easy but itโ€™s the way to go!
looper1010
Celebrated Contributor
+13
Account Executive
I've found hungry retail salespeople who want to earn more make good SDR candidates.ย  These are people who have some basics in sales, ready to move onto corporate sales, and most importantly, they're HUNGRY.

I can train someone how to write emails, creates sequences, and cadences.ย  But I can't train hunger.ย  The non-sales types have already been weeded out and they're ready to hit the phone running.
Adored
Valued Contributor
+5
Sales Director
Best way out of this situation for you?

Personally coach them yourself, regardless of the fact you aren't their manager. If you take them under your wing, show them the way and prove you're on their side (which you are because they can help get you paid) - they'll start to deliver.

Hiring new reps, getting rid of these ones etc. - these are much more drastic, moonshot solutions.

I'd also reach out to their boss in marketing and offer some support in helping them develop their skills on the sales side. Let him/her work on messaging with them (assuming that's their skillset).
mitts2
Politicker
+8
Account Executive
Find athletes. They know how to grind, handle adversity, and take coaching well.
GDO
Politicker
+7
BDM
Drive and coachability are key with juniors.ย 
watercooler
Politicker
+4
Manger, BizDev
Dont look for sales experience, look for mindset and hunger! Coachability is another huge factor - if they feel as if they already know so much about sales, it could be hard to train them up
TheRealVladimirPutin
Opinionated
+5
AE
Pay them more. Top performers won't work for low OTE or capped commission.
pipelinemachine
Good Citizen
Head of Business Development
As others have noted, the issue is with the lack of training. You can have the hungriest SDRs and the best tools but the message is the most important component. And that goes beyond email copy. Marketing won't be able to help with call coaching if they've never done cold calling. Here's a litmus test to find if this is the issue as suspected: at least 50% of your meetings booked should be from the phone. If this is not the case, it's because your SDRs aren't getting correct call coaching.

Watch out with hiring an "experienced SDR" - average SDR tenure is 1.5 years before moving onto AE. If they didn't get promoted, you should at least find out why.
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