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Challenges of Building & Managing an SDR Team

Pipeline looking stagnant? It’s time to focus on your sales development reps. Are you leading your team to success?

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A critical role in almost every company, sales development reps are responsible for prospecting, setting qualified appointments, booking demos, and other forms of cold outreach. Largely, your revenue depends on your top-of-the-funnel success and the impact of your SDR team. 

In a 2021 study, The Bridge Group found that the median pipeline generated per SDR is around $3 million per year. To keep your sales pipeline growing, you need to focus on the long-term development and culture of your SDR team and recognize the daily challenges they face in their roles. 

Top SDR Challenges to Avoid:

If it doesn’t advance or elevate the SDR position, we aren’t about it. 

If you view the SDR role as a disposable function of your sales or marketing team, you should probably think about outsourcing your team instead. The role of an SDR is an already extremely challenging position. They certainly don’t need a leader who doesn’t understand their efforts. 

If you want to generate higher revenue, make your SDR team a priority and give them all the tools and resources to perform their job at the highest level. Or risk facing these top SDR challenges. 

Challenge #1: High Turnover Rates 

Inhouse SDRs are known to have one of the highest turnover rates in sales. This is an extremely common occurrence in most sales positions where people are poorly treated and underpaid. When this happens you lose more than just your time and resources. You also lose your culture, which weakens your entire company. 

To build and manage a successful SDR team, you need to decrease this risk. After all, humans need motivation and appreciation to perform their best work. You should be having ongoing conversations with your reps to ensure they are feeling valued and rewarded for the work they do. 

Try incorporating monthly or quarterly conversations into your operations so reps have a chance to address performance issues. If their work isn’t meeting the compensation guidelines, that’s when another conversation about their performance should happen. But you shouldn’t be waiting to hit them with the Performance Improvement Plan (PIP) to have that conversation.

If you are experiencing high turnover rates, let it be a red flag to you and other leaders on your team. You need to take a hard look at a long checklist of items- overall culture, promotion structure, base pay, commission structure, benefits, and how you are incentivizing your SDR team. Give them a better reason to stay or you can guarantee another company will. 

Challenge #2: Lack of Training & Process Structure 

We all know sales teams carry extremely high expectations. Too often companies start hiring SDRs expecting them to deliver results straight away, without giving them the adequate training and knowledge to succeed. If you are building or scaling an inhouse sales development team, one of the first and most important checklist items is making sure you have the proper strategy in place for onboarding and continuous training. 

According to Hubspot, most SDRs require 4.1 months of training before they are fully trained from onboarding. You need a clear plan and understanding of your training so you aren’t wasting time and resources.

Brian Bennett, a sales manager at Hubspot suggests planning where you want to go and what you want to achieve, then working backwards to get your answer. By doing so, you are able to see your goals and the steps or activities needed to achieve them. 

A major part of this is making sure you have a supporting them for your SDRs who are there to help onboard and continuously train. Many organizations take it for granted that their managers know how to effectively manage training and performance. Unfortunately, this is a huge mistake.

Bennett adds, “Ultimately, sales managers live in a results-based world but their ability to achieve those results depends on how they are consistently managing behaviors. Acknowledging this distinction is critical to your sales team’s success.” 

Challenge #3: Daily Activities Not Connected To Goals

Activities don’t always equal productivity. While the average number of daily activities will vary between rep, department, and industry, there are a few things to keep in mind when determining your sales development metrics and activities.

  • How much activity will result in hitting quota?
  • What kind of activity will result in hitting quota? 
  • How much productivity is possible in a workday?

By looking at each of these points, you will be able to reduce the number of daily activities and focus on the KPIs that bring results. If your goal is to increase SDR activity, then you’ll need to ensure that each step of the cadence is well defined. Once you’ve defined your cadence you can start to dive deeper into the metrics. 

  • What is your average deal size? 
  • What percentage of new opportunities result in new customers? 
  • How long does it take to close new business from top of the funnel operations? 

The more information you have about each call leads to more insight into how your campaigns are performing. Need help organizing your SDRs activities? A lead status tracker can help you better define the results from your calls to answer the above questions. It can also help SDRs own and track their own metrics for performance and be more autonomous in their role. 

Challenge #4: Not Setting the Right Goals & Expectations 

Sales development is all about communication – in almost every aspect. You need to be upfront and clear with your sales team about what you expect from them and how you fit into the mix of helping them improve. It’s important your team knows what they can expect from you as well as what you can expect from them.

If you are setting goals, your SDRs need to know what steps to take in order to complete them. Without that roadmap for success, you’ll keep on getting the same (bad) results.  For example, a specific monthly goal for an SDR team doesn’t matter if the expectations and pipeline are inaccurate.

This is especially important if you run an early-stage startup or a newer small business because it takes more time to measure and refine your messaging to the market, which will ultimately impact the goals and productivity of your SDR. 

Challenge #5: Not Giving Them Enough Resources 

A well-resourced SDR team will produce 4x what a badly enabled SDR team can produce. Sadly, there are a number of SDRs who are out here performing with very few tools and resources. It is important to make sure your sales tech stack can help you reach your goals and grow with your SDR team. Two of the most important tools are CRM systems and Sales Engagement systems.

CRM systems are commonly known as the primary database for tracking activities and customer interactions, collecting and converting leads into opportunities. CRMs have many features, but their primary purpose is to secure all of your data in one place. This is great for people in managing positions such as account executives because they can successfully navigate from pipeline to onboarding, to after-sales support with the click of a button.

Darryl Praill, CMO at Agorapulse says, “Most sales professionals will admit that they struggle to convert leads using CRM alone. The truth is that CRMs are not ideal for efficient lead qualification because, let’s keep in mind, they were designed for managing relationships.” To be more effective with your data, you should think about adding a sales engagement solution. 

Sales engagement systems are powerful tools, designed to start relationships and improve your sales prospecting. They are also great at helping operations and management track what’s working and what’s not by surfacing the data points that are most relevant to each and every role.

Sales automation tools such as Hubspot, Frontspin, Outreach, SalesLoft, and Apollo can help automate the outreach process, decreasing the time reps spend on sending manual emails and dialing. Being able to better measure these results will also help your SDR team become more efficient in their processes. 

Challenge #6: No Feedback Loop

Providing your SDR team with feedback is incredibly important for their overall success. Nearly every highly productive AE: SDR team has a high level of collaboration.

Roleplaying, listening to recordings, and getting overall feedback from appointments set can help you detail what specific activities need improvement. 

Measuring your sales activity is one piece of the puzzle, you also have your call analytics, which will help you evaluate the overall success of these types of phone calls. Both of these metrics should be in a constant feedback loop for your SDR team. 

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