The SDR (Sales Development Representative) position is a key role in the sales team and opportunity generation process. However, finding and contracting a rockstar SDR is a super complex process – one that costs your company a ton of time and money.
So to avoid wasting valuable resources, it’s critical to design a good SDR onboarding process. Without well-trained SDRs, your entire sales pipeline can come to a halt, without qualified sales opportunities in sight.
To help new SDRs achieve the best results possible, our (sales leaders’) responsibility is to prepare them with a thorough onboarding. That includes providing the know-how and tools they need for long-term success.
The main objective of the onboarding provides a solid starting point from which they can quickly ramp-up.
The SDR onboarding process has three objectives – first, get to know the company and the product, or the solution which you sell. Secondly, to be fully aware of your target market. Thirdly, to become familiar with the tools and processes of outbound or sales development.
It’s important to emphasize the culture of the team and core values to get new SDRs on board with your office vibe. So, the first step is doing a who’s who of your team.
Present the members of the team and explain their roles within your company. This helps your SDRs understand who to turn to when they have a problem or need help with the product, a human resources question, and so on.
And in the challenges of today’s remote work environment, getting your new rep integrated into the sales development team can take a little more effort.
Hailey Pobanz, Enterprise Sales Development Manager at GitLab, suggests, “RandomCoffee is great because you can have a Slack channel for it, and anyone can join it, and you’re just going to get assigned random people, and people are open to that. Part of our SDR-specific onboarding at GitLab is that you need to do 10 coffee chats with random people, and you can ask anyone. You can ask Sid, our CEO, to have a coffee chat.”
She notes that leadership needs to take the reins to create a welcoming environment. “I think it needs to come kind of top-down culturally in terms of that openness. I mean, you have to foster that from leadership to start.”
Make sure to avoid department tunnel vision by solely focusing on sales development metrics. Instead, concentrate on the overall company growth strategy to help your new SDR understand what kind of relationships they need to build with the market and why.
Introduce the current situation of the company, sales strategy, as well as long and short-term objectives. This helps the SDR integrate into the sales department and understand the end goal for the team as a whole.
Take time to explain the role that SDRs play in the sales team, what objectives they have, and the processes they should follow. It’s important that your reps understand the key performance indicators in the sales team (not just within their role, but Market Research and Account Executives too). Explain the objectives behind these key figures and the tactical steps to reach their goals.
The SDR themself and other departments in your company should clearly understand the vital role of sales development reps. Typically, SDRs secure quality meetings from which the Account Executives can turn into sales opportunities.
Each rep must learn to effectively prospect the leads and qualify accounts delivered by Market Research. Developing the rep’s expertise and processes are fundamental to get them to the point where they consistently hand over quality leads to AEs.
It’s crucial to teach the news SDR to manage their expectations. And the first step is understanding your target market.
Understanding the size and general struggles of their market helps reps realistically attain their objectives. Teach your new SDRs about key players in your target industry and their common struggles. And provide industry press resources and websites to find relevant news about your target.
This way, your SDRs will start their role armed with relevant insights for your market’s specific pain points.
What tools does a newbie rep need to be successful?
Well, the SDR playbook (the manual where all wisdom about sales in the company is collected), the CRM (a technology where all sales information is recorded), and the other tools used to manage their work to the highest standards – give them the superpowers they need to be the best.
The proper tech stack allows an SDR to perform an extremely effective search for leads (through LinkedIn Sales Navigator for example), start prospecting through calls, or begin emailing with the right message for each industry, position, or role. All of this info must, of course, be collected through mail tracking tools and a dialer.
Making these tools available to the SDR launches them into owning their pipeline and using the prospecting cadence to contact their leads. Below, find out how Smart Protection uses Bloobirds to help onboard SDRs quickly 👇
The SDR must make leads aware of the problem and sell the solution – not your product. So, they’ll need to develop an in-depth knowledge of the trends of your industry and the problem you solve.
The major key is that the SDR believes in your solution so that they can sell it. During onboarding, it’s time to show use cases, success stories, and of course, talk about the others on the playing field. Discuss both the strengths and weaknesses of your competition compared to yourselves.
Which companies are the company targeting? Then more importantly, who is the buyer persona? The job of an SDR is to find the right person within the company of which we want to generate a business opportunity—and they need to know exactly who to look for here.
“The job of an SDR is to find the right person within the company of which we want to generate a business opportunity”
Also, they will learn what pain points the ideal customer has and how our product can help them. They will learn how to connect and engage with the potential lead.
We need to teach the new hires how to organize their time, prioritize their tasks, and stay on top of everything.
It’s important that they learn to keep their data inputs tidy within the CRM so that it’s easy to pull information from it at any time. Or try a sales engagement platform that automatically collects data as SDRs work can help stay on top of things.
It’s time to get hands-on and have them practice what they’ve learned in real life. The new member of the team has to practice prospecting through cold-calling, emailing, etc.
Role-playing exercises with both good and bad prospects can help SDRs learn objection handling and handle doubts. Record how the exercises go, review them (whether they’re audio or text reviews), and use this feedback to schedule further coaching sessions.
Hailey suggests, “One of the things that our team does is we have a weekly cold calling session where we do mock calls. We use our sort of sales training framework that we have for that.”
“But, we’ll do some concise ones where it’s just that like, you’ve got two minutes to book a meeting, and then we also do ones where we’re going through the qualification questions for that discovery afterward.”
Ramp-up is the opportune moment to find a peer mentor who can offer pro-tips and practice with the newbie SDR.
As Hailey mentioned in the video above, peer practice can help cement skills into SDRs. She elaborates, “I find on my team, we have much more success with those when it self-run. So the SDRs actually lead it. Someone is a moderator every week that rotates.”
“One of the SDRs is the prospect – rather than it always coming from management. I find that that way, you also get more collaboration, which again builds confidence, which I think is what drives forward sales skills on the phone.”
Encourage good work and attitude through coaching and ongoing training. At the end of the day, the most important thing is to focus on improving and maximizing the communication and outreach skills of an SDR.
Make sure to schedule 1 on 1 meetings with new SDRs to regularly check in on progress and skill development. Neil Bhuiyan, Founder and SDR coach at HappySelling, recommends starting the meeting by doing a “recap of the last meeting”.
His approach is to really be there for his SDRs. One question he makes sure to ask in every one to one: “Between now and our next sync, what can I do to help you achieve your goals?”
Remember: onboarding shouldn’t be seen as just part of a list of things to do before an SDR can be put on the phone. Instead, think of it as an investment in the future. As you define and standardize your SDR onboarding plan, ramp-up time will be quicker, and you’ll see your company maximize speed and scale.
Want more tips from sales pros for getting SDRs trained and onboarded quickly? Check out the full webinar.
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