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Who Are The Best SDRs, and How You Can Spot Them in a Crowd

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Target lead. Qualify lead. Move lead through the sales pipeline.

Easy right?

Or… easier said than done?

Most people are familiar with what a sales representative does, but are less familiar with the more specific responsibilities of a sales development representative (SDR) – the MVP when it comes to quality control for leads.

“I’ve been in tech for over 30 years, have bought, sold and acquired companies, and have looked at how to implement best practices to grow a company faster than it’s growing – and the number one thing each time was building a strong sales organization. At the heart of this is the sales development representative role coupled with the right hyper-intelligent technology that immediately turns insights into action – often the relationship between the two are misunderstood and taken for granted.” – Themos Pentakalos, CEO, Hyperio.

In this post we demystify the role of an SDR, exploring:

  • What is a sales development representative?
  • What skills do SDRs need to excel?
  • The top three traits that make an SDR stand out from the crowd
  • How to hire the best SDRs
  • How to keep SDRs healthy and thriving in your team
  • How to find the right technology to supercharge the sales efforts of your top talent

What is a sales development representative (SDR)?

The short definition of a sales development representative is: a sales representative who focuses on outbound prospecting and is tasked with qualifying leads at the beginning of the sales funnel.

But, the longer description of what a sales development representative is responsible for matters more than just a short definition.

A sales development rep is an important part of your B2B team no matter what stage you’re at – from start-up to scale-up you need great SDRs to prospect and qualify leads and draw them down the sales funnel to generate converts. You also need to know as a B2B company CEO or Sales Manager that SDRs are a lot more than just cogs in the sales machine.

From first contact with prospects, to booking a meeting to make a sale, your SDRs are there alongside your customers through every step. Think of SDRs as a B2B company’s outreach worker, wing-person, cheerleader, and the face of a company in the customer world.

To your leads they can be even more than that. They’re not only the first point of contact, but they stay involved on an ongoing basis for as long as it takes to turn that prospect into a sale. If they’re great at their job, the SDR can become a coach, a trusted ally, a guide that your leads need and values to connect them to whatever they’re looking for.

So, not only do SDRs have to be top-performing experts in your field to bring leads down your sales funnel, but they need to be likeable, empathetic and friendly if you want to keep relationships with your customers positive and financially fruitful. Hoo. No pressure, right?

What skills do SDRs need to excel in a highly demanding field?

As you can imagine, when you look at what’s expected of a great SDR, life in the sales world is not relaxing – but it can be very rewarding for everyone involved if you build the right team and equip them with the right tools and strategies.

Traits B2B employers are looking for in SDRs Traits B2B customers are looking for in SDRs
Expertise in the field
  • Technology changes and so must SDRs. For example, video prospecting may not have been a popular or common practice a few years ago, but it certainly was in 2021. SDRs need to keep on top of changing trends and technologies that’ll keep your company relevant and involved in customers’ business lives.
Empathetic
  • Excellent SDRs listen to what your customers are looking for, appreciate their needs, and connect them with what will help them the most.
Quick and eager learners
  • Great SDRs are always learning, always evolving to keep up with new sales techniques. People make mistakes and that’s ok, but a great SDR learns from those mistakes and changes their strategies for next time.
Relationship builders
  • Your best SDRs are the ones who are using their empathy to relate to customers and build trusting relationships, which will in turn generate converts.
Data masters
  • Strong SDRs are constantly following available data about market trends and are on top of adapting their strategies to keep up with changes in the field.
Flexibility in style
  • A great SDR isn’t afraid to take a look at what customers like and dislike not only about their own style, but their colleagues. They optimize your outbound campaigns by going with the flow and testing out new ways to relate to different customers.
Initiative
  • Your best SDRs aren’t ashamed to ask for guidance. If there are opportunities to seek out mentors or shadow highly experienced colleagues, your best SDRs will take the chance to grow their own skills and knowledge. A great SDR can’t afford to let their skills stagnate.
Thick skin
  • Being an on-the-ground sales rep means you need to make calls to prospects, and even the best SDRs can’t predict whether the person on the other end is channelling Oscar the Grouch that day. SDRs need to be able to absorb tough calls and then do it all again to keep business moving. Having great workplace morale is important to help balance this for your SDRs.

The Top 3 traits that make a great SDR stand out from the crowd

There are a few key ingredients you can easily watch out for when you’re looking for your next sales superstar. Here are the top three:

  • Curiosity – You want someone who’s asking smart questions about your business and where you plan to go with things, because it means they’re more likely to ask the right questions to develop those key relationships with prospects as well.
  • Sense of humour – Being able to laugh at tough situations and at themselves is an asset that will benefit your team as well as their performance with customers. You don’t want someone who takes themselves too seriously.
  • Customer-focused – Your company is looking at the bigger picture of sales, but your SDRs need to be people who can set the sales goals aside and focus on the customer. Hire someone who knows that some phone calls are about friendly check-ins, not just appointment booking.

Like any role and persona, there are a few “bad habits” that are commonly found in SDRs. Watch out for these top five, and remember, even if you identify a trait you may be a bit concerned about, it’s all about how to manage, motivate and work with the skill-set your SDRs have – that is unless, of course, you’re seeing a huge red flag!

Set up your interviews to help you hire the best SDRs

When you’re bringing in SDRs, whether they’re in-house or outsourced there are some simple steps you can take to get the most out of your interview process.

  • Writing samples
    A big part of this job is communication skills – make sure they have a good handle on writing style and structure. Give them a prospecting plan assignment that they can run through during the interview so you can see that they’re on the right track.
  • Ask about the latest technology / strategies
    Find out what they know about what’s going on in the world of sales right now. Some of the gaps in their knowledge may be filled with some training, but if they already know a lot about what you’re looking for – all the better!
  • Ask them about their end-game
    Do they want to work just anywhere, or do they want to develop a career in sales? This will make a difference in their pathways and motivation in your company.
  • Make the interview comfortable
    Making the interview space comfortable and the interviewers personable will help you get a better sense of the potential SDR’s personality. You want to see them when they’re feeling confident and secure, not when they’re stressed out and nervous.

Tips for keeping SDRs healthy and thriving in your team

You may have heard it mentioned that turn-over rates are high, and that it’s hard to keep SDRs in their positions long enough to see the rewards of their time in your company. Here are a few simple suggestions to try to help with workplace morale, which may help to counteract the impact of a tough job in a fast-moving market.

  • Incentives to Learn
    Offer opportunities for training and professional development. Offer internal mentorship programs or opportunities to shadow more experienced colleagues. This will build internal relationships and also help your fresh SDRs learn from the seasoned ones.
  • Coworker Relationships
    Don’t take fun lightly – team development is important for a good team to grow and stay healthy. If you foster these professional relationships, your staff will be more likely to share success stories, as well as suggestions for improvement.
  • Supportive Management
    If colleague relationships are important, consider manager-to-staff relationships extra important. A receptive, patient, supportive manager will guide your SDRs through the bad days and praise them on the good days.
  • Intelligent Technology
    When you want your team to thrive, you need to give them the right tools. Artificial Intelligence has come so far that investing in the right software can save your SDRs HOURS of leg work and equip them with the data they need to build relationships and close sales in record time. The key here is to find a sales engagement platform that was built from the ground up using AI - not outdated software that threw AI on as an afterthought. Hint: This is why Hyperio was built with AI baked in from the outset.

Test our AI technology today

We offer 30 day risk-free FREE trials of our software so that you can test the benefits and start helping your SDRs reduce their workload and increase their sales success. Set up a time that works for you right in our calendar and we’ll get you started today!

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