SDR Performance Gap: Bridging Top & Bottom Performers

SDR Performance Gap, by SOMAmetrics

In most of the organizations we work with, we typically see a significant performance gap between the top and bottom performers. In this article, we will focus on the SDR performance gap because it is an especially glaring problem due to the following reasons:

  1. The role is considered entry level, and companies invest very little in it in terms of pay, training, or support.
  2. Consequently, most companies tend to hire very junior people for the SDR role, typically straight out of college or with just 1-2 years of work experience.
  3. Because of the lack of support for the role, many new hires find it difficult to succeed.
  4. As a result, it has one of the highest attrition rates (at around 37%) and the average tenure is less than 18 months
  5. Which only causes companies to hire cheap and invest very little as they consider their SDRs as merely transient employees, perpetuating the problem.

What Sets Top Performers Apart

The ones that tend to be successful SDRs are those who, through their own efforts and initiatives, figured out what they need to know in order to say the right things to the right prospect—and get a quality meeting.

In this article, we will first examine the SDR performance gap and its adverse impact on sales. Then we will examine the potential reasons for that performance gap. And finally, we will recommend an approach to close that SDR performance gap.

The Adverse Impact of the SDR Performance Gap

To illustrate the impact that a SDR performance gap can have on sales performance, let’s start with some assumptions:

  • Average sales price (ASP): $100,000
  • Average quarterly pipeline target per SDR: $1.8 million
  • Number of SDRs on your team: 5
  • Below, we will show the performance distribution for the team of five as follows

In other words, the top SDR (1) is at 100% of quota, and has double the performance of the bottom two SDRs (who are at 50% of quota).

The result is that this SDR team currently produces an average of $5.9 million in quarterly sales pipeline, where the top SDR produces 30% of the quota (pulling more than his/her share).

Another Illustrative Example

Now, take a look at this new chart.

In this second chart, we increased the performance of the bottom two SDRs by 50% each, without changing any other SDR performance.

That alone increased the quarterly sales pipeline by 15% (from $5.94 million to $6.84 million). 

This is very significant. A 15% pipeline improvement typically translates into 15% sales increase from the same pipeline, all things remaining the same.

Assuming we are in agreement that closing the SDR performance gap between the highest and lowest performers is important, we will next examine why this happens.

Why SDR Performance Gaps Exist

In many of the companies we work with, we typically find that, while they provide exhaustive training to their new sales hires, they don’t necessarily invest as much in their SDR training.

  • They use the same training content, only removing parts that they don’t think SDRs need to know.
  • The training is typically about the company’s product(s), with minimal training in basic prospecting techniques, and training on the company’s CRM and call automation tools the SDR will be using.

That’s it.

And while most sales execs have extensive sales experience before joining the company, the average SDR typically has less than two years of experience if that.

In short, the average SDR is left to his or her own devices to figure out how to get qualified meetings. 

Therefore, those with the strongest work ethics and drive take it upon themselves to:

  1. Learn about the prospects they are calling (their roles, industries, pains, concerns, etc)
  2. Take extensive notes on each call and figure out why they weren’t able to get a meeting, what objections they received and how to overcome them in future.
  3. Figout out why a prospect who agreed to meet didn’t bother to show up and what they can do to prevent that in future
  4. Read sales books and learn better prospecting techniques
  5. Find a mentor on the sales side and discuss each call with them to see what words and phrases they can use to improve their pitch, and so on.

That’s why they excel. To the extent the rest of your SDRs do some of the above, they will find relative  success. Those who don’t will struggle to get any results, and either quit in frustration or are fired. Either way, back to square one for you in finding a replacement.

As the Head of Sales Development, the question to you is: how realistic is it that you can staff your SDR team with ONLY super-driven hires?

In especially very tight labor markets, you are more likely to find ordinary candidates. You just need to figure out how to transform them into high performers. 

Next, let’s explore how you can do that.

Fixing the SDR Performance Gap

Remember that practically every SDR you have hired is reasonably intelligent, presentable, and sufficiently proficient at basic (college level) skills, or you wouldn’t have hired them.

Your challenge is how to use that basic foundation and transform that individual into a high performer. To do that, ask yourself what your best SDRs know that enables them to excel. Do they…

  1. Know the industry that they are calling into pretty well?
  2. Understand the role of the person they are calling—what they are responsible for, what their pains and concerns are, what risks they face and so on?
  3. Know which competitors they face under which scenarios, and what the relative strengths and weaknesses of these competitors are?
  4. Have questions to ask and in a sensible order, to get the prospect to feel like this is not a waste of their time and keep them engaged?
  5. Know how to pitch their product to precisely this person in this industry?
  6. Know how to manage any objections they get and get the prospect’s interest piqued enough to agree to a meeting?

Situational Fluency

We call the sum total of the above Situation Fluency—the ability to customize a conversation based on who you are talking to in such a way that the prospect believes he or she is talking to an insider. Your top SDRs have high Situational Fluency, while your bottom performers don’t.

If you were to have some way of delivering Situational Fluency to every SDR, then even your most junior hires will sound like experts when talking to a prospect—and consequently book quality meetings on a regular basis.

Which is why we built the SOMAmetrics Intelligent Prospecting solution (SIP) that delivers expert-level situational fluency for every product you sell.


Find out more about SOMAmetrics’ Intelligent Prospecting Platform and get free resources on our website at www.somametrics.com.

Meeting Acceptance Rates: SDR Best Practice 4

Meeting Acceptance Rates by SOMAmetrics

SDR Best Practices – Knowing the Inflection Points

There are four inflection points in a SDRs workflow from the moment of starting to dial a prospect, to a booked meeting that goes on the sales executive’s pipeline: Improving Connect Rates, Improving Conversion Rates, Meeting Attendance Rate, and Meeting Acceptance rate.

We will discuss each the fourth one in detail below.

4. Best Practices for Meeting Acceptance Rates

So far, we have been talking about how we maximize booked meetings—focusing on quantity. At this point, we switch to the quality of meetings.

The question is: of the meetings set and attended, how many actually end up on the sales pipeline? What is the actual pipeline size built?

Let’s say you have a prolific SDR (let’s call him MIke) who books an average of ten meetings a month and through his relentless follow up, gets eight of them attended. And, as a result, Mike builds an average of $500K sales pipeline a month.

Let’s suppose another of your SDRs (let’s call her Sarah) sets an average of five meetings a month, and gets at least four attended. However, Sarah consistently builds on average around a $600K sales pipeline per month.

What’s going on here? How is that MIke sets twice the meetings and gets 20% less pipeline?

Obviously, you care about the sales pipeline, not meetings (meetings are a means to the end—sales pipeline).

Here is what likely is happening:

  • Mike is setting meetings with anyone who agrees, including junior level people who can’t get a decision, or senior execs who are looking at something that they either don’t have a budget for or don’t yet want to fight to get a budget for.
  • Sarah, on the other hand, qualifies better, and while she talks to junior level people, only books meetings with their bosses. And just as importantly, Sarah takes trouble to identify real pain and make it explicit to the prospect, then takes her notes and enters it in the CRM. 

Remember not all sales reps are elite pros, either. Some are way better than others. So, with Sarah taking some trouble to ferret out real pain and get that in front of her sales exec, she ensures that this is more likely to end up on the pipeline, for a larger deal size, and closes faster than otherwise would.

Takeaways

To summarize, everything we did through the first three inflection points is about maximizing the number of meetings attended.

The last one is about the quality of the meetings set, so more end up on the sales pipeline. However, that groundwork is laid out starting from the first inflection point, and especially during the actual call. Sarah does a much better job prior to booking a meeting in finding out about the size and urgency of pain than does Mike. So, she gets the bigger wins.

Operationalizing SDR Best Practices

We listed a whole bunch of best practices so far. If you agree these are good principles to follow, your next question is likely: “Well, how do I implement them?”

The first thing to keep in mind is that we are talking about automation that ensures that all your SDRs follow the same steps, say the same things, and take the same actions.

Operationalizing these best practices means you bake them into your SDRs’ daily workflow so they are less likely to skip, or cherry pick what they want to do and not do.

The biggest challenge is the list segmentation, which requires alignment between Sales, Marketing, and Sales Development. All three have to agree on what segments to pursue, which personas to pursue, what the messaging is for each segment-persona combo.

If you get that agreed upon, then the rest builds on that and is mostly grunt work. 

SOMAmetrics Intelligent Prospecting

This is perhaps a good place to let you know that SOMAmetrics has built a cloud-based intelligent prospecting solution. SIP delivers the product value prop, industry, persona, competitor, and campaign data your SDRs need to conduct expert-level calls and book quality meetings and generate a viable sales pipeline.

Unlike generic sales productivity tools, SIP is a sales effectiveness solution that comes fully configured with all the right market information, transforming even your most junior SDRs into elite performers within days.

SIP operationalizes these best practices in a single solution.


Find out more about SOMAmetrics’ Intelligent Prospecting Platform and get free resources on our website at www.somametrics.com.

Meeting Attendance Rates: SDR Best Practice 3

Meeting Attendance Rates by SOMAmetrics

SDR Best Practices – Knowing the Inflection Points

There are four inflection points in a SDRs workflow from the moment of starting to dial a prospect, to a booked meeting that goes on the sales executive’s pipeline: Improving Connect Rates, Improving Conversion Rates, Meeting Attendance Rate, and Meeting Acceptance rate.

We will discuss the third one in some detail below.

3. Best Practices for Meeting Attendance Rates

Simply booking a meeting doesn’t mean anything in and of itself. It is a means to an end (quality pipeline built). Prospects can cancel, reschedule, or just not show up at all. A meeting doesn’t count unless it is attended.

Therefore, during the third inflection point, the focus is ensuring that meetings are attended. 

Bad Practices to Stop

  • Don’t leave it up to your SDRs to follow up and make sure prospects are attending the scheduled meetings. Only your best SDRs will have the work ethic to relentlessly do whatever it takes to meet their pipeline quota. Your average SDR will get the meeting and leave it at that.
  • Don’t leave that to the assigned sales exec either. While most sales execs are more motivated than the average SDR, and have more financial upside at stake, they will likely forget to adequately follow up.

Best Practices to Follow

Always automate all of your meeting follow-ups:

  • As soon as a meeting is booked, automatically send out a short (7-10 question) survey that asks the prospect some basic questions that can be answered before the meeting. This will:
    • Help the sales exec better prepare the call
    • Avoid wasted time asking these questions during the first meeting
    • Provide a stronger indication that the prospect is serious, and
    • Impress the prospect you have your act together
  • Automatically send the prospect one high-value, bottom-of-the-funnel offer such as an analyst guide that includes you by name, a strong reference story, a video conversation with a customer, etc. within 48 hours of the meeting being set. 
  • Auto-send a meeting reminder three days prior to the meeting date. This should come from the sales exec, should look like a personal email (not a marketing email) and should include one strong customer testimonial or quote to keep the prospect engaged.
  • Auto send a meeting reminder 24 hours from meeting date, and then another one-hour prior to the meeting, each a little bit different, coming from the sales exec

Takeaways

  1. Automate all of the above and not rely on humans to follow up
  2. Each follow up should continue to impress the prospect that she is working with a professional group of people who won’t waste her time. That’s the only reason she will take the trouble to attend the meeting when the time arrives.

Operationalizing SDR Best Practices

We listed a whole bunch of best practices so far. If you agree these are good principles to follow, your next question is likely: “Well, how do I implement them?”

The first thing to keep in mind is that we are talking about automation that ensures that all your SDRs follow the same steps, say the same things, and take the same actions.

Operationalizing these best practices means you bake them into your SDRs’ daily workflow so they are less likely to skip, or cherry pick what they want to do and not do.

The biggest challenge is the list segmentation, which requires alignment between Sales, Marketing, and Sales Development. All three have to agree on what segments to pursue, which personas to pursue, what the messaging is for each segment-persona combo.

If you get that agreed upon, then the rest builds on that and is mostly grunt work. 

SOMAmetrics Intelligent Prospecting

This is perhaps a good place to let you know that SOMAmetrics has built a cloud-based intelligent prospecting solution. SIP delivers the product value prop, industry, persona, competitor, and campaign data your SDRs need to conduct expert-level calls and book quality meetings and generate a viable sales pipeline.

Unlike generic sales productivity tools, SIP is a sales effectiveness solution that comes fully configured with all the right market information, transforming even your most junior SDRs into elite performers within days.

SIP operationalizes these best practices in a single solution.


Find out more about SOMAmetrics’ Intelligent Prospecting Platform and get free resources on our website at www.somametrics.com.

Improving Conversion Rates: SDR Best Practice 2

Improving Conversion Rates by SOMAmetrics

SDR Best Practices – Knowing the Inflection Points

There are four inflection points in a SDRs workflow from the moment of starting to dial a prospect, to a booked meeting that goes on the sales executive’s pipeline: Improving Connect Rates, Improving Conversion Rates, Meeting Attendance Rate, and Meeting Acceptance rate.

We will discuss the second one in some detail below.

2. Best Practices for Improving Meeting Conversion Rates

If your SDRs follow the best practices we recommended here, they will see their connection rates increase in the form of returned emails and calls, and more calls picked up, as prospects begin to recognize who is calling them, and why.

Now, it’s time to make sure that every connection counts, and none are wasted. After all, you spent more money to get to this point.

And again, just as in the first step of increasing connection rates, the secret to increasing meeting conversion rates is to focus on the prospective buyer and conduct the call from her point of view.

The best way to look at this is to insert yourself in the prospect’s shoes. Imagine you just got a call (one of many you have received today) and you recognize the company calling. You decide, “What the heck, let’s see if they really have something worth checking”. You don’t know who you will be speaking to and how that conversation will go. Hoping it won’t be a total waste of your time, your interest is piqued and you hope for the best. 

That is the bar your SDR has to meet at this point—not blow the call. And unfortunately, that happens quite a bit.

Bad Practices to Stop

  1. Don’t let your SDR assume the prospect already knows what this is about and waste time asking, “Did I catch you at a bad time”. It is almost always a bad time to interrupt someone.
  2. Don’t let your SDRs figure out what to say, when and to whom. As we explained in detail in a related blog, only your best SDRs will take the time and effort to really do their own research to be good at this. Most wing it, and since they don’t connect enough, they won’t have a chance to really hone their pitch.
  3. Don’t let your SDRs figure out their own objection management responses. Most will not develop effective ones.
  4. Don’t leave it up to the SDR to figure out how to set an appointment for the sales rep. Worse, don’t leave it up to the prospect to do that. Your SDR should never have to say, “Let me get back to you on times that can work for you and our sales exec.” That is likely a lost prospect.
  5. Don’t let your SDRs be chatty, ramble on, etc. That just increases the likelihood they could blow the call.

Better Practices to Follow

Under increasing connect rate, we said that a major best practice was to use highly segmented lists and that your SDRs should only call on one homogeneous group each day. The reason is that when they actually connect with a prospect, they only have to think of what to say to a specific role that works in a specific industry—financial controllers in medical device makers, for example.  If you do that it now becomes easy to:

  • Give your SDRs a specific call guide or navigator per specific industry-role combination. This call guide/navigator should give them what they need to know to talk at the level of the prospect:
    • How to introduce themselves, their company and the reason for calling
    • What they need to know about the industry they are calling into
    • What they need to know about the role they are calling
    • How to pitch the value prop of their product customized to this industry-role combo
    • Handling objections including competitor related “We have that”
    • handling frequently asked questions (such as, “how much does it cost” or “can I see a recorded demo” or other)
  • Once the SDR has buy-in from the prospect to arrange a call or demo, your SDR should quickly and easily be able to tell the prospect the next two available slots for the meeting. If the prospect prefers a specific range of dates and times be able to quickly book that even if it is with a different sales exec than the one assigned to the SDR. 
  • Make sure your SDRs spend as much time as necessary to deliver their pitch handle objections, and book the meeting. No more.

Takeaways

  1. We had given a prospect every reason to pick up a call since the prospect already felt we had something of value to offer them
  2. When they pick up we continue to demonstrate our full understanding of their world and deliver a customized pitch that shows them a potential way to address their major pain
  3. When they agree to meet, we can book a meeting quickly while we have them on the call.

Operationalizing SDR Best Practices

We listed a whole bunch of best practices so far. If you agree these are good principles to follow, your next question is likely: “Well, how do I implement them?”

The first thing to keep in mind is that we are talking about automation that ensures that all your SDRs follow the same steps, say the same things, and take the same actions.

Operationalizing these best practices means you bake them into your SDRs’ daily workflow so they are less likely to skip, or cherry pick what they want to do and not do.

The biggest challenge is the list segmentation, which requires alignment between Sales, Marketing, and Sales Development. All three have to agree on what segments to pursue, which personas to pursue, what the messaging is for each segment-persona combo.

If you get that agreed upon, then the rest builds on that and is mostly grunt work. 

SOMAmetrics Intelligent Prospecting

This is perhaps a good place to let you know that SOMAmetrics has built a cloud-based intelligent prospecting solution. SIP delivers the product value prop, industry, persona, competitor, and campaign data your SDRs need to conduct expert-level calls and book quality meetings and generate a viable sales pipeline.

Unlike generic sales productivity tools, SIP is a sales effectiveness solution that comes fully configured with all the right market information, transforming even your most junior SDRs into elite performers within days.

SIP operationalizes these best practices in a single solution.


Find out more about SOMAmetrics’ Intelligent Prospecting Platform and get free resources on our website at www.somametrics.com.

Improving Connect Rates: SDR Best Practice 1

Improving Connect Rates by SOMAmetrics

SDR Best Practices – Knowing the Inflection Points

There are four inflection points in a SDRs workflow from the moment of starting to dial a prospect, to a booked meeting that goes on the sales executive’s pipeline: Improving Connect Rates, Improving Conversion Rates, Meeting Attendance Rate, and Meeting Acceptance rate.

We will discuss the first one in some detail below.

1. Best Practices for Improving Connect Rates

Connect rates refer to the number of dials needed to connect with a targeted prospect. Connect rates are different when calling a person’s direct number versus calling a company directory to reach the target number. In fact, it takes at least 50% more time and effort to improve connect rates when using a company directory.

Furthermore, many companies have disconnected their company phones and even say they don’t welcome unsolicited calls. You either know the direct number of the person you want to reach, or you are making an unsolicited call and you will not be assisted in reaching your target.

Ideally, you want to get mobile numbers since post-COVID many continue to work from home and have their direct numbers forwarded to their mobile numbers anyway 

Here are some practices to follow, and some that we recommend you stop doing.

Bad Practices to Stop

List Quality
  1. Don’t have your SDRs waste time calling company numbers. As we said above, companies are disconnecting their company directory services. You will waste valuable SDR time trying to navigate directories that don’t even accept voicemail anymore.
  2. Don’t give your SDRs a long list of 1,000 and have them call each one time, and then get back to the beginning when they are done. This significantly reduces the likelihood you reach anyone since there is one in a thousand chance you reach that person at the right time they are inclined to pick up a call.
  3. Don’t use a list of prospects from various types and sizes of companies, industries, roles, etc. This only confuses and slows down the SDR as he/she tries to figure out what to say to each prospect.
  4. Don’t make your SDRs call a list just one time per prospect on any given day—you don’t know when that person is available during that day. 
  5. Do not exceed more than 2-3 days in between voice mails, or your prospects will not have that “repetition” effect.
Messaging
  1. Don’t try to fool prospects into thinking they are receiving a local call by using fake local numbers. Not only doesn’t this really work since it is done to death now, but even if you tricked someone into picking up the phone thinking it was their mechanic or kid’s school calling them, your SDRs are already starting on the wrong foot.
  2. Don’t leave unhelpful voicemails that say, “This is Joe again hoping to connect. Please call me back at…”. 
  3. Don’t let your SDRs write or use meaningless emails with the subject line, “Amy, quick call?” and then say, “Hey Amy, don’t know if you read my previous email…”. This is probably what the prospect sees on her mobile before she opens the email, and nothing so far gives her any reason to open it. So, it won’t get opened.
  4. Do not just rely on phone calls and emails, some people just avoid both like the plague.
  5. Don’t leave it up to the prospect to figure out how to reach you. 

Better Practices to Follow

List Quality
  1. Use only direct numbers or, better yet, mobile numbers. This is one of the most effective ways for improving connect rates.
  2. Give each SDR a short list of say, 200 prospects to work with at any given time.
  3. Make sure that everyone on that list is highly homogenous—they are from the same industry, work in similar size companies, and have no more than 2-3 different roles.
  4. On any given day, have your SDRs use a shorter list that they will call several times during the day. For example, if you expect them to make 80 dials that day, have them work on a short list of 20 that they call four times a day at different intervals.
  5. Make sure you return to each list segment every 2-3 days so your voicemails have a cumulative effect and are remembered.
Messaging
  1. Brand each call with at least your company name, and if not, with the SDR’s name. Remember you want to distinguish yourself from everyone else calling, and this is the most effective way to do so, especially if you have more memorable voice mails and emails that reinforce your brand.
  2. Make sure you leave distinct voicemails once a day to each prospect, that deliver a unique value proposition each time. In other words, arm your SDRs with at least 5-7 unique value prop voicemails that continually deliver exactly what you want the target to know. The whole point is to get the prospect to want to pick up and it starts with consistently delivering useful and branded information that they begin to recognize and at some point want to pick up the phone. 
  3. Give your SDRs well-scripted emails and voicemails, preferably written by professionals who know how to write business emails that get opened. They should be highly relevant, have compelling information, and clear call to action so they get opened and responded to.
  4. Use different forms of messaging including sending postal cards that link your messaging, company name, and SDR name for the targeted prospect. You should do that at least once every quarter. LinkedIn messaging is also another way people who don’t look at their emails may look at the message from the lInkedIn app itself.
  5. Make sure that prospects have multiple ways of responding back to you, including a way to schedule a meeting with the SDR or the sales executive. Each email sent out must have a “Schedule call” or “Schedule a demo” link in it.

The Takeaway

To summarize, the best path for improving connect rates is to do the opposite of what Sellers think from their perspective—get a large list and make SDRs just maximize on the dial side. Instead:

  1. Use short, highly segmented lists
  2. Invest in direct and mobile numbers
  3. Send well researched and carefully crafted emails and voicemails. Don’t expect them to pick up the first time you call (might happen but very rare.)
  4. Make repeated attempts to reach people several times a day and several times a week, ideally around 12-14 times before pausing for a few months, and then trying again.

Operationalizing SDR Best Practices

We listed a whole bunch of best practices so far. If you agree these are good principles to follow, your next question is likely: “Well, how do I implement them?”

The first thing to keep in mind is that we are talking about automation that ensures that all your SDRs follow the same steps, say the same things, and take the same actions.

Operationalizing these best practices means you bake them into your SDRs’ daily workflow so they are less likely to skip, or cherry pick what they want to do and not do.

The biggest challenge is the list segmentation, which requires alignment between Sales, Marketing, and Sales Development. All three have to agree on what segments to pursue, which personas to pursue, what the messaging is for each segment-persona combo.

If you get that agreed upon, then the rest builds on that and is mostly grunt work. 

SOMAmetrics Intelligent Prospecting

This is perhaps a good place to let you know that SOMAmetrics has built a cloud-based intelligent prospecting solution. SIP delivers the product value prop, industry, persona, competitor, and campaign data your SDRs need to conduct expert-level calls and book quality meetings and generate a viable sales pipeline.

Unlike generic sales productivity tools, SIP is a sales effectiveness solution that comes fully configured with all the right market information, transforming even your most junior SDRs into elite performers within days.

SIP operationalizes these best practices in a single solution.


Find out more about SOMAmetrics’ Intelligent Prospecting Platform and get free resources on our website at www.somametrics.com.

SDR Best Practices: Overview

SDR Best Practices, by SOMAmetrics

The job of Sales Development Reps (SDRs) is becoming increasingly more difficult. But at the same time, their job is more important than ever before. Prospective buyers are becoming more elusive, making the job difficult. They are also more elusive than ever before, and sales executives are struggling to find qualified leads. In fact, connect rates have dropped by roughly 50% since 2014. That’s why SDR best practices are so important.

Why SDR Best Practices are Critical

  • COVID has solidified a trend in the change of how people buy—both consumers and organizational buyers. Buyers are asserting more control over the buying process. They want to decide when they need to talk to vendors, do independent research or internally discuss, and when they go back and forth between the two. The so-called sales process has turned into a buying process that is for the most part controlled by the buyer’s preference.
  • A tight labor market is forcing companies to hire whoever they can find, which typically means inexperienced SDRs. In many cases, it means SDRs who don’t feel compelled to blow out their numbers.
  • But most important of all, Sellers continue to underestimate the intelligence, sophistication, and savvy of Buyers. They try to trick buyers into picking up the phone—like using fake local area phone numbers or opening an email. This could look like inserting the name of the recipient or company name in a meaningless subject line passing for “personalization.” This only makes buyers more determined to block out ALL unsolicited communication.

In this article, we discuss SDR best practices that are based on the fundamental sales and marketing premise of looking at it from the buyer’s perspective—what’s in it for the buyer to want to have a meeting with your sales rep.

We use a powerful framework that shows four inflection points, like sales stages for SDRs, which indicate the key milestones towards building a sales pipeline. We will also demonstrate best practices to improve conversion from one inflection point to the next.

You can also download the infographic that shows you exactly how much you can gain by optimizing each inflection point. This could add up to 100% increase in sales pipeline built by following these SDR best practices.

SDR Best Practices – Knowing the Inflection Points

There are four inflection points in a SDRs workflow from the moment of starting to dial a prospect, to a booked meeting that goes on the sales executive’s pipeline. These include Improving Connect Rates, Improving Conversion Rates, Meeting Attendance Rates, and Meeting Acceptance Rates.

We will discuss each in the following blogposts, linked below.

SOMAmetrics Intelligent Prospecting

This is perhaps a good place to let you know that SOMAmetrics has built a cloud-based intelligent prospecting solution. SIP delivers product value prop, industry, persona, competitor, and campaign data. SDRs need these to conduct expert-level calls and book quality meetings and generate a viable sales pipeline.

Unlike generic sales productivity tools, SIP is a sales effectiveness solution that comes fully configured with all the right market information. It can transform even your most junior SDRs into elite performers within days.

SIP operationalizes these best practices in a single solution.


Find out more about SOMAmetrics’ Intelligent Prospecting Platform and get free resources on our website at www.somametrics.com.

Radical Pipeline Strategy — Use SDRs to Build and Grow Your Sales Pipeline

Radical Pipeline Strategy, by SOMAmetrics

I have built, implemented, and retooled Sales Development Organizations and Inside Sales over the course of my career. Because of that, I have seen the status of SDR Organizations improve. The solution is a Radical Pipeline strategy.

However, there is still a misperception about the value of the SDR team. For many years, I have been advocating that the SDR Organization is a strategic part of the Sales plan. Companies make fundamental mistakes in hiring and in the execution of best practices that will help build a quality pipeline.

For example, companies continue to build their SDR teams with junior people. (Read more on “How Difficult Is It to Generate a Meeting? Common Misuses of SDR Teams in Appointment Setting”) The rationale is that this is a low-level job that doesn’t require a lot of skill. 

Wrong! Companies end up having their most junior people interacting with their most valued prospects; a prospect who may have 10+ years of experience in the industry isn’t going to be interested in speaking with someone who has no experience.

Radical Pipeline Strategy Sets the Role of an SDR Straight.

Another fallacy is that the role of a SDR is to set viable appointments for sales.  If that is how you position your  SDR team, you will get meetings, but they won’t be viable; many meetings will not generate pipeline.  The role of the SDR is to generate a high quality sales pipeline.  This is done by qualifying leads and setting appointments with decision makers. The qualification and appointments are a means to the end. A radical pipeline strategy will help your company to achieve revenue targets.

The key to a healthy, radical sales pipeline begins with the Sales Development Organization. Implementing proven best practices as recommended in my blog (download the CRM Field Mapping Resource here) will enable your company to build and grow your sales pipeline.

6 Key Points to Establish and Expand your Sales Development Organization:

1. The Sales Funnel is King!

Instill collaboration between Sales & Marketing to ensure a quality sales pipeline. These departments must develop and agree on qualification criteria and other key metrics in order to ensure consistent sales pipeline growth. Revenue growth will cease without quality Sales Qualified Leads (SQL) and a healthy Sales Pipeline.

2. Hire experienced staff.

The SDR team is most often the first contact a prospect will have with your company. Therefore, it is counter-productive to assign entry-level employees to these positions. They lack experience in selling complex solutions and communicating with senior-level executives. Experienced professionals are readily available to hire. They love the “hunt” and know how to speak to the C-Suite. I have worked with many “retired” VPs of Sales and Marketing who want to get back to work and love this role. Hire experienced people (someone who has a sales background and at least 5 years of experience calling prospects) This is one decision your company will not regret.

3. Focus SDRs on one Solution.

Efficiency begins to decrease as SDRs are asked to sell and learn multiple products or solutions, especially if they are complex. Focusing on one solution will enable your SDR team to deliver a quality sales pipeline.

4. Develop and implement Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), or metrics, to manage a team. 

Once the KPIs have been established, assign each team member to create a plan that outlines a process to reach their goals (Add GOSPA Blog and Slide Show here). This empowers team members to carry out each task and take responsibility to meet their objectives. Managers will help their SDR team members to ensure the practicality of these plans. These plans also provide a blueprint to manage activities and measure results, both for the Manager as well as the SDR. 

5. Develop an SDR Playbook.

A SDR Playbook is a set of tools that guide SDR’s through the qualification process. This playbook must be written and assembled by individuals with sufficient knowledge, such as experts from Product Marketing or Sales.

6. Build compensation plans that drive desired behavior. 

A satisfying compensation plan motivates SDRs to excel at their duties. Create compensation plans that focus on the Sales Pipeline and revenue growth.

Here are the elements of a good SDR compensation plan:

Meeting Set: Pay a small amount for a meeting set, for example, $50 per

Approved by Sales: The meeting happened and sales approved the prospect and is adding to the sales pipeline, for example, $200 per

Give your SDR an annual Pipeline Quota from meetings they set and give them a percentage of achievement, for example, 5%

Give your SDR a revenue from pipeline set goal and pay a higher percentage for the achievement of that goal, for example, 10%

These 6 best practices will help you to build a great foundation for your SDR team. By applying these best practices, your team will produce a healthy and robust sales pipeline which will help you close more deals and hit your revenue targets.

Download the CRM Field Mapping and GOSPA Planning Resources.


Read the book The Radical Pipeline Strategy: How to Grow Pipeline and Revenue by Optimizing Sales Development.  This book outlines tested best practices and implementation strategies that I developed while rebooting and building 65 SDR and Inside Sales organizations.

Find out more about SOMAmetrics’ Intelligent Prospecting Platform and get free resources on our website at www.somametrics.com.

Performance Improvement Plans: Why I Hate Them

Performance Improvement Plans

There are two sides to everything: Yin and Yang; Good and Evil; Hot and Cold; Black and White. For Sales Management, its two sides are the fun and not so fun parts of managing a team. While managing teams has its benefits, team management also includes making tough decisions. You might think about various practices to implement, such as performance improvement plans.

What are you supposed to do if a team member does not live up to the required standards? Should you fire them? Should you ignore under-performers? I think the answer to both of these questions is pretty straight forward: support your team, both in good times and in bad times and do what is best for THEM.

My tip: avoid using performance improvement plans (PIPs) whenever possible.

Performance Improvement Plans – Why I Hate Them

In my 20 plus years managing Inside Sales and SDR teams, I have had to put only a handful of people on what is known in the industry as a PIP, a Performance Improvement Plan. In my opinion, PIPs don’t live up to their name; they are not about employee performance improvement or an action plan to meet employee needs. In actuality, a PIP is a process document used to prove that the Manager has tried to help the employee over a period of 30-90 days. Simply put, it is a paper trail that is used to protect the company from legal action.

I have read many blogs that call PIPs evil. They suck the humanity out of the Sales Manager, who isn’t really trying to help an employee improve. But it also affects the employee, who is humiliated throughout the process. They also impact the rest of the team by bringing down morale and taking everyone’s focus away from what is important. Personally, I have never seen performance improvement plans work. This is because PIPs are not about helping an employee recover from poor performance. Instead, they are a clear indication that they are about to be terminated.

More Harm Than Good

To be clear, I understand that PIPs provide company protection from legal actions. I know that some employees are not going to work out, no matter how great the interview process or background checks. Still, I generally disapprove of PIPs for several reasons:

  1. They are humiliating. No matter how hard one tries to keep the PIP process confidential, most people on the team know when someone is on a PIP.
  2. PIPs lower morale. Team members who are not on a PIP have their own opinions about the individual on a PIP. If they like the individual, Management is the bad guy. Sometimes, even if they dislike the person, they may sympathize with them because they have to go through the PIP process. Again, Management is the bad guy. Low trust and respect between Sales management and employees is directly proportional to a lack of motivation and work performance.
  3. PIPs require Managers to spend time focused on the documentation/paper trail process which means they spend less time focusing on managing the team to meet expected results. While the PIP event is in play, the “good” team members are typically left to fend for themselves because the manager is heads down focused on the poor performer for the next 30-90-days.

How to Avoid Performance Improvement Plans

I have used two distinct methods for avoiding PIPs. The first one is a GOSPA Plan. The second one is a recruiter.

GOSPA Planning

Employees need to have the opportunity to improve performance and develop their own success plans (see my blog on GOSPA Planning — Goals, Objectives, Strategies, Plans, and Activities). They should understand the metrics and recognize the consequences for not meeting the metrics. This way, PIPs can be avoided.

For example, say a SDR has the following metrics to meet each month:

  • Make a minimum of 800 dials/month
  • Have 20 Key Conversations with decision makers
  • Build a Teleprospecting lead pipeline of a minimum of 24 potential leads
  • Generate 8 qualified leads to pass to Sales (SQLs)
  • Receive sales approval on at least 6 of these SQLs
  • Achieve set pipeline quotas for their approved SQLs

Now say the SDR has to build a quarterly GOSPA Plan, which outlines how they will achieve the above metrics. The manager’s job is to review the GOSPA plan, ensure that it is a viable plan, and review with the employee what will happen if they dont meet the metrics each week/month/quarter. Working with the Rep, the manager should discuss the consequences for low performance.

Assume that the Rep under-performs on his metrics by 20% for a period of 4 weeks. The manager should take specific disciplinary actions to help the employee improve. This could be as sitting in on calls or providing coaching on the specific issues. If employee development doesn’t happen within a 90-day period, termination may be the next step. Performance management should hold all employees to this standard. This way, everyone is aware of the consequences for not meeting the Goals outlined in their individual GOSPAs. The human resources formality of termination documentation is an offshoot of this process.

You don’t need Performance Improvement Plans.

Sales management can hold regular checks about individual performance reviews and achievements to-date against the plan. Then, everyone will know where they are and be constantly learning from prior weeks. This information is documented as a standard course of managing team members and increasing employee engagement. When a GOSPA is in place, the manager’s goal is to quickly identify issues and work to help an employee improve if they are falling behind their stated metrics. Similarly, the employee should be going to their manager if they are having problems; they developed the plan, and thus know what they are accomplishing or not. In essence, it is their plan and they are responsible for working to the plan as they outlined in their GOSPA.

Recruiter to the Rescue

Many years ago, I was asked to turn around a call center that was experiencing performance issues. This team of eight was struggling to meet the demands of the job. I quickly implemented my Best Practices and was able to get the team moving in the right direction. It took about 6 weeks. Once the team understood what they needed to do and had additional training, they began to generate quality SQLs for the sales team.

Unfortunately, one of the team members was having a difficult time picking up the phone to make calls. The bad news for him was that a SDR’s job is to make phone calls, which he hated doing (Add The Best Interview Questions Resource Here). While he was very confident about the technology and solution offerings, he just wouldn’t make his calls. He was the most technical person on the team, and I could see that he would make a great customer service rep for some other company. He was a good person and in the right role he would do well. I didn’t want to make him feel worse by putting him on a PIP.

I asked his manager if he knew of any recruiters who might have customer service positions available. The manager got back to me within a few days with a few recruiter names. We made some calls and asked them to anonymously recruit our underperforming BDR out of our company.

The Result

Within two weeks, our lack-luster team member was in my office. He handed me his letter of resignation, stating, “This is a much better job for me. I like talking to customers; I just don’t like initiating phone calls”.

By utilizing a recruiter to “remove” this person out of this “wrong-for-him” job, I saved our company time and money. While also maintaining morale, this was the most compassionate way to manage this situation. The team member will never know that his manager and I helped to get him the job that fit his needs and skills better. We did it without humiliating him or impacting team morale.

Conclusion

PIPs are never about performance improvement. If you must put someone on a PIP, do so as a last resort. My best advice is to manage performance every week based on a plan like GOSPA. Team members have the opportunity to tell you “how” they will manage themselves to achieve their stated objectives. After establishing GOSPA, determine what steps you will take if members don’t meet KPI’s and other metrics as outlined in the employees’ GOSPA.

If the employee does not match the role (you made a hiring mistake), use recruiters to move people out of mismatched positions into more suitable positions at a different company. Use a PIP only when it is clear that the team member isn’t really interested in working through continuous improvement exercises aimed to boost their performance.. Whatever method you use to help your employees, make sure you add compassion to the mix. Your compassion will help you and your team in the long run. In the end, you want a “win-win” experience.

Download the free GOSPA Planning tool here.


Read the book The Radical Pipeline Strategy: How to Grow Pipeline and Revenue by Optimizing Sales Development. This book outlines tested best practices and implementation strategies that I developed while rebooting and building 65 SDR and Inside Sales organizations.

Find out more about SOMAmetrics’ Intelligent Prospecting Platform and get free resources on our website at www.somametrics.com.

GOSPA Planning: Manage Your SDR Team Their Way

GOSPA Planning by SOMAmetrics

Managers, how often have you heard SDRs or Sales Development Reps say, “I want a new territory!” Past employers and clients have often appointed my skills to transform Inside Sales and SDR teams that are underperforming. To date, I have completed successful SDR transformations at over 65 companies. Every situation displayed similar symptoms: sales development teams have a given set of objectives, and specifics on how to meet said objectives. Unfortunately, most of the team members had devoted no time towards how they would achieve the company’s stated objectives. In each of the situations, I saw poor morale and results. Ultimately, the problem was a lack of effective sales intelligence and management. The solution is GOSPA planning.

Director of Inside Sales

Here is a real example of my experience with this issue. As a Director of Inside Sales for a $100M Educational Software company, I needed to generate incremental revenue for the Inside Sales team. During the second week of my employment, a team member (Ms. B) had already sent in a request to leave her current territory due to lack of success in the region. Ms. B was a hardworking and competitive individual who burned out from her inability to fulfill her quota. She held her “bad” territory accountable for her lack of success.

When I examined the plan for Ms. B’s territory (which should have mapped out each district and key personnel) alongside a strategy on how to penetrate each territory, she claimed to have none. Thus, I collaborated with Ms. B to create a plan that would allow her to penetrate her existing territory. This was the end of the year and she had only two months to meet her objectives. I reassured her that if there was no growth within this timeframe, I would transfer her to a “better” territory.

GOSPA Methodology

I presented Ms. B with the GOSPA (Goals, Objectives, Strategies, Plans, and Activities) planning methodology (GOSPA Planning Resource Here), and requested that she think of some basic details about her territory, such as the total number of districts; key personnel (Directors of Curriculum and Superintendents); etc.

After gathering such information, I guided her through the GOSPA methodology. I stressed the importance of keeping this plan short and simple to allow her to modify on a daily basis. Research shows that when teams review and update their GOSPA regularly, they are more successful.

We began by mapping out the strategy that would allow her to meet 110% of her quota, keeping her desired commission in mind. Each week, we would regroup and assess her placement according to her GOSPA plan. Over ‌four weeks, she began to recognize that her target objective of 110% of the plan was too high. Ms. B modified her plan to an objective of 105% of quota. By the end of the two-month period, she reached her quota of 105%, while remaining in the same territory. She also was in that year’s “President’s Club” for over-achievement of her quota.

GOSPA Planning for Success

“My way or the highway.”

However longstanding and embedded a statement, this is no longer an effective strategy to manage your SDR team; companies risk creating a rift between them and their employees. Youthful, budding employees will question the reasoning behind methods that restrict experimentation, while experienced employees will prefer to utilize their own proven methods with which they are most comfortable. In both situations, allowing the employee to become engaged and access the way that is most effective for them to achieve their quotas is more productive, and yields greater results when compared to following a rigid set of processes.

You, as the SDR manager and sales leader, have your own set of priorities and objectives that must be met within each quarter. It is your responsibility to enforce behaviors that will allow your team to achieve their objectives. Millennial and Gen Z employees (now the dominant force in the workplace) may believe their social media, internet, and technology skills are the best techniques to meet their objectives. Although it is your responsibility to assure the productivity and effectiveness of your teams, placing strict rules and requirements on HOW they meet their goals and tasks may make your employees feel constricted and lower morale.

The question remains: “How can my team meet their objectives without the implication of authoritarian management?”

The answer is GOSPA — Goals, Objectives, Strategies, Plans, and Activities.

GOSPA is a longstanding tool that companies have utilized to meet their objectives. It is a short, 1-2-page planning tool that outlines specific tasks which allow each team member to meet their Key Performance Indicator (KPI). As each KPI is met, the probability of meeting each objective also increases. I was introduced to GOSPA in 1991, by the Chief Sales Officer for one of my employers, who required Field Sales and Inside Sales people to build a quarterly GOSPA plan. It was a highly effective tool, and I have been using this methodology throughout my career ever since.

An effective GOSPA plan aligns reps’ goals and objectives with the objectives and KPIs of the management team. It enables each employee to create a plan to meet their objectives, giving a sense of independence and value. In this way, GOSPA allows your team to contribute to the decision-making process.

Manage Your Team Their Way

The most effective way to manage your SDR team is to allow them to find their own technique for success. Building a GOSPA plan (which you, as manager, will review) will help employees find their mistakes and correct their actions, and remain accountable for monthly and quarterly results. As a manager, I require all of my teams to build a quarterly GOSPA. When SDRs and development reps know their Goals, Objectives, Strategies, Plans, and Activities, you—the manager—can review their KPIs against the plan during your weekly meetings. Now it is their responsibility to meet and stand by their stated objectives. In short, with a GOSPA in place, employees show their Managers how they will meet their goals instead of Managers telling them what to do.

During the GOSPA planning sessions, I recommend that the manager and employee create an agreement for the consequence of not meeting stated objectives. For example, you may discuss the methods of additional coaching/support/performance improvements for a team member who is unable to reach their GOSPA. Advanced planning removes the element of “surprise” for the employee, giving them the push to reach for help and constructively criticize their own performance.

Team members often get enthusiastic about GOSPA for its ability to align to their personal goals (my recommendation). For example, let us propose that one of your team members needs a certain amount of commission to purchase a new car. If she aligns her GOSPA to this plan, she will become more motivated to work towards her plan and succeed in her objectives.

GOSPA—A Powerful Planning Tool

GOSPA planning is most effective when it used quarterly. Each plan should be short and simple, allowing your team to review and modify their plans daily. In addition, it is important to keep in mind that while GOSPA plans should align themselves with corporate goals, their practicality should not be overlooked. If objectives are set too high, there is a higher chance that goals will not be met. For example, a GOSPA plan has an objective to meet 150% of sales reps’ quotas; it may not be achievable due to the number of activities that will be required during the quarter. Therefore it is your job as the manager to examine the practicality of each team member’s GOSPA.

GOSPA is a powerful planning tool; when it is implemented and managed regularly, team members are given more control of their destinies and results. The payoff for managers results in successful, highly motivated sales teams.

Alicia’s Tip: Use GOSPA to help your team self-manage to corporate expectations. GOSPAs should be based on team member goals, such as the amount of commission they want to earn each quarter, or awards they want to achieve, such as SDR of the Quarter. Keep the GOSPAs simple and easy to review. Manage your team’s GOSPA’s to ensure that they are realistic and map to corporate goals.

Download the free GOSPA Planning tool here.


Read the book The Radical Pipeline Strategy: How to Grow Pipeline and Revenue by Optimizing Sales Development. This book outlines tested best practices and implementation strategies that I developed while rebooting and building 65 SDR and Inside Sales organizations.

Find out more about SOMAmetrics’ Intelligent Prospecting Platform and get free resources on our website at www.somametrics.com.

Building a Unique CRM Ecosystem to Access Important KPIs

Building a Unique CRM Ecosystem to Access Important KPIs by SOMAmetrics

SDRs are tasked with generating high quality meetings and sales pipeline for your Account Execs. They achieve this through the qualification of leads (MQLs) in which they identify needs, pain, decision process, and timeframe. Most companies want this information formatted in a way that is easy for the Sales Rep to review. However, the best CRM ecosystems set up for Sales Reps isn’t the best setup for SDRs.

SDRs must be highly efficient and effective to achieve qualified meeting quotas. SDRs need their own CRM ecosystem, enabling them to move quickly from one prospect to the next while qualifying MQLs. This way, a SDR manager can promptly gauge whether a SQL/Meeting meets the minimum qualification criteria that a Sales Rep will consider viable for them to work.  

SDR CRM Ecosystems are Different from a Sales Layout

This is why the SDR CRM page layout will differ from the Sales page layout. Sales required fields should map to associated fields the Sales team uses, in order to ensure that Sales will get all of the information they need to pursue the SQL opportunity.

When I retool SDR organizations for different companies, I first look at the internal and external structures of the CRM. In every case, I have seen a CRM for Marketing; Sales; Sales Enablement; and/or Sales Reps, but not for SDRs. This is a big problem that impacts the effectiveness of SDR teams.

Most Important KPIs for Quality Appointments

Consider this: SDRs need to generate a lot of activities in order to get a prospect’s attention. The most important of which are KPIs. Thus, it is essential for SDR Managers to know that their vSDRs are consistently hitting the KPI’s to generate quality appointments. The following are my favorite KPIs for SDR teams:

  • Dials: 70-100 per day
  • Emails Sent: 50+ per day
  • Key Conversations (One of my recommended fields. This is a call where the SDR was able to gather viable information from the prospect): 10-15 per week
  • Qualified Meetings Set: 10-12 per month (this is the SDR pipeline, which needs to be large enough to ensure that 80% of the meetings set are approved to achieve the meetings set quota).
  • Meetings Approved by Sales Reps: 6-8 per month

Sales Reps don’t have the same KPIs as SDRs; their process involves other steps which the SDR doesn’t need to follow. So why should you use the same screen layout, or “view”, for both SDRs and Sales Reps? Well, you shouldn’t. SDRs need their own layout that meets the requirements of their job (download the CRM Field Mapping Resource here).

Contextualizing Prospects for your CRM Ecosystem

Before you build your SDR team, consider the most important fields you will need to enable them to generate highly qualified leads. You will want to know, for example:

  • Situation: The situation that the prospect is in now
  • Problem: What problem(s) is the prospect trying to solve that is in alignment with your solution
  • Impact: What will happen if the problem isn’t solved
  • Compelling Event: What are some of the prospects’ strategic initiatives that your solution can support
  • Decision Process: What is the decision process the prospect will utilize to make a decision for this type of solution
  • SDR Status: A picklist that provides SDR Managers a view into the progress of MQLs as they go through the qualification journey to become SQLs and meetings. This status differs from a “Lead Status”.  
    • New MQLs flow into the CRM with a SDR Status of “Untouched”.  Once they are touched, other statuses will be selected:
      • Pursuing: A call was made, however, the SDR has not received a response
      • Contacted: The SDR spoke to someone at the company, however, the information didn’t move the qualification process forward
      • Key Conversation: The SDR spoke to someone who helped them to either fully or partially qualify the MQL
      • Meeting Set: The SDR found a person who wants to speak to a Sales Rep
      • SDR Manager Approval: The approval by the Manager and Sales is also included in the SDR Status picklist, along with statuses such as “Requalify” or “Nurture”.

CRM Field Mapping Resource for your Ecosystems

SOMAmetrics’ CRM Field Mapping resource (download our free CRM Field Mapping Resource) identifies the fields that we have implemented for SDR teams. Rather than stuff tons of information into a NOTES field, these individual fields enable a layout where SDRs, SDR Managers, and salespeople can quickly assess if the SQL is valid.

Not all notes are equal. Thus, more structure in the CRM will provide everyone with consistent information as leads are qualified.

Another objective of the SDR CRM ecosystem is to ensure that they are presenting approved leads before they get to Sales. As listed above, one of the SDR statuses will alert the Manager of qualified leads awaiting their approval. This allows the Manager to quickly scan the fields to identify that the required ones have viable data. Afterwards, the SDR Manager can approve the qualified SQL, and a workflow will push the SQL to Sales. 

Once Sales has met with the prospect, they will have an opportunity to approve or reject the SQL. If approved, they will add it to their sales pipeline. If they reject it, a workflow will push the SQL to a SDR Status of “Requalify”, and the SDR can then requalify the lead, or disqualify if it isn’t a true prospect.

KPIs Follow a Well-Built CRM Ecosystem

Once you build the SDR ecosystem into your CRM, your KPIs and Metrics can be easily tracked in dashboards. My favorite dashboards track:

  • Total:
    • Dials: Day, Week, Month (dial chart)
    • Emails Sent: Day, Week, Month (dial chart)
    • Key Conversations: Week, Month (dial chart)
    • Meetings Set: Week, Month (listing of accounts where meetings have been set)
  • Leads by BDR Status (bar chart)

These distinct fields enable SDR Managers to generate a variety of dashboards that the team can use to stay on top of their game. Manager dashboards are roll-ups of team member activities and statuses, providing a clear view on how the team or individuals are performing.

If you can’t see what is happening, you won’t know what is happening. Set up a SDR eco-system in your CRM and track the required fields so that SDRs can adequately do their job.

Download the CRM Field Mapping Resource here.


Read the book The Radical Pipeline Strategy: How to Grow Pipeline and Revenue by Optimizing Sales Development.  This book outlines tested best practices and implementation strategies that I developed while rebooting and building 65 SDR and Inside Sales organizations.

Find out more about SOMAmetrics’ Intelligent Prospecting Platform and get free resources on our website at www.somametrics.com.

SDR Attrition Rate is Sky High: How to Reduce Turnover

SDR Attrition Rate is Sky High: How to Reduce Turnover, by SOMAmetrics

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the national turnover rate reached an all-time high of 16.3 million separations in March of 2020. This was mostly attributed to a rise in layoffs and discharges, since businesses were unable to afford the breadth of their workforce.

So, what is the result of increased turnover in a post-pandemic job field and the already competitive nature of sales?

We all know that sales reps are held metrically to meeting quotas, number of calls, and appointments set. You might begin to imagine why turnover rates for Sales Development Representatives (SDRs) are uniquely higher than other industries. Competitive environments yield burnout and a desire to switch teams or fields.

SDR Attrition Rates — The Raw Numbers

In order to assess the expected attrition rate of Sales Development Reps, we must look back to pre-pandemic numbers. LinkedIn reported a worldwide turnover rate of 10.9% in 2017.

How did that compare to the turnover rates for sales development reps, given their highly competitive work environment?

According to The Bridge Group, turnover rates for SDRs averaged 34% in 2015 and 30% in 2017. Not just that, but the distribution of attrition rates is surprising. More than 1 in 10 companies experienced turnover rates in excess of 55% annually.

Both in the 2015 or 2017 findings, annual attrition rates for SDRs are three times higher than the average attrition rate for all industries (30% vs. 10.9%).

Reasons behind the High SDR Attrition Rate

There are multiple reasons as to why SDRs are constantly shuffling out and why the SDR attrition rate is so sky high. Here is a narrowed down list of reasons that I have witnessed lead to separations of SDRs:

  1. SDRs become frustrated with their work that can sometimes become repetitive and unsatisfying. They are mostly unable to set meetings and conduct efficient sales prospecting. Even when they do, attendance at meetings is lacking.
  2. Someone—normally a boss or supervisor—nags on SDRs to meet their quotas. They might even put them on a demeaning Performance Improvement Plan (PIP).
  3. The performance pay that SDRs expect is not coming in because they are underperforming. As such, they really only receive a base pay.
  4. The too much or too little problem. SDRs are either not given enough content, or given too much to read up on. SDRs feel forced to make calls with no know-how of what to say or they drown in a tsunami of content they can’t use.

What Does this Mean for your Sales Organizations?

First, let’s examine the correlation between attrition rates and company performance. The same Bridge Group survey finds the following statistics on this relationship.

Image via Bridge Group

The x-axis measures annual attrition rate and the y-axis measures the percentage of reps who meet their quotas. There seems to be a correlation between companies with lower attrition rates and higher percentage of reps meeting quotas.

Now, let’s put the SDR attrition rate numbers into perspective. If you have 100 people on your sales team, you experience a standard 34% turnover rate (14% voluntary and 20% involuntary), and each sales rep on the team has a quota of $1 million, then the annual cost for your company to replace sales reps is $20.2 million.

The Effect of SDR Attrition Rates on Quotas and Revenue

Between 2015 and 2016, Richard A. Rocco, PhD reported survey findings from the Center for Sales Leadership at DePaul University on Sales Effectiveness & Sales Acceleration. He found that

  • Missed quotas happen frequently at a rate of 42%
  • These missed quotas have a correlation with turnover—26.9% for inside sales and 25.7% for outside sales
  • Reasons for turnover included voluntary resignation (50%), involuntary dismissal (33%), and retirement (22%)

When high turnover yields more missed quotas, it begs the question: how much money are companies losing annually by replacing new SDRs on their sales teams?

Well, the Center for Sales Leadership at DePaul University also concluded that that it costs almost $100k to replace an SDR. This includes the cost spent on training, acquisition, and missed quotas.

Solution

You need an engine that will not only deliver the right amount of content to your SDRs, but also personalized content that converts calls into qualified leads at a higher rate.

Most B2B Sellers typically hire candidates fresh out of college to staff their Sales Development teams. As a consequence, these junior SDRs don’t really know much about how business works in general, let alone in-depth knowledge of any industry or business operation.

Therefore, it is difficult for them to speak in a way that indicates they understand the industry and the role of the person they are calling, leading the prospect to believe that it is a waste of time to talk to SDR, let alone agree to a meeting.

SOMAmetrics Intelligent Prospecting (SIP) delivers the right information regarding the target prospect so your Sales Development Reps (SDRs) can carry expert level conversations with a senior executive and book a meeting.

If you can dramatically increase the effectiveness of your SDRs, you will see two benefits immediately:

  1. You will book more qualified meetings with fewer SDRs, reducing the challenge of SDR attrition
  2. Your SDRs will stay with you longer and have longer average tenure as their confidence and skill level increases, and as they begin to earn more in performance pay.

Read our other informative blogposts below:

Read the book The Radical Pipeline Strategy: How to Grow Pipeline and Revenue by Optimizing Sales Development. This book outlines tested best practices and implementation strategies that I developed while rebooting and building 65 SDR and Inside Sales organizations.

Use SPIFs to Spice Up SDR Performance

Use SPIFs to Spice Up SDR Performance

Sales Performance Incentive Funds (SPIFs or SPIFFs) are a great way for Sales Management to motivate their teams. A SPIF is a paid bonus for Sales Development and Sales teams for their achievement of specific goals. SPIFs earn money separately from the commission plan, and drive specific behavior or the achievement of short term goals. Commissions are part of the team members earnings based on hitting quotas.

SPIFs are a quick incentive to channel sales goals and certain behaviors. For example, if your team isn’t making enough dials or hitting their Key Conversations quota (read more here and download the free CRM Field Mapping Resource), you can have a fun program with sales incentives to focus the team and hit targets.

SPIFs are Effective When Done Right

When I was managing both SDR and Sales teams, I had to follow a specific SPIF budget ($900-$1,200) per quarter and asked to determine the areas that required improvement. Having identified the issues, I would assign a SPIF day and week(s), and gather the team to focus on the issue that needed better results.

Done correctly, SPIFs are a great way to re-energize teams, increase sales, and shift focus away from daily, tedious work. SDRs carry out 50-100 dials per day, most of the time not connecting with anyone or getting a “not interested” response.

Thus, it’s not unusual for team success and confidence to degrade over time. SPIFs create a competitive atmosphere as the winners of SPIF-related goals receive spot bonuses and compensation for their results.

SPIFs are also effective training methods; team members compete against each other while collaborating on skills and experience.

SPIFs Produce Measurable Results

My most effective SPIFs have aimed to improve the following Key Performance Indicators (KPIs):

  • C-Level /Key Decision Maker Conversations: These are the conversations that a SDR has with a C-Level Executive or a person who is a key decision maker. These are the people who understand the issues and can provide the best insights into their needs and pain. Conversations with these prospects tend to improve the quality of leads. Thus, these leads are most valued by Sales Reps.
  • SDR Pipeline: Effective SDR teams have a monthly lead quota. In order to achieve this quota, they will need a list of “potential leads”. These potential leads may have some of the qualification criteria, however, they are not quite ready to turn over to sales. For example, if the lead quota is 8 per SDR per month, the list of Potential Leads should be around 3X that number. In this case, it would be 24 to ensure that Sales receives 8 leads by month’s end.
  • Key Conversations: These are conversations with a person who can provide insights and answer the basic qualification questions that are required to make a lead qualified. The more Key Conversations a SDR has, the more likely they will meet their monthly lead quota.

KPIs such as C-Level conversations, SDR Funnel size, and Key Conversations have a more direct impact on lead quality and sales pipeline growth. In addition to these SPIFs I have used a “Dial-Ramp” SPIF when team dials have dropped by 25-30%. I call these SPIFs Power-dial days to show the team how making more dials can dramatically impact their KPIs.

Make it Fun!

Make a big deal out of your SPIF days. Create a brochure to announce the SPIF goals and objectives, as well as the rules and hours of “play”. If your budget allows, bring in lunch and take a team lunch break to enable them to share their experiences and early results. I recommend that small incentive compensation for specific objectives be paid out hourly. For example, every hour set a Key Conversation goal. The first person to meet that hourly goal would receive a $50 SPIF bonus. Then at day’s end, have a big celebration to celebrate the winners of the hourly bonuses, and announce the biggest winner of the day.

The frequency of your SPIFs will depend on team morale and performance issues. SPIFs shouldn’t be the norm. Rather, they should be used to re-energize the team and improve specific areas of performance.

Read the blogpost “Track These Metrics to Build a Viable Sales Pipeline” to learn more and be sure to download our free CRM Field Mapping Resource.


Read the book The Radical Pipeline Strategy: How to Grow Pipeline and Revenue by Optimizing Sales Development. This book outlines tested best practices and implementation strategies that I developed while rebooting and building 65 SDR and Inside Sales organizations.

The Radical Pipeline Strategy Book by Alicia Assefa

Find out more about SOMAmetrics’ Intelligent Prospecting Platform and get free resources on our website at www.somametrics.com.