Use Task Force Teams to End the Great Reshuffle

Using Task Force Teams to End the Great Reshuffle

Inc. Magazine’s recent article “Why Are People Really Unhappy About Their Jobs? The Whole Reason Can Be Summed Up in 2 Words” describes two reasons why the “great shuffle” happens today. Increased salaries and a basic “thank-you” are no longer working for burnt out employees. The studies presented in the article show that leaders must learn how to recognize employees in a way that they will feel valued to end the “great reshuffle”.

Setting Up Task Force Teams for Sales

During my career, the method that I used to win over hearts and minds of was task force teams. These team members should engage in setting processes, policies, metrics and KPIs for the SDR team.

When I am asked to re-tool a SDR or Inside Sales organization, I use task force teams to gain trust and energize team members. To do this, I conducted interviews with each team member within the first week ‌in my role. Then, I created task force teams regarding the specific yet common issues and concerns that I uncovered during these interviews. These issues and concerns have included topics such as Key Performance Indicators (metrics used to manage the team), Commission Rates, Quotas, CRM, Contracts, etc.

I asked that team members join one or more of the task forces to resolve the outstanding issues. I informed them that some executive-level ‌issues—commissions and quotas—may not resolve exactly as envisioned. My teams knew that once our recommendations were approved, we would be held accountable for achieving our projected numbers.

The Process

I limited participation to 5-7 members for each of the task force teams. Here is how I managed the task force teams:

  • I started with a brainstorm session or two which helped us get all ideas on the board for later review
  • Following the brainstorming session(s), I conducted the ideas review. During this phase, task force teams review and eliminate any idea(s) that are not viable
  • The team captures and reviews task force recommendations in a PowerPoint deck prior to presenting to the manager (me in this case)
  • Each Task Force Leader presents the approved recommendations to the entire team. The team understands that they should follow the approved task force recommendations. In most cases, there was a 95%+ agreement rate about the recommendations as outlined by the various task force teams

Task Force Teams—Case Study

One of the organizations that I turned around was the Inside Sales team for a company that had lost half its clients and hadn’t seen any new business since the recession. The Inside Sales team had not hit their revenue targets in many years.

During the assessment of the organization, I found that no one held the sales team accountable for their metrics. For example, Sales Reps didn’t have quotas. The sales funnel was full of opportunities, but 80% of these were no longer viable deals. There was no sales methodology in place to effectively manage deals through the sales pipeline.

In addition, there were no KPIs or metrics in place. Team members made fewer than 10 dials per day. I knew we had to get that number up because this was a phone job and the only opportunity to get more prospects was by calling them. I realized that my Sales Management experience was key in getting this team to achieve their goals and increase revenue.

The Turnaround

Working with the task force teams, we decided on a sales methodology and types of metrics that the team agreed would help them achieve their newly assigned quotas. Everyone agreed to the minimum metrics and worked towards them as a team. At the end of the first year, revenue had increased by 57%, and revenue from new prospects had increased by 80%

Sometimes, I don’t agree with task force recommendations. If their recommendations are way off the mark (from my experience), I work with the team to get their ideas to align with what I know will work. Ultimately, however, the caveat is that if we don’t see improvement within 90-days, we will need to regroup and come up with a better process or set of metrics. This becomes a continuous improvement process in which experimentation is essential. Similarly, Sales Management is not a stagnant process.

As the manager of a team, you need to be flexible and listen to the suggestions of your employees. Sales Management is about working with your employees and, ideally, empowering task force members to work together to analyze the success of their recommendations. Review task force recommendations and results at the end of each quarter.

Increase Productivity

There are many studies about Sales Management and employee involvement in the decision making process. Most research agrees that active participation has positive effects on performance, and thus productivity. For example, C. A. L. Pearson conducted an experiment involving two groups of workers: a group of employees who set goals, and a control group that executed traditional work procedures. The results showed not only that those “who were engaged in participative goal setting reported […] greater job satisfaction”, but that “goal setting and performance were positively related.” [1] Similarly, another paper found that “empowered employees largely improve performance by finding innovative ways of correcting errors in service delivery and redesigning work processes.” [2]

These findings are in line with my own experience, and show that if you get the buy-ins from your employees, you will see an increase in performance, productivity, and eventually revenue.

So… what?

Rather than telling the team what to do, I give my teams the ability to determine their destiny. When teams have the opportunity to provide their input on specific aspects of the job, the manager has their “buy-in,” and team members can work toward the assigned goals. Why wouldn’t they? It’s their plans and ideas and, therefore, their responsibility to make them work. This process has worked for me and has helped my teams greatly improve their performance.

Employee retention should be at the top of every company’s list. Allow them to give input into how they should do their jobs in order to improve morale and reduce exits


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.

How Difficult Is It to Generate a Meeting? Common Misuses of SDR Teams in Appointment Setting

In my book, The Radical Pipeline Strategy, I discuss the strategies and best practices I have used to build effective Sales Development organizations with regards to appointment setting. These teams, commonly known as Business Development (BDRs); Account Development (ADRs); and Sales Development (SDRs), consistently help your sales teams to achieve pipeline and revenue targets.

How difficult is it to set a meeting?

Over the years, Sales Development has come a long way. It is no longer disparagingly thought of as “Telemarketing”—a group of junior people whose primary role is appointment setting, or register people for seminars and events.

The SDR role is, however, still considered an entry-level position: their job is to generate a sales qualified meeting otherwise known as an SQL. The reason why companies hire junior-level people is because they think, “how difficult is it to set a meeting”? This is a pivotal question that I explore fully in my book.

In this blog, I will outline common misuses of SDR teams as appointment setters that I have encountered while retooling client SDR teams at over 65 companies.

Role of SDRs

To start, consider this: companies hire junior SDRs as their first line of defense. Their job is to call valued prospects who have 10 or more years of experience in their field. However, most junior-level SDR’s haven’t acquired the skills to speak to these seasoned professionals in a meaningful way, nor have they been given the tools to support their qualification efforts. In other words, “junior” SDR’s are the first point of contact with the most valued prospects of your company. This is an ineffective strategy for appointment setting that simply doesn’t work.

Junior SDRs don’t know how to speak to executives, and executives—who receive hundreds of calls from the same type of people—will tune them out. As a result, few qualified meetings are set and pipeline goals simply aren’t achieved.

To make up for the lack of quality meetings, companies hire more SDRs to help them squeeze out more appointments needed to meet their qualified meetings quota. In doing so, companies just build larger, more unsuccessful teams. This, in turn, costs companies a lot of money and frustration as they continue to miss pipeline targets month after month.

Next, consider this: billions of robocalls (over 50 billion in 2021) are made to the same seasoned professionals which lowers your SDRs chances of getting the target to answer their calls. And when they do actually answer, SDRs aren’t prepared to talk to the potential prospect. SDR’s need extensive training—in B2B appointment setting—to have conversations that provide prospects with the “valued” information for making informed decisions. Without this training, no one (prospects or sales) gets what they want or need.

Below are some examples of how SDRs are misused.

SDRs are NOT:

  • A panacea! If your company doesn’t have a viable solution, or your executives haven’t identified your best targets, or if your messaging is off the mark, SDRs won’t be able to generate a quality sales process and pipeline. Don’t force your SDRs to make up your messaging—they will fail.
  • A cold-call engine. Our research shows that it takes around 2,000 cold call dials to generate one closed deal. I don’t know any company that can afford a resource just to make dials. Instead, give your SDRs enough MQLs (marketing qualified leads) to meet your stated objectives. Then, set up a Target Accounts program, which are key accounts that your Sales Executives want to close, during the year. Market to these specific accounts using ABM, for example. Next, assign a handful of these accounts to your SDRs each quarter and arm them with content to give to prospects as they work to make contact. Finally, provide your sales reps with SDR marketing solutions, like FrontSpin and Outreach.io, to enable them with the skills to send personalized and targeted messages.

They are also NOT:

  • Your Chief Marketing Officer or VP Marketing/Sales. Every team I retooled allowed their SDRs to create emails and sales tools, which were not effective. SDRs are not product marketing executives or writers. Effective SDRs are good on the phone, but most are not good at writing. Marketing and Sales should consistently provide the right tools and fresh content with the desired messaging to their SDR team members. I tune out emails that are regurgitated and sent to me week after week… your prospects will too.
  • Your Sales team. Don’t expect your SDRs to close deals. Instead, educate them to uncover basic needs and pain. In addition, let them focus on generating quality SQLs and appointment setting with viable prospects. Have your sales and inside sales teams close the deals.
  • Admin support for your sales team. Many of the companies I have worked with loaded their SDRs with admin work. When this happens, SDRs who don’t enjoy making phone calls focus on admin work, and the SDRs who like making phone calls won’t do the admin work. So, SQLs are not being generated, nor is admin work being done. Remember, SDRs are there to develop a quality pipeline for your sales organization. Give them one job: generating highly qualified SQLs and sales appointments.
  • An after-thought. The SDR operation works best when it is considered an integral component of a company’s overall marketing and sales strategy. Companies that just “plop” in a SDR team without providing the right infrastructure, or with effective marketing or sales strategies in place, waste a lot of time and money. It takes careful thought and planning to build a SDR team that will generate a quality sales pipeline.

SDRs are:

  • Often the first live personal contact your prospects will have with your company. This first conversation needs to be spot-on and meaningful in order for your prospects to stay engaged with your company.
  • An effective method for delving into your prospects’ needs and building pain for your solution. Teach your SDR’s how to ask the right qualifying questions that build pain and need.
  • A sales pipeline development engine.
  • Most effective when supported by MQLs, or have an effective Target Accounts program in place.
  • Opportunity builders. Every communication with a prospect increases your company’s chances to create a viable opportunity. Make sure every call counts. Train your SDR team to take full advantage of every prospect interaction through efficient lead generation. Provide them with the right tools and proper training. Help them learn how to keep your prospects engaged throughout the qualifying process.
  • A great way to stay in touch with key or Target accounts. While field reps are closing deals or chasing warmer opportunities, someone needs to stay in touch with the key accounts or else you may lose them to the competition. (Some years back, one of SOMAmetrics’ clients had Comcast™ listed in their database as a Target Account. Comcast™ had been in their database for a while. Our SDR discovered that Comcast™ was going to acquire NBC. She called them and generated an enormous opportunity for our client. The field rep was unaware of this new information. This might have been a missed opportunity if our SDR had not contacted Comcast™ when she did).
  • In touch with the same prospects every month. These prospects often provide useful market intelligence which your company can mine to perfect its messaging and targeting.

Building a quality sales pipeline

To answer the previous question, “How difficult is it to set an appointment?”: it is very difficult to set an appointment. This is why so many SDR organizations fail. Every connection with a prospect needs to be treated like gold. Today, most people don’t pick up the phone to speak to anyone who is not on their contact list. When they do, the SDR needs to be armed with the right messaging and understanding of both your targets and your ideal customer profile (ICP). They must know how to qualify for pain and how to identify compelling prospect events, which align with your solutions.

In short, the role of your SDR team is to build a quality sales pipeline. They do this by setting highly qualified meetings with the right targets in the right market. Pipeline is always king. If you view this team as a strategic part of your pipeline build and set it up properly, you will hit your pipeline and revenue targets consistently.


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.