Building a Sales Development Team
A fully functional SDR team looks like this:
Sales development rep (SDR)
- Understanding your product or service
- Understanding your buyer persona and their needs
- Best practices for cold calls and discovery questions
- Using your CRM to record lead information and sales-readiness
- Understanding the key metrics of the role and how to measure success
At EBQ, we are fortunate that all of our managers are promoted from within through meritocracy, meaning that even our directors and VPs were once in the SDR seat and can empathize with the day-to-day battle of appointment setting.
This is a huge advantage for our leadership when supporting and guiding the daily operations of our SDRs. Our process-driven mentality has been so effective that it’s been distinguished as one of the key attributes that sets us apart from competitors.
The benefit of process-driven management is that it allows everyone to march at the same rhythm, making it easy to tell if anybody falls out of step.
In other words, the tactical manager can tell that an SDR is struggling to set appointments if they see that the SDR isn’t keeping up with the expected dials per day. In this case, they can provide the right support to their specialists when and where it’s needed.
Align your SDR team
It’s difficult to pinpoint exactly where an appointment setting team should fall in an organization: under sales, marketing, or some independent lead generation function. This categorization can differ from company to company depending on who you decide the team should report to.
However, you should be mindful that your sales leaders don’t try to measure SDR output the same way they would measure the sales team. You don’t want your salespeople to misunderstand the lead qualification function, blaming SDRs for lack of opportunities or deals closed.
SDR to salesperson ratio
- One-to-one (1:1) – This ratio is a good starting point for many companies and allows a close, direct relationship between the sales rep and the SDR qualifying their leads.
- Two-to-one (2:1) – Having two SDRs for each sales rep means the rep gets twice as much pipeline built for them daily. This is helpful for companies with smaller deal sizes, quicker sales cycles, and a highly sought-after offering.
- One-to-two (1:2) – Having one SDR for multiple sales reps is useful when your pipeline is generally slow to build but sales cycles are longer and more involved and closed deals have a higher price.
Inbound & outbound
Many companies classify their SDRs as inbound or outbound, having specialized SDRs only call on certain types of leads. But in our experience, you should hire SDRs who can actively do both.
Besides, sudden fluxes of inbound marketing leads can happen unexpectedly, and you want to be prepared. These warm leads are extra valuable for a few key reasons:
- Calling on warm leads results in higher connect rates, which typically lead to an increase in positive pipeline movement and meetings set.
- SDRs can sharpen their pitch for these leads by tailoring their messaging to the specific conversion point at which the lead became marketing-qualified.
- The increased connect rates create feel-good momentum for SDRs, which helps break up the monotony of dialing through without speaking to anybody and can improve cold calling outcomes.
If an SDR can handle the challenge of calling on cold leads and warming them up until they are sales-qualified, then a warm marketing-qualified lead should be no challenge.
Vice versa, if an SDR only has the ability to call warm leads who already have knowledge of your offering and some intent to buy, then they most likely need to work on their cold calling skills.
Specializing your SDR team might help you with organization and keeping SDRs focused on one particular part of their job. But if you have a repeatable day-to-day process in place, they should be able to manage both inbound and outbound.
Don’t just focus on either an inbound or outbound role but instead aim for an allbound strategy that targets both. Work on building out both your database and marketing efforts to keep leads coming through every channel.
Three significant things to consider when choosing candidates for your appointment setting team are their personality, experience, and skills.
We consider personality to be the biggest determining factor for new hires because of the nature of the role. These reps must be able to hold pleasant conversations throughout the day and endure an extensive amount of rejection, as the SDR role involves a good deal of it.
Experience is another important factor, but a candidate’s work history doesn’t need to directly relate to the sales development function. As an entry-level role, you’ll find that successful SDRs can come from a variety of backgrounds, as long as they have what it takes to do the job well.
For example, we’ve seen exceptional performance from reps who have previously held service industry roles, another job that requires polished communication skills.
As far as other skills are concerned, we prioritize candidates who have a track record with, or at least the capacity to learn, the following skills:
- Understand and deliver value propositions
- Find the correct point of contact for an account
- Handle objections by understanding prospect needs
- Ask discovery questions to gather prospect information for sales
- Master the repeatable daily process put in place by leadership
- Navigate Salesforce or the chosen CRM
- Consistently accelerate call volumes
The success of your appointment setting team depends on the consistent process laid out for them by leadership. Before hiring your first SDR, you should have developed a step-by-step guide for them to follow daily, as well as outlined the expectations and metrics you’ll be measuring them against.
Keep in mind that SDRs take an average of 3 months to ramp to full productivity, as it takes time to nail down the process and understand the common needs and objections of your prospects.
However, we typically expect our SDRs to be fully ramped after the first 30 days, as the duties of the job become exponentially more intuitive when following a well-defined process.
Continuously adapt and revise the success metrics for your appointment setters as you learn more about which KPIs and expected time frames work best for your team and your offering.
We find that one of the benefits of outsourcing your SDR team is that you can mitigate the costs of ongoing training, hiring, and burnout for the typically high-turnover SDR role. For reference, take a look at the difference in cost between an in-house team and a specialized EBQ outsourced team: