Basics of hiring good sales development reps
Closing the sale. That’s the end goal for sales departments. Closers are put on a pedestal. The image of sales departments are people on the phone or on on-site pitches confidently getting the yes from clients.
According to AG Salesworks Outbound Index, sales development reps experienced a 15% yearly growth in conversations per prospect before it qualifies. This means, the role of the SDR has become very valuable in recent years as big prospects, especially in the B2B field, require more conversations before being directly interested in a product.
The lesser known machinery that moves the funnel are the sales development representatives or the SDRs. Usually part of a sales development team, they are tasked to qualify, verify and connect with leads before the contacts are pushed to the quota-holding sales professionals who are in charge of closing sales. They need to make sure that the leads they pass on are “closeable”.
According to a report by the Bridge Group Inc, almost six out of ten companies employ a sales development representative team (SDR team). Out of those and excluding companies whose net income is less than $5 million, the number reaches 67%.
Simply put, businesses know and have proven that using the services of SDRs is crucial in running a well-oiled sales department.
Depending on the company, an SDR team may hold different functions. Generally, they’re in charge of appointment setting or meeting setting. For companies employing an SDR team for meetings, an average of 14 meetings are set for each closing rep. Those are opportunities you cannot pass up if you’re running a sales department.
See, having a solid sales development team is crucial to hitting your organization’s sales quotas. Without teams dedicated to pre-close processes, you risk not wasting time and resources on leads that end up turning down your asks.
The sales development team frees up the time for quota-holders so the closers can focus on closing sales.
The question now is: How do you put together a good sales development team. Of course, with a competent recruiter, it shouldn’t be that hard. However, for the recruiter to able to do her job, you need to outline the key skills and components of a solid sales development team.
As you know, sales is not really something you can entirely learn from books. It is a mix of knowledge, real-world smarts, and experience. Now, let’s list down what you really need to watch out for–or what the recruiter needs to watch out for, for that matter–in order to put together a winning SDR team.
We’ve all heard the fist-shaking complaints about hiring only those with experience. For some positions, it’s possible and allowable to hire people who still need training wheels. For SDRs, however, the pressure is high and they are put in a situation where they represent the company directly. They project themselves as mid-level talking heads to secure appointments and opportunities with the decision-makers.
You cannot risk burning industry bridges by hiring novice reps to handle sales development.
So, what does an experienced SDR rep make?
- At least two years’ call center/phone experience
- At least half a year’s phone sales experience
- Positive recommendation from previous employers
Hiring for emotional intelligence is one of the toughest alleys of staffing teams. More so for sales development teams. It is not a secret that sales is one of the highest pressure jobs.
Stress is breakfast, lunch and dinner for sales reps. Just how much stress is experienced by professionals at work? A study showed that 8 out of 10 people are off the charts stressed at work–the top triggers being pressure and money. SDRs are usually non-quota carrying–but they’re part of a team that has a quota and a huge chunk of the next level (closers) team’s success is dependent upon them. PRESSURE.
So, how do you gauge coachability? Recruiters are usually experts in snagging up psychological cues from applicant’s speech and reaction. However, the reason a lot of sales positions require a probationary period is this. You can’t really tell if the person is coachable right off the bat, even when their work experiences say so on paper.
Questions to guide you during the probationary period:
- What is their attitude toward criticism?
- Do they contribute to the discussion regarding suggestions and points for improvement?
- Are they open to side-by-side coaching?
You want to hire people who want to get better.
Ability to learn
To get the maximum revenue from new hires, you would want them to be job-ready as soon as possible. The single most crucial element to achieving this speedy situation is for them to learn and retain information quickly.
Training periods for sales development positions can be a tough grind. It’s an information dump that they should be able to carry. From soft skills to product specifics, applicants should be able to show their ability to absorb information on a daily basis.
Now, this is measurable once in the training phase. How do you filter further by screening for learning ability in the interview stage?
One way is to hold back to back interviews. Let the first interviewer feed the applicant with information that’s scattered all over the conversation. These doesn’t have to be highly technical or specific information, but they have to be detailed enough to hold some attention. The second interviewer then asks the applicant about these information and gauge if the applicant was able to absorb information while also thinking on their feet.
You want to hire people who are smart and are quick to process information.
The best way to know if someone has the sales DNA is through their experience stack. Did they do well in their last sales position? Why did they leave their previous job?
These are all pointing to their experience in general–but an excellent way to detect sales DNA is by finding out if they really know what they’re doing. How? Mock calls. Call simulations.
- What would you tell a prospect [in this situation]?
- Leave a voice message to someone you haven’t talked to before.
- Give them a competitor product to pitch to you.
- Explain your target buyer’s persona and ask them to write a spiel that they think will appeal to those prospects.
Basically, people with sales DNA know what to do.
What we mentioned above are general traits. In post number 2 of this series, we will discuss what to look for in a sales development team leader and where to look for these professionals.
Remember, putting the pressure of closing sales solely on your closing reps is a losing situation. Buyers are better informed and more sophisticated. It is only right and smart for your sales department, from the lead generators to sales development reps to closers, to be smart and sophisticated just the same.