The Sales Development role is a challenging job, making the first impression. However, the SDR role is typically filled by young, inexperienced workers who, unfortunately, often fail. The SDR is a company's first impression on its prospects; doesn't it make sense to give this responsibility to someone who knows what they are doing?
The grim reality is that many SDRs fail within the first 10 months of their employment. As leaders, we ask, “What happened? Where did we go wrong? It is easy to blame the people; they just weren't cut out for it.” It is also easy to blame the company, “We did not provide enough leads, and we didn't train them.” Of course, there is some reality to both of these hypotheses. That being said, what I have found, is the reason for failing tends to come from 3 key areas - here are those areas and how to prevent them from becoming the point of failure for you or your SDR team.
The first area to look into is your reps personal level of motivation. Finding out what motivates each individual on your team is very important and should be a part of your on-boarding process. When you have an SDR that lacks motivation it can be a challenge to find out the source. This can be related to their performance, they aren't where they want to be. It can be personal, maybe they are going through a tough time outside of work. Regardless of what it is leadership must take responsibility of their teams level of motivation. People want a leader that they trust and look up to. Someone they respect and feel that they can learn from. It is important to be your team's leader, not just a friend.
Every person has a different set of needs that they require on a subconscious level to feel good about themselves. For example, many people feel good about their own personal growth. If they don’t feel like they are growing in any way they will lose motivation for their current role or project. SDRs should not be looked at as people doing the “busy work.” They should be viewed as the future faces of your company and be respected and trained as so. If you aren't promoting the SDRs within your organization then there is a bigger problem.
It seems simple but another area that can be the cause of struggle is organization. You would think that a recent college graduate would know a thing or two about being organized but that isn't always the case. Regardless if your SDR is a recent college grad or not, it is always surprising to me that organization isn’t as much of a focus as it should be. A lot of it has to do with the tools we have available to us. How can we have a problem with our organization if our CRM automates so much of our work? The reality is salespeople are moving a mile a minute and will spend time on what they value. If they do not value inputting in valuable notes then they will forget this task regularly.
If you have been in a sales position for a long enough time you know the value of keeping good notes, funnel management, and following-up. The problem comes when someone doesn't understand the value of these things and they don't develop the habit of keeping them all together. Building these habits come with structure and actually holding your team accountable. Very few people enjoy writing notes after a call, but the benefits outweigh the time it takes to do it.
Making these tasks mandatory is only half of the battle, holding your team accountable is the other half. This is what your one-on-one or group meetings should be helping to enforce. Asking your team what happened on calls, checking in on their funnel, and how many follow-up calls they have. The average sales manager will ask some of these questions so they can fill out a spreadsheet to show their boss. That isn’t your goal here; you should be doing this for THEM, not so you look good with some extra data points.
The most important and the hardest key area to help a SDR with is confidence. If a sales development rep lacks confidence it is virtually impossible for them to succeed. When someone is new to the job it is normal for them to lack confidence on the phone. Often times we are asking someone with little experience to speak with C-Level executives; their nerves are justified. For some new SDRs, they get over these nerves with practice. For others, it can be a crippling experience that will ultimately lead to their failure. “Sales isn't for me,” is a common phrase to those who can’t gain the confidence they need to make a cold call.
It is quite the challenge to build a reps confidence because a lot of it is self-inflicted. It is easy to write people off as being “not cut out for sales” and move on but this is taking the easy way out. Confidence comes quickly to some people and slowly to others and as a leader, you must figure out what kind of person your rep is. Are they going to get confidence by making more calls or are they the type of person who needs to be rewarded for even their small successes?
For example, let's say you have a sales development rep that is very hard on themselves. This can work in their favor, pushing them to make more calls and strive to better their performance. However, for some people, this could form as negative reinforcement; they will be overcome with self-doubt and ultimately fail. For those reps, you must reward them for small successes. Teach them how to celebrate the little wins and lighten up on themselves. Anyone can meet with a team once a week and go over metrics and this is a manager's job. A great manager leads with awareness of the needs of the individuals on their team.
Everyone has limiting beliefs, things that they believe that negatively impact their outlook. Some people hold these beliefs in areas that will affect their confidence on the phone. An example would be someone who believes that cold calls are annoying for prospects. If they believe that to the extent that it affects their ability to have quality calls with prospects they won't succeed as a sales development rep. It is a leaders job to identify what is keeping their rep from being successful and working to overcome that. Giving up on someone because they lack confidence is a cop out, focus on those people and help them overcome their limiting beliefs. You will impact them in a way that not only will help the whole team succeed but will help them succeed throughout their careers.
Having a sales development rep work for months only to fail to meet performance standards is a tough pill to swallow for everyone involved. It is tough for the company because they spent money on-boarding a new employee only to never see a return on that investment. It is hard for the rep because they came into the company excited with the willingness to succeed. It hurts leadership, they hired that person because they felt that they could succeed. A reps ability to succeed is in the best interest of the entire organization, so what do we do to prevent failure?
We must identify what is causing the failure and work to correct that issue before it spirals out of control. Talking to your reps is the most important piece to this puzzle, as leaders we must keep our hand on the pulse of what is happening within our team. If one of your reps is struggling you must find out why, and this goes beyond just asking them. Diving deep into the core issue: Is it a problem with their belief system? Are they surrounded by negativity? Do they have trouble staying organized? Once you can accurately identify what is causing them to struggle you can then begin to work on solving it.
As always, have a wonderful day filled with success and self-improvement!