What is an SDR?
A Sales Development Representative, or SDR, is a member of a sales team who is responsible for reaching out to prospects, qualifying leads, and booking meetings with the salespeople who close deals.
What can SDRs bring to your company?
Sales Development Representatives can help you build a team where salespeople are able to increase their efficiency as they fine tune their approach. They do this by overseeing and specializing in the top of the sales funnel, which lets your AE team focus on closing deals.
SDRs are the backbone of your lead-generating process, and they’re often the first point of contact a potential customer has with your business. Good SDRs set the tone for the rest of the relationship!
An SDR also helps keep the rest of the team running efficiently, because they keep your pipeline clean and qualified. SDRs manage a customer’s entry into the sales funnel, while also screening leads for eligibility to keep your AEs from wasting time pursuing dead ends.
But SDRs don’t just impact the way your sales team gets the job done. They also bring tremendous value as they streamline the sales cycle. In fact, the median value of the pipeline brought in by SDRs is as much as $3 million annually per representative.
What do SDRs do?
An SDR oversees the top-of-funnel sales strategy.
They find, research, and screen leads, which they then nurture into qualified opportunities for the AEs to pursue.
Their primary goal is to book appointments for online or face-to-face conversations between potential customers and AEs.
Most SDRs are responsible for meeting quotas for qualified opportunities and for prospecting activities. But their roles also often include market and competitor research to help them find leads and understand how to engage with them.
Can’t the AEs find their own leads?
Customers typically want to build rapport with a salesperson, so it seems logical to assume they’d want to continue working with the first person they spoke to. But an SDR actually enhances the customer journey by allowing AEs to give more attention and care to the relationships they build. Rather than making a customer feel like they're being bounced around, a skilled SDR team can help customers have a more personalized, productive experience with your sales department.
SDRs do more than just find leads and forward the contact information to the AE team. By being the first to engage with a customer, an SDR helps find out vital information to guide the sales experience. They can even help direct qualified opportunities to the right AE for the job – for instance, if a lead is coming from a specialized industry, the SDR’s initial screening process can guide the lead to the AE who has industry knowledge.
If you compare your sales department to your marketing team, an SDR is sort of like a Demand Generation Specialist, whereas an AE is more like a Product Marketing Director. Just as a DG specialist oversees top-of-funnel brand visibility to support more focused marketing initiatives, an SDR helps generate the initial interest that can eventually develop into a sale through an AE’s focused approach. In both departments, allowing team members to specialize means they’re able to focus their efforts based on their strengths.
With a great SDR team to find the best leads, your AE team can spend more time developing relationships with potential customers, deepening their product knowledge, and closing sales. This approach has the efficiency of an assembly line, while allowing AEs more time with each customer to ensure a better experience for prospects as well.
How do SDRs get leads?
Before they can reach out to any leads, SDRs do initial market and competitor research to help them scout for opportunities. SDRs work with both inbound and outbound leads, and the skills they need to engage with both types of leads are different.
Inbound leads used to mostly be generated by referrals, but now there are many places where customers can make their first contact with your company. Gated content, social media, chat bots, and email all allow interested consumers to reach out to you.
Inbound leads are typically follow-ups after a person has expressed interest in your company or requested information. But even though these leads may seem easier to handle than cold leads, a good SDR can help nurture casual attention into genuine interest.
In fact, even if a lead seems very interested, an SDR can still be helpful in these first stages. Since there are so many opportunities to reach out, the sheer volume of inbound leads takes time to sort through. A vital part of an SDR’s role is to screen the lead for any necessary qualifications, and then to generate the kind of information that an AE can use to begin a conversation. This important first step can lay the foundation for the rest of the sales cycle.
Outbound leads take nerve, determination, and persistence to process efficiently. But they also take a lot of time. Outbound leads may take longer to process than warmer inbound leads simply because it’s difficult to get a response at all. But even when a salesperson does make contact, outbound leads might be challenging if the person is resistant to a sales pitch.
A skilled SDR is an expert in expressing ideas quickly and engagingly, whether they’re giving an elevator pitch, making a cold call, or sending a DM. They’re excellent at keeping people talking, getting through to the right person, and seeding the kind of interest that can lead to a qualified opportunity in an otherwise cold lead.
If your company prospects with cold leads often, an SDR will be a vital part of your sales team. The time it takes to nurture a cold lead into a qualified opportunity can take away from an AE’s sales development process, and the resulting delays could even close the door on others who are further down the pipeline.
How do SDRs turn leads into qualified opportunities?
Just as there are many ways for potential customers to contact your business, there are multiple strategies that SDRs use to develop their leads. When reaching out to a lead, SDRs typically initiate a series of conversations that involve a gradual deepening of the top-of-funnel pitch. Early conversations tend to be introductory, while later conversations might focus more on gathering information and expressing value. A typical SDR’s cycle with one lead might look something like this:
What do SDR salaries look like?
Compensation packages for SDRs differ depending on the size and revenue of your company and the industry you’re in. To design a sustainable, motivating compensation structure for your SDR team, try using this template to help you. You’ll begin by setting goals, such as sales activity quotas, and learn how to create the best compensation package for your team.
Though SDR compensation varies from company to company, here are some overall salary trends in the field:
- The average annual salary of an SDR is around $46,000.
- An SDR’s base salary typically ranges from $35,000-60,000 annually.
- An SDR will usually make between $5,000-25,000 a year in commission.
What is an SDR’s typical career path?
A successful SDR typically moves up the career ladder in one of two directions.
The first is to grow within the SDR team and become a team lead, then eventually an SDR manager. This type of progression works well for SDRs who are excited by a fast-paced working environment and can handle the pressures of high call volume and quick day-to-day changes.
The second, and most common, path is to become an AE. SDRs who want to deepen their relationships with customers and gain experience in closing deals, now that they’re experienced at setting meetings.
While there are other possibilities for SDRs as they advance, these two paths are the most common ways for SDRs to use the skills they learn in their current position to enhance the sales team.
What are the personality traits of a good SDR?
While many SDRs have college degrees or sales backgrounds, the soft skills and interpersonal qualities a candidate brings might mean more for this role than certifications and experience do.
A good SDR is self-motivated, energetic, enthusiastic, and has top-notch communication skills. When you interview candidates for this role, pay attention to how well they communicate and interact with you and other members of your staff. Ask yourself:
- Do they seem prepared for the interview? An effective SDR approaches opportunities with information, research, and a plan.
- Are they friendly, polite, and easy to talk to? Without great manners and a knack for chit chat, an SDR likely won’t be effective at keeping a lead interested.
- Can they answer questions clearly and without too much hesitation? A good SDR can think on their feet and keep up with the kinds of questions and curveballs that come up in conversations with the public.
- Are they professional without being cold? Warmth will help customers feel welcome. Professionalism will help them feel assured. A good SDR should have both.
- Do you think this person can represent your company well? This question might be the most subjective, but it’s perhaps the most important. Think of the kind of image and attitude you’d like your customers to engage with.
When you find the right SDRs for your sales department, you’ll secure a valuable resource that can help your team function more efficiently. As you allow your staff to spend time on the tasks where they’re most productive, you’ll cut down on wasted time and make sure team members are focusing where they’re needed most. At the same time, you’ll enhance your customers’ journey through the sales pipeline by ensuring that your team members have the time and resources to best help them.