Knowing how to hire your first sales rep isn’t a clear-cut process. We all know the profile of a sales development rep (SDR). They’re young, full of energy, big doe-eyes that are filled with optimism and ignorance. In certain companies the SDR profile can be very cookie cutter- recent college graduates that have no idea whether or not they want to do sales as a career.  

The common misconception with any SDR role is if you plug in a smart, driven, recent college graduate you will see success. It’s actually not that simple. To answer how to get the ideal SDR team early on, we need to take a look at the task at hand.

If it’s time to hire, and add someone to your sales team, you may want to streamline your hiring process a little. To find people with the sales skills you need, it takes a little more than posting a job description on a job board. You want to hire a salesperson who’s a good fit and a welcome addition to your sales staff.

So, let’s take a look at some of the ways you can find good sales reps, who may lack years of experience, but will offer your team value.

Build an outbound process

Sounds easy enough, they sit down with the sales reps and learn how to outbound. WRONG! The problem is the sales reps of today have very little idea how to prospect in this day and age. They’re not caught up on the new tools, techniques and processes. The last person you want telling your new SDR hire how to prospect is your salespeople. This leaves them to fend for themselves when building an outbound process. The top of the funnel is simply too important to let someone that has zero sales experience to handle.

Become a leader

If the first SDR is lucky enough to have proven the outbound process out enough to where another SDR must get hired, they will be responsible for training. We all know how important sales training is. With that being said, if the SDR doesn’t have a proven track record of past sales experience to pull from, then the tenured SDR could be teaching poor habits to the new hire. In addition, since there are no benchmarks of success, you could be setting the bar too low for your future SDRs. As you can see, the team can be begin to unravel very easily at this point so it’s imperative that you avoid the blind leading the blind.

Define Culture

Sales culture can be defined in two ways: from the top down and the bottom up. As counterintuitive as the latter sounds, SDR’s set the pace for the environment in which the salespeople step into on a daily basis. Is your place buzzing with objection handling and hustle, or does it resemble something closer to a morgue?

This affects your quota carriers, and the environment you cultivate directly correlates to revenue numbers. So ensure that your SDR team has that spark of energy your team needs to hit quota.

Your Ideal SDR First Hire

When making that first SDR hire you should take experience over cost of compensation. Your company is scaling quickly and the first person you put in this seat is in a crucial role because they will be contributing to your revenue stream. Which validates your market, positioning, leads to more funding etc.

Look for these qualities:

They have SDR experience at a smaller company

You need to ensure that they can be scrappy. Limited resources can make the most cuddled SDR crumble. At their last company did they have all the tools in place and were on autopilot or did they have to think dynamically by building processes?

The stage of the company that they previously worked for is a good indicator of how much process they needed to put in place. The smaller the company, the more resourceful they had to be. If they stepped into a sales role at Google, they had to do very little dynamic thinking when doing outbound since they already have very mature processes and benchmarks that determine success.

 They need to have the right skill set

Do they have enterprise experience, SMB, or mid market SDR experience? It’s imperative that they match one of these areas since all of these markets require a different approach.

SMB - They were on the phone 80% of the time. They were trained on the transactional sale and can be aggressive with a very short line of sight. This is a terrible fit for an enterprise SDR who has to be much more tactical when approaching their prospects.

Mid Market- They have a hybrid mix of calling and emailing experience. They can navigate both markets but you should question anyone that is going from Mid-market to SMB sales because this is a red flag for them not knowing what is more valuable.

Enterprise - Those with this experience were forced to have more dynamic outreach but email is the main medium of communication. They think long term and they tend to have a more holistic approach when doing outbound. Define your market and match your hire with the market.

 They Need to Be Invested 

Do not cheap out on this role. Pay someone enough so that they will stick around and train your new SDR hires. You can’t pay your SDR $35,000 in base and expect them to a) accept the position and b) stick around for very long. SDR’s with experience know how much account executives get paid and they will jump ship quickly for another opportunity if you do not compensate them in the right way. I suggest paying a slightly higher than industry average with a large bonus pool. Remember even though they are not fully baked salespeople, they still can be incentivized like them. Just remember, they favor experience over money so if you can strike the right balance of compensation with mentorship then they will remain with your company. Mentorship can be hard to do when you’re scaling fast so occasionally send them to training like the Funnel Clarity Persuasive Series or a sales specific conference. Sales Hacker is a great one for SDRs.

shawn-pic.pngThis guest post comes from Kyle Poretto. Kyle has built Sales Development teams from the ground up for some of the most successful NYC tech companies including Singleplatform (a $100 million dollar acquisition) and NewsCred. He now runs a company, Prospecting Zen, that enables SDR teams to focus on what important, outreach.


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