The blueprint for finding top-performing SDRs

June 20, 2023 - 5min. read

In my experience, I’ve had the opportunity to hire numerous SDRs for various SaaS scaleups in different growth phases. These experiences have allowed me to develop and refine a blueprint for sourcing top-performing SDRs.

Hiring SDRs reminds us of the popular Discovery Channel tv show ‘Gold Rush’, where a bunch of people compete against each other in order to find the best spot to dig for gold. It was often about a make-or-break situation where they invested all their money in expensive equipment. 

Hiring a SDR is very familiar. You need to keep digging and moving tons of soil to find the gold, the jackpot. Once you know where to search, everyone will jump in and compete against you. But without the gold, you will never grow as a tech company. 

In short, a SDR is pure gold for your company. SDRs are the face of your company. They provide leads for your AE’s, are at the forefront of bringing in revenue, and are your future leaders. 

I will guide you through my blueprint for finding top-performing SDRs in this article.

Why should I hire an SDR?

SDRs are the backbone of your tech company’s sales and marketing operations. They are crucial in identifying and qualifying potential customers, creating new business opportunities, and generating revenue. 

Next, they bridge the gap between sales and marketing teams. Because SDRs are the ones who truly understand your target audience. Therefore, their shared information with your marketing team is valuable in creating hyper-personalized communication. 

Thanks to a SDR, you will grow your customer base, putting your goals within reach.

The gap between the demand and supply of SDRs

Why does it feel like a gold rush to find those talented SDRs? We can trace the answer to your three hiring options as a tech company. 

1. You are seeking an experienced SDR instead of an entry-level graduate.

You may want to refrain from investing in training or an extensive onboarding process as a company. You want your SDRs to know what the job entails, but that’s not how it works. SDRs are not known for making horizontal moves. And you cannot blame them. They want to step up, close deals, do demos, make more money etc. They are not willing to start all over again at your company.

2. You want to hire young graduates fresh from school.

Sales are still seen as a profession for people who fail. Therefore, students aren’t educated enough about the advantages of a career starting as a SDR. The goal here is to educate students more and inspire them to launch their careers in tech sales.

3. You want to hire sales professionals from a different vertical.

When you want to hire sales professionals from different industries like real estate or recruitment, you must know they will not accept an entry-level pay grade. The only people out of this group who will succeed are those who want to go into tech sales and are willing to scale down to scale up. 

In other words, these are the people with a growth mindset and who know that every step they take ultimately contributes to achieving their ambitions. 

In short, because of the above reasons, the market experiences a massive gap between the demand and the supply for SDRs.

What should I look for in an SDR?

‘The Sales Person’ has evolved and has completely transformed what it means to work in sales within the modern landscape. 

Here are 7 skills you need to assess when hiring potential SDRs:

  • Communication Skills – Can you talk to someone you’ve never spoken to before and get them interested in the product you sell? It takes confidence, curiosity and fast thinking. 
  • Listening – Being an SDR isn’t about you talking. It’s about asking the right questions, listening to the answers and adapting your approach based on what the prospect says. 
  • Creativity – Every prospect is different. Sometimes you must be creative to find the angle and grab their attention. 
  • Organisation – Good time management is essential when you’re an SDR. You also need to prioritise the most important tasks and ensure no prospect gets left behind. 
  • Eagerness to Learn – Do you have that curiosity and drive to improve? SDRs have to be open to learning new skills every day. They also have to be coachable, acting on real-time feedback. 
  • Tenacity – It takes an average of 8 cold calls before you actually get to speak to a prospect. The best SDRs never give up hope. 
  • Resilience – When you’re an SDR, getting hung up on or told to go away is part of the job. But you can’t let it stop you. Successful
    SDRs always find a way to get back up after getting knocked down.

How can I attract the best SDRs?

Differentiate. It’s as simple as that.  

I’m joking. In reality, it’s far from that simple to differentiate yourself. Therefore I share some personal insights that will help you differentiate yourself from 90% of people.

1. Use LinkedIn how it should be used.

LinkedIn reveals a ton of information to a candidate in various ways. First, it guarantees a potential candidate will look up information about your company and employees. For example, what are they posting about

Apart from the content they share, candidates will also look at the career path of their employers. Is their direct manager an SDR himself? Are the AE’s in your company promoted, or are they hired externally? If they are hired externally, that will be a big red flag and tells a lot about the internal opportunities you hand out. 

Lastly, they will look at the SDRs in your company. How long are they, on average, in their role? If it’s longer than 1,5 years, it will scare a lot of young graduates.

2. First interview to set the expectations.

An SDR must leave the first interview with a core understanding of their role in the company’s success. In this first interview, you need to talk and explain how their position is integral to the business and what it means to be a salesperson. Also, let them speak to your team!

3. Use job ads instead of job vacancies.

Maximize your ad campaign’s effectiveness by targeting the platforms where your audience is most active, such as TikTok, Instagram, LinkedIn, Reddit, and more. When creating your ads, remember these three key elements:

  • Wiift (What’s in it for them): Clearly communicate the benefits and value your offering brings to potential candidates.
  • Impact: Highlight the positive impact they can make by joining your organization and contributing to its growth.
  • Salary Transparency: Be upfront and mention the exact salary, avoiding ranges. This level of transparency builds trust and attracts candidates who are aligned with your compensation expectations.

And finally, remember to emphasize why candidates should choose you. Showcase your unique selling points, such as company culture, career development opportunities, or industry-leading projects. Stand out from the competition and attract top talent to join your team.

4. Expectations make the man.

To ensure clarity for candidates, it’s crucial to define the role of a SDR within your company. Explain how SDRs collaborate with Account Executives (AEs) and the expected synergy level between the two roles. Be transparent about the specifics, such as the balance between inbound and outbound leads and the quantity involved. 

Additionally, outline the SDRs’ key performance indicators (KPIs) and provide insights into how these goals are established. Highlight whether the team consistently meets these targets, showcasing a track record of success.

In terms of the working environment, set clear expectations. Clarify whether it’s a hybrid model that combines in-office and remote work or if it’s a fully remote setup. Candidates will appreciate knowing what to anticipate regarding their physical presence in the workplace and how it aligns with their personal preferences and circumstances.

By addressing these important aspects, you can provide candidates with a comprehensive understanding of the SDR role in your organization and set the foundation for a transparent and mutually beneficial hiring process.

5. Hire on mindset.

When hiring SDRs, it’s crucial to identify candidates with a growth mindset. These individuals possess an attitude of continuous learning and improvement, believing their skills can develop over time. They are resilient, embracing challenges as opportunities for growth and learning from their mistakes.

SDRs with a growth mindset are open to taking risks and exploring new approaches. They understand that failure is not a final outcome but a stepping stone toward success. They view setbacks as valuable learning experiences, enabling them to gain knowledge and refine their skills.

By selecting SDRs with a growth mindset, you can build a team that is adaptable, innovative, and driven to achieve long-term success. Their willingness to continuously improve and embrace challenges will contribute to their individual growth as well as the overall success of your sales organization.

How do I maintain SDRs?

It’s not only about how to maintain your SDRs but about how you can ensure that they will become successful. And believe me, if I say that it’s all about company image when attracting salespeople. 

The key to keeping them motivated and making them successful is personality tests. To be honest with you, I’m not the biggest fan of personality tests in sales. I don’t like fitting people into certain boxes, primarily if you use it to qualify or disqualify a potential candidate.

But I support personality tests if you use them for coaching. I, for example, use Talent Dynamics, which is a test of what a person’s strengths and weaknesses are. Once you hire a SDR, run them through a personality test to check what kind of person joined your sales team. 

The good thing about this kind of personality test is that it shows what kind of tasks your new SDR will never be good at because it’s not in their nature. In that way, you will be able to determine which to focus on, guiding them to a successful career instead of wasting time trying to strengthen weaknesses that will never work. 

Have a career plan in mind for your SDRs

Ensure that you have a clear path with tangible targets and KPIs when and how they can climb the ladder. This is not only a way of maintaining SDRs but also to attract them. Targets need to be reachable as well to keep them motivated.  

Appoint a team lead that follows your SDRs closely

SDR Managers play a crucial role in supporting and guiding SDR teams. While it’s still uncommon for many SaaS companies to have dedicated SDR Managers, it is essential for the success and well-being of SDRs.

Having a direct manager solely focused on the SDR team provides several benefits. It helps alleviate the potential burnout and isolation associated with the SDR role. With a dedicated manager, SDRs have someone who closely monitors their progress, provides guidance, and advocates for their needs.

It’s crucial to remember that the SDR role and its requirements evolve rapidly as the company grows. Therefore, it’s recommended to periodically assess and adjust the responsibilities and career progression of the SDR Manager. This allows for flexibility and ensures alignment with the changing demands and expectations of the SDR team.

Time to grow your company by hiring an SDR

In conclusion, hiring SDRs as the backbone of your tech company’s sales and marketing operations is crucial for sustainable growth. They generate revenue, bridge the gap between sales and marketing teams, and create personalized communication.

To attract top-performing SDRs:

  1. Differentiate yourself by effectively utilizing platforms where your target audience is active and transparently communicating the benefits and impact of joining your organization.
  2. Assess candidates for essential skills like communication, active listening, creativity, organization, eagerness to learn, tenacity, and resilience.
  3. Set clear expectations, establish performance indicators, and provide a supportive working environment.

Emphasize the value of a growth mindset in SDRs, fostering continuous learning and adaptation. Consider using personality tests for coaching and guide SDRs towards a successful career path. Implement a well-defined career plan and appoint dedicated SDR Managers to support and guide the team. 

By following these strategies, you can attract, develop, and retain top-performing SDRs who drive your company’s growth and long-term success.