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Ashley Kelly: The Playbook to Start and Scale Your SDR Team | E1162

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Ashley Kelly: The Playbook to Start and Scale Your SDR Team | E1162

Sales Development Function

  • Sales development is a crucial part of the go-to-market function and can stand alone as a pillar within it.
  • SDRs play a vital role in pipeline building and career development, often serving as a bridge between marketing and sales.
  • Successful SDRs focus on controllable factors like attitude and effort and adapt to constant changes in the sales landscape.

Outbound Sales Evolution

  • Outbound sales is still relevant but has evolved with technology, from phone books to email automation, video prospecting, and now AI.
  • AI can help SDRs by eliminating repetitive tasks and allowing them to focus on personalization and human interaction.

SDR Reporting Structure

  • The decision of whether SDRs should report to marketing or sales depends on the organization's nature.
  • Inbound-heavy organizations benefit from SDRs reporting to marketing for closer alignment and feedback, while outbound-heavy organizations may find success with SDRs reporting to sales for a more proactive approach.

MQL Conversion Effectiveness

  • The effectiveness of MQLs in converting to SQLs depends on the MQL type.
  • High-intent MQLs, such as demo requests or contact us clicks, should have a higher hit rate, while lower-intent MQLs may require further nurturing.

SDRs as a Third Pillar

  • SDRs can bridge the gap between marketing and sales teams, acting as a third pillar in the go-to-market function.

SDR Organizational Structure

  • The structure of an SDR organization depends on the scope of the CRO's role and can vary across companies.
  • SDRs should have the autonomy and ability to build their own strategies and execution plans.

SDR Responsibilities

  • AEs' time is better spent closing deals rather than prospecting, so SDRs should be responsible for generating qualified leads.
  • Rippling has a complex SDR organization that supports 31 different functions across the business, including cross-selling and upselling.

Hiring the First SDR

  • When hiring the first SDR, it's advisable to hire someone with experience in prospecting and closing, rather than a fresh college graduate.

Sales Playbook Creation

  • The founder should be the main seller and storyteller to create the content needed for building the sales playbook.

SDR Hiring Process

  • To structure the hiring process for SDRs, look for candidates with six months of experience, preferably in recruiting or a call center role.
  • During the interview process, focus on assessing coachability, ability to navigate ambiguity, and communication skills.

Coachability and Implementation of Feedback

  • Ask candidates about a time they failed and how they reacted to and implemented feedback.
  • Look for examples that demonstrate a growth mindset and a willingness to learn and improve.

Motivation Factors

  • Look for candidates who are motivated by money or growth opportunities.
  • Avoid candidates who are only interested in sales because of family connections or external pressure.

Organization Skills

  • Assess candidates' organizational skills by asking about their calendar management and time-blocking techniques.
  • Look for candidates who live and die by their calendar and have a structured approach to their work.

Role-playing and Email Assessment

  • Conduct role-playing exercises to evaluate candidates' communication and active listening skills.
  • Provide feedback and observe their ability to implement the feedback in a second role-play.
  • Use email assessments to evaluate candidates' writing skills, ability to handle objections, and relevance of their outreach.

AI-generated Emails

  • Consider the potential impact of AI-generated emails on the email assessment process.
  • Discuss whether the output of AI-generated emails matters if it leads to positive results.

SDRs' Engagement with AI Tools

  • Some SDRs are open to using AI tools to improve their productivity and efficiency.
  • Encourage SDRs to share their insights on useful tools and rely on their input when evaluating new technologies.

SDR Compensation

  • The financial package for SDRs is determined based on geolocation and market cost of living.
  • The compensation structure is 70% base salary and 30% variable based on meeting quotas tied to stage two opportunities.
  • Tying SDR compensation directly to revenue can be effective in certain situations, but it may not work for all companies and can lead to issues with demo volume and quality.

Changes in the Hiring Process

  • The hiring process for SDRs has changed, with more experienced SDRs being hired due to tech layoffs.
  • The biggest hiring mistake made was conducting only 30-minute phone screens for candidates, leading to poor quality hires.

SDR Onboarding Process

  • The onboarding process for SDRs involves getting them on the phone by week two, with week one focused on company and product onboarding and week two on job-specific training.
  • SDRs are given ramping goals and quotas to gradually increase their productivity over four months.

SDR Quotas

  • SDRs have quotas to build their pipeline and learn the muscle of outbound sales.
  • Quotas start low and gradually increase as SDRs ramp up.
  • The focus is on account-to-S1 and account-to-S2 conversion rates to set targets for S2s.
  • Quotas differ based on ACV, with lower ACVs requiring higher numbers of S2s to make sense from a payback perspective.

SDR Ramp-up Time

  • It takes about four months for SDRs to be fully ramped and productive.

Identifying Mish Hires

  • Mish hires are usually identified in the second month based on their ability to master KPIs rather than S2 performance.

Identifying Good and Great SDRs

  • Good and great SDRs can be identified early by their proactiveness and willingness to seek guidance and feedback.

Managing Morale During Tough Times

  • Managing morale during tough times involves focusing on the basics, celebrating small wins, and providing close support and feedback.
  • Short-term goals and incentives, such as fast starts, call blitzes, and competitions, can help boost morale and keep SDRs motivated.

SDR Team Culture

  • SDR teams are fun and enjoy creative ways to make their work more enjoyable.

Marketing Support for SDRs

  • SDRs can benefit from marketing efforts to increase brand awareness and generate warmer leads.
  • There should be better collaboration and alignment between SDR and marketing teams to improve lead generation and conversion.
  • Content, direct mail campaigns, LinkedIn ads, and podcasts can be effective tools for SDRs to engage with prospects and build relationships.

Scaling an SDR Team

  • Scaling an SDR team requires strong senior leadership and effective management of international teams across different time zones.

Qualities of Good SDRs

  • Good SDRs should be able to overcome adversity, identify areas for improvement, and adapt their strategies based on data analysis.

Challenges Faced by SDRs

  • SDRs may face challenges if they are not genuinely interested in sales or if they struggle to handle the demands and pressures of the role.

Effective Motivation Methods for SDRs

  • Effective motivation methods for SDRs can vary depending on cultural differences, so understanding and adapting to these differences is important.

Spending Time in Customer Support

  • Spending time in customer support can provide valuable insights for SDRs, but it's not a common practice in all organizations.

Handwritten Notes Tactic

  • The handwritten notes tactic may be less effective now due to remote work and the decline in office presence.

In-office vs. Remote SDRs

  • In-office SDRs tend to perform better than remote SDRs, especially for outbound sales, due to the benefits of learning from and collaborating with colleagues.

Learning from Top Performers

  • For someone starting as an SDR, it's advisable to shadow and learn from the top performer on the team, replicating their successful strategies while adding personal touches.

Top SDRs' Performance Analysis

  • Top SDRs use sales recordings to analyze their performance, identify areas for improvement, and optimize their sales funnel metrics.

Ashley's Perspective on Sales Development

  • Ashley is passionate about sales development and wants to change the stigma around it.
  • She believes that SDRs should not be responsible for warming up deals and that AEs should be able to handle any conversation with a top account.
  • She is grateful for the autonomy and trust that her bosses have given her, which has allowed her to create a successful environment for herself and her team.
  • She believes that sales development will sit at the executive level within 10 years.
  • Ashley's goal is to become a Chief Sales Development Officer in the future.

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