I knew RFPIO wanted results when I came aboard six months ago. I felt confident that I could deliver. But even I was surprised by a 281% increase in the number of demos my team scheduled over a 90-day period, a key metric to our lead-qualifying process. Especially during a global pandemic, when workforces around the world were thrown into chaos.
The good news is that my bosses don’t expect that level of growth to be repeated quarter over quarter. Even better news is that I still feel confident that we can improve on these lofty benchmarks. Our product is a no-brainer (spoken like a true sales evangelist, right?), but that’s not why I’m so confident. It’s the sales development representatives (SDRs) on my team that make me confident.
While watching my team crush our goals for the quarter, I was inspired to share a few of the things I learned along the way:
Piece together the best people
The best way to set your sales development team up for success is to think like an NBA GM. On a basketball team, not everyone is the go-to for offense. You need defenders, creators, passers, hustlers, shot blockers, ball handlers, coaches, and more to have a winning squad.
For a championship-level sales development team, curate a team of varying opinions and perspectives. This is especially true in sales development when you’re getting the bulk of prospect objections. Every SDR responds differently to objections. Some like the direct approach while others prefer storytelling to help a prospect understand why they have a problem that your solution will solve. I once had a former journalist on the team who excelled at telling stories to paint a bigger picture. Some SDRs rely on use cases to tell a story.
Accentuating these diverse approaches provides a rich tapestry for collaboration. Colleagues can say, “Hey, this worked for me…” One option may not be the right style fit, but when multiple options become available, SDRs can find what works best for them. When training new SDRs, they’ll feel more comfortable knowing that there’s more than one pathway to success.
This doesn’t just apply to phone conversations. Much of sales development takes place over email. While one SDR has a talent for writing subject lines, another SDR may be better at writing compelling call-to-action body copy.
A team composed of diverse backgrounds will make SDRs better together and provide unique solutions to otherwise challenging problems.
Equip your team with the knowledge they need
Now that you have your sales development team ready, it’s your responsibility as a sales manager to create the environment where they can be successful. That starts by implementing a knowledge management system that empowers SDRs to act quickly and decisively.
For example, CrownPeak, a Digital Experience Management software company, uses the RFPIO Answer Library to answer prospect questions. SDRs can answer their prospects’ questions as soon as they ask them—shortening the sales cycle and keeping prospects happy.
According to Paul Taylor, the Vice President of Solutions Engineering at CrownPeak, “When a sales development representative asks me a question, I’ll point them to the Answer Library. If they can’t find the answer there, I’ll write a really good answer and send it to them—and then add that answer to the Answer Library, so they won’t have to ask me next time.”
Another useful knowledge management tool is RFPIO Lookup, a Google Chrome extension that makes accessing your Answer Library even easier. With just a quick keyword search, SDRs have a robust library of pre-approved answers at their fingertips.
Many SDRs are still early in their careers and won’t have the same product knowledge as more senior sales members. Ensuring sure your team can quickly answer prospect questions is essential to any sales team that wants to work faster and smarter.
Define personal and team success
The third way to set up your sales development team for success is to define what that success looks like, and then communicate your plan so everyone on the team is heading in the same direction.
I hire people because I recognize talent that will be valuable to the organization. Whether they continue in sales or find a home in another department, I want to help grow that talent investment. Identifying a clear career path for SDRs will guide how you train them and show them that you want them to succeed.
Ensure everyone has the same view of what is expected of them and can see clearly the path to get to the next level. Avoid distraction of misalignment or missed expectation and focus the team’s energy in one unified way toward agreed upon objectives. I’ve found success in this area by creating plans for personal development for all SDRs.
I use these plans to document goals that each SDR needs to achieve so they can move up in the organization. Everyone learns and grows differently. One SDR may know the product extremely well but they don’t have presentation skills. Another may have great presentation skills but not know the product. It’s my job to find out how each SDR learns and that will determine how I train them.
Not everyone wants to be an account executive. Some want to be in operations or enablement or move out of sales altogether. With a written plan in place, when the SDR achieves their goals then—when a position is available—we’ll move them into their desired role, trained and ready to go.
A fully developed plan takes a while to build out because you have to work with the SDR a good 90 days to get to know them. It’s built with them; it’s never dictated to them. As trust grows, they’ll be more comfortable relaying their true goals. When that emerges, we can create a career pathway so they’ll be successful.
I share these plans for personal growth with my bosses as well as the SDR. This transparency keeps me and the company accountable to the promises we’ve written down. If you have a larger team, it’s more challenging, but the extra work developing each SDR’s growth plan at the outset will pay off in the long run.
Abandon conventional thinking about incentives
Finally, the fourth way to set your sales development team up for success is to nurture motivation, and create incentives that increase sales and promote personal fulfillment. What motivates one person may do little to excite another. Defining specific rewards for each individual allows you to tap into that SDR’s values and help them feel fulfilled in their role.
According to a report from Harvard Business Review, 9 out of 10 people are willing to earn less money to do more meaningful work. They also found that employees who find meaning in work report higher job satisfaction and spend more time working, generating an estimated additional $9,078 per worker, per year.
Instead of assuming everyone in sales is motivated by money (they’re not), dig beneath the surface to discover what drives each individual on your team.
Who likes motivating their team members? Maybe they’d like to grow into a leadership role. Who enjoys the problem-solving aspect of matching the right customer with the right solution? Maybe you should assign them more complicated accounts.
Defining specific rewards for each individual allows you to tap into that SDR’s values, help them feel fulfilled in their role, and find meaning at work.
Where to start?
Sales development team success starts with your product and your people. After that, it’s up to you to curate an environment where that success can grow long-term. If you want to start using RFPIO as your knowledge management system, then schedule a demo today.