Who should I employ as a SDR specialist ?
Wednesday, August 19, 2015
A prospecting team (Sales Development Reps) is becoming a must-have in B2B companies. If you plan to actively approach your customers at scale, regular salespeople won’t cut it. Who should you hire for a SDR position to find your clients?
Lately this has been one of the most common questions I get from fellow entrepreneurs. They usually ask when their efforts to find good candidates deliver 0 new employees. As we were hiring 10+ Sales Development Reps and working with a lot more of them, I was creating my personal profile of the right person for an SDR position.
There are virtually no people with experience on the market
It’s a new market (especially in Poland) and it’s almost impossible to find somebody with experience. If they are experienced, it does more harm than good most of the times.
I believe that experience in something-SDR-related is irrelevant. If you hire such people, after some time you’re going to realize that you additionaly have to control their bad habits.
- Folks often think that ex call-center employees could be a good fit. But hey’re used to executing a totally different process and it’ll take a while for them to get into a new mindset.
- Same thing goes with marketing experience. People often think that an SDRs’ job is to write emails, execute email campaigns, learn and iterate. Seems like a job for a marketer. Though it seems like marketing, experience in creating traditional marketing campaigns creates a lot of bad habits:
- lack of naturality – they write marketing emails, not personal and straightforward ones
- boredom – marketing people often want to do nothing else but think about creative campaigns that could go viral (i’m not hating though, just saying). Creativity is good, but it has to be balanced with grit (perseverance) and analytical thinking.
- Same with sales-related experience. Salespeople are closers. They want to get good leads and work on them, not the other way around. Giving a SDR (sales development rep) position to a seasoned salesperson is a good way to have a burnt-out employee after a few months.
Basic sales development is not rocket science
You could teach most people basic sales development easily. What’s tricky is finding people that will take your blueprint and constantly improve it, out of a pure drive to be effective and deliver great results.
That’s why it’s better to hire someone without experience, but with the right soft skills and mindset, rather than trade skills for experience.
Again, it might seem that sales development reps just send emails and gather data. If this was so easy, I wouldn’t get so many requests for help in hiring SDRs and creating an outbound strategy. Implementation is the tricky part, and it’s really hard.
What skills should you be looking for?
I will share with you a profile of SDRs that we use when hiring in Righthello:
- Street smarts – They should already have some business knowledge as a foundation for what you’ll teach them. Also, this means they should know the importance of constantly learning and improving.
- Creative and good with a pen – An sales development rep (SDR) will be writing a lot of e-mail intros, preparing pitches etc. They need to have a good flow in writing, to be able to re-make e-mails often.
- Analytical thinking – They need to know a good prospect from a bad one, and understand how to figure out if there is a business fit.
- Getting shit done – It’s hard to measure this before hiring someone, but once you hire somebody that doesn’t like working too much – it’s clearly visible and you can adjust your decision then. From part 1 (see it here) you might remember that a lot of mistakes can happen when reaching out to potential clients, that’s why many SDR duties require a lot of focus.
- Communicativity – Obviously. They’ll not only be contacting new clients, but also the rest of the sales team, marketers, etc. You don’t want someone who can’t voice their opinion or rationalise their choices.
- Persistence – Meaning they successfully managed situations where they had to struggle for a long time to achieve effects. Just like sales reps take some time to ramp up their sales, SDRs’ won’t be efficient at the beginning. It takes time and effort.
- Want to grow – Candidates should express a need for personal growth. Don’t hire someone who’s just looking for a warm spot to settle down, rather look for those that hate stagnation.
If your company does:
- Mass campaigns targeting a broad group of prospects – SDRs will probably have to qualify leads, so communicativity should be the main priority when hiring.
- Targeted campaigns, sending small batches of well targeted messages to segmented audiences – creativity, writing skills and persistence are big priorities, because they won’t contact prospects much, but pass them on to salespeople once they respond to introductions or follow-ups.
How to attract those people?
From my experience, when you take those skills into consideration, the best target group are young people (students, fresh out of college) that have a lot of general skills and read a lot, but don’t have a domain expertise. In other words, they are passionate about discovering the world and don’t have one skill that they focus on.
To get this target group’s attention, you have to put the right elements in the job offer. You’re not looking for experience, so skip that. Say that you’re looking for open-minded people looking to learn new skills, that aren’t afraid of doing hard work. This should get you the people that you need.
Your first step should be to scope around your closest network and ask people if they know someone fitting the profile. Then be sure to share the job offer on Facebook, Linkedin, and student groups from different colleges, that’s your best bet to find the right people.
Start posting job offers
And looking for candidates to develop your sales pipeline. Meanwhile, I’ll be preparing the third post in the series, about managing your Sales Development Reps.