Sales Hack #28: Hire Sales Development Reps (SDRs) to BE SDRs, not future AEs!

Imagine if you were responsible for hiring a nurse to work at your hospital.  Would you go out and try to recruit a bunch of Doctors to be the Nurse? ANSWER: I DOUBT IT!

Now imagine you are building a team of Sales Development Representatives.  Should you go out and hire “future sales people” to be the temporary SDR?  ANSWER: I DOUBT IT!

But @SalesHack, why not?  I can’t find enough quota carrying sales professionals on the open market, so why not just hire junior SDRs and train them to become future superstars?

ANSWER: You certainly can do it this way… IF you want SDRs who aren’t happy with their day job, you want hi turnover, and you want a sub-part SDR team!

Before you get into the content that I’ll share below about why it makes more business sense to hire an SDR to be an SDR instead of hiring an SDR to become a “future sales person”, check out this article by Dave Kurlan, CEO of Objective Management Group and Kurlan & Associates.

As the Vice President of Sales & Marketing at ConnectAndSell, I first hired Objective Management Group (OMG) to help me build a sales team of quota carrying sales professionals, and of the team that I assessed using Kurlan’s sales assessment tool, 10/12 of them are still on board and successfully contributing to the sales of ConnectAndSell.  The 2 no longer here, go figure, didn’t do very well on the assessment!

So why hire Sales Development Reps to be Sales Development Reps?  ANSWER: If it’s not obvious in the question, and the example above, here are some MAJOR reasons:

  1. Sales Development Reps have different strengths (and weaknesses) then quota carrying sales professionals!  (Example: the money gap, every top 5%er quota carrying AE does NOT have the money gap, nearly EVERY SDR on our sales team has the money gap – which means when they buy a product they are conditioned to get the lowest possible price).  This hurts them when they try to sell a product or service, because they tend to have empathy for the buyer, and unable to challenge the buyer to purchase VALUE and not price.
  2. Look at your own track record of promoting from SDR to quota carring sales!  For me, I’ve hired at least 100 Sales Development Reps since starting my “inside sales” career in 2005.  Although I’ve made several “promotions” from SDR to AE, I can count on one hand the number of successful ones–Coy Ibanez, Brad Munro, Haze Caraganis–3% success rate!
  3. When you “hire an SDR to be an SDR”, using science and technology to do so (from Objective Management Group), you can get similar results to ours at ConnectAndSell!  We have hired 19 “Sales Development Representatives” (the title we use is Inside Sales Represenative), and 17 of them are still with us and contributing to the top line of ConnectAndSell OutboundOnDemand. The two who are no longer on the team tested strongly for quota carrying sales skills, and therefore they really didn’t want to be in the SDR role to begin with!

Now we’re working with Kurlan/OMG to help us determine who should stay with ConnectAndSell OutboundOnDemand and who should not.  What’s incredible is that when we ran through this exercise with OMG, their assessment of the person lines up 80% to our stack ranking of the team! (And the one person who meets 47% of the criteria, is truly a manager level employee or a quota carrying sales rep).

The assessment also pegs the bottom performers.  THE LESSON – Use the OMG sales assessment BEFORE hiring your Sales Development Rep team, and avoid the pifalls of hiring SDRs to become AEs.  By taking on only those who “pass” the sales assessment (finely tuned by ConnectAndSell with OMG), you will have low turnover, you will have Reps who want to be on the SDR team, and you will save your company a ton of money on costly hiring mistakes!

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I talked to another company this morning, and the CEO said, “We worked with Objective Management Group also, and they nailed MOST of the top performers on the team.  They missed a few, however in both of those cases, the Rep in the SDR role doesn’t actually want to be there”.  Exactly the point!

Just like hospitals don’t hire a Doctor to be a Nurse.  We highly recommend that you don’t hire a quota carrying sales professional to be a Sales Development Representative!  


Good selling,

Twitter: @SalesHack

3 thoughts on “Sales Hack #28: Hire Sales Development Reps (SDRs) to BE SDRs, not future AEs!

  1. Just a quick thought, not many people go into Sales to become and SDR and then want to stay. The very nature of the role is pretty grind oriented and ultimately you see AE’s making all the loot. It is almost like paying your dues to get to the next level, much like a Doctor doing a residency before being set loose so to speak.

    I would argue it is EXTREMELY difficult to field a group of SDRs who want to just be SDRs for the rest of their lives and make markedly LESS money than the people they are passing leads to who make much MORE money. Sales people, after all, should be hyper focused on CASH!

  2. You’re so cool! I don’t believe I actually have read a single thing like this
    before. So good to find somebody with genuine thoughts on this
    topic. Really.. many thanks for starting this up. This website is a thing that’s needed on the net, someone with a bit of originality!

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