If you’re a B2B startup founder or SMB owner, it’s likely that at some point, you’ll need to hire your first sales development representative (SDR). This person will play a very important role in your company, and will have a direct impact on your revenue and bottom line. This makes it equally important that you make the¨ right SDR hire. In this article, you’ll find valuable advice from an experienced sales executive on how to make your first SDR hire.
How Do You Know You’re Ready To Make An SDR Hire?
When it comes to determining if you’re ready to make your first SDR hire, there are a few very important questions you need to answer:
- Do you have a repeatable source of revenue that you’re looking to double down on?
- Has your business reached a point where it’s ready to expand outside of your traditional revenue stream through A/B testing?
- Have you tested outbound successfully?
If the answer to these questions (besides having the budget and ability to onboard them) is yes, it’s probably time to begin planning your first SDR hire.
Shifting From Founder Led Sales: During this shift, many people make the mistake of thinking they need a VP of sales or high-ranking sales executive to build out the sales organization immediately. Instead, an SDR hire is the better way to start for multiple reasons.
- They’re cheaper than a senior executive
- Their entire job is bringing in new business
- They’ll reduce your wasted time
Setting Your SDR Hire Up For Success: As with any job, setting up your incoming SDR hire up for success is crucial. Make sure everything is ready before their arrival so they have guidance and structure. You want them to have a sales playbook for success so they’re able to use their skill set and help your business expand and grow the way you want it to. You likely won’t have a Sales Enablement Manager to help, so it’s imperative a founder can create the playbook.
When Are You Not Ready To Make Your First SDR Hire?
Simply put, if you have no documentation, structure, or direction to help move that SDR forward, you’re not ready to make that hire. Many business owners and startup founders hire SDRs expecting them to figure the process out without already having structure in place. SDRs are often driven, hungry workers, making it crucial to have a system and metrics to get the best out of them and ensure they get proper recognition. Clear, tangible metrics and a path for promotion can ensure your SDR hire stays driven and hungry.
What To Look For In Your First SDR Hire
For your first SDR hire, you’ll of course want to look for all the traditional traits of a good employee, but there are a few specifics that are uniquely important to this position.
- They’re Inquisitive: Inquisitivity is extremely important. You want someone who is eager to learn and solve problems – problems that, as you know, can arise at any time. Having that inquisitive mind ready to go in those situations is invaluable. with those and there’s going to be different personas that you sell to.
- They’re Hungry: Going hand-in-hand with inquisitivity, you want an SDR who is hungry not just to learn, but to succeed and push your company forward.
You may wonder if you should hire someone industry-specific. This could be what’s best for you, but generally, as long a candidate is eager to learn about your market and understand the problems you’re facing, that can be just as important.
If they’re your first sales hire, you’ll want to read our article on hiring your first salesperson.
SDR Job Descriptions
Job descriptions are always tricky. Of course, you want to describe the position and its responsibilities. There are a few specifics you can point out in your SDR job description. The first is look for people who are trying to grow quickly. These individuals are often okay with the fact that many of your processes may not be fully built out, so they’re usually willing to work with you to finish certain parts of the playbook or to be okay with drafting up their own emails and some kind of content. Of course, everyone is different, and you must make sure they’re okay with that.
The other major aspect of the job to express in a description is that they’ll have the ability to move up quickly. Growth opportunity is a major value prop for any job, but it will be especially important to SDR applicants (and you want it to be). Focus on building a great culture and you can advertise that there are ample opportunities to move up. This should also help you get a higher level of talent and quality of applicants.
If you need help hiring an SDR or unsure how to build out a sales playbook, it may make sense to speak with a B2B sales consultant.
Recruiting Tips For A First SDR Hire
There are a few different ways you can go about recruiting for your SDR position. Possibly the most popular is placing your job on LinkedIn which is frequented by people in B2B sales. LinkedIn can be great, as there are many qualified professionals using the platform. This means you’re going to get a lot of different talent from all walks of life. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it can make more difficult to hone in on those people that might be a really good fit.
Another, potentially better option, is AngelList, because it attracts talent that’s looking to get into tech or has been in tech. If you have the time and you go to a major sales organization, they’re often going to have well-trained and supported SDRs who may have been overlooked for promotions. It’s not uncommon for large organizations to want someone in an SDR role for two to three years, despite the fact that the position can usually be learned in three to four months and mastered in six to eight. Individuals in this situation were made promises up front and then passed up time and time again for advancement. If you can identify and reach out directly to those SDRs, they’re going to have great skillsets and they’re ready to advance. Offering a relatively quick promotion if they can put some time in as your SDR will be enticing to many.
Best Interview Questions To Ask When Hiring An SDR
During the interview, it’s very important to talk to the candidate about who your company sells to from a persona perspective, including the industries and verticals. If you’re tying to break into large startups or Fortune 500 companies, the sales process is very different than an SMB. Many people don’t understand, fundamentally, what goes into and how long the process can be for getting in Fortune 500-sized company. So you may want to find someone with experience in the area you’re targeting, whether that’s SMB, mid-marketing enterprise, or major organizations.
Another great question to ask is for an example of an initiative they’ve driven or something they’ve helped produce. This not just from a metric perspective, but it can be extremely helpful to understand something they’ve accomplished that they can potentially repeat for your organization.
Red Flags To Be Aware Of During The Interview Process
One key red flag to be on the lookout for is anyone who has gone from a Sales Development Representative position to an AE position and then back to an SDR. Typically, there’s something that happened where they didn’t fundamentally understand the beginning of the sales cycle. Generally, when someone’s been back and forth between these positions, they were promoted a little bit too quickly or they’re filling a void for that organization to reduce costs. This is usually the organization’s fault, but it could indicate the candidate is lacking some of the required skillset.
Coachability is another huge issue, because with the SDR role, especially at a small organization, requires agility as every day is going to be a little bit different. They have to be willing to be coached and accepting of the coaching they receive. This particular red flag may be difficult to get a read on in an interview, but feel them out and offer some scenarios to gauge their reactions.
One more red flag that goes hand in hand with coachability is candidates coming from big organizations. As mentioned before, these organizations can be great places to find good candidates. However, you still must be focused on who and what is best for your company. If a candidate is used to a highly standardized process at a big organization, they’re going to have to be okay with not having those standard processes every single day. If not, they’re not going to be a good fit and they’re probably going to churn very quickly.
How Do You Convince An SDR To Join As Your First Sales Hire?
Mentorship: Many people who break into tech sales are young, hungry, gritty, and they’re just looking for someone to help them accelerate their career and growth potential. It can be very difficult to find a good mentor, especially someone down to earth, humble, and with a lot of experience.
Growth Potential: Without making false promises, if you can really sell them on the vision, that if they really stick to the plan and the metrics that you agree upon, and if they accept the coaching, then you plan to promote them within X amount of months. Growth potential is among the most important value props for jobs.
How To Ensure An SDR’s Success After You’ve Hired Them
The best way to guarantee your SDR hire succeeds is to provide a foundation for them to succeed. This can mean a lot of different things for a lot of different organizations, but you must give them something they can build upon. Prior to their start, they should have:
- A playbook of some kind.
- Clear metrics they should be hitting.
- An environment where they can ask questions and learn.
- Time; there’s a ramp period in every SDR organization and every SDR job, and they need time to explore and get better.
- Giving them the right B2B Sales Tools
Any Tools Or Software You Recommend For A First SDR Hire?
This depends on what you’re looking for and what your outreach looks like. For any SDR to do their job well, they obviously need phone numbers and emails, but they also need a CRM system to properly track everything. A couple of the better ones are HubSpot and Apollo. What Apollo does really well is that it provides the credits and the contacts. So, if you’re looking for certain organizations and your ICP, they’ll have the contacts in there with their emails, phone numbers, and then you can put them directly into cadences. This way you’re just sending out emails.
It also allows you to run a lot of different A/B testing sequences to understand what messaging is resonating. This is great when determining which personas are going to fit which of your value props. Track everything from the reps perspective so you can work with them to really understand what call tracks are working and what email messaging is resonating.
We have a list of the best sales tools for prospecting that you’ll find useful.
Final Thoughts For Business Owners Looking To Hire An SDR
Keep in mind that during those first three months that no one’s just going to come in and start crushing it. If they do, that’s awesome. But more often than not, that’s not sustainable because it likely indicates that they’re just grinding really, really hard. They’re not going to be able to do that for entirety of their time as your SDR. With that in mind, make sure you’re setting them up for success. During those first three months, the ramp period, are really designed to make sure that they’re understanding every part of your business.
As mentioned earlier in this article, make sure your new hire has a good environment for them to learn, grow, and to ask questions. The best reps will be really honed in on understanding every facet of what you do, your value props, and how you’re solving these problems. If you really nail it with that first rep, and they’re doing exactly what they should be doing, this is going to set you up for success in the future, and you’ll have a playbook ready for every time you onboard a new SDR.
If you’re not ready to hire a full time SDR, a fractional SDR may make a lot of sense.
About The Author
Anthony Yarussi is an experienced startup sales leader. He is currently the co-founder of OneDeal, an end to end solution to small business acquisition, and previously served as the Head of Sales at SellX.