We asked a panel of top SDR managers and leaders recent questions from the OppGen community. Read on for first-hand advice on SDR compensation plans, messaging, and sticking to the playbook from –
James Buckley | Head Of Business Development at Attest
Tinesh Kansara | SDR Team Lead EMEA & Inside Sales Lead at Airship
Javier Llorden | B2B Startup Sales Specialist Advisor
Kyle Vamvouris | CEO at Vouris
Let’s jump on in.
Javier: 8 – this is the max span any manager should have.
James: Eight is optimal, ten if required. And ten should only be if the manager can focus entirely on the management of their team.
Tinesh: I’d say 10. You want to be able to spend enough time with each SDR per week. Ten lets you focus on two SDRs a day – a thorough 1-1, and then active coaching by sitting in on calls, BCC on emails, optimizing outreach. The hands-on element is missing a lot of the time in SDR Management which is a huge shame.
Kyle: I believe one SDR Manager can effectively manage 9 SDRs. The reason why I like 9 SDRs per manager is that there is enough outreach happening to keep the manager busy doing “on the floor” coaching. In addition, with 9 SDRs, the manager will be busy but not overloaded. Being busy keeps the manager engaged and not being overloaded prevents burnout.
SDR Managers should ideally oversee a maximum of 8 SDRs, with 10 being the absolute max. Management needs time for a weekly 1-1 with each SDR, reviewing calls and activity, coaching workshops, and updating their playbooks and strategy.
Tinesh: Meetings booked, Opps accepted, and then Opps moving to Stage 2. This model rewards high activity (meetings booked), good qualification and discovery (Opps accepted), and pushes SDRs to help AEs move deals down the pipe (Stage 2). Deals closed would be great too, but we can’t have it all!
James: We focus on SQLs. However, we have kickers for Opps and Closed Won deals.
Javier: Meetings – because it’s the direct result of their job.
Kyle: The exact split depends on the company but a “safe” rule is 80% of the reps on-target earnings (OTE) come from generating Opps and 20% of their OTE from deals. This setup is nice because you are incentivizing quality meetings as well as following the full sales cycle. SDRs who follow the full sales cycle, in my experience, become more effective AEs faster.
SDR compensation should be based on whatever behaviors you want to get out of your reps. A comp plan that’s a combination of meetings, opportunities, and next steps can be especially motivating because it keeps your team invested further down the sales process.
Tinesh: Making sure they sit in on every single discovery call and demo call that AEs hold is great, but doesn’t exactly help the SDR. An AE might have 15 minutes; an SDR has two if they’re lucky. Get your SDRs to record themselves and then pinpoint areas they can remove from both successful and downright terrible calls! Slowly but surely, you’ll end up with a razor-sharp pitch that works 9/10 times, with the flexibility needed to adapt to different personas.
Javier: Using a prospecting platform is the best way I have seen. Written playbooks are hard to follow.
James: Consistent coaching and feedback (along with a structured playbook).
Kyle: The best way to ensure that SDRs are delivering the right pitch is to constantly be listening! I’m a big believer in “on the floor coaching,” when an SDR Manager, listens to calls live and gives feedback in real-time.
It’s all about consistent coaching that’s tailored to the SDR’s job and having a defined playbook. Although written playbooks can be hard to follow –using the right tech tools can help.
James: I know other companies have the terms split between inbound and outbound reps but I personally use these terms interchangeably.
Javier: To me, it’s just a name.
Tinesh: SDR is a newer term than BDR, but honestly, I feel like they should be the same.
Kyle: I classify SDR as a role responsible for reaching out to potential customers and scheduling meetings for a salesperson. I classify BDR as a role responsible for managing and finding new business partnerships.
Most of the time, SDRs and BDRs have the same job, just different acronyms. But if there is a difference, business development representatives are likely managing partnerships.
Tinesh: LinkedIn activity.
Javier: Declaring an account unreachable. It should only happen when at least three leads are unreachable after completing the established cadence. But I’d like to be able to detect this situation automatically.
James: Email reply sentiment and trends in individual performance over the course of 6-12 months.
Kyle: It’s not a specific metric but I wish it was a lot easier to understand why a prospecting metric has changed. For example, if the meeting held to sales qualified rate has dropped significantly I would like to know what other metrics have changed. Maybe the teams connect to meeting set rate doubled because we changed the script and now less qualified meetings are being booked. Finding this information can often take a lot of time.
Tinesh: It seems obvious, but get your copy right. Everyone preaches about all these new channels (as they should). But for an SDR, email is still king alongside the phone. The problem SDRs have is writing good copy. Get that right and you should see instant uplift in results.
James: It’s important to have a playbook and stick to it. There is so much noise on Linkedin from so-called gurus that it’s difficult for junior SDRs to focus on the job at hand. And it can be hard to balance experimentation with constantly changing techniques and processes.
Kyle: One of the biggest areas for SDRs to improve if their confidence level on the phone. A quick tip I give SDRs a lot is to stand while on a cold call!
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