Sales is at the heart of any business. We’ve all heard it before. You can have the best product in the world, but if your sales team sucks, you’ll get nowhere. Great products don’t sell themselves (unless they’re Apple products), great salespeople do.
Recruiting top talent requires tremendous effort, but it’s worth it.
Keeping top talent is even more difficult than recruitment because talented people are demanding! You have to make sure they stay motivated, that they continuously learn and see a purpose in what they do.
Becoming a sales development representative (SDR) is often a starting point in a sales career. Which often means that SDR’s are young. Our sales development team is made of people aged between 20-25 years old.
They’re all students; smart, driven, with endless energy which makes them perfect sales development reps. Like most salespeople, they work hard and play hard.
Our SDR team is able to schedule 500 demos a month…that’s a lot! It’s our job to make sure they’re happy so they stay with us as long as possible. Especially, knowing that an average SDR tenure is 1.4 years.
To be able to keep your sales reps happy, you have to be aware of the challenges they face on a daily basis, so you can prevent or at least quickly react to any potential problems.
8 challenges faced by sales development reps (and how to solve them)
1. High-performance expectations
One of the challenges that sales development reps face is high-performance expectations. They have very specific targets, for example, getting 50 sales qualified leads in a month.
Unless you have a very experienced SDR, setting such a goal will leave your sales development rep clueless.
It’s like arriving at a destination you have never been to before and trying to find a hotel that you booked without a map (and no taxis around). A pretty stressful and annoying experience!
Do you see my point?
Solution: You need to create a roadmap – a path to success, call it whatever you like. Your SDR’s have to know what steps they have to take to reach their ultimate goal – getting 50 SQL’s. This involves:
- Finding prospects
- Scheduling emails
- Monitoring replies, etc.
Each step must be assigned a metric, i.e. to get 50 SQL’s, how many prospects they have to find, how many emails they have to send, etc. The more detailed the roadmap, the better. Focus on the small steps – divide the metrics into daily milestones so they are easier to achieve.
2. Lack of coaching
Let’s say you have your roadmap ready. Can you just sit back, relax and wait for the money to come? Nope.
Lack of coaching is another challenge that sales development reps face. They are not robots, they cannot be programmed to continuously achieve high results.
Although they know how to achieve a goal, and what’s expected of them, sometimes they fail to do it, they are just humans. However, if they stop achieving desired results, they will get demotivated and will leave eventually.
Somebody smart once said that: people leave their bosses, not organizations… so be a good boss.
Solution: Monitor performance and try to spot any performance decrease as soon as possible. Organize 1 on 1 meetings to discuss what has gone wrong; why didn’t they achieve their target?
Have a look at the roadmap, analyze the process step by step, maybe they got the targeting wrong, or their email content wasn’t top notch. Whatever the reason, give them feedback and show them how to improve.
It’s a good idea to share best practices within the team, I am sure you have some high performers in yours.
3. Lack of feedback loop
Sales development reps to do their jobs well must receive regular feedback from Account Executives. SDR’s want to know if their efforts paid off, how the scheduled demos went.
Not solely for the purpose of satisfying their curiosity, but rather to find out what they should do to improve their effectiveness.
What was the reason someone bought or didn’t buy the product? Maybe they can better tailor their campaign messaging or adjust their target audience.
Solution: You have to establish a clear communication channel (and a process) between your SDR’s and AE’s. They have to communicate regularly. Otherwise, deals will be lost. More on the SDR-AE cooperation here.
4. No marketing-sales alignment
In a perfect world, sales and marketing would be best buddies! They would regularly exchange information and cooperate on lead nurturing.
Unfortunately, in a real world, more often than not these two departments hardly collaborate with each other, even though they actually have the same goal: to acquire new customers.
This lack of communication is detrimental to both sales and marketing. If marketing received feedback from SDR’s regarding effectiveness of their outbound campaigns then marketers would be able to better tailor their messaging in their marketing communication.
Plus it would improve the effectiveness of inbound campaigns. More sales qualified leads = happier Sales Development Reps.
Solution: Push for creating a lead nurturing process. Agree on when marketing leads should be transferred to sales development reps, who does lead screening, and who decides which inbound leads become SQLs.
What happens with SQL’s which were not ready for a demo? Providing answers to these questions will help you make the most of your leads, and hopefully improve the performance of both departments.
This won’t come as a surprise to you, the sales development job is monotonous – let’s face it. Monotonous jobs often lead to burnout. Highly target focused roles are stressful as a lot of pressure is put on delivering results continuously.
Solution: Pay them fairly. Celebrate small wins, and offer your SDR’s small rewards, like tickets to see a basketball game or whatever makes them excited.
Give them the freedom to experiment so they can use a bit of creativity, and take credit for the ideas that worked.
Be wise though, it has to be structured – a controlled experiment, to avoid chaos.
You can involve your SDR’s in the creation of your sales development process – since they do the job, I am sure they’ll have lots of bright ideas.
You might consider setting up a promotion system – junior SDR, senior SDR, team leader etc. to keep them motivated.
6. Dealing with rejection
Sending large cold email volumes will most likely be met with some rejection. And we all know too well how cruel people can be. Sales Development Representatives are at a disadvantage, as no matter how much they would like to come up a witty comeback they have to stay calm.
Solution: Although dealing with rejection is tough, it’s part of their job. So instead of focusing on negative responses, you should remind them about all the positive replies they have received. Always look on the bright side of life (remember that song?).
Plus, there is a lot to be learned from negative responses, as long as they’re constructive and not simply rude.
7. Lack of appropriate tools
We mentioned earlier that being a Sales Development Representative is monotonous, primarily due to task repetition. They spend a significant amount of time on… guess what? Prospecting! It is recommended that SDR’s spend around 30-40% of their time on finding prospects.
Don’t get me wrong, we all know how important prospecting is, it can make or break your outbound sales process. After all, effective outbound sales starts with finding people potentially interested in buying your product or service.
Regardless of how crucial prospecting is, there are ways to make it more efficient and less time-consuming. Your SDR’s need more time to focus on talking to prospects and scheduling meetings/demos.
Solution: Provide your sales reps with tools they need to do their jobs effectively. Prospecting can be automated, it’s a process that shouldn’t take most of your sales people’s time.
I am not talking about buying contact lists – bought lists are often out of date. Using them will eventually frustrate your SDR’s, as big bounce rate will have a negative impact on their performance.
Tools like Growbots will take care of prospecting. Growbots doesn’t just provide you with a tailored prospect list instantly (based on specific targeting criteria), it also automates prospect outreach.
However, the beauty of it lies in machine learning, with every campaign you send, we learn more about your perfect target audience. What does it mean to you?
That every new prospect list you generate in Growbots will even better match your ideal customer profile. This will not only improve your outbound sales results, but it will provide your SDR’s with a massive motivation boost.
Not having enough tools, is as bad as having a tool overload. Especially when they don’t integrate with each other. Making sure that your outbound sales platform integrates with your CRM is key!
Growbots bi-syncs with Salesforce, which means that whatever you do in Growbots will be reflected in your Salesforce.
One of our customers said that they bought Growbots to provide their employees with a tool they couldn’t do without. Basically, to stop them from leaving the company. After hearing this I went “WoW!”. This is the right approach to follow.
8.Uncertainty about their career path
Another challenge that at least some sales development representatives face is not knowing what career path they want to follow. And that’s perfectly fine; they are young, some of them have just graduated, some are still studying.
A lot of sales reps will progress into account executive roles as it seems like a natural career move. However, there will be SDR’s who won’t be interested in pursuing a career in sales. Not knowing what they want to do next might lead to anxiety and demotivation.
Solution: Let your sales reps know that they do not have to stay in sales if they do not want to. Leave the door open to pursuing other options.
Being an SDR is a great way to familiarize yourself with the business, they could potentially go into marketing if they wanted to. Apparently, best marketers have some sales experience, which isn’t surprising, nobody knows customers as well as salespeople.
Have we forgotten about something? Let us know in the comments.