How To Transition Sales Development Leaders to Account Executives

how to transition sales development leadersMany sales development reps (SDRs) hope to one day become account executives.

And that makes sense. At many organizations, becoming an AE means advancing your career.

But this is especially important for you, as the sales leader, because you are the one who needs to select, train and coach those SDRs to become skilled account executives. Here’s how:

How To Transition Sales Development Leaders to Account Executives

Find reps who are open to personal development.

Focus on the sales reps who look for upward trajectory in their careers.

A lot of reps are comfortable in their current role and are closed off to the idea of moving up. Don’t waste time trying to convince them why they should care about their personal and career development. Identify and encourage reps who show genuine interest in moving up to the AE role.

Focus on those who own their metrics.

At the end of the day, you have to select high-performing SDRs who understand the importance of metrics. Today’s account executives need to crush the key performance indicators specific to their role and understand how KPIs drive the sales process.

And it goes without saying, before an SDR transitions, they should consistently hit those metrics they focus on, too.

Encourage them to maintain a pulse on the leads.

Look for the SDRs who take an authentic interest in the leads they pass along to the account executive team. If they are eager to accelerate their sales role, then they should make the extra effort to do so.

Have interested SDRs set up monthly meetings with the AEs they support. They should come to the meeting with a list of specific opportunities they sourced and find out what happened with each. The ambitious SDR might even go to an AE right after a discovery call and ask for a debrief, where the AE can share how the process went and what could have been done better with that lead.

Develop a certification process.

It’s helpful for both you and your SDRs to put a certification process in place. This means develop a system of study guides and tests to help your reps master sales techniques.

SDRs who want to transition to an AE role should be able to pass certifications such as:

  • Targeted outreach and personalized prospecting
  • Live call with an executive
  • Objection handling with an executive
  • General product knowledge
  • Storytelling and use cases

When the SDRs pass these certifications, it verifies that they are extremely proficient in that particular skill, technique or knowledge set. This helps you understand who’s headed toward mastery of their role and could be ready to move upward.

Mind the knowledge gap.

When you decide to move an SDR to the role of AE, they’ll have to learn a different skill set. While those SDRs have been focused on meetings and connections, now they need to understand how to progress opportunities to sales wins.

Set them up to bridge the skill set between conducting a discovery and communicating how the product or service brings value to another company. Since the SDR will probably transition to a different team, work with their new sales leader to teach them how to get through the advanced stages like demos, value proposition, contracting, negotiation and so on.

Help them understand opportunity loss cost.

Oftentimes, when SDRs transition to AE or field sales roles, they don’t know when to cut their losses. They continue to invest in opportunities that they believe will close, but are afraid to go beyond their main contact (who might not always be the right contact) to get the real story.

Teach those SDRs that there’s an ROI on their time, just like the ROI they try to show for the product or service they sell. Show them that wasting time on a bad opportunity is like wasting money, and help them understand when to let an opportunity go and move on to different ones.

Remember, your SDRs look to you for guidance on how they can carve out a career path at your organization. It’s your job to show them the way.

Moving SDRs into the role of AE starts with hiring the best reps. We asked top influencer for their advice on hiring SDRs. Grab of a copy of this eBook to find out what they said.
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