The 4-step sales strategy to thoroughly onboard SDRs

In account-based sales development (ABSD), growing and managing your team is just as important to success as figuring out your sales strategy, itself.

The 4-step sales strategy to thoroughly onboard SDRsSales development reps are at the front lines of your account-based everything approach. You not only need to hire the right people, but you’ve got to onboard, train and coach them to success.

This takes more than bringing on a bunch of sales development reps, giving them a list of companies to call and saying, “Good luck.” Here’s what you need to ramp your SDRs properly for future success.

A simple sales strategy to onboard, train & coach SDRs

1. Define SDR-specific onboarding strategy

Your onboarding process needs to be as rigorous as your hiring process. But that takes time – no matter how much experience the rep has.

According to The Bridge Group, 1 out of 10 sales organizations has a turnover rate of over 50 percent. Employee turnover is expensive. Proper onboarding time and activities increases your chances of retaining good hires.

Be sure to define the ramp-up period for your new hires, and assign them proper sales KPIs to guide them through the onboarding process. Certain sales management tools help reduce onboarding time.

Bryan Gonzalez of TOPO suggests making SDR onboarding different than a general introduction to the company, market and product. Instead, he recommends hands-on onboarding that focuses on specific SDR skills, such as:

  • Buyer-centric messaging
  • Outreach best practices
  • Live call execution

2. Use hands-on management

Introducing a “trial by fire” sales strategy too early can actually prolong ramp time, instead of shortening it more tips here. Don’t drop SDRs into the deep in. Guide them to success with a hands-on management approach.

Early training should include a proactive manager – someone who can stay with your new SDR on the front line, providing coaching and training from day one.

TOPO recommends an SDR onboarding framework that includes three components:

  • Playbook
  • Curriculum
  • Certifications

In a playbook, include everything an SDR needs to do their job effectively. Capture the entire SDR role, and kick off the onboarding program with this guide. (Note: these are different than Engagio Plays)

In your curriculum, build a specific sequence of training exercises organized into two-hour sessions focused on key topics (like buyer personas, for example.)

You can use certifications to reinforce lessons, increasing the retention of the onboarding material through testing key skills. Consider, for example, an objection handling test.

3. Engage in ongoing training

Creating effective SDRs doesn’t stop after onboarding. The best teams are built on continuous training. Whenever possible, use people who have been in the SDR role to contribute to – or even deliver – the training exercises.

“Nothing beats role-playing as a form of training.” – Aaron Ross and Marylou Tyler, “Predictive Revenue”

Your SDR training program needs to be as formal and systematized as the onboarding process. Include job-specific skills such as:

  • Effective researching
  • Call preparation
  • Buyer personas and pain points
  • Core industry trends and issues
  • Product training and updates
  • Your tools and internal processes
  • Overviews of your competitors
  • Objection handling
  • Use cases and case studies

Good training doesn’t just improve performance. It improves job satisfaction and employee retention.

4. Reinforce positive behaviors with coaching

Coaching — like training — is a continual aspect of managing SDRs. In 4-6 hours per month, sales development managers should commit to three activities with each SDR:

  1. Observe what they’re doing – watch them interact
  2. Diagnose their behaviors – and align them to the defined processes
  3. Prescribe specific actions – to encourage correct behaviors and enhance skills

Among all the behaviors of your SDRs, coaches should focus on the most critical skills: outreach, messaging and communication skills.

Although the SDR has one of the shortest job tenures of any role in business (between 14 and 28 months), proper onboarding, training and coaching allows you to get the maximum output from these young professionals. Before you know it, they’ll be delivering serious results to your account-based sales development program.

What are your SDR training tips? Let us know in the comments below!

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