How to Create a Winning Culture for Your Sales Development Reps

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Did you know Gallup found that engaged business units have a 21% greater profitability? Take a moment and think about the culture you’ve established for your sales team. As sales expert,  Keenan, says, “SDRs are seen as the grunts too often, and that’s a shame, it needs to stop.” Do people have this perception in your company?

A company’s sales development reps (SDRs) are the front line in prospecting and qualification. For many organizations, SDRs can make or break your relationships with potential clients. With such an important role, it’s imperative to create a winning culture so your sales development reps can thrive.


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Your SDRs need an environment that motivates them, is filled with learning and growth opportunities, and provides clear expectations and goals. So, have you got the right sales team culture for your SDRs to thrive? A successful sales culture flows with excitement, encouragement, leadership, and motivation.

Define Sales Team Culture

Define Your Sales Team Culture

Changing your entire corporate culture takes a lot of bandwidth and influence from the top down. While you may not control the rest of the company, you can take small steps to improve the sales team’s culture. Formally defining the sales team culture can improve productivity and start shifting upper management’s perception about the sales department as a whole, SDRs specifically.

  • What comes to mind when you think about a culture? People who share similar beliefs or values who work together for a common goal. They share a language. They have customs and symbols. Have you established these for your sales culture? If not, this is where you start.
  • When you develop a positive sales team culture, you provide a framework that defines desired community member traits and the vision of how sales supports corporate goals. A well-defined sales team culture allows you to get a better ROI on your hiring and recruiting investments. The best individual is better than just “any” individual to fill an opening.
  • Providing a shared lexicon (industry terminology, brand messaging) and customs (i.e., procedures) helps integrate team members and ensure consistency in sales performance. Taking steps to create this structure makes onboarding new hires easier and sets them up for success. Hold a weekly sales meeting so SDRs and Account Managers can learn from one another.
  • Have you considered the power of symbols to reinforce corporate values and brand messaging? The right symbols and symbolic gestures can motivate your team and deliver desired outcomes. What are some examples? Brand collateral, sales tools, monetary incentives and awards all hold meaning for your SDRs. Collateral reinforces messaging. The tools you provide symbolizes your commitment to your team’s success. The rewards you offer indicate the value you place on individual performance.

What do you want your sales team culture to embody?

Motivate SDRs

Build Your Sales Team Culture to Motivate SDRs

Does talking about “culture” make you feel a little too “warm and fuzzy”? To help position the SDR group as an area for investment, there are critical actions that you need to take.  Consider these stats from Topo:

  • 14.2 months is the average tenure of an SDR.
  • Ramp up time for new SDRs to hit full quota takes an average of three months.

This short tenure, combined with a lengthy ramp-up, means most organizations don’t get a high return on their recruitment and training investments. Developing a more engaging culture for your SDRs can lengthen tenure, improve ramp-up time, and provide candidates for promotion to other sales and marketing jobs in your organization.

Recruit for cultural fit. Employee retention improves when you hire candidates who fit your culture. When you have a team of like-minded members, you can improve retention, recruitment, and performance.

Look for the characteristics you want your SDR to possess. Not all traits are easily acquired. The good news is that many skills can be learned.

Equip SDRs with effective tools. You’ve spent time and money to find the right people; you also need to invest in solutions that help them deliver results efficiently and effectively.

  • SDRs need to hear and be heard on sales calls. A high-quality VoIP system and top-notch equipment lets reps communicate clearly.
  • Management can facilitate more productive and efficient calls by leveraging a sales engagement platform that routes the next best lead. This functionality removes guesswork and research for the SDR.
  • Sales engagement can be made simplified with the use of a platform that incorporates a content management module, integrated communication tools, and guided selling functions or features such as sales cadence management, lead routing, and scripting.

Coach and train new and veteran SDRs. As the sales manager, it’s your responsibility to mold your team to get the best performance results. Train and mentor new hires and current team members to maximize success.

  • Review your new employee orientation program. You probably include product training and employee handbook review, but do you train them on how to use your sales engagement software.
  • Expose SDRs to new ideas and best practices through external training programs.
  • Take time for in-house training. Include role-playing sessions that involve both new hires and seasoned reps.
  • Monitor calls using technology that allows you to give one-way coaching to help a new hire through a tough call.
  • Record SDR calls and link the recordings to prospect records to reveal coaching opportunities.
  • Ensure everyone has a clear picture of business goals and desired outcomes, and share updates on KPIs with the team.

Use rewards and recognition. The problem with award and recognition programs is that many times only the top performers get noticed. Develop a system that takes individual performance improvement into account, so that all your SDRs have a chance to benefit. Try some of these team and individual recognition options:

  • Team outings, parties, and tokens of appreciation (branded apparel or gifts) to create a team environment.
  • Celebrations of employee milestones (years of service, promotions, etc.) to emphasize the value each member brings to the team.
  • Gamification to motivate SDRs to meet goals.
  • Individual recognition to reinforce positive behaviors that drive success.
  • Team praise to demonstrate the company’s appreciation of meeting sales objectives.

Create a culture of motivation

Are You Creating a Culture of Motivation for Your Sales Team?

Sales development is hard work. Reps hear “no” much more often than “yes.” Rejection in sales is a given, but the best companies don’t let it debilitate their SDRs. When you hire the right people, provide routine training and coaching, give your team the right tools, and reward their efforts, you will be on the road to creating a positive sales team culture.

How does your company create a winning sales culture? Share your thoughts in the comments below.


Darryl Praill

Darryl Praill, Chief Marketing Officer of VanillaSoft, is a high-tech marketing executive with over 25 years’ experience spanning startups, re-starts, consolidations, acquisitions, divestments and IPO’s. He has been widely quoted in the media including television, press, and trade publications. He is a guest lecturer, public speaker, and radio personality and has been featured in numerous podcasts, case studies, and best-selling books.

Praill is a former recipient of the coveted Forty Under 40 Award, and has held senior executive roles in leading companies including Sybase, Cognos (now IBM), webPLAN (now Kinaxis), and CML Emergency Services (now AIRBUS). He has raised over $50 million in venture funding across multiple organizations and consulted with world-class corporations including Salesforce, SAP, and Nielsen. He is a Computer Science graduate from Sheridan College.

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