Coaching and Managing Your SDR Future All-Stars

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How do you get top performing sales development reps (SDRs)? The key to great SDRs is great coaching. Great coaches train all players, recognize that each player is different, offer specific and constructive advice, set and communicate clear expectations, listen to team members, and provide resources and tools.

With few exceptions, almost every top performer in every field started out with little-to-no skills in his or her chosen field. Once upon a time, every pitcher struggled to throw a strike, every singer struggled to hold a tune, and every sales development rep (SDR)despaired of ever making a sale.

Although every high achiever can thank some amount of natural aptitude, genuinely successful performers owe their achievements to good coaches and managers. Are you learning how to mentor new sales reps and manage tenured sales reps to help your team achieve long-term success?

Need a few pointers? Let’s get started.

Great Coaches Train All Players to Get Great Performance

SDRs success begins with their first day on the job. A streamlined and effective onboarding process gives new reps a firm foundation to start their position on your team.

When onboarding new reps, you need to touch on critical aspects of their jobs, from technical training on how to use your sales engagement software to a thorough introduction to the products and services your company sells. You’ll also want to cover basic sales skills, such as rapport building, uncovering pain points, and overcoming common objections.

#SalesCoaching doesn’t end after your new hires find their footing 👣. Continuous training helps your team stay on top of their game and master new skills. 📈#SDRs Click To Tweet

However, sales coaching doesn’t end after your new hires find their footing. Continuous training helps your team stay on top of their game and master new skills. Salesmanship is a skill, just like any other skill, and training and practice are sure ways to improve your rising all-stars. When training your more experienced future all-star reps, keep in mind what they already know. Don’t focus on basic salesmanship skills; instead, work on product knowledge, fine-tuning their approaches, and other nuanced skills that can pay enormous dividends in the long run.

Great Coaches Recognize That Each Player is Different

Each of your SDRs brings their own set of unique skills to work every day. Use those differences to bring out the full potential of each rep instead of trying to force everyone into the same mold.

For example, one rep may be an exceptional listener. Give that SDR training to complement her listening ability, such as how to use pointed questions to identify customer pain points. This new skill can help her to capitalize on her listening talent.

Another rep may be exceptionally gifted when it comes to building rapport. Training him in the art of objection prevention and handling can make his rapport-building skills even more powerful.

When provided with random, non-personalized training, only about 60 percent of sales reps meet their quotas. Providing personally tailored training, however, increases that percentage to almost 72 percent.

When provided with random, non-personalized training, only about 60% of sales reps meet their quotas compared to 72% that get personal tailored training. #SalesLeaders #SalesCoaching Click To Tweet

In addition to the individual differences between reps, you’ll also have to contend with generational differences. In a broad sense, each generation has its own preferred learning style.

  • Baby boomers and older workers benefit from formal settings, printed materials and face-to-face interaction with a trainer.
  • Younger workers, including Generation X and millennials, are fond of online materials, self-study opportunities, practical learning and role-playing activities.
  • Generation Z workers, who will be entering the workforce soon, value collaboration and peer-directed activities. These workers are quick to pick up on software skills and other demanding tasks, but they may need extra training on the basics like writing emails or calling customers. Having grown up in the world of social media and texting, many Generation Z workers are inexperienced with these more traditional tools.

Taking an active role with your team can help you tailor your training to each SDR.

  • Role-play with your reps to help them understand your customers better while actively developing their skills.
  • Listen to call recordings to identify coaching opportunities.
  • Assist new reps by listening in on live calls and jumping in when necessary to assist and demonstrate how to address problem areas.

Great Coaches are Specific and Constructive

Criticism is a necessary element for any sales coaching program, but you need to make sure that your critiques are helpful. Speaking vaguely, such as saying, “You need to be friendlier on the phone,” doesn’t give your reps much guidance. Instead, offer specific feedback and guidelines to help your SDRs address individual problems.

For example, one rep may be so passionate about your products that she habitually speaks too fast. Suggesting that she slow down her delivery could help her improve her phone skills and build better rapport with prospects. By offering specific and constructive criticism and suggestions, you’ll give your reps a better understanding of what they need to do to improve their skills.

Great Coaches Set and Communicate Clear Expectations

Your reps may struggle to achieve objectives and goals if you haven’t communicated clear expectations. Present a well-developed vision for your team’s performance, so that each member understands what they need to do to succeed.

Begin with a well-defined sales process. A clearly defined process — delineated in writing, reinforced through training, and facilitated by sales engagement technology — is one of the hallmarks of an elite sales team; teams with a clear process enjoy a 55% success rate of close compared to 40% to those that don’t. When you provide a process for your reps to follow and technology to support them, you can streamline the sales process to help each rep be more productive.

Have a well-defined #sales process? Teams with a clear process enjoy a 55% success rate of close 😁compared to 40% of those that don't. 🤔#SalesSuccess Click To Tweet

Key performance indicators, or KPIs, are another vital aspect of your training process. KPIs give your team concrete measurables they can reference to evaluate their own performance. KPIs also provide you with a baseline for performance reviews and can help you identify areas of improvement for each of your team members. Also, give your reps real-time reports and dashboards to track their performance; this will allow your team members to know where they stand at all times.

Great Coaches Listen to Team Members’ Concerns

Training and feedback isn’t a one-way street. Your team members will likely have concerns and suggestions. Set aside some time for your reps to speak to you whenever they have feedback or need your assistance, whether one-on-one or in regularly scheduled weekly meetings.

Great Coaches Provide Resources and Tools

If you’ve noticed that one of your SDRs might benefit from additional training, a sales tool or other resource, find a way to provide it to the rep. If you don’t have a training budget that allows for individualized training, take a little one-on-one time to suggest books and outside training for the rep to consider.

Also, encourage your sales team to share their favorite sales books with one another to help feed the desire to learn and improve. Pairing up new reps with experienced mentors can also help the rookies learn the ropes quickly while keeping the mentors sharp.

Also, you need to arm them with a sales engagement solution to help your reps manage customer relationships better. Providing the right resources and tools will set your SDRs up for success.

Final Thoughts

All-star SDRs aren’t born; they’re created through individual drive, directed training and smart management. Providing active training to all of your reps can help your sales team to bring out its full potential.

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