Coaching High-Performing SDRs
5 essential tips for SDR Managers
Being an SDR manager comes with lots of challenges and responsibilities. Many of your reps are probably young and inexperienced — maybe even just out of school. They need a ton of guidance. Even the more seasoned ones hit quota snags, get burned out and need coaching about life and work.
Here are 5 ways to make the most impact:
- Lead by example: It’s not enough to tell your reps what to do or how to do it — you have to show them. That means smiling and dialing alongside them during power hours. It means sending out cold emails, leaving cold voicemails and reaching out to potential leads on LinkedIn. You’re busy managing, so you should only spend 10-15% of your time in the weeds. But SDRs learn best by osmosis–by watching others, whether it’s colleagues or managers, do something well. Or not well. It’s fine to crash and burn every now and then, as long as you show them how to keep moving forward in the face of disappointment.
- Learn to recognize burnout: This refers to your reps and you. If you’re not maintaining your own physical and mental health, how can you help reps take care of theirs? SDR is a high-stress role, particularly for those who haven’t been in the work world very long, and mitigating that stress is crucial for avoiding burnout. Be aware of your company’s PTO policy so your team gets enough time off to decompress. And make sure their work-life balance is as close to equilibrium as possible by reminding them to knock off at a reasonable hour, take time for exercise, family, doctor appointments — whatever they need to be at their best.
- Encourage consistency: It’s nearly impossible for reps to be consistently successful if they wait until the last month of the quarter to rev things up. It only breeds desperation and chaos. That’s why it’s vital for managers to encourage a mindset of daily preparation. Sales is a fast-paced gig, but slow and steady wins the race — especially when it comes to building deep pipeline that reps can rely on to fill gaps and mitigate risk as the year comes to a close and Q4 quota looms. It helps even if they hit quota early. That’s no time to decelerate. Remind them to keep churning and burning to get a head start on the next quarter.
- Make friends with marketing: The quality of inbound leads can make or break your SDRs — not only in terms of their financial success, but their overall happiness. That’s why it’s crucial to work closely with someone in marketing to ensure there’s a steady stream of feedback between the SDR team and the marketing team. Marketing needs to know what leads are good, what leads are bad, and what leads your reps ignore because they’re a waste of time. They’ll use that data to drive their marketing roadmap — which means better quality leads for you and your team over time.
- Get good at Salesforce: That means learning how to customize this potentially powerful tool so it delivers optimal business value. You’ll need to create dashboards, manage lead generation operations, share important information — and make sure it’s as easy as possible for others to use. According to Salesforce, the areas you should strive to become proficient in include user management, data management, security, business analysis, automating processes, analyzing data, problem solving and communication. That’s a lot of stuff to master, we know, but it’s absolutely essential.
Good luck and godspeed.
Your team awaits!
The ONE Tactic That Can Get Your SDR Team to Quota
Leave a voicemail on the first cold call.
It’s that simple.
Except it’s not really that simple.
Americans get billions of invasive and annoying robocalls each year — an estimated 2,700 every second. That’s an average of 28 robocalls (and texts) per person per month, at least 40 percent of which are scams.
When you call a prospect from an unknown or unrecognizable number, chances are very good they’ll lump you into that steaming pile.
By leaving a voicemail — which more than a third of people still regularly check — you’re both setting the stage for a followup call and priming the prospect to call you back. Either way, you’ve already introduced yourself.
But it’s easy for cold voicemails to go off the rails. Here are some rules to help you stay on track:
- Never pitch your product or service.
Who’s going to buy something from you if they don’t even know you?
- Don’t try to book a meeting.
That comes later, after you have a conversation and develop a rapport.
- Keep it concise — and vague.
Tell them who you are and where you work, but not much more. Maintain an aura of mystery that piques their curiosity.
- Watch your tone.
Exude enthusiasm and keep the message upbeat. You have great news to share and they need to hear it!
OK, now it’s time to smile and dial. Good luck!
4 Tips for Coaching a New Remote SDR
New SDRs are typically young and inexperienced, which means they need a lot of guidance. But it doesn’t all have to come from their manager.
Here are 4 tips to get your remote SDRs orientated, acclimated and selling quickly.
Tip 1: Teach by osmosis
Sit them next to at least one more experienced rep. Two reps is even better, one on either side. People pick up habits, good and bad, from those they spend the most time with. Surrounding your new SDRs with colleagues who have great habits — prospecting, cold calling, daily routines — will have an osmosis effect. Here’s the catch: This is much easier to do on a physical sales floor. For your remote or hybrid team, you’ll need a top-notch virtual sales floor that replicates the in-person experience.
Tip 2: Don’t just tell, show
Provide them with an audio library of recorded calls from your top-performing SDRs. Include some of your own calls in the mix, too. Presumably you’re good at this, so flaunt those skills and show them how it’s done. Because showing, not merely telling, is the fastest way to get a new rep to buy into your system. Getting your hands dirty, so to speak, is part of that process.
More than instructional, it’s also inspirational.
Tip 3: Have them self-monitor
Have them listen to recordings of their own calls. It’s the only way to make them fully aware of bad habits — like not listening enough, pitching too early, poor prep — that are holding them back.
Tip 4: Don’t over-coach
Each time you give new reps feedback, limit pointers to one thing per session. But that one thing should be vastly improved by the time you have your next session. Then give them another and another. Once they have a bit more experience, you can toss out two or three pointers at a time. Initially, though, keep it simple. It’s a cliché, but slow and steady really does win the race.
“...keep it simple. It’s a cliché, but slow and steady really does win the race.”
How to host an effective power hour with your team
The outbound power hour is every remote SDR manager’s secret weapon.
It’s where sales teams get together to book more demos by shadowing each other’s calls, sharing valuable insights and learning what works — just like they would in a physical office.
But if you want your power hours to be super efficient and highly effective, there are some rules to keep in mind.
- Get a virtual sales floor. Zoom and other video conferencing platforms just don’t have what it takes. There’s no way to get immediate feedback or listen to each other’s calls. There’s no way for managers to coach in real-time. And celebrating wins together? That’s not happening. If your reps don’t have a tool that has all of those features and more, they might as well smile and dial alone — minus the smiling.
- Set an incentive. To state the obvious, most sales reps (SDRs included) are hyper-competitive. That’s why it’s important for managers to define the goal of the power hour up front (most calls made, most meetings booked — whatever) and create a competition around it. The reward doesn’t have to be huge, either. It could be a small but meaningful cash bonus. Or a gift certificate for lunch. Or even a goofy trophy of some sort. Make it fun and your reps will bust hump for the win.
- Do some dialing. Too often managers just sit back and watch as their reps do the dialing. But reps learn best by osmosis, and you’re their manager for a reason: you’re good at this. So lead by example and show them how it’s done. Or how it’s not done. You don’t need to succeed every time as long as you teach them how to recover quickly and keep going. And make yourself part of whatever contest is going on. Inspire your reps to beat you. But if you lose — and ideally you will lose — do it gracefully. At some point the student should surpass the master or you’re not doing your job right.
- Coach on the spot. Encourage reps to listen to each other’s calls. Maybe they dial for 45 minutes and listen for 15. And when you coach them on calls, it’s crucial not to nitpick everything you hear that’s wrong or needs improvement. For new reps, pick one thing for them to fix before the next power hour rolls around. More experienced reps can handle two or three points of
constructive criticism. Any more than that risks diluting your insights or having them misinterpreted.
- Customize your power hour. It can be focused on inbound calls instead of outbound ones. Or emailing instead of dialing. Or connecting with leads on LinkedIn and other social media platforms. Whatever works best for your team.
- Hold regular power hours. That means every day or every other day — frequently enough that your team starts building up its power hour muscles, kind of like athletes. Sales may be a solo endeavor, but it’s a team sport.
Give these things a try at your next power hour to rev up your reps and help them succeed. Trust us, they really work!
What is a virtual sales floor?
A virtual sales floor is essentially a physical sales floor gone digital, where reps gather in a customized space for coaching, calling and collaborating — no matter where they are on any given day. And it’s every bit as interactive as the real thing, only you can’t smell Bob’s bad breath. Win, win!
What kind of teams need a virtual sales floor?
Remote and hybrid reps are rarely in the same place at the same time. One day they’re at home or in the office, the next day they’re in the field. For teams that are nationally and internationally distributed, which is more and more of them these days, virtual sales floors are invaluable for getting everyone together and on the same page. And they’re especially great for SDRs, who spend lots of time alone, dialing and prospecting.
How a virtual sales floor works
It’s not nearly as gamified as it sounds, which is a good thing; you can play Fortnite during off-hours. On virtual sales floors, reps appear as custom avatars or live video in small spheres that can be moved around the floor. Have spontaneous conversations, attend meetings, listen in on a colleague’s calls or get manager feedback simply by “standing” (or “sitting”) next to each other. And when you need to focus, set your status to “busy” — or just log off.
Integrating with your dialers
There’s a one-time install for all the most widely used dialers (Aircall, Salesloft, Outreach), then you’re ready to roll. Broadcast live calls, display your call status, give and get real-time feedback, and shadow more experienced SDRs if you’re new to the game and need some pointers.
Benefits of a virtual sales floor
So many. Live coaching, instant accessibility to managers and fellow reps, group celebrating (woot-woot). And, of course, a virtual bullpen for killer outbound power hours, where reps feed off each other’s energy and learn by osmosis. All of that leads to more opportunities, more demos, more deals closed — and quota that’s not just met but crushed.
Building Deep Pipeline
Deep Pipeline: How to Hit Quota Every Month
There’s a hard fact of sales that most people don’t learn until their first commission check. Quotas are designed to be unattainable.
You can work your inbound leads, prospect, cold call and cold email all you want, but it’s rarely enough to get to 100 percent. Even deals that seem to be in the bag can fall through without warning.
Nothing is guaranteed.
Your best bet for getting 100% to quota (and 100% of your on-target earnings) — is building “deep pipeline.”
That means doing stuff today that may not pay off for 6 to 12 months.This goes against what most salespeople believe, and what most sales managers will tell you. Because the pressure to hit quota is so high, the natural urge is to focus only on the opportunities that could realistically close this month, or this quarter and ignore everything else.
But that won’t get you where you want to go.
To build the kind of ‘deep pipeline’ that will make you truly successful, you have to go beyond selling and prioritize building relationships — even with people who have no chance of buying this month, next month, or next quarter.
At the end of the day, that’s where deals come from: relationships. Genuine, non-transactional, human-to-human relationships are the backbone of every career salesperson’s success.
Can relationships ultimately become transactional? Sure. . But you won’t get to that point unless they’re respectful and real.
But we’re not saying to waste time with people who can’t buy. That’s a losing strategy. What we are saying is to identify people for whom the timing isn’t right but who could buy in the future.
When you come across those folks, invest in them. Remember their birthdays and anniversaries. Congratulate them on promotions or starting a new job.
But whatever you do, don’t monopolize their time. That’s just annoying.
Five tips for creating a deep pipeline
Hitting quota is tough, partly because most quotas are set to be just out of reach. To make things even more challenging, leads often don’t pan out and deals fall through at the last minute. That’s why you need a secret weapon to minimize your risk and plug gaps. We’re talking about a deep pipeline. Here’s how to build a killer one.
01. Call Solid Leads Every Other Month
Let’s say you’re working a deal, but it’s not progressing because the timing is wrong.
Obviously, you don’t want to be hitting up these contacts every week, trying to force the deal through. You also don’t want to forget about them entirely.
Here’s what to do: set yourself a reminder (calendar notifications, Post-It Notes, in Sharpie on your forearm — whatever you’re into) for every other month.
That’s enough time between touchpoints to realistically give your deal a chance to come through, but also frequent enough to keep you front of mind — so when the timing is right, you’re the person they call.
02. Don’t Fluff! Actually Return Calls and Emails
Sometimes you get a hard yes or no from a cold call or cold email. But often, you’ll get a “can you check back in six months?”
The answer is yes! Don’t just say you’ll check back and then blow it off. That goes for both emails and phone calls. Put reminders on your calendar (or wherever) and do what you said you’d do.
It shows you’re conscientious and serious about forming a relationship. These relationships form the backbone of a deep pipeline. Over time, you’ll have a steady stream of people hitting you up, ready to move forward — all because you dropped them a line when you said you would.
03. Use LinkedIn Alerts to Tee Up Easy Deals & Demos
There’s a third rule of life (along with death and taxes): people change jobs. A lot.
And while that’s super frustrating if you’re prospecting — we’ve all cold-called someone and asked “Hey
Bob, are you still at [company]?” only to be told they absolutely are NOT at that company — it’s actually great for building deep pipeline.
Because while people may frequently change the company they work for, they’re much less likely to change careers or role types entirely. And that presents an opportunity for a savvy salesperson.
Here’s the tip: use LinkedIn Sales Navigator to create a job alert for every single person you successfully book a demo with (if you’re an SDR) or close a deal with (if you’re an AE).
When they change jobs, congratulate them! Drop them a line via text, a voicemail, a LinkedIn message, whatever works.
Give them a month or so to settle in, then check in again — this time asking if they happen to need the same service or software at their new company that they needed at their old one.
04. Check In Quarterly with New Customers
People who buy your goods or services are great lead sources if they like what you provide. That’s why it’s vital to keep in touch quarterly with customers you recently closed. Besides letting you know if their current needs are being met or have changed, they can refer you to others at their company — or in their professional network — who might also need what you’re selling.
05. Be Yourself Online. People Like You!
Chances are, when you first get in touch with someone, the first thing they’re going to do is look you up online.
If they can’t find anything about you, they’re going to get sketched out. There’s real value in maintaining a professional online presence (especially on LinkedIn).
Growing your social media networks is another effective way to cultivate relationships and earn the trust of prospective leads that are more apt to become qualified leads after months of reading and interacting with your posts. If your online presence is genuine and you post useful stuff, they’re far more apt to engage — with your content and you.
Now go build that deep pipeline and crush quota!
Cold Calling Tips from the Best SDRs in the World
News of cold calling’s demise has been greatly exaggerated. For SDRs, it’s still an incredibly powerful first step toward building lasting and quota-crushing relationships with prospective leads.
But it has to be done well, and it’s not easy to master. Check out these cold calling tips from some of today’s top SDRs to up your game:
Speaker, trainer, author
Fear of rejection is what holds back 99 percent of people when it comes to cold calling. Not only does it hold people back, but those that do make calls and have that fear end up sounding nervous on the call.The key is to become comfortable with rejection. Embrace it, don’t fear it. The worst thing that can possibly happen on a cold call is they’re not interested — so what?! Pick up the phone and try the next one.
Development Team Manager, ReachDesk
If someone leaves a call with concerns, they’ll amplify over time. They’re going to speak to their friends and draw their own conclusions. It’s like selling: you want to address reservations so people leave the call with 100 percent clarity. Ask the candidate if they have any potential reservations before the call ends. Don’t let a high performer leave the call with any red-flags unaddressed.
Be level with people and talk to them like you’re chatting with a friend. It’s hard for people to be jerks to someone who’s their friend.
Charlotte Johnson (Via YouTube)
My goal from a cold call is to set up an additional 10-15 minutes to see if this is a fit…I don’t need to book an hour slot after a call. I just need to find out a little bit of information as step one. And then secondly, my cold call isn’t necessarily to book them. If I can book them, it’s only for a short time period. After realizing that, I started to have so much fun with it and my personality would come through and I’d just be a lot more natural and not overthink elements. I thought, “If this person doesn’t pick up, if they hang up or they’re not interested, it doesn’t matter because I don’t need to book this person.”
SaaS Sales Leader, Elite Level
Your focus on a cold call should be to reference one key benefit that aligns to the persona you’re speaking to and how it has driven value for customers like them. That’s it. It is important to limit this stage because you need to create a sense of curiosity and excitement. You want the person on the other to wonder how you’re able to drive that benefit, what is different, special and unique about your solution that enables this.
Account Executive, Gong
What to say if someone you call is in a meeting: “Does it make sense for me to tell you why I called and then you can tell me if I should even bother to give you a call back?” And everyone’s like, “Fine, tell me why.” And then they talk to me for 15 minutes!
Brand Awareness Manager, Salesloft
Complete honesty is so refreshing for prospects that it can be used as a tool to break down barriers and enable you to have better conversations. Prospects are so used to sellers avoiding selling that if you lean into the sales process and embrace it, it's like a breath of fresh air. Here are some of the honest phrases that worked for me:
- “Yes, this is a sales call and I'd love you to be a future customer.”
- “Yes, I am a salesperson and I'm contacting you because I'm so intrigued by what you do.”
- “Yes, I'm building some rapport with you now so you'll be more likely to buy from me.”
SVP of Marketing, Clari
Four steps to better cold calling
- Leave a voicemail. Direct them to an email you’re sending or will send shortly, mention your name, have a POV on what matters to them.
- Send an email. It should have a one-word subject line, show more about the POV you included in the voicemail and tell them when you’ll be calling back.
- Send another email. Thread it to your initial voicemail email but use a new subject line. Tell them when you’re planning to call, but also ask if there’s a time that works better for them. And ensure they know the conversation will be short.
- Call back on time. Be prepared to showcase your full POV on what matters to them.
Kyle’s full guide, with examples, can be found here.
Tone communicates a lot without taking any extra time. So if you feel like your tone is a little off, you can improve it and make a big difference in your cold calling without having to change much about what you’re actually saying or having to expend time or energy on other experimental things.
It’s not like there’s only one tone that’s going to work for you, but I'm going to give you one that works extremely well for everyone. And that is a comfortable conversation with a close friend. It’s a little bit different for everyone, but the great thing about it is that every person has had this experience — unless you’ve never had a friend. So when you’re talking on the phone, you can actually check yourself and ask, Is this how I talk comfortably with a close friend?
Strategic Advisor, Avenue Talent Partners
The best cold callers (and cold emailers) know 80 percent of their success comes from the homework they do to warm themselves up ahead of time before they ever reach out. Things that inform them and help them ask intelligent questions, so they can have a meaningful conversation.
You need to start your cold calling prep by finding a relevant, business-critical insight that allows you to start a meaningful conversation with them quickly. Something that catches their attention but is also emotionally compelling, intellectually interesting, and value-added to them, not you. You can do this in any number of ways, and you don’t need endless hours or a prior engagement. Here are some of my favorites:
- Read their content online and find the gap — Nudge.ai is great for this
- Get notified about who is coming and going personnel-wise — The Inno Lists, Pitchbook, Google Alerts, and so many other gems for this
- Read online reviews to understand their pain points — Capterra and G2Crowd are great for this
- Stay in the know regarding their competitors and marketplace — LinkedIn Sales Navigator, Crunchbase, and AngelList are some of my favorites
If you can find a relevant and compelling data point in any of these areas, you’ve got the foundation to start a conversation.
Ok, you’ve heard from the cold calling experts. Now it’s time to give their tips a try for free on Teamflow’s virtual sales floor. The more you dial, the more you’ll smile!
Best Practices for Managing Hybrid & Remote Teams
Essential tips for remote SDR teams
When it comes to upping your team's SDR game, these six things are absolutely essential.
- Develop a routine: And stick to it whenever possible. This kind of discipline will help shape your days, focus your efforts and yield far better results than a haphazard approach. When it’s calling time, call. When it’s prospecting time, prospect. Block out some time for meetings and 1:1s, too — whenever they don’t interfere with your daily schedule. Speaking of which, here’s one to try out:
- Exercise or meditate — to clear your mind and boost your endorphins.
- Eat something healthy— some eggs, a smoothie, whatever. Your body and brain need fuel to function.
- Outline your follow ups for the day — who do you need to call back or send emails to?
- Schedule dial blocks during times where you think people will pick up the phone the most often based on your industry and ideal customer persona. Don’t just sit and dial all day. It’s exhausting and unproductive. Also, work within your time zone. If you’re PST, know that people in ET probably won’t pick up past 2 p.m. or so.
- Schedule time later in the day for administrative activities — you want to be sure your CRM is up to date.
- Schedule time for personal development. Especially if you’re new to the job, read books and watch online videos of how to improve.
- Evaluate your performance at the end of the day — what were your goals, and why did you hit or not hit them?
- Create a plan for the next day — emails, calls and goals.
- Chill out, forget about work, do some socializing with friends or family and get a good night’s sleep.
- Communicate regularly: Make sure to keep in constant touch with fellow reps and your manager — on your virtual sales floor if you’re fortunate enough to have one, but also via videoconferencing, your favorite direct messaging platform or even phone. (Sometimes old school is the best school.) You might work alone, but you shouldn’t feel alone. Communication is vital: about lead generation and outreach strategies; time management challenges and overcoming objections; priorities and goals. Transparency about all of that and more is the key to keeping SDRs, and by extension teams, on track to crush quota.
- Call together: Not always, but schedule regular outbound power hours so the whole team can be together in one place and learn from each other. Of course, doing this effectively as a remote team requires a virtual bullpen on a platform like Teamflow. But trust us: Teams that call together, ball together.
- Listen to yourself: We’re talking about your calls here. It’s the best way to improve your technique. Pay especially close attention to your overall tone, your ratio of listening to talking (it should always be more of the former than the latter), when your prospect begins to lose interest and what finally convinced them to move forward.
- Respect personal time: If you reach a prospect and they tell you they’re just sitting down to dinner with their family, stop right there, tell them you completely understand and ask for another callback time. If you respect them, that respect is more likely to be reciprocated.
- Set goals: Hitting team goals requires SDRs to hit individual goals. Big ones and small ones. Big, by the way, doesn’t mean “make a million bucks” or even “crush quota.” It should go beyond mere compensation and competition. Maybe it’s paying off student debt. Or buying a tricked-out hog to ride cross-country. Or leasing a fancy villa in Tuscany. Small, on the other hand, is all about milestones. Slow and steady wins the race — less the former than the latter. Hit one, then another, then another, and before long you’re gazing out at the Tuscan hills while sipping a nice chianti.
Essential tips for Hybrid SDR teams
Sales reps have never been chained to their desks. They’re in the office or at home one day, out in the field the next. But SDRs are a different breed: until the last few years, they generally worked together in close physical proximity, learning from each other’s calls and celebrating each other’s wins while developing qualified leads to push through the pipeline.
That’s no longer the case as more and more companies adopt hybrid working models. But there are ways for hybrid SDR teams to feel more cohesive and be more productive, even if everyone’s never (or rarely) in the same place at the same time.
- Coordinate In-Office Days: Rather than SDRs trickling in here and there, settle on a couple of days when all or most of them can be in-office for calling, coaching and socializing on-site. It’s a great way to optimize your hybrid working model and enhance team bonding. For out-of-office days, your best bet is to adopt a virtual sales floor.
- Remember that each rep works differently: SDRs each have different approaches to their work. Some like the quiet mornings for researching and prospecting, preferring to crank calls in the afternoon and early evening. For others, it’s the opposite. Managers should figure out the best times to check in with reps in order to aid their progress rather than impeding it.
- Solicit Feedback: Too often, coaching is a one-way street between managers and sales reps. Ask your team for feedback on a regular basis to determine what’s working and what isn’t so you can provide the necessary coaching and congratulate reps on a job well done. A little praise goes a long way.
- Coach Reps Often: Managers should be straight up with their reps about what’s working, what’s not and how they can best overcome challenges. Without clear and regular communication, improvement is all but impossible. (Note: This is much easier to do on a virtual sales floor like Teamflow’s.) Also, don’t nitpick. Three points at a time is plenty.
- Limit Meetings: This goes for in-person teams, too, but it’s tempting for SDR managers to overuse video conferencing tools when reps aren’t on site. Resist that urge. Don’t bombard them with Slack messages, texts or emails, either. Figure out which channels are most effective and use them judiciously. Once again, your best bet is an all-in-one virtual sales floor.