Updated on March 21, 2023
Let’s admit it, in the business world, we all try to get away from a conversation when we see a person has the SDR (Sales Development Representative) or BDR (Business Development Representative) job title on their headline, suspecting they are just going to try to “sell” something.
But be no mistake that an SDR is one of the most crucial roles within B2B Sales teams. And why is that? It’s simply because the SDRs are the first (wo)men on the front to find and fight for the overall growth of the company, the ROI, and the MRR. And yes, selling is the final target of an SDR, but building a long-term relationship with clients, holding a good reputation for the company, and spreading the word about your solution to achieve brand awareness are among the many things an SDR can do for your company.
Although a very responsible position, we often see the SDR title as an entry role, thus, newbie sales reps often don’t have any experience or understanding of the industry. They usually need professional training and coaching to achieve the desired results, oftentimes for a longer period of time.
This is where you need to have a very solid SDR onboarding plan to avoid overlooking steps in the SDR lifecycle.
It could be more challenging than anticipated to onboard effectively.
So, I would like to dive into the flaws and the wins we did with SDR onboarding for our own Sales Team and share the experience we had with onboarding SDRs in the past 3 years.
1. Why is SDR onboarding so important?
On average, the time it takes your new sales dev rep to ramp up is 3.1 months but the time they stay with your company is just 1.8 years, according to Bridge Group reports from 2022. That leaves them around 17-18 months for them to give their best performance before they get overwhelmed.
So, you might think this is not a lot of time to return the investment you initially did, so why not cut off on the onboarding?
Let me tell you… not a good idea!
A properly trained SDR can outperform any sales rep by any given KPI, and that is because they can leverage tools faster, they can automate a lot of their tasks and they can focus on the ROI, rather than the entire process.
With a good onboarding process, new starters will reach the quota more quickly, and this will even shorten your onboarding process, which brings us back to the ROI.
One other thing we should consider while onboarding SDRs, is that most people would stay working longer for a company if they are given the chance to learn and grow, and this includes good onboarding, resource availability, and process optimization.
So we end up with SDRs working faster, longer, and with more success than an average sales rep.
Not bad right?
2. What should you consider when preparing your onboarding action plan?
Depending on the size of your business, your sales team, and your resources, your SDR onboarding process might last shorter or longer (from 4 to 12 weeks on avg.). In any case, you should always have the same elements in mind for the structure of your action plan:
The process will only be effective if you plan ahead and maintain updated documentation. Finding a solid system for your team members to follow is essential. You should never deviate from your core process, but you can try adjusting it to the current OKRs. Having good planning and documentation will come in handy also when other people from the company need to be involved.
Just delegating tasks and micromanaging won’t do the trick for a successful team of SDRs. Offering your experience, guidance, but also the freedom to give ideas and implement something they’ve experienced during everyday work is crucial to having a healthy environment and taking away the pressure off their shoulders. You can organize workshops for your SDRs to help them to absorb the knowledge better and not focus only on theory reading books.
- Feedback & Reviews
We already mentioned not being the Micromanager, however, your SDRs would need daily check-ups and feedback regarding their performance. Think of this more like homework that needs to be reviewed, rather than bombard them with all the things they did wrong. Put feedback on your to-do list and do the revisions of the results together. If you want to go a step further in evaluating their skillset, you can give them the responsibility to organize a webinar either only for your company, for their team, (or if you are confident enough, for the public as well), and then give advice on how to improve.
- Resources and Techstack
Keep your SDRs in the loop by providing them with some sort of a knowledge base. This can be a Google Drive Folder or access to a specific KB app, learning platform, etc. Take your time to find and share webinars with your SDRs from sales or other professionals in the field, as the things are best learned by example. Share everything you have at your disposal for learning and include your experience in the materials (We have our own Sales Academy for example).
Count the sales apps in your Resources stack as well. A well-equipped SDR can save 8 hours in the week just by leveraging good sales tools.
- Internal communication and help
Don’t make your Sales Team an isolated island. Communication with the other teams, especially with marketing, is crucial for common help, knowledge transfer, and alignment of goals and targets. Make sure you enable communication between the teams and let them know they are at their “disposal” for help and materials.
3. Monthly SDR onboarding plan for the 1st month
In the past 3 years, we’ve onboarded many SDRs and we’ve learned through the years what works and what doesn’t. Our SDR Onboarding action plan goes beyond just the first month, however, it’s shown that the first month it’s the crucial one to make or “break” a new SDR. Here is what our SDR onboarding for the first month looks like:
Day 1: Make sure your new SDR is welcomed by the team and they get to know the company and the company culture.
- Organize a team introduction
- Share access to company tools and go over the basics
- Create an email address and signature
- Include new members in team chats and internal communication channels
Day 2: It’s time to explain to them the team hierarchy, structure, and reporting. Core apps like CRM and internal sales apps should also be covered.
- Include to daily Huddle
- Give permission to CRM
- Set up accounts on sales platforms
- Set up an outreach email address for warming (on Sales.Rocks)
- Go over materials and KB
Day 3: Get acquainted with the ideal customer profile’s most important attributes and the types of buyer personas. Go over competitors’ research.
- Share videos and other materials on creating ICP
- Explain target market
- Do competitors analysis
Day 4: Explain the value proposition, strengths, and weaknesses compared to competitors.
- Create a value proposition for each ICP
- Create a presentation of competitors’ findings and comparison
Day 5: It’s time to recap the first week.
- Check the entire setup of accounts
- Explore skills and prior knowledge (where should/can be improved)
- Share weekly meeting calendars and agenda
Day 1: Time to explain the main scope of tasks and priorities like the outreach process, content, and voice.
- Share internal presentations and materials
- Show email outreach process
- Create email templates for the first campaign
- Create lists for ICPs
- Validate emails and contact details of prospect/lead lists
Day 2: After going over the initial outreach, explain social selling and LinkedIn outreach.
- Update and optimize LinkedIn Profile with custom banner, company role of the person
- Follow and connect with people from the relevant industries
- Create messaging for the initial conversation
Day 3: If your SDRs will be involved in cold calling, on day 3 you should go over the calling scripts and workflow
- Create a calling script according to the industry
- Practice “natural” conversation
- Work on possible objection-handling
- Go over successful cold calls from senior SDRs
- Set up the calling software
Day 4: It’s time to introduce hyper-personalization. Go over possible variables, merge tags and other possibilities for content personalization and showcase specific successful campaigns
- Create custom images addressing different recipients
- Work on the variables within the email/messaging content
- Come up with personalized subject lines for campaigns
- Record custom videos for follow-ups
- Give examples of successful campaigns
Day 5: Prep them for the discovery and demo call. At the end of the 2nd week, you can go over showcasing your product and prepare them for the upcoming meetings with potentials.
- Do an in-depth walkthrough of your product (highlighting value proposition)
- Rehearse a 15 min discovery and 30 min demo calls
- Create calendar-booking links
- Check technical setup for meetings
Day 1: Last preps for the first outreach. It’s time to set up their first cold outreach campaign.
- Connect sending email address and LinkedIn profile to campaign app (e.g. Sales.Rocks)
- Do a setup of the campaign (Import and map contacts, check for custom fields, and add the variables in the doc)
- Add content for the emails/messages
- Craft the sequence with delays and triggers with follow-ups
- Do a final check of the campaign and launch
Day 2: Monitor campaigns and pickup followups and bookings.
- Schedule the first meeting
- Follow up on LinkedIn Messages
Day 3: After running the campaigns, the SDR should be ready to pick up the first Disco or Demo Call, but don’t expect just yet that Discos and Demos will be flying in like crazy. It takes up to 3 months for an SDR to schedule the first call with all the efforts given.
- Do research of the company and prep for the meeting
- Have first Disco or Demo Call
- Take notes and transfer in CRM
- Send out an after call follow-up email
Day 4: The running campaigns should be monitored daily. Any responses or open emails or messages should be followed up accordingly.
- Practice different follow up methods according to responses
- Gathering useful files, pdfs, images and presentations to share with prospects
- Follow up with prospects
- Check for interest
Day 5: Gather results from the campaigns, compare and optimize accordingly
- Gather results of open, click, reply and bounce rates
- Compare campaigns
- Optimize and prepare new content for upcoming campaigns
Day 1: When doing the outbound prospecting, it’s important to have good data, and of course to segment it well.
- Create larger lists of prospects by ICP
- Clean up and verify emails and profiles
Day 2: Data segmentation is crucial for having hyper-personalized outreach, even when it’s cold and done on a larger scale
- Segment lists by different data points (job titles, industry, demographics interests, etc.)
- Learn Vlookup and separate lists
Day 3: Create campaigns on a larger scale based on industry, country, and other segmentation
- Add more email domains as campaign senders
- Do a deliverability checkup on your sending domains
- Create different campaigns with specific targeting
Day 4: It’s not all about the data of course. You should reach out to people with value and a solution to their challenges, whether that’s in the industry or by their job title.
- Prepare email follow-ups with valuable content
- Share free materials and information
- Invite them to download materials or attend your company webinar
Day 5: Let’s wrap up the week with some stats and decision making
- Prepare and send out proposals to interested prospects
- Follow up with nurturing content
- Share reports of SLQs
- Have a call for the final buying decision
And there you have it, or 4 week SDR onboarding action plan that has proven to work for SDR of any team size.
But you shouldn’t take SDR onboarding for granted at any cost. The role of the Sales Development Representative is very dynamic and can be challenging if not done right. You should always have in mind the general climate of the sales industry, the latest developments, new tools, new trends, etc. that will shape the market. This is why having a solid Onboarding process will help you stay on track and have a successful team in the long run.
Given the changes, you should check up on your onboarding process every half year to implement new strategies and support the continuous learning and knowledge transfer for your team for a fast-growing ROI and scalable company structure.
in your Sales Tech-Stack