How to Effectively Onboard an SDR

sdr hire

Finding the right person for the job is crucial. But sometimes, the right person comes into the wrong situation. If your onboarding, which is the process of bringing a new hire into your organization, is rushed, ill-planned, or ineffective in any way, it can cause your top prospect to head for the door…perhaps your competition’s door!

A quality onboarding process is just as crucial as the search for the right candidate. According to information from the Brandon Hall Group, strong onboarding can improve retention of new hires by 82%. Consider the fact that employers spend over $4,000 per job finding the right candidate, it’s essential to your bottom line that once you hire, you hire for keeps. Good onboarding, says the Brandon Hall Group, can also increase productivity by a staggering 70%!

Essentially, if onboarding is weak, new hires lose confidence in your company, look for other opportunities, and aren’t as motivated while on the job.

Now consider one of the most important positions in your organization: the sales development representative, or “SDR.” If you are dashing through onboarding, you are not only doing a disservice to the new hire; you are handcuffing the sales team and limiting your potential profits.

In other words, poor onboarding of SDRs might be putting your company at risk.

The Importance of a Good SDR

Before we discuss how to best onboard your new sales development rep, it’s best to understand what an SDR is, and what they are not. Even if you are an experienced sales manager, reviewing the basics of this position might help refocus your mindset for hiring, onboarding, and measuring a new hire’s success.

Simply put, SDRs are responsible for developing opportunities for the sales team. They do not close deals, but instead perform the ground work of finding and contacting leads. Their success if often gauged not by how many sales they generate, but by how many leads they enter into the sales funnel. (There could, however, be bonuses for sales that result from their leads.)

By having good sales development reps, a company is able to increase opportunities, which, assuming the sale is handled properly, inevitably leads to better sales numbers.

How to Effectively Onboard Your New SDR

So how can you ensure that your new SDR is ready for the job? You may have a large immediate need for someone emailing and calling leads right away, but it will be extremely beneficial, for both the new hire and your company, to take your time and perform thorough, engaging, and meticulous onboarding.

Establish Product Knowledge with the New SDR

The foundation for any position involved in the sales process is an accurate and complete understanding of your product or service. Selling skills are an important part of training, including training of an SDR, but first and foremost the new hire needs to understand what you offer and why.

For some companies, this might be obvious; a car dealership, pest-control company, or luxury cruise line will have little problem establishing what they sell and why. But some companies with complex or less-obvious products might need to spend days or even a full week bringing an SDR up to speed. The details of life insurance, debt consolidation, or opt-in warranties are less obvious; in this case you may need to spend more time establishing a base knowledge of your product.

If your product or service is particularly complex, or if you have a complex menu of price levels and packages, it may be best to break this section into smaller chunks, allowing the new SDR to absorb the information bit by bit.

Help them Understand Your Buyer Personas

Understanding what you sell is important for any sales development representative, but it’s equally important that your new hire understands who you are selling to. After all, a good sales campaign is focused on a specific demographic or persona, narrowing the messages and contacts to a set of people who are more likely to make a purchase.

Buyer personas are more focused than demographics. They narrow down the potential customers of your business into a specific fictional character that can be used to establish how your customers think and act.

A demographic is a broad category of people that fit a specific category. For example, “males 18 to 24” is a demographic. “Women over 65” is a demographic.

“High-tech Tina” is a buyer persona.

With this buyer persona, you may have someone who loves new technology, is proud to have the latest devices and apps, and always stays current on any changes in the technology industry. She is an early adopter, willing to try unproven technology just to stay at the forefront, and doesn’t mind spending a little extra for additional features. This is just one example, and the buyer persona for your company could be vastly different, but it highlights the types of details you need.

These details need to be communicated to the new SDR.

With this deep level of understanding of buyer personas, your new SDR will be better equipped to communicate the right message to your potential leads and future customers.

Review Your Main Competition 

Unless you have a monopoly, you have competition. To better understand your business, your industry, and your customers, an SDR should have a thorough understanding of your main competitors, including what they do differently and how they are similar.

When reviewing competition, it’s wise to discuss, with sincere honesty, what competitive advantage they have over your business. This advantage will inevitably come up during your SDR’s daily work, so they need to be prepared to handle it with informed, confident rebuttals.

For example, say you have a competitor that offers cheaper products. Your SDR needs to know that while you can’t compete with the competition on price, your service, warranties, and 24-hour availability make your company a far better value.

Train Them for the Tools They Will Be Using

Now the new SDR has a basic understanding of your business, your customers, and your competition. You are now ready to dive into the various tools they will be using throughout their day.

The specific tools can change depending on your business, but it will most likely include a customer retention management system, or “CRM,” which is a software program used by managers, sales associates, and SDRs to increase communication and organize leads. Make sure you give the new hire plenty of time to learn this system, as a poor understanding can cause serious issues, such as over-contacting a customer or not being prepared when they arrive at your business. (Both make you look unprofessional.)

One of the tools they might be using is LinkedIn. If you are wondering how to prospect on LinkedIn, you’ll find that the overall process is simple. There are numerous techniques that can be used, but you should have a vibrant network of connections, and your profiles should be fine tuned to tell people what you do and how you do it. Businesses that are learning how to prospect on LinkedIn often use videos, and they also make connections with people they may not know personally, but would like to meet and collaborate with. This can increase your sales opportunities, and it should be part of your SDR onboarding.

Increase Their Comfort with Role Playing

Some people are naturals when contacting leads and discussing sales. Some people require a little practice to reach a high level of comfort and efficiency. The best way to find out is through role playing, with you (or someone on your training team) acting as the potential customer and your new hire playing the role they will carry during their career.

Start slow and easy, but feel free to challenge them as they develop, moving to more difficult and challenging objectives as you move forward. As they progress, you will see a new hire develop into a fully-prepared SDR who can enhance your operations and increase the number of sales opportunities for your company!

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About Tom Shelly

Tom leads Product Marketing & Content at Lusha, and previously at Bizzabo. Her areas of expertise include sales enablement, go-to-market strategy, customer education, product positioning, competitive intelligence, and launch campaigns.

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