Why Outbound SDRs Burn Out in 15 Months

SDR burn out

How to decrease your SDRs turnover?

If sales representatives bring home the bacon, then sales development representatives are the hustlers out in the field actually finding the pigs.

Less metaphorically, SDRs are responsible for outbound sales prospecting and lead generation. They’re the folks who are out there finding potential customers, qualifying them, making that initial contact, and then passing them on to the rest of the team.

They make up an essential piece of the outbound sales funnel, but unfortunately, the role is incredibly taxing. SDRs have one of the highest burnout rates in sales—the average lifetime is just 15 months.

Keeping your SDRs around for longer than that is incredibly advantageous. When you decrease turnover, you:

  • Save time, resources, and effort needed to hire new talent
  • Develop a team of seasoned, capable reps who are familiar with your company
  • Increase team satisfaction and morale

It’s clearly in your company’s best interest to keep SDRs around. And yet, the turnover rate is astronomical. What is going on?

Why do most Sales Development Representatives burn out in just 15 Months?

When you see a consistent turnover rate that high in any position, it necessarily raises many red flags. The frank truth is that most companies just aren’t set up for success.

If you take a look at the top complaints reported by SDRs who are headed out the door, you’ll see that they’re all pretty simple and fixable:

  • Too little base pay (self-explanatory)
  • Unclear expectations (how much cold-calling plays into the day-to-day, etc.)
  • Too much busywork (looking for contact information, etc.)
  • Feeling unappreciated (a major sore point)
  • Little opportunity for advancement (too much time between promotions)

So, besides offering your employees a liveable salary for the local cost of living, what can you do to encourage your team members to stick around?

1. Treat SDRs as people—not factories.

It should go without saying, but unfortunately . . . it doesn’t. While Account Executives (AEs) should absolutely be celebrated by your company, SDRs are just as integral to your overall success. Allowing AEs (regardless of how senior they are to SDRs) to constantly tell SDRs how to do their job is frustrating.

Beyond that, many SDRs are expected to complete an absurd amount of busywork that could be easily outsourced for a minimum cost, like data entry. Your SDRs are there to sell—not copy and paste information into an Excel spreadsheet!

If you want SDRs to stick with your company long-term, it’s absolutely essential that you show them they’re valued and that their skilled contributions are appreciated.

Schedule regular one-on-one check-ins.

One-on-one meetings are an excellent time for SDRs to voice any questions, concerns, challenges, or ideas. By giving each representative focused attention, you demonstrate that you value them as individuals. And, you can catch any dissatisfied team members before they’re out the door!

The regularity of the one-on-ones can vary based on your company and unique team. But in general, weekly twenty-minute appointments are a solid place to start. Over time, you’ll learn if you need to meet more frequently or for a greater amount of time.

Encourage your SDRs to come to their one-on-ones with specific topics to address, and try to do the same—that way you’re using the time as efficiently as possible (and are not just meeting for meeting’s sake).

Consider incentives for surpassing sales goals.

Machines might not need motivation and appreciation to stay happy, but people do. While of course there are minimum numbers SDRs should hit, motivate them to push above and beyond with extra incentives.

Often, sales incentives are geared towards closing deals. But without SDR, there would be no deals to close. Find reasonable targets for core KPI—like leads generated or conversions—and offer enticing rewards for hitting them. It can be something simple like a bonus or more involved, like cool gadgets or paid-for events (concert tickets, anyone?).

2. Build an SDR-to-AE promotion plan and stick to it.

For many Sales Development Representatives, the next professional goal in their sights is the coveted Account Executive position. Working towards that objective can be incredibly rewarding and provides your SDRs with a real incentive to stick around.

In the end, your SDR and company both will benefit from outlining a clear promotion path to the Account Executive position. What types of responsibilities should SDR focus on in order to increase their chances? Are there target KPIs they should be hitting?

Spend some time answering these questions with the leadership within your company in order to create a plan.

Design a transparent ladder with clear tiers.

How do you internally distinguish between junior or brand-new SDR and experienced or senior SDR? Many teams choose to create several different tiers of SDR in order to not only identify those doing well but also to motivate team members to strive for bigger and more impressive goals. For example:

  • Junior and Senior Sales Development Representatives
  • Level I, II, and III Sales Development Representatives
  • Assistant and Associate Sales Development Representatives

Choose a naming scheme that fits the needs of your company, and then communicate clearly to your SDR what each tier means and how they can be promoted. Is there specific KPI they need to hit? Let them know!

As SDRs move up this internal ladder, they’ll know exactly how close they are to the coveted AE promotion.

Provide professional training needed to succeed.

Investing in your team will always pay off exponentially. Not only does teaching your SDRs new skills help them to work more efficiently and effectively, but it also shows them that you care about their professional development.

Offer extra training so that your SDRs can acquire the skills they need to move up the promotional ladder and eventually become AEs. For example, you can have a representative from the CRM you use come by and show your team some tips and tricks. Or, you can invite your top-sellers to offer mentorship to new hires. The possibilities are endless, so find something that works for your unique situation.

3. Help SDRs spend less time researching and more time selling.

Calling wrong numbers and emailing incorrect email addresses sucks up a shocking amount of a Sales Development Representative’s time. In fact, according to Forbes, salespeople spend less than 36% of their time actually selling. Each minute spent contacting dead-ends and perusing the internet for correct information is a minute not spent moving prospects through your outbound sales funnel.

In addition to being costly for your company, wastes of time like these are frustrating for your representatives. Instead, show SDRs how much you value their contribution and demonstrate that you respect their time by putting systems in place to increase team productivity.

Encourage SDRs to build out their own daily schedules.

Productivity is all about using your time more efficiently—and in order to do that, you must plan. The most effective SDRs build out daily schedules for themselves so they know exactly what they should be doing and when.

Since each SDR is unique (and you’re treating them as humans, not factories!), it’s important to let them build their own schedules. Many reps like being specific—planning their daily activities down to the hour—and if you try to do this on their behalf, you run the risk of making your team feel micromanaged.

Plus, at the end of the day, your team members know their personal workflow better than you do and can optimize their own efficiency.

Provide conversion-increasing sales prospecting tools.

How do your SDRs find their prospects? The truth is, inefficient, run of the mill Google searches aren’t enough anymore—they absorb a ton of time and often, the results you find end up being out of date.

Instead, consider investing in some top-of-the-line sales prospecting tools. For example, Lusha is a SaaS tool that provides you with the most up-to-date contact information for B2B prospects. In addition to automatically verifying email addresses, Lusha can integrate with any other tools your SDRs are already using, from your spreadsheets to your favorite CRM.

Source: Lusha

By using better prospecting tools at the beginning of your outbound sales funnel, you will close bigger deals down the road at a much higher conversion rate.

Conclusion

At the end of the day, your Sales Development Representatives are an integral piece of your outbound sales strategy.

Decreasing turnover is only advantageous for you and your team—both fiscally and emotionally. By treating your SDRs with care and respect, building out (and sticking to) a clear promotion plan from SDR to AE, and helping your SDRs use their time more efficiently, you will not only decrease burn-out but also drive more sales through your pipeline.

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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