Sales development is a nuanced blend of art and science, requiring a delicate balance for its effective implementation within a company. Drawing from substantial experience, Sally Duby from The Bridge Group provides valuable insights into the intricate realm of sales development. 



SDR Strategy & Model Checklist

In the intricate world of sales development, finding the balance between art and science is crucial for a startup's success. Drawing from a wealth of experience at Oracle in the late '80s, sales development expert Sally knows the nuances of this field. In navigating the transition from founder-led sales to a structured approach, the pivotal question arises: when to hire a Sales Development Representative (SDR) or an Account Executive (AE)? Sally's wisdom sheds light on this dilemma. If there are inbound leads, the situation is different; hiring an AE might be suitable if these leads align with the ideal customer profile. However, if there are no inbound leads, the strategic move is to hire an SDR first. Sally emphasizes the importance of focus, advising against a horizontal approach. Instead, identifying a narrow target market and focusing efforts there is key, especially for startups with limited resources. Additionally, she advocates hiring a minimum of two SDRs simultaneously for more effective training and evaluation.

When it comes to appointing sales leaders, timing is critical.

Sally suggests considering a full-time Sales Leader when a startup has two or more AEs and SDRs and is on the verge of hitting a $1 million Annual Recurring Revenue (ARR). However, for early-stage startups with limited resources, a fractional CRO (Chief Revenue Officer) can be a cost-effective option. In this scenario, finding a player-coach, someone experienced yet hands-on, is vital. They should be capable of navigating the complexities of sales, including closing deals while guiding the team effectively. Sally also underscores the significance of marketing in this equation. As a startup scales, having marketing support becomes imperative for content creation, messaging, brand building, and market education. This comprehensive insight from Sally provides a roadmap for startups to make informed decisions, ensuring a robust foundation for their sales development journey.

SDR Hiring Checklist

When establishing a sales development team in the early stages, a meticulous hiring process is paramount. The focus should be on hiring experienced individuals, particularly those well-versed in outbound sales, unless an influx of inbound leads is overwhelming. While fresh graduates may seem budget-friendly, their lack of understanding often results in high turnover rates. A minimum of three years of outbound experience is advised. Candidates from larger corporations, accustomed to brand recognition, might find it challenging to adapt to the unfamiliar terrain of a startup. Hence, problem-solving abilities and proactive mindsets are essential traits to seek.

Practical assessments, including mock calls, play a crucial role in evaluating candidates comprehensively. Emphasizing phone-based communication skills is pivotal due to significantly higher connect rates compared to email campaigns. The hiring process should scrutinize a candidate's prospecting expertise, an attribute that cannot be underestimated. Product knowledge can be taught, but a profound understanding of intricate prospecting methodologies is indispensable for success. While this approach may incur higher costs initially, it lays a robust foundation for an effective sales team, ensuring the startup's growth and success in the long run. Subsequently, compensation plans and practical assessments will be detailed further to refine the hiring process.

Traits to look for in SDRs 

In this segment, the focus is on hiring Sales Development Representatives (SDRs) efficiently, emphasizing the option of engaging agencies and essential traits to seek in candidates:

Engaging Agencies:

  • Some agencies offer SDR services, allowing businesses to hire trained SDRs through them.
  • Businesses benefit from the agency's training programs, gaining experienced SDRs acquainted with their industry.

Traits of Ideal SDRs:

  • Curiosity and Proactiveness: SDRs should ask questions, accept feedback, and proactively seek knowledge.
  • Resilience and Determination: The ability to handle rejection, demonstrating grit and resilience, is crucial.
  • Empathy and Relationship Building: SDRs should establish empathetic relationships, showing understanding over phone, email, or LinkedIn interactions.

Interview Reps With SDR experiences: 

  • Writing Skills: Evaluate prospecting emails from their previous roles to assess their writing style and effectiveness.
  • Phone Etiquette: Assess active listening skills and relationship-building abilities during phone conversations.
  • Sequences and Cadences: Understand their successful outreach methods, the mediums used, and the effectiveness of their messaging.
  • Research and Qualification: Inquire about their research methods, personalization techniques, and prospect qualification questions.
  • Handling Rejections: Understand their coping mechanisms for rejection, as SDRs often face numerous negative responses.
  • Career Advancement: SDRs may seek roles beyond AE positions, such as in marketing, operations, or enablement.
  • Swift Decision-making: Move swiftly in the hiring process; SDRs are accustomed to fast-paced environments and might pursue other opportunities if delayed.

Sourcing SDRs: 

When sourcing SDRs, leveraging personal and professional networks is essential. Sales reps can recommend top-performing SDRs from their previous collaborations. Platforms like LinkedIn and sales-oriented communities such as Sales Hackers, Revenue Genius, and SDR Nation are valuable for posting job opportunities. Additionally, exploring competitors and partners on LinkedIn provides avenues to connect with potential candidates. It's crucial to note that SDRs require a ramp-up time of slightly over three months to undergo training, initiate outreach, and generate the expected number of meetings and pipelines. While initial activity may be visible within this period, consistent results, like 10 meetings per month, typically materialize after the first full quarter. Patience is vital, emphasizing that SDR productivity takes time to develop, dispelling the misconception of instant results.  

Management, Compensation & Benchmarks

Minimum Requirements in place for an SDR 

Setting up an effective Sales Development Representative (SDR) team involves essential groundwork. SDRs require proper tools, including a CRM system and reliable data sources. Relying on spreadsheets hampers productivity; having a CRM is crucial for organized prospect management. SDRs must focus on outreach, not extensive research. Phone communication is pivotal; tools like Apollo,, HubSpot, or FrontSpin streamline calling and sequencing processes. While well-known tools like SalesLoft and Outreach exist, more budget-friendly options like Apollo and HubSpot cater to early-stage companies. Leveraging perks and discounts within founder portals for such tools can optimize expenses. Moreover, accessing accurate cell phone numbers is vital, especially as remote work persists. Companies like Modigi provide high-quality cell phone contact data, ensuring SDRs reach prospects effectively and maximize their outreach efforts.

Inbound Lead Stage Definitions: 

Defining inbound lead stages is vital for alignment between sales and marketing teams. A typical funnel comprises stages like MQL to SQL, with a crucial point being the 'sales accepted lead' after a successful meeting. Subsequently, a 'sales qualified opportunity' denotes a prospect moving into the pipeline post-meeting. Although variations exist, consistency is paramount. Whether using combined stages or distinct ones, uniformity in terminology ensures mutual understanding and collaboration across teams.

Outbound Lead Stage Definitions: 

When considering outbound lead stages, an equivalent to MQL in outbound prospecting could be termed as a 'target' or 'prospect list,' distinguishing it from inbound strategies. To measure the effectiveness of outbound efforts, tracking outcomes separately from inbound is crucial. A detailed chart outlines the expectations for one SDR engaged in outbound prospecting. Based on an average deal size of $30,000, metrics include the number of days worked in a month, conversion rates from connect to meetings and ultimately to closed deals. A fully ramped SDR can potentially generate 15 meetings monthly, translating into 2.7 million added to the pipeline annually, with approximately $675,000 closing from SDR activities. The model adapts for larger enterprises with higher deal sizes, emphasizing the increasing importance of outbound efforts, especially in high-value markets where marketing's contribution diminishes and outbound SDR efforts become more pivotal. Targeting specific prospects becomes paramount in such scenarios.

SDR Metrics & Benchmarks: 

When monitoring and measuring SDR activities, it's essential to track various metrics on a daily and monthly basis. These include the number of activities performed, encompassing phone calls, voicemails, LinkedIn interactions, emails, and text messages. Crucial metrics involve meaningful conversations initiated and meetings scheduled per day, week, and month. Monitoring no-shows helps refine your processes to secure attendance. Conversion metrics track the transition of outreach attempts to connections, moving from target prospects to SQLs (Sales Qualified Leads). On the sales side, it's vital to monitor win-loss ratios and reasons for losses. Lead pipeline metrics assess the effectiveness of inbound strategies and campaigns, focusing on lead quality, conversion rates, lead aging, and response times. Additionally, it's important to identify which lead sources and campaigns perform best.

The content also presents industry benchmarks from a 2023 report, comparing the top 20 percent of B2B tech companies with the bottom 60 percent in terms of revenue. The top 20 percent demonstrated higher average contract values and generated significantly more pipeline per SDR. They passed more meetings that converted at a higher rate, emphasizing the importance of efficient SDR-to-AE ratios. They also performed more activities daily, with a focus on volume. Regarding compensation, the average was around $80,000, but those with three or more years of experience earned between $90,000 and $98,000. Compensation typically follows a 65/35 or 70/30 split between base and variable pay, often tied to meetings scheduled or held. Lastly, the tech stack used by top performers emphasized robust data and sales engagement platforms for enhanced contact and account intelligence.

Thanks to Sally Duby for sharing this information.


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