Hiring an SDR is relatively easy, but things get tricky when you want to hire the cream of the crop sales development representative.
A top-performing SDR can not only procure leads but is steadfast at outbound prospecting, cold outreach, and converting top-quality leads.
Converting quality leads is imperative because it sometimes makes or breaks an organization.
A Gartner study shows that a company with an optimized SDR converted 40% of leads into opportunities, whereas a competitor without an optimized SDR converted less than 5%.
Hence, it is evident that a mediocre SDR struggles to convert prospects into leads, resulting in a cascading effect of loss of sales, money, and, most importantly, loss of time.
So how can recruiters hire a top-performing SDR?
To answer this question, we must first acknowledge the challenges faced by recruiters that limit them from hiring the best SDR.
Challenges faced by recruiters in hiring a good SDR
Let’s face it, the role of an SDR is challenging and sometimes unforgiving. The job demands focus, optimism, drive, and thick skin to take rejections and hear NOs frequently.
Consequently, recruiters are often forced to hire sales reps and teach them the ropes of SDR or hire an experienced SDR with an average reputation and keep their fingers crossed.
That said, there is a resolution to this recurring problem.
A study shows that the average age of an SDR is 46.7 years, which means experienced and top-performing SDRs are out there, and recruiters just need to find them.
Once you find a good SDR, hiring them won’t be a cakewalk because they’re happy at their current high-paying job, aren’t looking for a job change, and have other organizations poaching them. In such a case, recruiters can sweeten the pot by offering a substantial pay hike, enabling remote work, learning about their needs, and fulfilling them.
Other challenges include the “great resignation” triggered after the Covid-19 crisis, where employees aren’t ready to settle for any job. Instead, they’re looking for job satisfaction, emotional well-being, work-life balance, and a job they love.
To remedy this, organizations can offer permanent work-from-home SDR jobs, reimburse vacation expenses, incentivize successful lead conversions, and deploy similar out-of-the-box ideas.
Qualities to look for in a stellar SDR
Regardless of age, qualification, experience, or proof of sales conversion, an SDR must be good at one thing – ‘sales.’ When looking for an exemplary SDR, recruiters can keep the following attributes and qualities in mind:
1. Curios learner
Curiosity is a personality attribute that cannot be taught. However, when an SDR candidate is curious to learn about the industry, prospects, and sales techniques, it is easier to train them.
A candidate who walks in with thorough background research about your company may be naturally curious to learn and has well-informed answers to your questions.
2. A Team player
As much as it may seem like an individual sport like tennis, sales is undeniably a team sport like basketball. A team of players who collaborate effectively, work well together, resolve issues among themselves, and march toward successful conversions.
Hiring an SDR with prior experience working with a team can be incredibly beneficial.
Also, pay attention to how your potential SDR employee talks to the peon who serves tea or the receptionist. If the candidate doesn’t display humility, they may be a bad apple to keep away from.
Often, recruiters use the “elevator test” to determine if the candidate is a good fit. The question is, would you be okay being stuck in an elevator with the candidate? If the answer is yes or maybe, you may go ahead with the hire. If not, you may want to pass on the candidate.
3. Drive and dedication
When the odds are stacked against an SDR, and all she’s receiving are rejections, an undeterred drive and willpower enable her to keep persevering. An attribute that can differentiate a good SDR from a great one, ‘drive’, can elevate a sales rep’s career like no other personality trait can.
Asking your potential SDR candidate for an instance where odds were stacked against them, and they persevered, can be an excellent way to quantify their character.
That said, ‘drive’ carries an SDR until a certain distance, and dedication to the job kicks in after that. Sales is a domain where candidates from various backgrounds, qualifications, and experiences apply, so how do recruiters know if they’re dedicated to the role?
Asking the candidates about previous work experiences, volunteering jobs, or defense experience where they have displayed dedication for many years will provide clarity.
The job of an SDR demands them to speak to people of all ages and designations. As a result, SDRs often engage with C-level executives who are many decades older and know the ins & outs of their respective industries.
In such a situation, the SDR must exude confidence while deliberating with leadership prospects and not crumble.
Engage the candidate in a cold call with a senior team member to test their grit, and hope they pass the test with flying colors.
In sales, there are more rainy days than sunshine. Optimism is one of the most vital personalities an SDR can possess, as believing that there’s a bright sun above the gloomy clouds makes a world of difference.
Hiring an SDR with an optimistic attitude and testing them in unfavorable situations will do the trick.
Hiring the top performing SDR
The hiring process becomes a breeze once you know what to look for in a high-performing SDR, and the next steps are:
1. Where to find the SDR candidate?
2. How to choose the right SDR candidate?
3. How to accelerate an SDR hiring process?
Let’s answer these questions in detail.
Where to find the top performing SDR candidate?
In 2022, there are dozens of ways to source talent. But the most popular job portals still lead the industry.
1. Job portals
According to TechRadar, Indeed, Monster, and Glassdoor are the leading job portals to find your SDR candidate. Most of the outlets mentioned on this website allow you to post your job requirement for free, but you may have to pay a subscription fee to promote your ad. Besides these famous sites, you may want to try Google for Jobs, ZipRecruiter, and Adzuna, which attract Gen Z and other candidates.
LinkedIn has emerged as the leading and the only relevant professional social media portal. Here, you may not only find the best SDR candidate but also verify their social proof, proof of sales conversion, read endorsements, and other vital information. LinkedIn also allows you to post your job opening listings and do wonders with a premium subscription.
Sales communities are aplenty these days. Communities like RevGenius, Sales Hacker, and Thursday Night Sales attract sales personnel worldwide. Telegram groups and Facebook pages are also places where sales reps hang out, and they’re one Google search away from being a part of your team.
4. Sales team
The most valuable asset in your immediate grasp is the sales team you work with. Without a doubt, quite a few members of your team can refer their friends or former colleagues who may be great SDRs and valuable additions to your team. Incentivizing your team members for their referrals goes a long way in establishing a great group of sales executives.
How to choose the right SDR candidate?
We’ve established that hiring the right and top-performing candidate is easier said than done. To make the process easier, recruiters may follow the below assessment steps that are sure to filter anyone but the best SDR candidates.
1. Initial screening
The recruiter must carry out a standard practice of initial assessment or prescreen. Besides background checks and employment history, the HR and the hiring manager must assess the “cover letter” written by the SDR candidate. A great cover letter shows character and establishes crucial camaraderie. Furthermore, utilizing hiring tools for the screening process will work wonders. Tools like Testlify will not only cut short the screening process but help zero in on the right SDR candidate accurately.
2. Human resource screening
HR will speak to the candidate and assess if they will be a good fit for the team/organization after the cover letter. Gauging the personality traits of the employee and other initial attributes, this is where most SDR candidates are filtered, leaving behind a handful.
3. Pre-interview assessment
This is where the candidate’s communication, attitude, interest in the role, and other prerequisites are assessed before allowing them to speak to the hiring team lead or manager. The SDR candidate is asked to record a video about day-to-day things and a 15-sentence paragraph about the company to gauge their presentation skills. For this phase, you can use assessment tools to conduct one-way video interviews, where the candidate has to answer your questions through a video.
4. Face-to-face with the manager
During this last round, the manager first confirms if the candidate qualifies as a top-performing SDR. Next, the manager reaffirms if the candidate ticks all the personality trait boxes mentioned earlier. Finally, once the candidate passes the soft skills test, the manager moves to analyze their hard skills.
At last, ask all the necessary hard skills questions like what’s your research process? What questions would you ask your prospects? Or other industry-related questions.
Note: All the steps mentioned above may happen in person or virtually, based on your convenience. That said, even if you offer a remote job, it is imperative to meet the SDR candidate personally before hiring them.
Hiring a top-performing SDR is drastically different from hiring a regular SDR.
When you read, consider, and practice all the steps mentioned here, you will surely have a talent pool of great SDR candidates to choose from.
Notice hard skills but perch your attention on soft skills.
As Gary Vee says, “Once everyone realizes that the “soft skills” are actually the “hard skills” the world and the business world will get much, much better.”