Since Account Based Sales Development is today’s most effective Account-Based tactic (according to TOPO), how much time and energy do you spend on building the right team?
For companies taking an account based approach, the sales development function quickly becomes the engine of the revenue machine. This makes the SDR a critical part of the equation, and therefore, you must spend the necessary time, energy, and resources hiring the right people.
“Hiring top talent is the fastest way to gain an unfair advantage in Sales Development. Leaders who spend 50% of their time recruiting future leaders will consistently outperform their peers.”
Daniel Barber, former VP of Sales, Datanyze
In this book the Sales Manager Survival Guide (which, in my opinion, is the Bible for sales managers), David Brock states that there are two key components to recruiting the right candidates: reducing the time it takes to find candidates and having a clear picture of your ideal candidate. This post addresses both of these key components.
How to Keep the Hiring Pipeline Full
As the SDR team becomes increasingly professionalized, so do the hiring processes that feed it. You’ll need a rigorous, systematic approach to hiring that’s actively managed.
Do this wrong, and it could cost you a lot. Just how much, you ask? $563,500. That’s right, more than half a million dollars (according a report by Topgrading Inc., a firm that helps companies assess candidates for top positions).
“Based on our studies, the average cost of a mis-hire can be six times base salary for a sales rep, 15 times base salary for a manager, and as much as 27 times base salary for an executive.”
Dr. Brad Smart, Founder of Topgrading Inc.
To feed the process, you need to create and manage a hiring pipeline just as you would a sales pipeline. That means you must know how many resumes you need to evaluate in order to feed your initial phone interviews; how many will turn into in-person interviews; how many will get an offers and accept; event how many employees will turnover. Map out your pipeline and keep an eye on conversions at each step so you can see if you’re on track for your hiring needs.
In order to keep a full pipeline, you must use more than one source. Here are channels to keep in your mix:
- Implement manual outbound prospecting – Reach out to candidates on sites like LinkedIn, AngelList, G2 Crowd, and any other professional site where your ideal candidates are hanging out. You’re not looking for people with “seeking new opportunities” in their profiles. The top reps aren’t out looking for jobs, which means you have to be proactive and find them. When you come across a rep who has potential, you must reach out and start the conversation.
- Utilize staffing companies and recruiting firms – There are plenty of quality organizations that specialize in providing sales talent. Source candidates from a broader talent platform like Hired or try a hybrid agency that specializes in sales recruiting like Betts Recruiting and CloserIQ. The premium price you pay will be worth the level of talent and time saved.
- Leverage your network – Reps that didn’t fit in well at another company can often be at fit at yours. Furthermore, your network often has the inside scoop on the industry (for example, acquisitions, acqui-hires or companies closing down).
- Ask for employee referrals – You’ve probably heard the saying “you are the average of your 5 closest friends.” The same thing applies to your team – your top reps probably know other top performing reps. According to Jobvite, a leader in the software and recruiting space, 46% of employee referrals stay for three years or more compared to 14% of those hired from job boards. Furthermore, candidates sourced through referrals are hired 55% faster. Motivate your current employees to refer people they know. Utilize platforms, resources and applicant tracking systems like Jobvite, Greenhosue, and Lever.
Never rely on one single source for hiring. The worst time to start filling the hiring pipeline is when it’s empty. Don’t wait until it’s too late.
Once you have people in your hiring funnel, it’s time to move on to evaluating your candidates.
The Traits of the Ideal Sales Development Rep Candidates
“For great sales development reps, I’m looking for assertive go-getters who are interested in Sales and can handle objections confidently. When you add an account based approach, I add creativity to that list – they have to be able to craft a message to a person.”
Matt Amundson, VP Sales Development and Field Marketing, EverString
Big opportunities always develop over time. This is about penetrating big accounts and landing big deals, which means your account based SDRs require a different skillset than your traditional SDRs. The smile-and-dial or dialing-for-dollars mindsets don’t apply. Instead, the most successful account based practitioners are programmed a little differently.
Here’s what I look for in reps:
- They’re internally driven and highly motivated – They do whatever it takes to get the job done. These are the people who take responsibility and believe they have control over their fate. This goes beyond optimism. This is called having an internal locus of control, which has proven to be one of the strongest indicators of successful people in general.
- They think critically and ask the right questions – If you aren’t asking the right questions, you don’t get the right answers. A major part of an account based SDRs job is qualifying accounts and finding relevant ways to get in the door. Some of the best SDRs tend to be the most curious people in the room.
- They communicate clearly – A sales rep’s job requires them to be effectively communicating all day, every day. They’re constantly on the phone, writing emails, posting on social media, conversing with prospects at events. etc. Don’t just look for high IQ individuals; empathy and emotional intelligence are part of being able to communicate effectively with prospects.
- They focus on the right things – All reps have the same 24 hours in a day. The best reps spend their time focusing on the right things. An SDR’s time is highly valuable. It’s easy to get caught up in the minutia, but with laser focus, they can accomplish more than two or three reps combined. In my experience, discipline and focus come as a package deal, so look for both.
- They’re coachable – They’re not only willing to listen, learn, and quickly adapt, they also have the ability to change based on feedback. They’re always reading books, taking courses, going to networkings events, etc. You know the type. Seek out the people who seek critical feedback. They’re always the fastest to pick things up and learn from mistakes.
As you can see, there are many correlations between selling and hiring sales reps. Just like in sales, a healthy pipeline solved nearly all problems. The worst time to start fill the pipeline is when it’s empty.
How do you keep your hiring pipeline full? What do you look for when hiring SDRs?