Hiring a sales development rep is one of the first steps on your journey to building an effective sales team. People working at this position are responsible for reaching out to your prospects and communicating with them – they are basically at the forefront of your sales efforts.
That is exactly why it is essential to hire the right people and thus increase the efficiency of your entire sales team.
On the other hand, if you hire unqualified or inexperienced sales development representatives, you could easily find yourself wasting your precious time and resources trying to onboard and train someone who cannot contribute to your company’s growth.
And even though the hiring process is challenging, it is far from impossible. With the right approach, you will hire the best SDRs you can get.
But first, let’s see if human SDRs are really what you need.
Are SDRs Being Wiped out by AI?
Just like AI threatens to change pretty much every single aspect of our lives, so is the speculation of SDRs being replaced by artificial intelligence becoming louder and louder.
But is this really true? Can AI actually take over the role of SDRs?
The first thing to be aware of is the fact that the SDR role has not yet gone mainstream. As a matter of fact, some industries are only starting to realize the benefits of having SDRs on their teams.
On the other hand, some companies such as Drift use bots to ask website visitors various questions, thus qualifying the prospects. Then, the bots connect them with an Account Executive or simply use the company’s CRM to book a meeting if an AE is not available.
In addition, some B2C companies, like Netflix and Spotify, have perfected the buying process without using SDRs at all. There are no qualifying questions, integration requirements, or second meetings.
This, naturally, poses a legitimate question: ‘Do we still really need sales development representatives?’
However, the answer is not so simple. The value of a qualified SDR lies in their ability to educate prospects and create a human connection with them.
One thing is for sure. Buyers can’t do all the research themselves and know whether your product will meet their requirements. And if you leave the SDRs out of this process, your Account Executive will often have to disqualify prospects who have qualified themselves.
Moreover, what about all those ideal customers that couldn’t find you on their own?
So, even though AI is definitely enhancing sales and changing the role of the SDR in sales, you still need human sales reps. And the first step to having them is to hire them.
Read on to learn all the crucial steps to hiring sales development reps and setting an example for all your competitors.
How to Hire Sales Development Rep
Before you actually start hiring SDRs, it would be smart to first define the hiring process, right?
This means that every time you need new people to fill the SDR position, you should dedicate some time to finding the right ones. Also, having a clear structure of the process will help you automate some tasks and be more effective.
While sourcing the right candidates is obviously the first step (and a very important one too), it is only the initial stage of the hiring process. Wherever you find your candidates – be it through staffing agencies, referral recruiting, job boards, or maybe direct sourcing – you will need to follow the same steps afterward to separate the wheat from the chaff.
Without further ado, here are the steps to hiring a sales development representative.
The Hiring Process
#1 – Create a Sales Development Representative Job Description
Put some thought into crafting an engaging and detailed sales development representative job description. After all, this is your first contact with prospective SDRs, and it will let them know exactly what you are looking for.
Also, a perfect job description will help you to weed out the candidates who may not be a good fit and focus on those who are.
An important thing to keep in mind is the fact that people applying for SDR positions usually have little to no experience in this job. That is why you will need to look for personality traits and related background experience instead of the actual experience at similar positions.
In our latest blog post we have listed out 10 skills and personal traits that you should look for when hiring a new SDR. Check it out.
Sales Development Rep (SDR) Job Description Example/Template
Pro tip 1: Avoid vague job descriptions. If you want to get the best candidates, you need to be specific in your job description.
[Company X] is looking for an energetic and dynamic Sales Development Representative to provide pre-sales support.
You will be responsible for servicing inbound sales and related inquiries with a strong focus on engaging and qualifying prospective customers. Keep in mind that this role is one of the first touchpoints for prospects, with the opportunity to set the tone for the entire sales cycle.
What you’ll do:
- Identify and qualify new sales opportunities for [Company X].
- Learn how [Company X] works and build the foundation for your future career at [Company X].
- Work with your dedicated Account Executives to identify ongoing strategic targets.
- Demonstrate the value of our products/services through email, phone calls, LinkedIn, and other social platforms.
- Research target companies and prepare executive summaries to help your Sales Executive ahead of their calls.
- Regularly update our CRM so as to stay current on leads and follow-ups.
- Closely observe your dedicated Account Executive in meetings and other activities to learn the skills you will need for your next role on the [Company X] sales team.
What you’ll need:
- Bachelor’s degree in one of the following fields: sales, marketing, market research, financial services, consulting, business development, investment banking, or client success.
- X years of experience in sales, marketing, or telemarketing.
- X years of experience with sales tools, including [insert sales tools].
- Proven track record for articulating a product/service and building rapport with prospects.
- Strong communication skills. This includes written, verbal, presentation, and social media skills.
- Ability to pinpoint customer pain points and assess the transactional value for both the company and customer.
- Self-motivated, tenacious, confident, independent, and strong attention to detail.
Pro tip 2: It may be useful to include a sales development representative salary in the job description. This will clearly show how much you are willing to pay for this position and keep at bay all those candidates who may want higher paychecks.
#2 – Conduct Phone Interviews
Now you have a pile of resumes on your desk (or files in your computer), so it is time to decide who should go to the next round – a phone interview.
But just like vague job descriptions will attract a number of wrong candidates, so will vague interview questions result in vague answers. This will leave you in doubt as to whether a certain candidate is actually worth advancing to the next stage.
To avoid this, you should ask in-depth, open-ended, and thought-provoking questions to find out as much as you can about each of the candidates. In essence, you want to ask questions related to your company’s core values, looking for answers that align with them most closely.
Pro tip: Make sure the interview is 10-20 minutes long. Also, pay attention to their tone of voice, and the way they speak, since phone communication is what they will often do as an SDR.
Sales development representative interview questions
Below are some helpful questions to include in your interview:
- “What is your primary motivation?” – While we all want to earn a decent living, this shouldn’t be a candidate’s primary motivation. Instead, look for someone who is interested in joining your team because they like the products/services you offer and they want to help your business grow.
- “How do you deal with rejection?” – SDRs will get rejected a lot. It’s important to pick people who know how to deal with it and can move on. Pick a candidate that says they don’t let rejection slow them down, and that they try to learn from their “nos” as much as their “yesses”.
- “What’s the worst customer interaction you’ve ever had?” – Most of your candidates will want to talk about how well they typically deal with customers. Instead, talk to them about their worst experiences:
- What causes it to be so bad?
- What did they learn from the experience?
- How did that experience impact their work going forward?
- “How do you feel about cold outreach?” – An SDRs primary responsibility is performing cold outreach. You want an SDR that knows cold outreach is a part of the job and is fully prepared to handle it.
- “What would you consider a successful day of work?” – Your SDRs are a part of a larger team. You don’t want a candidate that is focused solely on personal success. If your candidate answers that they were able to help the sales team close sales, then you’re off to a good start.
- “What’s the most recent thing you’ve learned about sales?” – The answer to this question will show whether or not this candidate is looking to learn something new every day. If it takes them a long time to remember the last thing they learned, learning may not be a high priority for them.
When conducting interviews, make sure that you ask all the candidates the same questions. If you give each candidate a different set of questions, it’s hard to compare them. Ideally, you should create a template that has all the questions you want to ask, and an area to rate their answer on a scale of 1-10. That way you can go back after all your interviews and easily compare them.
And while the five questions listed above should be a necessary part of your interview, there are so many other interesting questions you can ask to gain a deeper understanding of your candidates’ personalities.
These are some of the additional questions you could include:
- Why are you interested in sales?
- What is your experience with cold calling? How do you feel about cold calling? How comfortable are you making cold calls?
- Give me a 30-second pitch on our product/service.
- Did you use a CRM system in the past? How?
- How would you describe our company to friends and family?
Once you have answers to these questions, you should also ask them a set of questions about your company to see if they have done their homework:
- Why do you want to sell our product?
- What do you know about our customers?
- What do you know about our competitors?
#3 – Give Them a Test Task
Once you’re done with the interview, the next crucial step to hiring sales development reps is to give them a practical task. Obviously, this should be something that demonstrates how they will manage their day-to-day assignments.
Make sure that your instructions are crystal clear.
For this assignment, you want you SDR candidates to communicate with a high level of clarity and persuasion. In addition, this is the time to qualify out the candidates who don’t show attention to detail (e.g. grammar, typos, etc.).
In this round, you may want to be more critical while still being somewhat flexible, in case you recognize great sales potential in one of the ‘clumsier’ candidates.
Since emails and voicemail are the main types of communication that SDRs use, there are two different tasks you can use to narrow down your choice:
- prospecting email
- voicemail message
For this task, your SDR candidates should identify a company or person they think would be a good target for your product or service.
You can use the following instructions:
- Conduct research of the company and find the decision-maker that you would like to contact.
- Draft a personalized email to them.
- Use a concise and effective subject line.
- Add a clear CTA to book a phone call with this person.
Let’s say that the person they wrote to responded positively and left their phone number. When called, however, it is their voicemail that answers the call.
This is the perfect opportunity to see how good your candidates are at crafting a voicemail pitch.
Give them the instructions below to make sure the candidate understands the task clearly:
- The voicemail should be 45 seconds or less.
- Make sure to mention the email you previously sent.
- Have a clear next step in the voicemail.
- Remember to leave your phone number.
Make notes of each candidate’s performance to keep a clear picture even long after they are all done. That way, you will be able to remember more precisely what they did well and what they could improve, as well as compare them to each other.
#4 – In-house Role-play Interview
Now, this will probably be the most interesting part of your SDR hiring process. A role-play interview will show you whether the candidate really has what it takes to be at the forefront of your sales efforts.
By improvising on the spot.
However, that is not to say that you should improvise too. At least not as much as them. In other words, you need to prepare various example scenarios in advance to see how the candidates react to different personalities and situations.
Keep in mind that these role-play interviews are not just another regular round in the process of hiring sales development representatives. Instead, you should use them to double-check if you have made the right choice. In other words, keep them for finding out anything you may have missed.
Furthermore, it would be ideal to have your team – including the SDR sales manager – observe this stage and get their perspective on the best candidates. That is why you should only have role-plays with the candidates you already decided to hire so you don’t waste your team’s time.
One of the role-play templates you could use is this one:
- You call our target company. I respond, telling you that I’m running to a meeting. You have only two minutes to pitch me.
Evaluate the candidate on each characteristic they show and also be willing to listen to your team’s feedback. This will help you get an unbiased picture of whether you chose the right candidate(s).
#5 – Culture Interview
The last round should be slightly less formal and less stressful – a culture interview. This will help you get to know the candidates on a more personal level. However, this stage is a two-way street as you should let your new hires ask you questions about your company culture too.
Here are some questions you can ask during the culture interview:
- What excites you most about going to work every day?
- How do you want to feel at the end of the workday?
- What makes you a good fit for our company?
- What do you like to do in your spare time?
- Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
- What is your ideal work environment.
- In your opinion, what makes a good team player?
Pro tip: Conduct this interview as an open conversation. Also, have everyone from your company participate in structuring the culture interview.
#5 – Making a Selection
If you have closely followed all the instructions and steps for hiring a sales development rep, you should have a pool of decent candidates to choose from.
Remember to go back over all the interviews and see which candidates stood out from the rest. Also, consider what skills are crucial for you and what is a deal-breaker.
Remember that quality always trumps quantity, so don’t be afraid to choose only the candidates who excelled or maybe the ones who showed good sales DNA. Also, make sure to hire people who are willing to learn and are motivated to continually develop their skills.
With a clear evaluation structure, it will be much easier to see which of the candidates performed best. Once you have chosen one or a few top-performing candidates, go over their resumes and applications once again to make sure they have all the necessary qualifications. However, keep in mind that this is less important than how they performed throughout the hiring process.
It is also important to know that hiring someone means investing in them long-term. If you are not sure whether they can fill the position successfully, then it may be better to pass on them.
Finally, call all the candidates who advanced to the final stage and let them know whether they are hired or not. This should be an integral part of your hiring process and business culture.
Conclusion and Next Steps
Seems complicated and exhausting? To be honest, that is not so far from the truth.
However, it is only by following the steps listed above that you will be able to hire the best SDR candidates That way, you will go above and beyond to boost your company’s sales and growth.
But if you think that hiring sales development reps is the end of the process, you are wrong.
Once you have your candidates come to their first day of work, it is time to onboard them. Onboarding a sales development rep is a logical and crucial next step for you to make before they can actually start pitching.
On the other hand, if you want to avoid all these exhausting steps, you can look for a dedicated and experienced sales team with a proven track record of success. With such a team of SDR experts, your business will increase sales and, ultimately, grow. Moreover, this will cost you just a fraction of hiring, onboarding, and running an in-house SDR team.