Being an SDR is incredibly demanding and exhausting. These people do all the hard work to engage prospects, such as cold calling, executing email outreach campaigns, qualifying prospects, setting meetings, and all of that while facing rejection after rejection on a daily basis.
And that is exactly one of the reasons why they burn out much more quickly when compared to some other professions.
Did you know that:
- The average tenure of an SDR is 1.5 years?
- Only 8% of SDRs stay in the role for more than 3 years?
And just because these numbers are not a surprise for anyone who is in sales, it doesn’t mean they are not alarming. It’s basically like each SDR is saying: “I hate being an SDR!”
If your business is using SDRs, you need to make them happy. And you need to do that for at least two reasons – a happy SDR will produce better results and also stick around for a longer time. This, in turn, means that you won’t have to search for new SDRs every 6 months.
Before we list the best practices for SDR retention, let’s see why they burn out and leave in the first place.
Why Do SDRs Burn out so Fast?
With such a consistent SDR turnover rate, you have to ask yourself about the causes that stand behind it.
The top complaints reported by SDRs include:
- too low base pay
- unclear goals and expectations
- being overwhelmed with the workload
- the feeling of being unappreciated
- too little opportunity for advancement
Now that you know why your sales reps leave, you need to do all it takes to make them stay. Read on to learn about the best ways to increase SDR retention easily and effectively.
1. Treat Them as People
Although building a team of resilient SDRs who won’t leave after a year of working at your company starts as early as in the hiring process, you need to make sure that you treat your SDRs as people on a consistent basis.
But what does this ‘treat them as people’ mean anyway?
- You need to show them that they are valued, and that their skills and contributions are appreciated.
- Don’t make them complete an absurd amount of busywork that you can easily outsource.
- Give each SDR focused attention by having regular one-on-one meetings with them.
2. Design a promotion plan
And stick to it.
No SDR wants to stay in that position for their entire life. That is why you need to build a clear opportunity for an SDR to AE career path in your company.
With a clear SDR promotion path in place, they will stay motivated for longer. And if you create a promotion path with clear tiers, they will know exactly what they have to do to advance on their sales development representative career path.
Here are some of the tried-and-true strategies for creating a good foundation for SDR career progression:
- One of the most effective ways to support an SDR career path is to develop and promote your sales team internally. This will create greater employee loyalty and thus improve SDR retention.
- Offer extra training so that your SDRs can acquire the skills necessary to get promoted all the way to an Account Executive position.
- Make sure that the path to promotion and the milestones are clearly defined, including goals, major accomplishments, and reward systems.
- Introduce mini promotions to give sales reps more responsibility and autonomy while keeping them in the same position. This will help them grow their careers while also ensuring that their daily operations remain fresh.
3. Help Them Focus More on Selling and Less on Researching
Salespeople actually spend only 36% of their time selling, which is a devastating figure.
So, what do they do for the rest of their time at work?
They call wrong numbers, email incorrect email addresses, or research the internet to find correct contact information. And this can be incredibly frustrating. Apart from that, it is costly for your company and a waste of time.
To prevent this and avoid SDR burnout, show them how much you value their contribution by setting systems that will increase team productivity.
For example, your sales reps can build their own daily schedule so they know what activities they will be doing and when.
Also, you should think about introducing some top-notch sales prospecting tool to increase conversion, but you can read more on this later in the article.
4. Recognize Small Wins
Most sales teams only celebrate the close, leaving so many previous steps unrecognized. And most of these small steps are actually made by a salesperson.
Some of the things you can celebrate include:
- getting a prospect to call back
- finding the right decision-maker
- engaging a decision-maker in a longer conversation
- setting follow-up appointments
If someone has an exceptionally good month, make sure the entire office knows about that. Everyone wants to feel valued and appreciated, so provide recognition of your SDRs efforts – be it a bonus at the end of the year, public announcement, or any other way you find appropriate.
Find reasonable targets for essential KPIs (number of leads generated or conversions) and offer incentives for hitting them. Doing this will ensure your SDRs stay in your team for a longer time, thus helping you improve SDR retention.
Pro tip: When someone closes a sale, let the SDR who set up the meeting get credit too. Even better, have them join sales calls and listen to the close to see the fruits of their labor. This will go a long way to keep them motivated.
5. Create a Fun Work Atmosphere
An SDR daily schedule is not the funniest or most exciting thing in the world. That is why you need to do your best to find other ways to create a fun work atmosphere.
One great way to do this is by hosting contests that align with performance goals. For instance, you could give out a prize to an SDR who schedules the most meetings in a given month. This will introduce friendly competition among your SDRs and keep things a bit more exciting.
Another option is to throw surprise contests to break up the monotony and increase productivity at the same time.
Team-building exercises are also worth considering as they help you bring your SDR team closer together. Whether you do it in the office, go to an escape room, or go watch a sports game, make sure you organize team-building activities regularly.
6. Integrate Your SDRs into the Broader Sales Organization
Another way to increase SDR retention is to have them go through the entire B2B sales cycle. Even though this can often be a long and complex process, participating in proposals and closes make sales reps better prospectors, qualifiers, and closers.
Moreover, it would be beneficial to meet regularly with your SDRs to show them you are interested in their career development. During the meetings, talk to them about a larger strategy and give constructive feedback – both positive and negative – and end on an encouraging note.
7. Offer Competitive Compensation and Benefits
As mentioned above, low compensation is one of the top reasons for SDR turnover. In fact, companies that pay higher salaries have 50% less turnover.
Obviously, this is an indicator of just how important SDR compensation is, even though it is not the only factor.
What you could do is create different compensation plans based on performance. This means that a superstar SDR should be paid more than the one who underperforms.
On the other hand, your core performers (SDRs in the middle range of performance) should be given multi-tier targets and gifts instead of cash.
8. Cultivate a Strong Team and Company Culture
Company culture plays a huge role in SDR retention. To prevent SDR burnout, you should foster a company culture which matches up with their needs and values. In turn, they will be able to get along better with their coworkers.
This will help your team stay together and win together. Staying united and fostering a team culture goes a long way. By hanging out outside work, they will share the best practices but also have fun together. Also, when surrounded by positive people, it is much easier to overcome the rejection SDRs face on a daily basis.
9. Stay Aware of Your SDRs and Act Timely
Burnout builds up over time, creeping up on your SDRs one day at a time until it’s too late. However, if you pay attention to the warning signs, you will notice burnout risks before too late.
These are some of the signs of SDR burnout creeping in:
- They start complaining more often than they find solutions.
- Their productivity has dropped.
- They don’t interact with the rest of the team as much as before.
Once you identify some of these signs, you need to take appropriate and immediate action. The best thing you can do is have a chat with the SDR so that you can better understand the problem. Keep in mind that it’s important to remain polite, positive, and helpful instead of threatening with firing them right away.
Remind them that they’re not in any kind of trouble and that their role is extremely important for the company. Also, encourage each team member to play to their strengths to achieve their workplace goals.
10. Invest in Training and New Tools
To keep things fresh, it would be smart to consistently introduce new tools and training. Working as an SDR can wear a person down over time, especially since it is too repetitive. And by teaching them new things or having them learn different tools, you will keep their minds fresh and active.
Also, your SDRs will appreciate being able to learn new things at work that can help them advance to a higher position later on.
When it comes to introducing new tools, you don’t want to overwhelm them. Always make sure the tools are helpful and that they can reignite sagging office energy. This will show them that sales is a dynamic field and that they should be constantly working to improve along with their tools.
In addition, you can create a mentorship program to pair up less experienced sales reps with somebody who can help them and watch for the signs of disengagement. By crafting the training carefully, you will keep their hunger alive.
11. Mix It Up
Finally, to freshen up the workplace, you can implement special activities in the office and thus break up the monotony of the work process. Make sure there are new things happening on a regular basis.
Some of the things you can introduce include:
- tweaking the scripts and emails
- switching workspaces
- changing the dress code for a day
- flash contests
- surprise snacks
- some time for the team to get together and perform an activity side by side
Changing up set routines can do wonders for snapping employees out of complacency and making your SDRs see their job as more exciting.
What SDRs Can Do to Prevent Burnout
As an employer or sales manager, you are the one who is the most responsible for preventing SDR burnout and keeping them happy.
On the other hand, there are quite a few things that SDRs can do themselves to keep their spirits up and stay fresh and motivated.
If you are an SDR, here are some tips to avoid burning out:
- Stay strong in the face of rejection. Even though rejection is an integral part of the SDR job, don’t take it personally, Instead, learn how to move on and remember that prospects are not saying ‘no’ to you but to the product and the company.
- Keep things in perspective. Keep a balance between maintaining endurance in the role of SDR and breaking things down to a more manageable distance. Focus on each week separately rather than on the month or quarter as a whole.
- Incentivize yourself. Set goals (daily, weekly, or monthly) with rewards that align with your interests and priorities. Indulge yourself in the activities you enjoy to make those small victories count.
- Switch things up. Try to see your job through different lenses every time you feel stuck in a rut. Find new ways to do your daily tasks like emailing and calling without harming your efficiency.
- Take a break. A long afternoon walk or a ‘mental health’ day after a rough month will help you refocus on yourself and have better mental clarity and motivation.
- Manage your energy. Apart from managing your time, you should become aware of how you manage your priorities, and also the attention you give to certain people and projects.
- Stay positive. Lastly, it is important to make a positive mindset part of your personality and identity. Pay attention to your body language, the words you use, your facial expressions, and so on.
Don’t Let Your SDRs Get Away
After spending so much time finding the right people to join your sales team, as well as training and onboarding them, you definitely don’t want them to leave the job only a few months later. Repeating this entire process is rather costly and exhausting, while it also limits your business’ efficiency.
Instead of letting your SDRs get away, you need to keep them for as long as you can. To increase SDR retention, you need to follow all the tips mentioned above. Introduce new things, value your SDRs, set a clear promotion path, foster a close-knit team culture, and you will see them stay in your company for a much longer time than those gloomy statistics predict.
As a result, you will find your entire sales team much happier and more productive, which will largely contribute to your company’s growth.