Do you have a new class of sales development reps starting soon?
If so, you're probably thinking about how to train them and conduct effective coaching. While it might seem like a hassle to spend a lot of time on training, it's crucial to prioritize.
Did you know that most SDRs require 4.1 months to fully ramp? That's why training is so important for your sales team. Creating a successful SDR training program helps ease the onboarding process for your new employees.
Let's learn HubSpot sales managers' top tips for training your SDR team.
How to Train Your SDR Team
- Use a sales training template.
- Implement SDR training programs.
- Utilize SDR training courses.
- Incorporate SDR training exercises.
- Pair newbies with experienced reps.
- Practice objection handling.
- Practice with mock calls.
- Set expectations and give clear feedback.
- Allow your team to own their metrics.
- Encourage communication and collaboration.
1. Use a sales training template.
Not to state the obvious, but your SDR training should have a clear plan. One way to create a plan is to use a sales training template, so you have all the information and resources a new SDR might need in one place.
This template includes sections on new hire training information, 100-day high-level goals, and a 30/60/90-day plan. You can use it to build out a more detailed and specific onboarding plan for your organization.
Brian Bennett, a sales manager at HubSpot, says, "Plan where you want to go and what you want to achieve, and then work backward. Get your team to do the same. By working backward, you end up breaking your target down into smaller bite-size pieces."
Template for SDR/Account Executive Meetings
Typically, your SDRs will also be working with account executives (AE). This means that your SDRs will need to have regular one-on-one meetings with their AEs.
For these meetings to be successful, teach reps how to create a template doc for those meetings. For example, this template might go over what to discuss and how to be successful working together.
Fiorella Cardenas, a sales manager at HubSpot,says, "The SDR role is unique in the sense that your Account Executive's success is so closely tied to yours. It is in their best interest to help you be successful. I have my SDR's treat their first 1:1's with their reps as if they were their first prospects. Start with an agenda, share with them why you became an SDR at HubSpot, what are your personal and professional goals, your expectations from your AE."
Cardenas continues, "Ask them about their expectations of you. Aside from booking meetings, what do they expect from you? What do they wish their last SDR did? You want to ‘sell' them into providing you coaching and justify their investment in their time with you using your 1:1's with them to develop skills to help you and that AE be more successful."
If your training has a comprehensive plan that clearly communicates what you want to achieve, then your team will be better equipped for their role.
2. Implement SDR training programs.
One of the most important steps you can take to set SDRs up for success is to implement a comprehensive training program. Your program should be standardized so eveyone gets the same training materials. In addition to a team overview and important contacts, your program should include:
- Product knowledge and demos
- How to use your CMS
- Prospecting and research basics
- Cold calling and outreach basics
- Buyer personas
- Outreach and follow-up sequence
More than 40% of salespeople say that prospecting is the most difficult part of the sales process, so you'll want to spend a substantial amount of time covering prospecting with your SDRs.
Your program should not only help onbaord your new SDR to the company but provide them with all the materials they need to be successful in the role. You’ll also want to think about how long you’ll want this training program to run. It’s unilikey newbies will be ready to go with two weeks of training or less, so plan to have a coaching plan in place for at least a month.
3. Utilize SDR training courses.
In order to break down your training program into more digestible segments, making each topic its own module or training course will greatly benefit your SDRs.
Your course should be structured in a way that guides them chronologically through each stage in the training process, covering priorities for the team.
For example you may have a course focused on conducting research and prospecting, and a separate course on how to use your company’s CMS. Each module should consist of the course plus a review or mini quiz section to ensure that SDRs are retaining the information.
If you don’t have the resources to create your own training program, HubSpot offers a free training course to help you get started.
4. Incorporate SDR training exercises.
Once your SDRs have gone through their coursework, it’s time to put that knowledge into action. This is where training exercises come in. Give your new SDRs some hands-on practice by having them do prospecting tasks or researching exercises.
Another exercise could focus on product knowledge — knowing what products to suggest for prospects in different stages of scaling their business and who would best benefit from them.
For example, an exercise could use sample prospects and their brand’s particular challenges. The the SDRs match them with the appropriate product suggestion. Have them practice taking calls and doing outreach. Mock calls, which we’ll dig into further later in this article are also a great tool to help SDRs learn.
The more comfortable SDRs get with these exercises, the more prepared they’ll be once the training wheels are taken off.
5. Pair newbies with experienced reps.
Another great strategy that combines hands-on learning and coaching is to pair new SDRs with experienced reps. Assign them a buddy as soon as they start. This person will serve as their mentor, coach, and someone they can bounce questions off of.
The new SDR can listen to their colleague’s calls, learn how to handle difficult calls, and generally get a better idea of what their day to day activities will be.
This will also help familiarize them with successful sales strategies reps are already using.
6. Practice objection handling.
One of the more difficult aspects of sales is rejection. Help your new SDRs get comfortable hearing “no” by teaching objection handling.
Objection handling is when a prospect expresses concern or hesitation about a product and the sales person responds in a manner that alleviates that concern and moves the deal forward.
Partnering with an experienced sales rep like mentioned above, will help new SDRs get familiar with objection handling, but they may still come up short.
"I try to emphasize the fact that they will fail. I expect them to fail, and I expect them to embrace it. Failure is a necessary part of growth. I let all my new reps know that just like them, I will also fail. But I will grow and learn from my mistakes," Cardenas adds. "I also expect them to not internalize their failures. One failure doesn't define you. It's what you do with what you learn from it that will determine the outcome."
7. Practice with mock calls.
A mock call is a training tool used to teach sales reps how to handle various situations. Usually, there is an example scenario where the rep will try to solve for the customer in the conversation. After a mock sales call, it's important to provide your SDR with actionable feedback on where they excelled and how they could improve.
For a mock sales call to be successful, it's important to provide different scenarios that a sales rep might find themselves in. Some mock call scenarios to go over with your SDRs include:
- Cold call
- An angry or impatient prospect
- A high-level executive
- Prospects who aren't a good fit
- The inquisitive prospect
All of these scenarios will help new SDRs practice objection handling and problem solving in real-time. Record these calls so they can be reviewed and referenced. Look at what went well on the call and areas for improvement. Note that it is important to make these calls as authentic as possible so they mirror experiences SDRs will have on the job.
8. Set expectations and give clear feedback.
As a sales manager, it's important to set expectations for your team. This means letting team members know how often and how you will communicate with them. Some of this will be broken down in your training program materials with long-term and short-term goals.
Cardenas says, "Make sure your team knows you're checking in, not checking up. Give them clear goals for every day. How many accounts should you source, how many dials should you make, what proportion of your daily activity should be emails vs dials."
Cardenas focuses on setting expectations for every aspect of an SDR's day, from how communication will happen to what they should accomplish.
Ultimately, training is about improving and teaching your SDRs skills they need to succeed in their role.
They can't do this without feedback. Bennett adds, "Be honest. No one wins on a sales team if you're dishonest. Feedback must be actionable, but make it honest. Work with each person to understand how they like their feedback, but make sure the feedback is honest and where possible positive."
It's important that as a manager you can give actionable, honest feedback. This helps set up your SDRs for success.
9. Allow your team to own their metrics.
As a sales rep, understanding and tracking your own metrics is an important part of the process. Santiago Gutierrez, another sales manager at HubSpot, says, "Make sure your team understands the value of each of the metrics of their process. Once they get the relevance of their metrics, they'll become more self-aware and autonomous with their own process."
One way to do this is through a sales enablement tool, GetAccept. With this platform, your team will have a sixth sense with live, behavioral tracking.
10. Encourage communication and collaboration.
Encourage your SDRs to ask questions and provide space for them to collaborate with other members of the team. During any training or education, it's important that your employees know that no question is a stupid question.
If you make people feel stupid, they'll be less likely to do their best work and you won't create a psychologically safe environment for learning.
Cardenas says, "Chances are if someone has a question, they're not the only one who has it. No matter how silly they feel, I would rather have them ask and gain clarity than NOT ask and make a mistake based on a wrong assumption."
Creating a safe environment isn't only better for your workplace culture, but also for your company's success.
While being an SDR might seem like an individual, independent job, it's actually a team effort.
Cardenas emphasizes that during her training, she makes sure to build a culture of collaboration.
"When I address my entire team or speak with people 1:1, I ask them to share their wins and how they got there," she says. "Whether it's a new question-asking strategy, or a lead view, or a time-management hack that worked for them…. Whatever it is, if they are finding success, my ask is that they share it with the team."
By sharing your wins with your team, your coworkers will be more successful by learning from each other.
Set SDRs Up for Success
Ultimately, when it comes to training your SDR team, you get what you give. You should make every effort to ensure your SDR's success so your company can grow and scale.
Editor's Note: This article was originally published in October, 2020 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.