3 Steps To a Successful SDR Hire

Sales Hiring: Steps to Successful SDR Hire

Hiring a sales development rep is no easy task, particularly because they typically only have 1-2 years of work experience, or perhaps in a tight employee market, you may be hiring someone right out of college. So how do you ensure that they will be successful in the position if they don’t have the work experience or references to ensure they are the right fit? Here are some simple steps to make sure your SDR hire is a successful one:

  1. Have a Sales Process

If you don’t have a sales process in place, you need to get one. Quick. Otherwise you’re going to put the entire outbound top-of-the-funnel process into the hands of an inexperienced salesperson.

It doesn’t have to be perfect, but you should at least have steps that you know will be successful in getting to a sale. For example, if your SDR is going to be calling, here is a sample script:


Hi {First Name},

I’m {name} calling from {Company}. How are you doing?


I’m calling specifically to demo our eCommerce product SaleMove, do you have a second so I can explain it?

Sure (If lead says no/ too busy/ send me an email… follow Scenario 2)

We tell you when a customer hits a certain dollar amount in their shopping cart, it allows  you to proactively begin reaching out to them. We’ve seen conversions go up by 66% by doing this. I’d like to show you this in a 15 minute demo. Are you available next Tuesday at 4pm?

 In 600 test calls, you found that this script generated a 10% booking rate (meetings you booked) and a 90% demo completion rate (leads you actually attended the demo). From the completed demos, you secured one sale. This process creates, at least, some level of proof of concept.   

You can make this process as in-depth as you like. Here at SaleMove, we have a 25-page outbound calling script with scenarios and workflows. The more in-depth, the more likely the success!

Note: this is just an example workflow

  1. Understand Successful Traits

Because an SDR has no real experience, you have to look for some personality traits that will help get them quickly up-to-speed and traits that demonstrate they will consistently make your sales process better. Once you have identified the traits, come up with ways in which you can test them.

Coachability – This is extremely important in anticipating how quickly the rep will be able to learn your sales process and apply it. Former athletes are an example of a very coachable candidate. However, the candidate doesn’t have to necessarily be an athlete to be coachable.

You can test coachability by asking the prospect employee to pitch you on your product and then ask them how they rate themselves. If they rate themselves a 9 or a 10, beware, they probably are too proud to admit when they do not know what they are doing. If they rate themselves a 7 or lower, ask them for feedback. Was it reflective and analytical? If so, they are most likely a candidate who would be willing to receive feedback and constructive criticism.

Above and beyond – Beyond just learning your sales process, they need to be able to consistently improve the sales process. Do you want a rep that simply takes a script and recites it? No, you want a rep that is willing to try new things to get more leads and more sales. Look for things in their resume that show that they went above and beyond – e.g. state champion in wrestling, a paper in college that won awards. Some may not have this on their resume, so you could ask them for a time where they believe they truly went above and beyond. Good candidates will provide you an inspirational story.

Curiosity – There is no better salesperson than one who consistently wants to learn more and perfect their craft. Testing curiosity is a great way to understand whether your rep is going to be willing to work extra hours outside of their workday. Asking how often they partake in sales continuing education will get them to open up on what kinds of activities they partake in. Most candidates will tell you they read articles, so if they mention they read, ask how often and what their most recent sales/business book was.

  1. Develop a Scorecard

As Mark Roberge, SVP Sales of Hubspot, brilliantly noted in his book The Sales Acceleration Formula, the way to develop a predictable hiring process is by hiring everyone the same way.

The best way to hire everyone the same way is by asking the same questions and numerically weighing them. Developing a scorecard has been a fantastic way to disqualify candidates who I would normally be on the fence about. After all, numbers don’t lie! For this exercise, open an Excel spreadsheet, and create six columns:

Column 1 – Take your traits from Step 2 and list them here

Column 2 – List your question or series of questions that will help point to a score

Column 3 – On a  scale of 1-10, score the answer the candidate gave here

Column 4 – On a scale of 1-10, list how important this particular trait is; for the example below, the candidate’s strengths and prior success are weighted stronger than his/her preparation for the interview

Column 5 – Displays their weighted score, the weighted score is column 3 divided by column 4

Column 6 – Maximum score is column 4 multiplied by ten (hence your maximum score)

In order to get a final score, simply divide the sum of your weighted score by the maximum score.

Here is an example phone screen assessment scorecard. Note your business will most likely require a different scorecard:

Screen Shot 2015-10-22 at 8.36.23 PM
Hiring an SDR is no simple task, but with these three steps, you will be on your way to maximizing your chance for success!

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    • Good article Sean. Your advice is right on. Having a highly structured interview process can give companies a competitive advantage in the same way that a highly structured sales process can ensure growth. There are actually ways to automate the process of selecting traits, assigning interview questions and completing a scorecard. No need for spreadsheets. Shameless plug — one of these ways is via a tool that we built at HireBar. We work with startups to F500 companies to help them improve their interview results.

    • Love the article. I use SDR interchangeable with Inside Sales Rep. Your point on needing to settle for very little experience is spot on. I look to hire for cultural fit, skills sets, general business knowledge (ROI, RFP’s etc.) in that order. Products can be taught easily.

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