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Your SDR Manager questions answered

You’ve probably read my articles or heard me talk about the value of SDR Managers. But, how does it work in reality? In this article, I answer some of the questions I’m regularly asked about SDR Managers. Let’s go.

What should an SDR Manager be responsible for?

The SDR Manager should own and drive the 4S framework as it relates to the SDR team:

  • Skills – Focusing on hiring, onboarding and continuous learning, the SDR Manager should ensure the team has all the attributes they need to success
  • Structure – The SDR Manager ensures that the day to day process of the team is unified, the team are aligned to goals and the wider organisation and metrics and KPIs are clear and attainable. 
  • Strategy – The SDR will ensure the team runs the right cadences, looking for ways to improve at all times
  • Systems – Do the SDRs have the right tech to maximise the time they spend with prospects?

With so much to think about, the SDR Manager role is an exceptionally nuanced and complex one.

What traits should an SDR Manager have?

Your SDR Manager doesn’t need to have been a manager before. Management skills can be taught. However, they should have the traits that make SDRs successful, like grit, resilience and EQ. Here are some more things I like to see in SDR Managers.

  • Coaching style – An SDR Manager should help their team members find the answer
  • Part of the team – They lead from the front and are not afraid to roll up their sleeves and pick up the phone. For that reason, it helps if they’ve been an SDR before.
  • Communication skills and transparency – They should be able to offer open and honest feedback to motivate
  • Adaptable and analytical – They should practice situational leadership, knowing that their team members will likely be low competence and high commitment
  • Data-driven – They should be able to track efficiency ratios, run A/B tests and adjust their strategy based on the results

Should your SDR Manager be a former SDR?

In my experience, the best SDR Managers were once SDRs themselves. But don’t take my word for it! HubSpot surveyed a group of SDRs and 90% of respondents said they wanted their managers to have been an SDR in the past.

You wouldn’t want someone to teach you to speak a new language unless they were fluent themselves. 

Why do SDRs need so much management?

The average tenure for an SDR is 15 months. Some people believe that reps are fully ramped in 2 weeks, but that is not the case. It takes at least 12 months of continuous learning to get an SDR fully up to speed.

To get the most out of an SDR, you need a dedicated manager giving them coaching, day-to-day management and analysing their metrics.

What if you don’t have an SDR Manager?

If you don’t have an SDR Manager, your SDRs will probably report to your VP of Sales. There are so many downsides to this:

  • It’s hard for young SDRs in their first job to be visible to a VP with so much else to do every day
  • VPs won’t have the time or bandwidth to give SDRs the coaching they need
  • Accountability and process – Does the VP have the time to make sure each SDR is sticking to the company process?

What do some organisations get wrong when they hire SDR Managers?

Here are some things I often see from companies that don’t find success with SDR Managers. When you hire one, try to avoid them:

  • Not training their SDR Managers
  • Not giving them enough help or coaching to be better
  • Giving them too many reps to look after
  • Not giving them a mission statement to crystallise what they’re there to do
  • Not investing in quality training for the SDR team, then firing the SDR Manager when something goes wrong

What are the quick wins an SDR Manager can focus on early in the role?

Here are some things your new SDR Manager can work on early and find some success:

  • Compiling the playbook – Make sure you keep it fluid. It should be a living document that you’re continuously looking to improve
  • Focus on metrics – Look at the metrics that incentivise your team and drive the right behaviours
  • Vision – Think of how your SDR team would be in a perfect world, then work backwards on how to get there. What more do you need to succeed?

What challenges will your SDR Manager face?

It won’t be all plain sailing for your SDR Manager. Here are some difficulties they may face early on. 

It may be challenging to get internal stakeholders to buy into the value of the role. They may wonder what they’re doing there and what they bring to the table. Focusing on quick wins early on should help win over the doubters while they work on a longer-term strategy.

There will also be problems if your organisation has the budget to hire an SDR Manager, but no budget to train them, develop the team or invest in systems. Sales development success comes when you get all 4 S’s in alignment, not just 2 or 3.

 

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