7 lessons we learned after building our first SDR team

how to build an sdr team with bret lehnhof

A business development representative (BDR) or sales development representative (SDR) team sets the first impression of a product to a prospect while growing a pipeline of qualified leads for account executives (AE).

Most organizations don’t add this sales function until noticing a significant uptick in quality leads.

At QuotaPath, we built out our first SDR team this past summer, led by our Director of Demand Generation Bret Lehnhof after our AE team no longer had the bandwidth to follow up with marketing qualified leads (MQLs). 

When building out the team, Bret said we look for people who are confident or “go-getters,” who don’t necessarily come from sales. Maybe they bartended or worked in retail sales, as people who have worked in fast-paced environments tend to do well in sales. For these individuals, joining an SDR team is the perfect entry point into SaaS sales. 

For any team thinking about creating an SDR team, check out what Bret shared after developing QuotaPath’s.

What we learned:

The better the compensation plan, the happier the SDR, and the more they’re willing to work hard to reach quota.

Pro tip: To explore various SDR commission pay examples, check out these five in Compensation Hub.

5. Set clear expectations of the responsibilities of an SDR 

There are a lot of things an SDR has to balance in order to be successful. Bret mentioned that one of the things we look for when recruiting SDRs is people who have demonstrated a go-getter mindset. That’s regardless if they’ve ever had sales experience or not, because if their previous experience reflects this behavior, then they’ll go the extra mile to pursue a prospect. 

“They have to learn how to figure out what the lead is and how it becomes an MQL,” said Bret. “That involves researching Salesforce and HubSpot, diving into LinkedIn, learning about the company, and enrolling them into a Salesloft cadence.”

At QuotaPath, SDRs also identify the lead as an ”ideal customer profile” or ICP. This helps them further qualify a potential lead if they use the ICP guide correctly. 

To ensure your reps feel adequately prepared to perform their roles, always provide them with the full scope of their responsibilities. 

4. Create a realistic and attainable quota 

We brought on our first SDR from our AE team. As a junior AE, this person demonstrated a solid understanding of the outbound sales motion and product and showed a willingness to qualify quality deals. 

She already knew the product and how to sell it, and she was willing to take a step back from her junior AE role to help build out a new function in the sales department and take on a possible future leadership role. 

In her first month, she blew her quota out of the water. 

“You’re not going to have much data or know what’s attainable for an SDR when you get going,” Bret said. “So, start with a quota that seems attainable for the first quarter.” 

After two successful months of having a one-person SDR team, we also just brought on another SDR who started ramping up into the role within a couple of weeks! 

Creating a quota that’s attainable for your team sets the bar for positive outcomes and a team of SDRs who want to continue to have that same level of success. 

3. Have the right tools to maximize productivity 

A lot of SDR teams, including ours, uses Salesloft to manage their outreach cadences. Other popular tools include Outreach and Reply.io.  

“Figuring out what length of an email is most effective is key, as well as understanding the timing of the intervals between outreach touches,” Bret said. “We were pacing them out too widely in the beginning. Now we’ve narrowed it down and reduced some of the gaps in outreach touches and it’s really helped with conversion rates.” 

Additionally, give them a tool that makes it easy for them to track their progress. For instance, our reps leverage our own platform for attainment and commission tracking.

Having the right tool in place will play a role in the success of your SDRs. 

1. How to develop your SDR team in 2023 

For other sales teams planning to build an SDR team in 2023, Bret said to avoid biting off more than you can chew. 

“Start small and test out the SDR function within your organization to make sure it works for you and the business model. Then, scale up as you find success,” Bret said.

He added that it’s important to empower the SDRs to own their own process. Allow them to experiment often and get creative so it’s not so regimented and they won’t get bored. 

Are you preparing to build out your first SDR team in 2023? The process can seem overwhelming, but QuotaPath can help you. For comp plan best practices and SDR compensation examples, visit Compensation Hub

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