8 Rules for a High-Performance Sales Development Team - Nudge.ai - Relationship Intelligence for Sales

8 Rules for a High-Performance Sales Development Team

By in Sales

Building a high-performance sales team is a challenge for many companies. One of the most crucial parts of the challenge is maximizing the performance of the SDR team. If the SDR team (or BDR team if you choose to call it that) is efficient and generates a steady flow of high-quality meetings, everything else in the funnel works better.

With a strong SDR team, account executives have interesting prospect to turn into opportunities and get plenty of practice with their pitch. Pipeline coverage is healthy as each quarter has more than enough potential deals to make quota. Further down the funnel, more customers are signing up, which means more customer advocates to spread the word and recommend your solution to their peers. It all starts with ensuring that the sales development team is effective and efficient.

Between Nudge.ai and Autoklose, we have seen thousands of sales organizations creating and managing millions of prospect conversations. Out of that experience, and the data we’ve collected on the topic, we’ve pulled together the 8 must-have requirements for having the highest performing business development team you can.


1. Situational awareness should be zero work.

It’s often vital to know if anyone is talking to the account, if you have an ex-customer champion there, or if any of your executives know key people at the account. However, if this information is something your team needs to click, search, and dig to get, it will likely be missed. A target accounts strategy requires having this “situational awareness” information in front of each rep on the BDR team where they live – in CRM, in email, or in their sales automation tool.


2. Don’t scale too quickly.

Many sales managers fall into this trap – they want to build an effective and efficient team, and they want it right now. Scaling too quickly will hinder the growth of your team and business because it’s essential to properly train, onboard, and get your new hires up to speed. Showing them your techniques and tricks of the trade can ultimately help you build a team after your own heart. Another important factor is establishing a solid hiring process, which will allow you to identify the right people for the job and prevent employee turnover thus saving you a lot of time and money.


3. Attitude matters too.

Hard skills are important, but only if they’re paired with equally impressive soft skills. According to Mark Murphy, the author of Hiring for Attitude, 46% of new hires fail within their first 18 months on the job – 89% of the time. The main culprit is their attitude or the lack of thereof. When it comes to sales development, attitude is by far a trait that distinguishes great SDRs from their average peers. When we asked our LinkedIn community what it is that matters most in a sales rep, almost all of them mentioned empathy, determination, persistence, and passion. Skills can be learned, while the right attitude is something that’s much harder to teach. That’s why you should look for these traits early on in the recruitment process, and identify applicants who fit this description.


4. Remove administrative work completely.

Business development reps are all about scale. They are reaching out to hundreds, if not thousands, of prospects each week. If they have to create contacts in your CRM system manually or log activity, every single interaction slows down by seconds or minutes, adding up to hundreds of hours of wasted rep productivity surprisingly quickly. Contact capture and activity logging, should be fully automated to remove this burden from every interaction.


5. Reduce manual work.

In a similar vein, any manual work that is repeated on every outreach should be obsessively focused on and reduced. When research is to be involved in outreach, try to structure it methodically, rather than in an open-ended way. Have reps look for a specific sequence of insights, each of which leads to a specific type of outreach (ie. prospect just had a funding round -> growth-related outreach)


6. Provide high-quality data.

An SDR team which relies on guesswork won’t be able to hit their quota and make a profit for your company. That’s right, you can forget about making decisions based on your gut feeling, as it doesn’t work in sales. So, if you want a high-performing SDR team, you need to fuel them with clean, verified, accurate, and relevant contact information. Such a data-driven approach is particularly important in sales development where tracking and monitoring everything is a must. The Autoklose’s DataUnlimited feature provides access to 30 million clean and verified leads, and together with our new Autoklose Granular Reporting, it gives you and your team a detailed insight into how your campaigns are performing.


7. Optimize by managing the metrics.

When we analyzed 3.1 million sales conversations for our Sales Benchmarks Report, we measured the reality of cold prospecting. To get a response, when responses did occur, outbound reps needed to send an average of 4 emails over 5 weeks. That’s a lot of data. Managing and optimizing against those metrics is valuable, but only possible if you automate the capture of each contact and each activity.


8. Have a competitive comp plan in place.

The first step is getting one thing straight – your SDR plan should revolve around pinpointing what you want your SDRs to do. What this is means is that a great deal of their commission needs to be based on the number of highly qualified demos and meetings they schedule. It’s completely counterproductive to tie their commission to closed/won deals. While these should make up for a certain percentage of their reward, they’re not solely an SDR’s responsibility, and shouldn’t be treated as such. You hire them to lay the groundwork, warm up, and nurture your leads, which will result in demos and meetings that have the real potential to be closed, and prevent your sales reps from wasting their time trying to close unqualified leads. If their efforts result in a meeting or demo which meets your criteria, then an SDR has done their job properly, and it’s up to a sales rep to bring things to a close and win a deal. And we can agree that this last step is completely out of an SDR’s hands. So, understand what you hire your SDRs for and compensate them for those tasks. Don’t expect them to do somebody else’s job.


Teams that create a highly effective and highly efficient outbound prospecting team set their overall revenue organization up for success. To do so, however, requires a leadership focus on relentlessly optimizing the things that matter. Each moment an SDR takes on each outreach is magnified by thousands of repetitions, meaning that it can add up to hundreds of wasted hours. Because of this magnification factor, every fact, contact, or piece of context that the SDR needs should be as close to them as possible.

Co-written by Autoklose

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