How to Train an SDR Who Takes No Prisoners

By Tom Earnest on Jun 16, 2021

Instructor at a whiteboard conducting SDR training in front of people with hands raisedYou may be debating between hiring a sales development representative (SDR) or outsourcing professional SDR services. Which choice will bring you more business? Which will give you the best ROI? One of your major considerations should be the complexities and expense of SDR training.

It’s an SDR’s job to prospect, to reach out to business decision-makers and book appointments with an “expert” who then tries to close business. This expert might be the business owner, a sales rep or anyone whose job it is to ultimately close. A good SDR is worth their weight in gold, because they save a closer a vast amount of time by sending them quality appointments. In other words, SDRs are the lifeblood of many successful businesses.

If you have ever prospected yourself, you know that prospecting is far from easy. Hubspot’s 2021 Sales Enablement Report says that over 40% of salespeople say it’s the hardest part of the sales process (followed by closing at 36% and qualifying at 22%). That’s why SDRs need extensive training in order to succeed.

SDR training is a detailed process that should be followed up with ongoing coaching and oversight. We can only touch on the high points here.

Focusing: The first step in SDR Training  

Succeeding as an SDR is not just a matter of good sales techniques. They need foundational training in order to set their own expectations and focus.

Keeping the Goal in Mind

A trainer must be clear about the SDR’s role. An SDR should know enough about the company they represent to sound knowledgeable without talking about products and services so much that they slip into trying to close the sale. Closing the sale is the job of the salesperson or other expert performs on their calls. The primary duty of an SDR is to book that next call with the expert who will close.

Expecting Some Rejection

SDRs need to get used to hearing “No” more than “Yes.”  According to a 2011 study by Baylor University’s Keller Center for Research, it takes eight cold calls just to reach the right prospect.

The same study found that the average salesperson generates approximately one appointment from every 209 cold calls. Umbrella SDRs have a higher success rate than that, but it’s still a lot of work.

Some people simply aren’t made for this kind of rejection. But good SDR training can help steel promising SDRs against rejection so they can get the job done day after day, month after month. Training should inform an SDR about the amount of rejection they will face and how to handle it. One of the best ways to prepare an SDR for rejection is by extensive role-playing. More on that in a moment.

Client Orientation

SDRs without good training tend to focus internally on products and services rather than the prospect’s needs. This is a client turn-off. According to a recent Salesforce study, 80% of customers now consider the experience a company provides to be as important as its products and services.

That’s why the best SDRs focus externally on the client and what they need rather than internally on the business they represent. This is rapport-based selling. Remember that when an SDR talks to a prospect and sets you up for a meeting, they are already setting the tone.

Practicing Again and Again During SDR Training

Mock calls and extensive role-playing are a big part of good SDR training. SDR’s need to practice every aspect of their jobs including

  • Following call scripts
  • Getting past the gate-keeper to talk to the decision-maker
  • Setting the tone
  • Gathering critical information
  • Gauging interest
  • Rebutting objections
  • Getting the appointment
  • Using efficiency and organizational technology

Let’s go into a little more detail on some of these.

Scheduling Appointments with a Decision-Maker

SDR training must include getting past gate-keepers to speak with decision-makers.  They can’t settle for talking with or scheduling an appointment with anyone who is not a decision-maker.  Who that person is may vary according to the product or service being sold and the hierarchy of the prospect company. Usually, they are the owner, president, CEO, CFO or head of marketing such as the CMO, VP of marketing or in some cases a marketing director. Occasionally, it’s appropriate for the SDR to consider exceptions to those titles (such as manager or business partner), but only if the person EXPLICITLY confirms that they are a decision-maker. Good training enables an SDR to make that call.

Setting the Tone

 A call with an SDR is usually the first human interaction a prospect has with a company. It only takes most prospects 60 seconds to make a judgment. That’s why it’s important an SDR is trained to give the impression that they are professional, competent, friendly and helpful. The SDR should leave the prospect looking forward to their next meeting, the one with the “expert.”

Gathering Information

Part of the SDR’s job includes vetting the company and gathering information that the “expert” can use on their appointment.  The SDR should be trained to always complete a list of information to pass forward. This is another skill the SDR should practice in training. Once on the job, a quality auditing manager should check this list before giving the appointment a green light.

Gauging Interest

The SDR should be trained to gauge the prospect’s interest so the closer doesn’t waste their time on an appointment with little chance of success. For example, if the decision-maker strongly insists that they are not willing to spend anything on the service or product being offered, there is little point in booking the appointment.

Following a Script and Rebutting Objections

 If a prospect has an objection, they are not going to listen to anything more the SDR has to say about benefits until that objection is answered. An SDR should be given not only a basic call script, but also scripts for handling common objections. Some of these objections would include

  • Contentment with current SDR services
  • Lack of interest,
  • Lack of budget
  • no plans or desires to expand

SDR training should condition SDRs to be able to recite these scripts in their sleep. But in addition to that, the trainer should throw some curveballs to the SDR so they can practice remaining calm and thinking on their feet.

Maximizing the Effectiveness of Technology

It’s not enough today to just give an SDR a list of leads and sit them in front of a phone. An SDR’s job is high-pressure, and it required efficient organization and the proper tools. Learning about those tools and becoming fluent in their use is an important part of SDR training. This includes technology and software for

  • Dialing campaigns
  • Time tracking and management
  • Client management
  • Team communication
  • Script organization
  • Email Campaigns
  • Reporting
  • More

Providing After-Training Support

Supporting the SDR with a Team

We have already mentioned coaching and quality auditing in this article. It’s not enough to just hold SDR training once if you expect them to overachieve. They should have a complete support team including

  • A coach to provide continued training and provide feedback so the SDR can constantly improve
  • A quality audit manager who listens to recordings of SDR calls, approves booked appointments and identifies areas that can be improved by coaching, upskill training, workshops or refreshers

 Enabling Self-Improvement

Provide your SDR with an extensive library of written, audio and video resources so they can seek additional improvement on their own.

 You Don’t Need to Do It Alone

Training an SDR and giving them what they need to achieve ever more success is a complex process that requires significant time and money. It’s not for the faint of heart. Setting an SDR to work without proper training will only cost you money and burn leads. We at Umbrella invite you to schedule a free, no-obligation call with us to discuss our professional, turn-key SDR service. Immediately start getting a flood of high-quality appointments while freeing your time to focus more on your clients.

Book a Free, No-Obligation Call


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