Why SnackNation’s Kevin Dorsey Wants To Formalize The Role Of The Prospector

Collin Stewart, CEO

20 July 2017

It’s a peculiar, and seemingly unique, aspect of the sales industry: the critical role in charge of keeping the sales funnel full of leads and, hopefully, opportunities is almost always given to the most junior person on a given team.

In fact, as most readers and listeners of Predictable Revenue already know, most Sales Development Reps often have no sales experience at all. They start off prospecting, qualifying and booking meetings to get a feel for how the sales process works, but as soon as they get the hang of it and show some real promise, they quickly move to Account Executive roles. The lure of better commission is strong.

Of course, the role vacated by the promoted SDR is filled by another new grad or inexperienced salesperson. And on and on it goes.

But, why are we, as an industry, not doing more to formalize and elevate this fundamental position? Why are we entrusting the most important part of the sales process – the pipeline! – to teammates that have little to no experience and, as soon as the time is right, pounce on other sales positions?

Well, if it were up Kevin Dorsey, Head of Sales at Los Angeles’ SnackNation, we wouldn’t be. We would, collectively, be empowering the role and status of the SDR across every organization instead.

“We are the only industry responsible for teaching the in’s and outs of the profession on the job.  There is very little in the way of formal education. One of my big life goals is to create a sales school/boot camp environment to prime individuals for the sales world. It would have real world training, real calls, real emails, with mandatory readings, call reviews and so on,” says Dorsey, in a recent edition of The Predictable Revenue podcast.

“Companies are putting the top of their funnel into the hands of someone who hasn’t been selling for more than a year and the best ones are quickly promoted out of the role. Who is generally hired as an SDR? People with the least amount of experience, both in selling and in the respective industry or product.”

And, thus far, Dorsey is putting his money where his mouth is.

In a well-regarded series of LinkedIn posts titled “The Sales Industry is Backwards Part 1 and 2”, Dorsey lays out his plans for more established SDR training. Two important results from SDR training, according to Dorsey: more talented job applicants, as well as less on-the-job training and more on-the-job educating.

“Just imagine how many more talented sales people we’d have if they were getting taught BEFORE they got into the job,” writes Dorsey, in his posts.

“Imagine how much faster companies could grow in their SDR teams came in already knowing best practices on prospecting, cold calling, social selling etc. That’s the world I want to live in, and someday we can make it happen!”

So, how is Dorsey incorporating these beliefs into his role at SnackNation?

For one, the company has instituted company-wide, weekly “Sensei Sessions” dedicated to professional development. These talks span everything from time management to goal setting. On the sales side, managers have been given strict training quotas – they are responsible for scoring two calls, hosting one live call review and one shadow session per SDR, per week.

These are regular coaching opportunities, says Dorsey. It’s a time to look at what’s working, what’s not and how to better communicate with prospects.

And, the results speak for themselves. SnackNation grew revenue 11x in one year under Dorsey’s sales leadership and expanded the team from 3 to more than 50 reps in two years.

Maybe Dorsey should start thinking about teaching sales himself.

For more on Kevin Dorsey’s training and inspirational ideas, check out his recent edition of The Predictable Revenue Podcast.

And, for a look at Dorsey’s writing, check out his sales posts here and here.