Looking to grow your sales team? Hiring sales development representatives (SDRs) is one of the fastest ways to grow your pipeline; SDRs generate new opportunities for your account executives (AEs) to close, allowing every member of the sales team to concentrate on what they do best.
Many companies make the mistake of rushing through training to get their reps ramped faster, but it takes time to properly prepare new SDRs for the role. A great onboarding process can make or break the success of your sales development team.
This post breaks down the five key steps every SDR onboarding process needs to include.
1. Start with clear expectations
Communication is critical, especially during the SDR onboarding process. New hires should know exactly what to expect each step of the way. Let them know in advance what you’ll cover in each day or week’s training so they can prepare ahead of time.
At the start of the onboarding process, provide a roadmap for the rep’s first few months (and beyond). Outline the essential milestones, key objectives, and potential opportunities for future growth at the company. This sets the tone from day one that you’re committed to their long-term growth.
You may also want to consider hosting a weekly recap meeting or Q&A session for the newest members of your sales team. It’s likely the person running the SDR onboarding process has years of experience in the role–but what seems obvious to a manager may not be obvious to new hires.
Ask for feedback from your sales team regularly and encourage them to ask questions as they come up. Not only will this lead to a smoother SDR onboarding process, but it also promotes a culture of open communication and teamwork.
2. Introduction to the company
After giving an overview of what the SDR onboarding process looks like, you can then dive into the training itself. First up, new hires need to get to know your company.
Start with the most essential information your sales development team needs to do their job: your company’s products/services, ideal customer profile (ICP), buyer personas, target market, competitors, stakeholders in the buying process, pricing, etc.
Background information on the company itself can also help build employee loyalty. For example, sharing the founder’s story, company values, and mission.
Lastly, remember to familiarize new SDRs with the overall business objectives. Sales development goals should be tied directly to these larger objectives, and seeing the “big picture” can help reps understand where they fit into the company as a whole–and therefore see the value in their everyday work.
3. Sales development skills
Next, it’s time to dive deep into sales development and the SDR role specifically. This is where reps will learn the core skillset they need to perform their daily tasks, including email outreach, cold calling, and lead qualification.
Start by introducing new hires to your sales playbook–including call scripts, email templates, and any tools or software they’ll need to do their job. If you don’t have a playbook or clear processes in place, reach out here to book a free call. Our sales development coaches can help you create a custom playbook from scratch.
During this phase of the SDR onboarding process, you may also want to include an overview of the sales team structure, the responsibilities of each role, and who the SDR can go to for help when they have questions.
4. Build their resilience
Once your new hires have been through the first few phases of the SDR onboarding process, it’s time for them to gain some real-life experience. It takes an average of 18 calls to connect with a buyer, and the sooner new reps become comfortable with rejection, the better.
One way to gain practice is through role-playing exercises. An even better option is to have new SDRs put their skills into action and start performing outreach to real prospects. They may not perform well right away, but that’s okay–the goal is to learn and build experience.
At the end of the week, sit down with each rep and listen to their call recordings or provide feedback on their cold emails. Be sure to point out what they did well, not just what needs improvement. Remind them that rejection is completely normal and that their skills will improve with time.
5. Reinforce what they’ve learned with sales coaching
SDR onboarding doesn’t end after the initial hiring process. To make the most of the training your reps have just gone through, you need a sales coaching strategy to hold them accountable. Without reinforcement, they’ll forget 84% of what they’ve learned within 90 days.
Think of sales coaching as an extension of your SDR onboarding process. The goal of your onboarding process is to equip all new hires with the skills and knowledge they need to succeed in the role–sales coaching helps them maintain that success long-term by focusing on individual growth and long-term behavior change.
Aside from hiring a designated sales coach, you can also organize peer-to-peer mentorships between new and experienced SDRs or involve your AEs. Bringing AEs into the SDR onboarding process helps build strong relationships between members of the sales team, encouraging open communication and mutual accountability.
Final thoughts on onboarding your sales team
Investing in your SDR onboarding process is an investment in the future of your company. Take the time to do it properly, and you’ll be rewarded with long-term employee loyalty and a top-performing sales team.