How FLEXE’s Dominic Atkatz gets his new SDRs phone-ready in two-and-a-half weeks

Collin Stewart, CEO

7 November 2018

Being able to hire new team members is a truly great position to be in.

As more talent joins the team, more work gets done, new ideas get out into action, and company culture is elevated. Oh, and hiring probably means your company is doing well, and is looking to continue growing.

Despite the obvious positives, bringing on new team members, regardless of whether you’re hiring seasoned specialists or novice individual contributors, brings with it a host of new challenges. And with sales, in particular, onboarding new team members comes with an added critical element: these people have to get up to speed as quick as possible, and start contributing.

Let’s face it – we work in a demanding industry, with quotas waiting to be hit at every turn. So although it’s a great experience to bring on new sales team members and ensure they’re onboarded thoroughly, they have to start selling as soon as possible.

For Dominic Atkatz, Sales Development Manager at Seattle’s FLEXE, that means ensuring SDR candidates are evaluated for their intelligence, motivation, and hustle.

“Hiring is the first thing, it’s where is all starts,” says Atkatz

“So we really want to see how they prepare, and how they view the process of connecting with the prospect.”

FLEXE’s three-part hiring process

First stage
In this stage, FLEXE tries to understand what motivates their candidates to be in sales.

For example, a question a prospect would have to answer at this stage is: “what do you want to be doing in your 50s?” This gives Atkatz and his team a look into what drives them, and why they think sales is the career to get them to those goals.

Second stage
In this stage, FLEXE tries to understand how deeply a prospect understands their business model, and the space they operate in.
For example, prospects will be asked to identify 7 – 10 accounts that they would reach out as a FLEXE SDR, and why they believe those are good accounts.

Then, the prospect is asked to pitch the FLEXE team on their favourite app (any app). This sound simple, but it is deceptively challenging – prospects are forced to describe how an app helps their lives, and articulate the benefits of a product (just as they would in a demo).

Third stage
In the third stage, the prospect comes in and gives a mock presentation of FLEXE. This stage is to show how comfortable the person in a relatively uncomfortable scenario.

They are presenting to strangers, and the FLEXE team makes sure to challenge them, ask questions, and gauge how the prospect responds.

“This is something that we’re always trying to gauge in the people we want to bring on – how will they respond in uncertain circumstances? When you are on a cold call, and you’re explaining something is entirely new to someone who would rather not take a cold sales call, you have to figure out a way to resonate with them,” says Atkatz.

“So, do some thorough research up front. That’s why we ask them to have 7 – 10 accounts that they think would work for FLEXE. We want to see how they prepare, and how they view the process of connecting with the prospect.”


Engagement during the hiring process

So, FLEXE makes sure they get critical information from their SDR prospects. But that communication should go both ways, adds Atkatz. Sure, FLEXE is going to ask questions, and gauge candidates based on the answers they get back – that’s to be expected.

Atkatz, however, also expects candidates to ask him and his team questions throughout their hiring process. He wants to see how engaged potential hires are.

Prior to the presentation at FLEXE, Atkatz is judging whether the candidate is reaching out and asking questions. Are they trying to understand Flexe? And during the presentation, Atkatz is looking for somebody who will set the landscape of the industry and asks questions. They want to see if you understand the business landscape, and that you care about the prospect, and their pain.

“I think it’s important to lean on me as a resource, but one question I love asking at the end of the presentation is: “how do you think you did?” That tells me whether the person self aware, and whether they can they improve?” says Atkatz.

“I strive to be the best manager I can, but we are always looking for bootstrappers, and people who can make changes, and think on their feet.”

FLEXE’s onboarding

Okay, they got the job – a new group of team members is joining the team, and it’s time to get rolling. What’s next?

This is when FLEXE hands their new hires the company’s onboarding milestones sheet. That document has 3 major milestones, with tasks to complete within each.They typically line up by the first 30 days, 60 days, 90 days. To move on, SDRs have to complete the previous milestone.

The most critical thing the onboarding plan ensures is that it gets people practicing, and gets SDRs on the phone as soon as possible. To start, new FLEXE SDRs get on the phone and manage inbound leads, as well as shadow the ‘Are We A Fit’ calls the other members of the team are having.

FLEXE’s revenue is dominated by outbound, but the questions asked, says Atkatz, are nearly the same in either context. And, for further clarity, FLEXE has developed three critical planks for a successful call:

  • Ask really good questions
  • Tell a story in the form of a client case study
  • Manage expectations

“When they get started on the phone with our inbound leads, they also get a look at our process sheet – the document that helps new SDRs move through the call and determine if they are on the line with good candidates,” says Atkatz.

“The process is a map of the conversation.”

For each of the calls FLEXE’s new SDRs are on, team leads and management review them, as well as how they handle filling out the process sheet mentioned about.

“We review at least 3 – 5 calls that an SDR is on. We want to how they adhere to the note taking template, and whether or not they are asking the right questions,” says Atkatz.

“We review the new candidate calls together – managers and leads – so we ensure that the SDRs are on the right track.”

FLEXE’s note-taking document

FLEXE’S note-taking doc is used to record all the critical data from a call to fully understand the prospect and ensure process. The doc is typically filled out by SDRs, and passed off to AEs. SDRs go pretty deep in the sale process, they are not appointment schedules.

Below are some of the highlights from the doc:

  • What is the state of the business? (What direction is the business going? How have the past few years been?)
  • What are the growth initiatives? (Here they want to ensure the initiatives of the prospect align with the account as a whole. And, they want to understand some corporate directives – are they after lowering transportation costs? Improving logistics services?)
  • What are the business units? Brick and mortar? Pop up stores? B2B wholesale?
  • What is the nature of the supply chain network – points of manufacturing? Points of import? Points of sale?
  • What are the components of variability with the supply chain? Do they sell seasonal products? Do products sell on promotion? Are there frequent new product launches?
  • What are the typical warehousing needs? Any special requirements? Storage needs?

Towards the end of the call, FLEXE wants to learn the options being evaluated, whether it be competition from another vendor, or sticking with the vendor / tech the prospect is already using.

  • Past solutions? What have the used? What has their experience been? How fast / simple was it?
  • C: Where are they in the evaluation process?
  • A: Who signs off?
  • N: What is the initiative / need?
  • T: What’s the timeline around the initiative? Date of decision?

Pre- and post-call research

As mentioned up top, Atkatz, and his team, are interested in the research their SDR prospects produce during the hiring process. And that interest remains when they’re on the job as well.

As such, FLEXE has developed pre- and post-call templates, in order to prepare AEs for call, and ensure any follow up requirements for a prospect don’t fall through the cracks. The pre-call template will highlight what the best value proposition is to focus on for the specific account, as well as any potential deal killers so the AE can prepare their objections. The post-call template, on the other hand, covers the key deliverable for what is expected from Flexe, and from the account.

“For me, one of the things I did to save myself a lot of time was writing everything down. I’m an athlete, and I’ve been the worst on a team, and worked my way up. I couldn’t do that without a process,” says Atkatz.

“So, I wrote everything down in order to start building that process.”

Thanks to Atkatz, now all FLEXE’s SDRs have a process so they can get up and running just weeks after they were hired.

For more Atkatz’s thoughts on onboarding SDRs, check out the rest of his interview on The Predictable Revenue Podcast.

Want to learn more? Check out these 6 Ways to Improve Your SDR Workflow or talk to us today.