Is The SDR Model Broken?

Feb 13, 2020
Author: Aaron Ross

I recently sat down with Collin Cadmus, VP of Sales at Aircall, on a live webinar to discuss an interesting idea: is the SDR model broken? We connected on LinkedIn about this topic, and unlike quota-carrying salespeople, sales development reps don’t focus on closing business. Rather, SDRs focus on moving leads through the pipeline. 

After mastering retail management, Collin entered the world of software sales where he quickly went from being a top salesperson to building and leading large sales organizations. He’s trained over 300 salespeople, generating over $50 Million in recurring revenue, and I wanted to share his expertise with our listeners.

So after turning it over to Collin, we got right into this intriguing idea.

Collin explained that the discussion we were about to have was a “hot topic” for him because it’s something that he’s seen happening over the last five years of his career.

It’s something I talk closely with a lot of my friends who are VPs of Sales, Directors of Sales, development, etc, and I’m seeing a lot of things change in the industry.

Being that the ROI of an SDR and enterprise sales are completely different, he was sure to preface his statement that he was exclusively referring to SMB outbound space with an SDR and maybe a little bit of mid-market; his experience was not within the enterprise space. In other words, he was talking about smaller accounts, transactional sales, products costing less than $1,000 MMR.

Collin’s expertise coupled with Predictable Revenue being the playbook he uses, made for a great discussion. At the onset, Collin said there are people in this space that will say Predictable Revenue’s dead and no longer works. He sees things quite the opposite. In his view, he believes the strategies in Predictable Revenue worked so well that everyone is practicing this theory, which has made it incredibly harder. Literally every SaaS company is following this playbook. The techniques have gotten so popular that tools like SalesLoft and Outreach have been designed specifically to make it easier for people to follow this type of playbook.

And so what has happened, I think is that people have become numb to the cold outreach. Numb to being put into a cadence or a sequence.

Collin went on to say that he believes it has come to the point now that when a buyer gets an email from an SDR they know right away they’re in the SDR’s cadence. They expect to receive another email in two days and a voicemail the next day. This predictability is not the same reaction that people got ten years ago from those types of outreaches. And this predictability has made it harder for the SDR. It doesn’t necessarily mean the model’s broken, it just means we have to get more creative.

Everyone in this space has been talking about personalization customization and we know that we need to be doing more of that.

Standing out from the crowd and away from all the noise, in Collin’s view has changed the role of the SDR. He further explained what changed and why he thinks it’s ultimately leading to what we’re hearing is roughly sixty percent quota for SDRs in the SMB space.

With the SDR role getting harder, you have to get more creative, you have to be better at personalizing or customizing your outreach. The SDRs have to be engaging with people now on Social Media, that’s in mostly everyone’s cadence today. It no longer means making a hundred cold calls and several email blasts to hit the desired result, it’s getting harder and harder for that method to work.

When asked what he thought needed change, he clearly expressed in order for the role to survive, SDRs need to make better money and have more respect.

The role needs to grow. Today if you have four years as an SDR on your resume, I don’t think it’s respected nearly as much as it should be.

Expectations are high and executing is harder than people realize. We’re going to continue watching the data on this evolving subject.

This is just a brief snapshot of our interesting discussion. You can listen to the full webinar on the Predictable Revenue Podcast.