The Critical “Why” Behind The SDR Role

Collin Stewart, CEO
1 August 2018

Because of the growing demands and often ambitious expectations of the Sales Development Representative job – accounts, contacts, emails, calls, meetings, the list goes on – it would be understandable if sales development leaders focused solely on the day-to-day tactical responsibilities of the role when onboarding new hires.

Those expectations, after all, have to be met.

Despite those very real pressures, however, not taking the time to discuss how the role fits within the larger context of the company is to do it a disservice. Yes, SDRs have to call, email, and book meetings.

But, the gig is more than just that, right? It’s supporting the company – development, customer success, design, you name it – by creating pipeline. Revenue growth, a critical piece at every organization, starts with the SDR.

“What we’ve learned is that when a new SDR starts at Rigor, it’s important to tell them not just the responsibilities of the job, but why they were hired in the first place. I want them to understand what gap they are filling, so they instantly have a sense of purpose,” says Sarah Affleck, Director of Sales Development at Rigor, on a recent edition of The Predictable Revenue Podcast.

“There are pretty significant targets here as an individual contributor [50 net new contacts per day], so I want them to know this isn’t some arbitrary number I’m throwing at them. We’ve created a formula for success – and I want each SDR to understand what went it to it, and why it will make them successful.”

How does Rigor teach the “why?”

Like any good business process, effective onboarding comes from testing different methods and systems, in order to land on a thorough practice that drives results. For example, when Affleck started at Rigor nearly four years ago, the company’s onboarding process was pretty simple: new hires jumped right in and navigated their way to success. Of course, the company’s managers were there to help – it wasn’t entirely sink or swim – but it was hardly a detailed system.

Fast forward to today, and Rigor has developed a detailed onboarding process that not only encompasses training for a new hire’s respective role, but also a holistic look at each department in the company and how each of those parts works in unison to propel Rigor forward.

This is the foundation for the “why” behind their job.

“Everyone learns how their jobs play a critical role art in relation to other positions in the company. An engineer, for example, will learn what an SDR’s metrics are, and what their day to day looks like. It helps build a mutual respect for what everyone does,” says Affleck.

“Bringing someone on and training them on how we work and what we do, how we’re able to impact the customer is the best part of the job.”

Rigor’s onboarding document

To help each new hire visualize their first few weeks, Rigor designed a thorough onboarding document. From initial schedules, to departmental breakdown, to company culture and the different breakout sessions each new hire is to attend – this manual is as comprehensive as it gets.

Below are just a few examples of what’s included in Rigor’s sweeping onboarding doc:

  • First-week overview – this section, designed in calendar format, highlights both the general company and SDR-specific training the new hire will take part in. Thursdays are work from home days for the entire company. During training this can be a chance for an SDR to come in and work one on one with their manager;
  • Rigor’s Core Values – Customer First, Be Genuine, Do The Right Thing, Own Your Work, Use Resources Wisely and Win As a Team;
  • Living By Rigor’s Core Values – how the company empowers its employees to live the core values;
  • Communication options / policies – Slack is the primary internal communication channel. Email, on the other hand, is the primary channel for customer communication. If a team member has their headphones on, use Slack to communicate with them. Lastly, the “best places to find things out at Rogor” is to consult the intranet, Google it!, ask in Slack, and ask manager;
  • Who We Are” – a short breakdown of the C-level team, as well as senior engineers;
  • Company-wide org chart – a breakdown by team, with an explanation of what each team does. For example, sales “converts prospects into long-term customers.”
  • A short breakdown of company mission – why should customers care about website speed? (SEO, online sales, conversion rates, user engagement, operations costs, usability);
  • Highlight of the SDR role – how does an SDR generate leads? Conduct a large volume of outbound sales activity (emails, calls LinkedIn etc.) Work closely with sales reps. Generate interest by being the first point in the sales cycle. Track all activity in Rigor’s CRM. Schedule meetings.

“For SDRs, we have playbooks for everything – cold calls, sales development lifestyle, and shortcuts, to name just a few,” says Affleck.

“But in the overall onboarding doc, we really want to show both how the larger picture comes together, as well what each specific role does. For example, sales development is a critical role in sales, and we want to make sure we describe why that is, and share that with the rest of the company too.”

Onboarding impact

In addition to giving new hires (and every Rigor employee, for that matter) a detailed look at their specific job, and a fulsome picture of how every department in the company works together, Affleck says the Rigor’s onboarding process also provides employees with one other benefit: inspiration.

For example, with Affleck’s team of SDRs, the onboarding process clearly defines their tech stack, their activity metrics, and their quotas. But, it also illustrates what those numbers mean to the growth of the company. SDRs perform a very important function, and at Rigor they are made aware of that from the moment they start.

“I think the biggest impact is that A players are willing to run as fast as they can towards the goal, but they need to know where the goal posts are. So, if you can set those expectations, you are setting those people up for success, as well setting yourself up,” says Affleck.

“As a whole, it has created overall job satisfaction. Most people want to be successful, but can only reach their highest potential when they are enabled to do so.”

For more on Rigor’s onboarding philosophy, as well as Affleck’s sales development leadership methods (including how she manages her team’s activity metrics), check out her full interview on a recent edition of The Predictable Revenue Podcast.



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