Why SDRs Should Set Their Own Targets

When we think of goal setting on a sales team, we think of sales managers setting targets, quotas, and KPIs. Leadership has a corporate goal in mind that is passed down to each team, and targets are determined from there. But according to recent podcast guest Mark Garrett Hayes – if that’s all you’re focusing on as a manager, you’re selling your SDRs short. 


While companies are led from the top down, performance is created from the bottom up. When you bring any individual onto your team, you are creating the building blocks of your organization. If you, as a manager, help people not only fit into their role, but find their purpose, passion, and power, SDRs will work harder and churn less. To go back to the building blocks metaphor: when an SDR is working towards their own internal goal, or their “why”, they become a strong brick, in a strong wall, which holds up the roof of the structure – the corporate goal. 


We usually use qualitative language (ie. strong, quick, profitable), or quantitative language (ie. % of goal, target revenue) to track performance in SDRs. But Mark found that there was something missing. This lead him to start using “quantumative” language when coaching his SDRs. The root of the word comes from the latin word quantus meaning “how great” or “of what degree/worth/price”. This is what makes a goal attractive to your SDRs, and ties them to it emotionally. By focusing on this type of language, your SDRs will understand what tasks they need to accomplish each day to hit a certain target, and how that ties into their personal “why”.


In Mark’s experience, the best SDRs already have their strong why. Your responsibility as a manager is to help them uncover it, and get excited about it. Take Caroline McCrystal from Experian, for example. After working in sales for only 2 years, she won Best Woman and Inside Sales, and Most Distinguished Saleswoman of the Year – beating 1000 nominees from 22 countries across 14 categories at the European Women In Sales Awards 2019. She joined her sales role a quarter down, and with 3 left she outperformed everyone at the company tracking at 148% of goal. Coming from a background in elite sports, Caroline was conditioned to set her own goals and determine her own “why”. According to Mark, this is why she was so successful. 

Whenever Mark works with a new sales team as a coach, the first thing he asks them is “why are you here?”. He wants to know their vision for themselves, and help them make a plan to achieve it. And once he makes this clear, getting the team’s attention is a breeze because they are connecting what they are doing with why they are doing it for themselves. As a manager, if you help your SDRs find and grow their inner why, then leading them is easy.


Managers, ask your SDRs:

  • Why are you here?
  • What makes you come to work every day?
  • What makes you work tirelessly in a role where you will hear “no” more often than “yes”?

Then have your SDRs ask themselves:

  • What will make me feel like I’m achieving self actualization?
  • What’s in it for me?
  • What do I get out of succeeding in this role?


Having SDRs with a strong inner “why” starts with the hiring process. As Mark puts it, “it’s like trying to make something out of nothing if you’re building with the wrong material”. So when you’re hiring – put away the CV. The CV is for HR and is retrospective, it’s what the SDR has done for other people. You want to know who this person is, and what they can do for your team and themselves.

3 interesting things that have come up again and again for Mark that make an SDR good at finding their “why”, and he now looks out for them when hiring.

  1. They have a chip on their shoulder (something to prove)
  2. They have a desire to acquire (materialistic wants)
  3. They have a passion to provide (their goal goes beyond personal gain)

These are things you can’t train in people. But if you look for the right attitude at hiring time, you can develop an SDR’s skill with training, and help them focus on their “why” with coaching.


What if you’ve already got a great team, but you don’t think those SDRs are performing as well as they could be? This is where coaching comes in. Mark, like many others, believes in a strong distinction between training and coaching. Training is a transfer of information and helps an SDR develop the skills needed to achieve their goals. Coaching is a production of transformation, and helps an SDR develop the right mindset. When an SDR is underperforming, it’s because they have become disconnected from their “why”. With 1 on 1 coaching you can help them anchor to their “why”, and then turn up the volume.  


You’re a manager, and you want to give this a go. Here’s how you do it. 

1. Work Goals

These are the first goals to focus on. These are the daily tasks, what an SDR is expected to do in their role. 

2. Growth Goals

Next, make a 100 day plan with your SDR. These goals should push an SDR to acquire more knowledge, develop themselves, and do things outside the official responsibilities of the role.

3. Stretch Goals

Set a long term vision (their “why”) with your SDR, and work backwards to determine what they have to do to get there.

As a manager, the only goals here that you will set are the work goals. But you can help your SDR devise a growth and stretch plan that will really motivate them. 

Here’s a simple acronym Mark uses to help managers co-create a plan with their SDRs.

G – Goal: What is the goal?

R – Reality: What are the impediments/obstacles in the way of achieving this goal?

O – Opportunity: What options/choices do you have to achieve this goal?

W – Responsibility: What will you do to achieve this goal? 


As we learned from the Caroline McCrystal example (148% of target – wow), having an SDR set their own targets based on a strong “why” yields better monetary results for a company. But it has other benefits, too. Managing an SDR who is self-influencing, self-motivating, and self-directing is an absolute pleasure. They are able to get themselves out of sticky situations. They show up to work on time. They put more effort into their work. They are willing to learn and develop themselves as salespeople. They have more thoughtful conversations with cold prospects. They become experts in their field and add value to every conversation. They are less likely to churn. In every way, an SDR who sets their own targets is nicer to work with, a better performer, and easier to lead.

Traditionally, goals for SDRs are set out by their managers – from the top down. There is a corporate goal, and managers work backwards from that goal to set quotas, targets, and KPIs. But this model ignores 1 indisputable fact about sales – performance is created from the bottom up. While the corporate goal will always be an SDR’s benchmark, their personal goal, or their “why”, will help them be selfishly productive, resilient, self-directing, and ultimately help them smash that corporate goal out of the park. So, managers, give Mark’s model a try and see just how much more you can get out of your SDRs if you let them set their own targets.


More on setting up SDR teams for success:

Are you setting up your SDRs for failure?

Build an outbound program right the first time

Keys to effective onboarding and training for SDRs



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