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The lifeblood of a company - Richard Harris from Sales Hacker couldn’t have been more right when describing the value of an SDR. An organization can be an incredibly well-designed machine with a clear path to the moon, but if that high-performance engine has low-quality fuel the rocketship will never lift off the ground. Period!
As an SDR manager, my job is to ensure we successfully make that happen, by finding and retaining the best SDR talent. Today’s post highlights what Outreach has discovered to be the best characteristics to look for and how to identify them.
There are four foundational characteristics of a top-level SDR.
There’s no way to skirt around this skill if an SDR cannot communicate they’re in the wrong place. Some estimate there is only seven seconds to capture a lead’s attention or they are gone. SDRs open the first true line of dialogue and need to be masters of capturing someone's attention right out of the gate. A quality SDR is one who knows how to make a great first impression.
Hiring tip: Look for someone who comes ready to sell. Ask the candidate to sell whatever their current product is. As the interviewer, if you finish the interview feeling unsure about the candidate, you’ve already found your answer. If they can’t sell their current product and close you on themselves, then they aren’t the right fit for your company.
They have a borderline crazed fixation on otherworldly goals. The best SDRs don’t ask questions about quota, they set benchmarks that are 2-3X the norm and develop their path to achieving those results. No objection is too difficult to overcome, skill too difficult to master, or mountain too large to climb because the best SDRs set their destination and then they march.
Hiring tip: Always open the floor for questions. One of the first questions a driven SDR will ask is about expectations. If the candidate immediately starts making calculations and then sells you on how those expectations will be exceeded, then you’ve found an SDR with the drive. You’ll know the difference between someone with no experience who just throws numbers around, and one who has been there before and can speak from experience on how and why expectations will be exceeded.
3) Competitive Ambition
Being Competitive is the desire to perpetually be the winner. Being ambitious is the desire to be the best you can be regardless of the competition. The best SDRs use both of those traits to drive toward their goals. It isn’t enough for a top-tier SDR to just be the best they can be, or to merely overcome their competition - it’s both. They want to fundamentally maneuver in a completely different stratosphere from their competition.
Hiring tip: This one is bold. No matter how well the candidate is doing, tell them that you aren’t feeling it. If they fight back - you’ve just found a true competitor. I can guarantee this SDR won’t hang up the phone after the first objection.
This may be the most lethal weapon of a world-class SDR. Curious SDRs have a genuine desire to learn how to hone their craft because the process itself excites them. These are the ones that are going to continually find faster and smarter ways of doing things, which keeps them immune from just going through the motions. Be careful though - as these are the ones that sometimes push buttons that ought not be pushed! (But be honest, that’s partly why you love them!)
Hiring tip: At a minimum, the SDR should have done their homework ahead of time by knowing who your competitors are, how your company is different, and what market the company is in. You’ll know you have a candidate with curiosity when you have to cut off their questions to move to the next phase of the interview.
At Outreach, we look for SDRs with drive, competitive ambition, and curiosity, but we don’t even start looking for those traits unless they can communicate effectively right out of the gate.
What do you look for when hiring? I'd love to hear your feedback on social!