How to Reduce SDR Turnover

how to reduce sdr turnover

Growth Orbit Insights

Sales has always been notorious for high turnover, but so far in 2022, it is three times higher than any other industry according to HubSpot. Because Sales is a necessity for every B2B organization, and Sales Development Representatives [SDRs] are the key to filling the top of the sales funnel, minimizing turnover is critical, but how? Here are a few practical methods on how to reduce SDR turnover.

by Shawn Harrington

Back in my father’s career days, you got a job, worked hard, and were loyal to that company, almost to a fault. My dad never thought about leaving, even when more money was offered or when his position changed to something he didn’t enjoy as much. And for his generation, this was the norm.

Today’s, workforce has performed an about-face on their career approach. People are leaving their positions in record numbers, hoping to find that ‘greener grass’ or a bigger payday. My daily LinkedIn feed is filled with people announcing new positions, and this has been the case for quite some time. While the types of positions vary, there is always at least one new sales role announcement.

So, what are some ways to reduce SDR turnover and retain your sales team employees?

Hire the Right SDRs

With high hiring costs, long ramp times, and the gamble of actual performance, hiring new SDRs is a costly investment. According to some estimates, a bad sales hire costs between 50-75% of the hire’s annual salary. As a result, it is less expensive to retain an SDR than hire, train, and ramp a new one. And, in a post-pandemic world the Great Reshuffle makes it even more challenging to get right and keep sales team turnover down.

First, when recruiting, you must consider the type of sales role for which you are hiring. This may seem like common sense, but far too often hiring managers mistake good salespeople for a quality SDR. Just because someone is a good salesperson does not mean they possess the qualities and abilities to be a good SDR; in fact, it is often just the opposite. Sales representatives typically enjoy giving presentations, nurturing sales, and closing deals. But jumping on the phone and generating leads is often not their forte, and frankly, they just don’t want to do that type of work.

Being a SDR requires a specific acumen, mental toughness, and intellectual curiosity. They are true ‘hunters’ who love the chase and are usually motivated by goal attainment, are optimistic, confident, risk-takers, and can persevere. They must be comfortable with picking up the phone, handling rejection all day, and thinking on their feet. Yes, it’s a tall order, but for the right person, it can be a satisfying and rewarding position.

There is no doubt, finding and hiring SDRs is a challenging task. No matter your experience level, the key is to develop a structured process, learn, and adapt. A structured hiring process creates a better experience, improves efficiencies, and leads to better outcomes.

If you search “how to reduce SDR turnover” you’ll find a mix of tips and suggestions. What I’ve found that works is to build and follow defined processes. Depending upon your business, processes will vary, but there are still some fundamentals to consider:

  • Define your ideal candidate profile Talent acquisition is a form of sales, and one of the first steps in the sales process is defining your ICP. Although you are recruiting SDRs, the traits and characteristics needed to fit your culture, company, and industry will differ. So, your ICP should be unique to your organization.
  • Attract the right applicants – It’s extremely important to accurately describe the position and to be honest that the job requires cold calling and rejection so you do not waste time and resources on candidates that would not be a good fit. Keep in mind that the best candidates are likely gainfully employed and not submitting resumes for your posting. Therefore, think outside the box, use different channels to actively engage candidates.
  • Set the right expectations – Setting the right expectations with candidates is extremely important, especially when it comes to salary and commission incentives. Far too often, companies ‘dangle a carrot’ knowing those numbers are rarely achieved. Once employees realize they cannot reach those financial goals, they often begin looking for another position. Likewise, make certain career paths and timeframes are defined accurately. It’s all about clearly defining the role and its benefits in its entirety, otherwise, the revolving door keeps turning.
  • Interview process – First, screen candidates with an initial phone interview. These candidates will be representing your company on the phone, so you want to make certain they have an aptitude for phone conversations. Next, create a list of standardized questions to use during each step in the interview process. This will help improve efficiencies, ensure candidates are evaluated on a level-playing field, and make the experience better for everyone involved.

After the initial interview, customize next steps to fit your company’s needs. This could include in-person interviews, testing, or role playing.

  • Testing – Today, there are many psychological tests available that are designed to assess a candidate’s makeup. Many companies skip this step because of price or time, but it is a great way to determine if a candidate is truly a good fit and not just ‘selling’ themselves.
  • Role Playing – Joining any competitive sports team requires a tryout; sales roles should as well. SDRs are expected to perform a specific kind of work. So, a properly run roleplay exercise is a critical tool for both the hiring company and the candidate to set expectations while testing the candidates existing skills and willingness to learn.
  • Selection – Just like other steps in your process, your ideal selection technique will differ. Ideally it will align with your company’s other hiring processes and goals.

Train your SDRs for Long Term Success

sales training class“Train People Well Enough So They Can Leave, Treat Them Well Enough, So They Don’t Want To,” Richard Branson, Founder of The Virgin Group. Personally, I’ve always been a fan of his, and I believe this statement carries a lot of meaning for employee turnover in general. Truly, there are two statements in here: (1) training and (2) staff retention. Let’s look at training first…

Sales is a process and by utilizing proven sales methodologies and techniques, you will help ensure your SDRs’ success. Many different sales methodologies exist, and admittedly, some are better than others, but there can be more than one path to success and what works for your organization, may not work for mine. The point is to adopt a few, master them, and train your SDRs until they master them as well.

Adopt standardized processes, train your SDRs on them, and document them clearly so they are referenceable. These will help guide your SDRs, make experiences better, and improve their performance.

About once a month, our Managing Partner walks in and gives me a new book to read. What a great and inexpensive educational opportunity! Encouraging your SDRs to be a ‘student of the game’ and reading about different sales methodologies is one of the best ways to support your teams’ success today and in the future.

There are a vast array of sales books on the market today. These are a few of my favorite sales books include:

Staff Retention Initiatives Help Reduce SDR Turnover

“Take Care of Your Employees and They’ll Take Care of Your Business,” more wise words from Richard Branson. He has been pushing business leaders to embrace flexible working arrangements for years now to improve the work/life balance. Covid finally forced many organizations to take action. The role a SDR performs is via a phone and computer, so it can easily be done successfully in a remote setting. Today, many companies are offering this benefit to their SDR teams, but if you are not, it is time to re-evaluate.

Along these lines is the importance of encouraging vacations. Being a SDR is extremely challenging work and taking a break is essential to improve productivity and promote a happier/healthier work environment.

Professional growth also is important to most SDRs. Some individuals love the chase and want to continue in this role indefinitely, while others see being a SDR as a steppingstone. Either way, it is important that SDRs understand the career paths available. As mentioned earlier, set the proper expectations when hiring a new SDR about future opportunities and the timeframes involved. Misconceptions will lead to frustration and turnover.

Remember, everyone likes an ‘attaboy’ now and then. Create an atmosphere where achievements are recognized, and people know their hard work is appreciated.  Rewarding success can be as simple as giving a shoutout for work well done. I have never met a salesperson [or anyone else for that matter] who does not appreciate monetary recognition or an occasional SPIFF.

Outsourcing - Remove SDR Turnover Issues Altogether

As the pool of potential candidates dwindle, it may be time to consider outsourcing your lead generation efforts. Growth Orbit develops and delivers customized programs with a focus on supplying high quality sales leads. Our methods are different than other lead generation providers because our philosophy is rooted in growing revenue, rather than only setting appointments. We work closely with our clients on effective lead hand-offs as well as more efficient sales performance processes. In other words, it is all about lead quality over lead quantity and closing sales, not just being busy.

The Bottom Line on How to Reduce SDR Turnover

Your employees are your company; so, helping to ensure their success goes hand-in-hand with company success. Help them reach their goals, both personally and financially, and they will reward you with hard work and loyalty.