7 Steps You Can Follow to Build and Scale a Global Sales Development Team

When you’re starting in your business endeavor, there may not be a need to have sales personnel with distinct responsibilities because, hey, what counts is acquiring as many customers as you can. 

But when you want to approach a new market and target audiences who may not have heard about your product or service, you will need dedicated salespeople to handle your outbound sales process. 

Taking your SDR team global

As your product gets recognized in more regions and geographies, having a localized sales team will not cut it. It’s an entirely different ball game.

Hence, it is essential that you expand your sales team by going global and building diverse groups of sales development representatives, or SDRs.

Because think about it, every region has its quirks. You’d ideally want the sharpest people taking up this role because as your business grows, your sales process becomes more intricate and every person in the team would have a distinct role to play.

With an increased inflow of leads, you need different teams to reach out to prospects, qualify the best ones, and push them down the sales funnel

Here are eight steps you can follow to build and scale a global SDR team. 


1. Hiring the right SDR

In any company, recruiting is like a sales process. In the beginning, all you’re worried about is how your business can quickly grow and you can hire more people. 

Get a dedicated recruiter from your HR team or an agency to help choose the right candidate with the right screening process. 

As the leader of the SDR team, hiring is your responsibility

Since you are hiring people from different backgrounds and geographies, building the right Ideal Candidate Profile (ICP) to recruit high-quality candidates is essential.

Identifying the traits of an SDR

A perfect SDR is somebody who has the right attitude, aptitude, and skills to make conversations and book meetings. 

An SDR needs to have the following ideal traits:

  • To build a conversation and make it meaningful by asking the right questions, an SDR needs to be curious.
  • Since a lot of the candidates come from various backgrounds, an SDR needs to have a coachable tendency. 
  • An SDR needs to be able to put their thoughts into words by being eloquent. This trait needs to be there for a clear thought-process to leave a long-lasting impression in the prospect’s mind.
  • A good SDR should manage their time well. This helps them excel in the job and stay organized.
  • An SDR should put their customers in front of the business by being empathetic to the prospect’s needs. It’s great to have an SDR who continually listens to the prospect’s business challenges and suggests working solutions.
  • It is a well-known fact that cold outreach pays off only with persistence because frequently, it can take a lot of attempts before an SDR can get a meaningful response.

SDRs don’t need to have sales experience. They can be doing something far different from sales and still be an excellent SDR. — Aaron Ross, Co-CEO, Predictable Revenue Inc.

For example, for the role of an SDR, you need to look for somebody eager to learn, passionate about work, and always competitive to acquire the right prospect to pass on to the account executives

On the other hand, hiring an SDR manager is different. You need to look for an SDR manager who is a great motivator. This has to be assessed while interviewing the candidate. How do you do this? It’s simple. They have to be a mentor and coach and motivate the team because it is very common to face burnouts in the SDR role. 

2. Tools required to be successful in the role

Some of the most common, everyday tools to be successful in the role are cadence and CRM (customer relationship management) tools. 

An SDR needs to understand how to place the customer’s problems before the company’s products. And since each SDR comes from different backgrounds, there needs to be an SDR Playbook. 

Now, what is it and why do you need to have one?

The SDR Playbook has to be their go-to guide. It needs to contain the ideal customer profile, sales enablement collaterals such as demo guides, battle cards, diverse industry decks, case studies, and use-cases of the product or service. 

The SDR team alone is not involved in the creation of these materials. It requires collaborative efforts across groups. You need to have a team that spans sales, pre-sales, customer success, product marketing, and more to craft a solid playbook. 

The playbook shapes better as you talk to more customers, companies, verticals, industries, and as your product matures. 

While the SDR uses many tools, having a CRM discipline is critical. 

You need to ensure that the right things get captured in the CRM by making certain fields mandatory. Otherwise, it is going to be a case of garbage in and garbage out. — Karthik Rajaram, Global Director of Sales Development, Freshworks

SDRs need to bring in actionable insights from the CRM such as win/loss analysis, campaigns/outreach, and data lists.

Here are some tools that an SDR uses daily:

  • ZoomInfo  — This is used by the SDR to get insights on potential and ideal customers, their roles, contact details, and understand how to get in touch with them.
  • DiscoverOrg  — DiscoverOrg is a data-rich growth engine that provides intel and insights about the organization chart, email addresses, and the direct lines of decision-makers in a company.
  • LinkedIn Sales Navigator  — This tool is used by SDRs to improve their social selling by allowing them to find and build relationships with prospects and sales professionals.
  • Video Prospecting tools  — SDRs use many video prospecting tools such as Vidyard to make sales-themed videos. These are then added to emails, which makes the communications more enriched.

The playbook should also contain detailed instructions on how an SDR can go about using these applications and tools. For example, content specifically tailored for SDRs to use on Sales Navigator or any of the tools should be laid out in the playbook. 

3. Training and Coaching the SDR

An SDR is the face of the company and hence a robust and comprehensive training program is essential for them to hone their skills. 

This program, ideally run over two weeks, should contain:

  • Training sessions by the team lead or manager where all queries an SDR has can be clarified
  • Demo sessions so SDRs can get well-acquainted with the product
  • Sessions on how the sales process works in the company
  • A module on understanding the target audience for the product

At the end of the program, your SDR should be company, prospect, and process ready

By being company-ready, the SDR understands: 

  • Which sector and market your company provides products or services for
  • What the product or service does
  • What problems it solves for the customers
  • Why it is vital in the market 
  • What do existing customers like about the product 

An SDR being prospect-ready implies that they understand:

  • The prospect’s pain points
  • What they need from the product
  • Challenges faced
  • Key metrics they have to keep a check on and their performance indicators 

An SDR is process-ready by understanding:

  • The sales process 
  • The tools required to be successful in the role
  • Common mistakes that most SDRs make and avoiding them 

4. Having a specialized SDR team

An SDR has a higher propensity to follow up on inbound leads and not outbound when given the responsibility of handling both. 

This is why an SDR primarily handles outbound leads  — because tasking the SDR with both the roles is not optimal. 

Here’s a bit of context on what outbounding is.

Outbound SDRs reach out to potential customers who have never engaged with your company’s product or service. This is commonly known as cold prospecting. They work with only the right buyer personas and the ideal customer profiles.

When it comes to outbound cold calling, you should already know your industry and have a persona-based calling script. Understand what persona you’re talking to. When I call somebody, I already know their personas by knowing what to do to provoke their curiosity. – Morgan J. Ingram, Director, J. Morgan Sales Training

While inbound sales prospecting involves nurturing leads who have shown interest in your solution and are already aware of your company, outbound sales prospecting is slightly more complicated.

Dividing this responsibility and hiring different people to perform these functions ensures that marketing leads don’t slip through the cracks, and helps boost a campaign’s effectiveness. 

5. Important metrics to track for an SDR

Before you zone in on the right set of metrics to track for an SDR, you need to ensure they are performing the right tasks and spending less time on content and more time reaching out to prospects. 

There are certain key metrics to track the performance of SDRs: 

For example, divide the tracking metrics into three types, namely, activities, results, and outcomes. 

Activities — This is what the SDR has control over. The activities metrics of the SDR consists of:

  • The number of calls they make
  • The number of emails they craft and send
  • Social reach out through a medium that works well with their business. This can be LinkedIn, Facebook, or even Pinterest if that’s where you find the most engagement. 
  • Number of reach-out attempts they make per lead 

Results — This is critical to the management because it helps identify what is working and what is not. The result metrics to track include:

  • The number of prospects that get pushed to the account executives
  • The number of meetings set up
  • Number of SDR-influenced deal closures 

Outcomes — These are not in the control of the SDR but how well they work can influence their results. These include:

  • The number of quality conversions
  • How many people are accepting connect requests on social
  • Responses to emails that the SDR sends

If there are any downright rejects, then the SDR should be able to understand why and optimize this the next time they reach out to a prospect.

Categorizing metrics in the above manner makes it easy to measure, track and optimize the performance of your SDRs. But then again, the parameters may have varying outcomes depending on the maturity of your team or company. 

6. Setting the right compensation structure

For a role as demanding as that of a sales development representative, crafting the right compensation structure is crucial to keep them motivated. 

It is essential to incentivize them based on parameters they can control, such as the number of meetings scheduled and the number of opportunities passed on to account executives. It should not necessarily be in terms of the number of closures or the ARPU (annual revenue per unit) of the deals closed. 

While rewarding your SDRs, it makes sense to do so based on a three-quota model.

First Quota: Ask what you want the SDRs to do: Do you want them to set up introductory meetings or pass on qualifying opportunities to sales?

Second Quota: Reward them based on the segment, territory, or geography of the prospects they contact. This can range from small businesses to mid-market, enterprise, and strategic accounts. 

Third Quota: You can reward your SDRs based on their specialization, that is, inbound (warm leads) or outbound (cold outreach to various companies). 

Your compensation structure should be simple and easy to understand without any additional parameters. 

Another factor you should take into consideration is rewarding your SDRs more frequently. 

  • Instead of incentivizing them quarterly, you can sanction a monthly pay-out for every overachiever. 
  • On top of the monthly pay-out, you can hold a meeting every quarter where every overachiever is praised for their success. Doing this regularly will help keep the SDRs motivated.

7. Keep a handle on ‘SDR Burnout’ 

Outbounding is one of the hardest sales processes to follow. Consider, for instance, if an SDR has been following up continuously for weeks with a potential prospect to schedule a meeting but is getting no response. Their emails are ignored and they are being put on hold every time they call. In this situation, there is no compromise in the effort that the SDR is putting in  — it’s just how outbounding works! 

While you can sometimes hold your head high and move on with your work, it can sometimes lead to exhaustion and eventually, a “burnout”.

It’s simple to keep a handle on this. The most simple and straightforward way to handle it would be to keep the SDRs aiming higher with the help of rewards and incentives. 

What else can you do?

You can also make sure they keep learning and improving their skills. Here, coaching and mentoring by the team lead becomes crucial. 

It is important to instill in SDRs the fact that failing to set up a meeting or a chat with potential prospects is okay, meaning they should never give up in their endeavor. 

A simple word of assurance like this can take a load off their back and potentially reduce the frequency of these burnouts.

But it is essential not to confuse ‘training’ with ‘coaching’ as both are different. Training involves skill development, gap analysis, and identifying areas of improvement. On the other hand, coaching is more personal and involves taking the reps through the process of self-discovery by asking them thoughtful questions. 

So, you need to spend lots of time coaching the sales development team to ensure they are learning on the job to keep them motivated. 

There is no standardized method you should follow to build and scale your sales development team. But having a plan helps. You can never predict how things unfold. You may notice your SDRs stressed out, not meeting targets, or sometimes being slow to learn. In such situations, it is up to you, as the leader of the team, to ensure they are mentored and coached well and kept satisfied in spite of a few exhaustive days. Because the fact remains that the role of a sales development representative is not that easy.  

According to Karthik Rajaram, Senior Director of Global Sales Development at Freshworks, being well-versed with the CRM is crucial for an SDR. Freshsales is a simple-to-use yet powerful solution built keeping sales teams in mind.


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