Building an SDR team from scratch isn’t easy.

But you can save time, money, and stress by avoiding and learning from these common mistakes:

  1. Coaching SDRs as if they were Account Executives
  2. Giving full freedom to newly hired SDRs
  3. Not doing it yourself first
  4. Thinking you can cheap out and keep it scrappy
  5. An assumption of low pay
  6. Considering that warm leads and hacks are scalable
  7. Not understanding the Current State of the customer
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Mistake #1) Coaching SDRs as if they were Account Executives

When you build a team of sales development reps, one of the most common mistakes is training your SDRs as of they were Account Executives. Not every role on your sales team is created equal. If you hired your SDRs and trained them in the same sense as an AE then you’re in trouble for a couple of reasons.

SDRs listen to the AE give a pitch, see the product in action, and learn most about its features during on-boarding. If this is your onboarding approach, the problem is SDRs will start pitching product features. There is something called “The Curse of Knowledge” which they might encounter if you train them as if they were an AE.

Seeing a product in action, you understand it differently from where you haven’t seen it. Here is a quick video for better understanding:

Try to watch the video again. Can you un-know what song is being played? Hard to do right? This ties into Mistake #1. If your SDR is taught too much about the product, they will not be able to explain it to someone who has never seen it.


Mistake #2) Giving full freedom to newly hired SDR’s

You might be thinking, “Ok no product training, got it. Let’s give them a computer and phone and take off”. Wrong.


giving freedom to new sdrs


Most likely the SDRs you hire are straight out of college and have little business insight. Hiring junior SDR’s and giving them full freedom will result in a disaster. You will be in a lot of trouble if you’re hiring them and telling them to do what they need to do to get meetings, unless everyone that you have hired has a great deal of experience, and is also terrific at what they do. (these types of employees are not only scarce but costly as well).

Giving sales development teams too much freedom can result in creativity, but freedom means responsibility. Unless you’re selling a $20/mo product, keep the “fun” out of it. Have you ever heard of SDRs using emojis? GIFs? You need to give your SDR some direction because a couple months down the road when you realize you’ve spent 100k on a couple SDRs and they have produced nothing, you will ask yourself what happened. You don’t hire a kid straight out of college to pilot for Delta Airlines without training…

If you give full freedom at first, they will have the mindset that they are entitled to do as they please. The challenge that will occur is that when you do try to give direction to your team, they will look at you as if you don’t know better because you didn’t give direction at the front end. This plays into another mistake…maybe you don’t know better.


Mistake #3) Not doing it yourself first

doing it yourself

A lot of people start from the bottom and work there way up. Just because you’re a 40-year-old manager or sales executive doesn’t mean you won’t have to get on the phone and make cold calls. The point I’m trying to make is, it’s important to make sure your SDRs believe that they can’t do their job better than you. The moment they feel like they can execute this part of the sales process better than you, they’ll feel entitled to more and not follow your directions. “What do you mean by more?”

Well, they want more money. They also want to manage themselves, as well as a promotion ASAP. They will want to be AEs. You will lose their respect as a manager if they feel they can train junior SDRs better than you. However, if they view you as someone who can do their job better than themselves, you will have a lot of turnover.


Mistake #4) Thinking you can cheap out and keep it scrappy

If you think you can cheap out on data and tools, think again. You will be dead in the water. Not only will it be difficult to captivate prospects but also because the workflow is so frustrating your reps will quit. Buying the cheapest sales acceleration tools and the cheapest data tools will not work. Your SDRs are going to war trying to engage C-level executives and VPs, and if they are armed with knives going into a gunfight…well, you don’t want this. You’re setting yourself up for failure and your reps will quit. When you build an SDR team think about mistake #3. This leads me on to mistake #5.


Mistake #5) Assumption of low pay

Why else might your SDR quit on you? The obvious. Thinking you can pay little money.


low pay


The SDR job is mentally exhausting. If their base salary does not allow them to buy food and pay rent they will leave. You can’t expect to hire reps cheaply and keep it cheap. Low pay, difficult workflow, and bad data, you would probably quit too…who wouldn’t? You’re paying too little if you don’t think you can afford to live with what your reps make. This ties into the “Do it yourself”. Are you making enough money? How does it feel when you have to make 80 calls a day and you can barely pay rent?


Mistake #6) Thinking that warm leads and hacks are scalable

leads to scale


If you rely on wide “net” strategies like trade show scans and mass-market newsletter emails for scalability, you need to reconsider. There is overlap here. If you think about it, if you are sending two email blasts to your full contact list of 20,000 contacts, you won’t get the 2X the meetings compared to one email blast to the same 20,000 people.

You need to think of a plan to build a pipeline of qualified leads from ice-cold prospects. Scaling will be difficult if you were closing business strictly from using non-focused demand generation, lead sources, and your website in the past.

If you are able to turn companies into “curious about this” from “not-even-looking”, you are catching on to something and you will be able to scale. Although, this means you will have to turn your “Inbound Marketing” into “Outbound Marketing”. You might be wondering what outbound marketing even is, but if you’ve heard of ABM before, this is what some people would call outbound marketing. ABM, in essence, is selecting accounts you want to pursue and have your sales and marketing team hunt them together. Basically replacing your nets for spears.

However, in order to do that you need to understand your customers immensely.


Mistake #7) Not understanding the current state of the customer

not understanding the customer

One of the biggest mistakes in building a sales team is not understanding your customers. Do you know where your customers stand today, and where they want to be?

Take this blog for example. If you have read this far you probably have resonated with this information. I’m not eager to sell you anything, but I am intent on giving you more information and thoughts about how to build an SDR team and improve it. Even if you do not need Inside Sales Solutions, you will walk out with insights on how to improve things, which in my opinion, is worth your time.

You are doing it wrong if your SDRs can not attract curiosity, and your AEs are turning that curiosity into interest.

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