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Metrics That Matter: How To Coach SDRs Based On Evidence

As an Account Executive, who ultimately is responsible for managing a pipeline and subsequently a quota, it can sometimes feel like your fate is held in the hands of someone else – in particular an SDR or a few SDRs who are qualifying inbound and outbound leads for you. Naturally, if you are a top-performing rep, you are always doing your own prospecting, but let’s be frank…most of the heavy lifting often falls to the soldiers in the trenches drumming up as many conversations as they possibly can. 

Being an SDR is certainly a tough job (maybe even the toughest) in sales and there are a number of different ways to measure SDR performance. It is important to realize that an SDR that is only smiling and dialing and making their 100 calls a day and a 100 emails most likely isn’t doing enough to get you the meetings you need in order to fill your pipeline with the right kind of opportunities.  With a new generation of highly motivated SDRs coming into the workforce each year, certain claims and coaching tips need to be backed up by evidence in order to keep your SDRs pointed in the right direction and bought into the same set of goals to drive the business forward.

So what’s the best way to work with your SDRs in order to make sure that your fate as a top-performing rep is secured?  In my opinion, it is by following the simple T.A.C.S. Metrics Analysis and coaching your SDRs through its process until they can do it in their sleep. 

T.A.C.S. Metrics Analysis

Let’s break down the T.A.C.S. Metrics Analysis letter by letter.

T is for Targeting

The concept of SDR targeting is two-fold. As an SDR your ability to reach out to prospective accounts in your territory can seem infinite. But as more experienced closers, we know that our company is most successful selling our product or services into particular markets and companies that share similar profiles (be it headcount, technologies used, funding, etc). Therefore, if we are selling auto-parts, we would most likely want our SDRs filling their outbound cadences with auto-repair companies and targeting them, right? The same goes for, say, a company that sells a tool to help developers release code faster and at a higher quality. You would want your SDR to be targeting fast-growing tech companies with a significant internal engineering team. 

The second part of Targeting is related to the personas (or titles) that the SDRs are reaching out to. To use the second company example, the right persona for your SDRs to be reaching out to would most likely be Directors/VPs of Engineering – those folks who your message will likely resonate the most with. Unless your company has a security component, reaching out to a CISO or an IT Manager, might make your message fall on deaf ears, as an example for a wrong target. 

A is for Activity

Every company has its own set of expectations on the amount of calls/emails/LinkedIn connections/etc. that it wants SDRs to meet on a daily basis.  I won’t sit here and tell you what that particular number is for your company, but what is important is that SDR activity is measured on a daily/weekly/monthly basis. It is fairly easy to pick out those SDRs who are motivated to be successful and those who are not based on analyzing these metrics. 

The one thing I always tell SDRs that I work with is that you can directly correlate your output (Qualified Meetings) to your input (Activity). Therefore, the more you put into the machine, the more you will get out ($$$). The one thing that I will say to the managers and sales leaders out there is that the long-term trends are much more impactful to diagnose than the short-term ones.  As I mentioned before…it is the toughest job in sales, and everyone has a bad day or two once in a while.

C is for Content

Ideally, the marketing and sales leaders at your organization have labored intensely over creating the most intriguing and thought-out messaging that will grab your targets attention and compel them to get on the phone with someone at your company.  

Because these cadences are not put together at random, it is important to make sure that they are being used by your SDRs.  So, by looking into something like Salesloft, you should easily be able to see if your SDRs are sending out the correct cadences based on the campaigns they are working on, are they completing all the cadence steps or are they skipping more than they should? 

If an SDR is “going rogue” on their content it should be relatively easy for you to pick up on, but you can only do so by looking into what is being sent out by him/her. 

Quick disclaimer on ‘going rogue’: If done in a thoughtful way by an SDR, going off-script, either in an email or call, can be productive or even innovative. As leaders, we shouldn’t claim that we have it all figured out and if an SDR has an idea, let them try it. If it works, add it to the playbook, if not, give them feedback and point them back to what we know works.

S is for Sales Acumen

Sales Acumen is one of the harder metrics to track as part of the T.A.C.S. analysis, however, if you not only care about your success, but also your SDRs success and growth within your business, it is probably the most important. Sales Acumen in this context is simply defined as – sales knowledge. It’s hard to track and coach on because the only way to analyze what your SDRs are saying or sending to prospects is by listening to them (either live or recorded) or reviewing email responses and then coaching them through feedback. 

Not only is listening to call recordings labor intensive in particular, but it is often outside of the job description of an AE. If we want to take back control of our destiny, putting in the time to listen to our SDRs performances can have a massive impact. As more experienced salespeople in our respective organizations, we are naturally going to pick up on keywords or topics that will indicate whether this is a good target for us to pursue or not.  And since we can’t do everyone’s job for them (although as salespeople we sometimes think we can), it is on us to educate, coach and help the next generation of AEs so they can get better with each repetition and hopefully help us close more deals. 

Conclusion

Sales is a tough job. We are constantly facing rejection, but you and your SDRs are in it together. It is extremely difficult to do this job without keeping SDRs pointed in the right direction and motivated to get to the next level of their careers. However, if you take the time to sit down and analyze how your SDRs are stacking up against the T.A.C.S. metrics, it can help you (and them) get over the hump and be well on your way to a winning year.

Dave is a top performing field rep and sales manager in the technology and application security space in both US and International roles. Follow him here

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