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Optimize the organization of your Sales Development Representatives team (Part 1)

In the B2B markets, prospection has clearly become a high-frequency, high-intensity activity. Continuously fueling the pipelines is now a survival imperative and Sales Development Representatives (SDR) teams are at the forefront of these efforts. Aware of these challenges, many companies are required to review the composition and organization of their SDR teams.

Bases on our experience, there are four essential questions to consider:

  1. What is the best team structure?

  2. Which talents to attract and how to retain them?

  3. How to manage productivity and team performance? (discussed in the next article)

  4. What leadership for an effective team? (discussed in the next article)

Team structure

Mix SDR outbound-SDR inbound. The inbound vs. outbound mix is an essential element in the structuration of SDR teams and if the two profiles may seem similar, they differ insofar as the inbound SDR is more oriented on the qualification of leads while the outbound SDR is more of a prospector, a hunter. Most companies rely more on outbound marketing than inbound. Many combine both approaches but still with an over-representation of outbound marketing. Only a few who have average baskets below €50K take a purely inbound approach. The median ratio observed is 2.3 outbound SDRs to 1 inbound SDR.

SDR/Sales Ratio. The balance between number of SDR and number of sales representatives varies with companies specificities (sophistication of their offer, length of the sales cycle, nature of the interactions between sales and their prospects...). Nonetheless, most companies follow a ratio of 1 to 2 SDR per sales representative.

Hierarchical reporting of SDRs. The vast majority of companies choose to have their SDRs report to the sales team to ensure fluidity and consistency between prospecting and sales. However, those who are resolutely oriented towards inbound marketing choose in 50% of the cases to have their SDRs report to the Marketing division.

Face-to-face vs. teleworking. The Covid crisis has significantly increased the use of teleworking and today 2/3 of companies accept that all or part of their SDR teams work remotely against 1/2 before 2020. This trend is expected to increase in the future as a larger number of companies plan to have their entire SDR teams work remotely. At this stage, practices are still heterogeneous and finding the right balance between face-to-face and remote requires in-depth review of digital tools, reporting procedures and KPIS.

Human Resources Management

Years of experience. The SDR sector is a sector in tension and this tension has tended to increase in recent years. To overcome the hiring difficulties, companies have significantly reduced the number of years of experience required from 2.5 years in 2010 to 1.2 in 2020. At the same time, the number of years of seniority in the position has decreased from 2.5 years in 2010 to 1.8 in 2021.

Duration of onboarding. On average, SDRs take 3 months to acclimate to their new offerings, tools and methodologies. This average integration time is remarkably stable over time and regardless of the size of the company. If we compare the current onboarding time to the time spent in the job (1.8 years in 2021), we see that companies only have their SDRs at full productivity for 1.5 years on average.

Career development. Not surprisingly, the vast majority of SDRs are moving into an account manager role and the median number of months to reach this promotion is 17.5.

Qualities sought. Team leaders value 5 priority qualities in an SDR: written and oral communication, optimism, the ability to learn, listening skills and persistence.

Compensation structure. The distribution of remuneration between fixed and variable varies between 60/40 to 70/30. If it is difficult to determine an optimal allocation, it is important that the remuneration structure is clear, easy to calculate and fair.

Building and managing SDR teams has become an exceedingly difficult exercise due to the strain on recruitment, the increase in attrition rates and the expectations of candidates. As onboarding times stay stable and training needs are still as important as ever, recruitment errors have increasing negative effects on the company. Knowing how to select the right profiles is an art and, in our experience, the most successful recruiters are those able to find the right balance between technical skills and intrinsic qualities such as character, attitude and energy.

If you are interested in delving deeper into this topic and learning more about our experiences, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Alexandre Giry-Deloison, founder and CEO of GROW


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