How to Train your SDR Team, According to HubSpot Managers

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October 13th, 2020.
How to Train your SDR Team, According to HubSpot Managers

Do you have a new class of sales development reps starting soon?

If so, you're probably thinking about how to train them and conduct effective coaching. While it might seem like a hassle to spend a lot of time on training, it's crucial to prioritize.

Did you know that most SDRs require 4.1 months to fully ramp? That's why training is so important for your sales team.

Below, let's learn HubSpot sales managers' top tips for training your SDR team. Then, we'll dive into how mock calls can help you with that training.

1. Use a sales training template.

HubSpot sales training template.

Download This Template for Free

Not to state the obvious, but your SDR training should have a clear plan. One way to create a plan is to use a sales training template, so you have all the information and resources a new SDR might need in one place.

This template includes sections on new hire training information, 100 day high-level goals, and a 30/60/90 day plan. You can use it to build out a more detailed and specific onboarding plan for your organization.

Brian Bennett, a sales manager at HubSpot, says, "Plan where you want to go and what you want to achieve, and then work backward. Get your team to do the same. By working backward, you end up breaking your target down into smaller bite-size pieces."

If your training has a comprehensive plan that clearly communicates what you want to achieve, then your team will be better equipped for their role.

2. Set expectations.

As a sales manager, it's important to set expectations for your team. This means letting team members know how often and how you will communicate with them.

Fiorella Cardenas, a sales manager at HubSpot, says, "Make sure your team knows you're checking in, not checking up. Give them clear goals for every day. How many accounts should you source, how many dials should you make, what proportion of your daily activity should be emails vs dials."

Cardenas focuses on setting expectations for every aspect of an SDR's day, from how communication will happen to what they should accomplish.

Additionally, don't forget to set expectations on failure.

"I try to emphasize the fact that they will fail. I expect them to fail, and I expect them to embrace it. Failure is a necessary part of growth. I let all my new reps know that just like them, I will also fail. But I will grow and learn from my mistakes," Cardenas adds. "I also expect them to not internalize their failures. One failure doesn't define you. It's what you do with what you learn from it that will determine the outcome."

3. Build a culture of collaboration.

While being an SDR might seem like an individual, independent job, it's actually a team effort.

Cardenas emphasizes that during her training, she makes sure to build a culture of collaboration.

"When I address my entire team or speak with people 1:1, I ask them to share their wins and how they got there," she says. "Whether it's a new question-asking strategy, or a lead view, or a time-management hack that worked for them…. Whatever it is, if they are finding success, my ask is that they share it with the team."

By sharing your wins with your team, your coworkers will be more successful by learning from each other.

4. No-such-thing-as-a-stupid-question policy.

During any training or education, it's important that your employees know that no question is a stupid question.

If you make people feel stupid, they'll be less likely to do their best work and you won't create a psychologically safe environment for learning.

Cardenas says, "Chances are if someone has a question, they're not the only one who has it. No matter how silly they feel, I would way rather have them ask and gain clarity than NOT ask and make a mistake based on a wrong assumption."

Creating a safe environment isn't only better for your workplace culture, but also for your company's success.

5. Create a template for SDR/Account Executive meetings.

Typically, your SDRs will also be working with account executives (AE). This means that your SDRs will need to have regular one-on-one meetings with their AEs.

For these meetings to be successful, teach reps how to create a template doc for those meetings. For example, this template might go over what to discuss and how to be successful working together.

Cardenas says, "The SDR role is unique in the sense that your Account Executive's success is so closely tied to yours. It is in their best interest to help you be successful. I have my SDR's treat their first 1:1's with their reps as if they were their first prospects. Start with an agenda, share with them why you became an SDR at HubSpot, what are your personal and professional goals, your expectations from your AE."

Cardenas continues, "Ask them about their expectations of you. Aside from booking meetings, what do they expect from you? What do they wish their last SDR did? You want to ‘sell' them into providing you coaching and justify their investment in their time with you using your 1:1's with them to develop skills to help you AND that AE be more successful."

6. Teach your SDR's to be curious.

The best way to be successful as a sales rep is to be curious. Act as a student during your calls by asking questions and focusing on learning from your prospects.

Charles Fiorino, a sales manager at HubSpot, says, "Teach your SDR's to take the role of a curious student rather than a perceived expert. Buyers are far more likely to engage. Your SDRs should show genuine care for the business or prospect they are targeting and ensure that the email messaging or reason for calling is personalized to the point that is clear that the reason and messaging was for that person, and that person only."

By being curious, your SDRs are more likely to treat prospects like people instead of just another phone call. If they're curious about the prospect's unique situation, they'll have more information at their disposal and will have an easier time starting a conversation.

7. Provide actionable feedback.

Ultimately, training is about improving and teaching your SDRs skills they need to succeed in their role.

They can't do this without feedback. Bennett adds, "Be honest. No one wins on a sales team if you're dishonest. Feedback must be actionable, but make it honest. Work with each person to understand how they like their feedback, but make sure the feedback is honest and where possible positive."

It's important that as a manager you can give actionable, honest feedback. This helps set up your SDRs for success.

8. Give your team time.

Training an SDR isn't a one-day thing. Remember that stat from the beginning of this post? Most reps take over 4 months to fully ramp up.

It takes time to train your team. Bennett says, "SDRs need your time, so give it to them. The biggest request I get it time. I don't know everything, that's for sure, but together we can figure things out, come up with plans or find the people who do know the answers. But by giving your team the time they need, you can help get their skill level up faster."

9. Never quit.

Training people isn't an easy task. People learn differently and will find success in different ways. How can you personalize training while also making it a scalable process?

Bennett's advice? Never quit.

He advises, "If you've hired them, there is something there. Find different ways to get the best out of them. It might mean finding different reps for them to work with or different ways of working but keep trying until you can't try anymore."

It might take hard work, but it's important to figure out how your team will work best.

10. Empower your team.

While it's important that your team understands that no questions are stupid, they should also feel empowered to try new things and find the answers themselves if they can.

"Make them find the answers where possible. That way they will remember things more. Sometimes you need to show or do, but most of the time it should be the SDR figuring out things for themselves," Bennett says.

To accomplish this, let your team know that no question is stupid, but you will empower and teach them how to find the right answers.

11. Create a process that works.

Maybe it's just me, but I think systems and processes are what make the world go round.

"The most important thing for anyone in an SDR role is to have a process that works. Keep working with each rep to help them hone their process so that it's bulletproof," Bennett explains. "Some get it day 1, others it's day 101. But keep going, because the process is the key to long-lasting success."

12. Allow your team to own their metrics.

As a sales rep, understanding and tracking your own metrics is an important part of the process. Santiago Gutierrez, another sales manager at HubSpot, says, "Make sure your team understands the value of each of the metrics of their process. Once they get the relevance of their metrics, they'll become more self-aware and autonomous with their own process."

One way to do this is through a sales enablement tool, GetAccept. With this platform, your team will have a sixth sense with live, behavioral tracking.

13. Let your team find their own style.

Sales isn't a one-size-fits-all industry. For a sales rep to be effective, they need to find their own style that's authentic to who they are.

If a sales rep is trying to be someone else, prospects will pick up on that and won't feel like they're talking to a genuine person, most likely costing your team the sale.

That's why Gutierrez says to let each SDR find their own style.

"Give frameworks to your SDRs and then let each person find their own style. Don't force reps to follow your style on the phone, emails, or videos. Instead, share frameworks that can structure their processes while giving them the freedom to find their own sales style," he says.

14. Hire good SDRs.

Before you can get to the training process, sales legend at HubSpot, Dan Tyre, says to hire good SDRs.

"The key to success at any sales position is to have good, motivated people. When I was hiring SDRs for HubSpot, I looked for smarts (street smart or book smart), personal responsibility, coachability, natural curiosity, and organization," Tyre says.

15. Make sure they know there will be up and down days.

Sales isn't an easy industry and it's important that your SDRs know that. In fact, Tyre says to set the expectation in training that there will be good and bad days.

"Some days you eat the big dog (people are excited to talk with you, you sound great, you are setting appointments) and some days the big dog eats you (no matter what you do, you talk with Mr. Grumpy, you forget your key points, there is a little black cloud over your head and it's going to be an uphill climb)," he says.

By setting this expectation, your sales reps will be ready for anything.

16. Build your SDR's team well-rounded business education.

An SDR team needs to have a well-rounded business education. This doesn't mean everyone needs an MBA, but it does mean that you should provide training and education to help them be successful.

Tyre says, "The value of doing an entry-level sales job is experience, learning skills and connecting with senior executives. A good reading, video, and blog program on the essential components of a real-life MBA can help them engage more effectively and push through the difficult times."

Training an SDR team might seem like a daunting task, but it's important that all your reps learn how to be successful on your team.

Another way to do this, besides the excellent advice of HubSpot's sales managers, is through mock calls. Let's learn more about mock calls below.

Mock Call Scenarios

For a mock sales call to be successful, it's important to provide different scenarios that a sales rep might find themselves in. Below, let's discuss the top five mock call scenarios to go over with your SDRs.

1. Cold call.

This type of mock scenario should teach your rep how to introduce themselves to someone they've never had contact with before.

Ultimately, the goal is to help them learn how to make introductions, get to the point, deal with objections, and build rapport quickly.

2. An angry or impatient prospect.

You won't always catch your prospects on their best day. Sometimes they're having a bad day and don't want to talk to a salesperson at all.

With a mock call, you can teach SDRs how to handle an angry or impatient prospect. They'll learn how to get to the point quickly, get the contact information to follow up, and know when to end the conversation.

3. A high-level executive.

It can be intimidating talking to the CEO of an enterprise company. Giving your sales reps practice before heading into this type of conversation will help them gain confidence.

Additionally, this mock call will help your sales reps persuade higher-level executives that you're worth their time and your product can solve their problems.

4. Prospects who aren't a good fit.

Not every prospect is going to be a good fit for your product or service. It's important that sales reps understand how to let a prospect know that this won't work out.

This mock call will help give your SDRs the language and tools they need to navigate conversations with prospects who shouldn't work with your company.

5. The inquisitive prospect.

An important mock call for any SDR is the inquisitive prospect call. This call will focus on how to handle questions and common objections from prospects.

Additionally, the goal of this call will be to position your company as a better solution than your competitors.

During this call, your SDR will learn how to discuss your prospect's pain points and explain how you can help.

So, how do you go about conducting a mock sales call? Let's learn a few tips below.

1. Play it out.

If you're going to do a mock sales call, it's important to play it out to its full extent. The person playing the prospect should go over several scenarios and truly challenge the SDR.

Your trainees should focus and play it out as they would if it was a real sales call. Treating these as real sales calls will help provide more learning opportunities.

2. Be authentic.

A mock sales call won't work if the participants aren't being authentic to the situation. They need to really get in character and be true to what a prospect or salesperson would say in that scenario.

3. Record your mock calls and share with your team.

A great way to provide continued learning opportunities from your mock sales calls is to record them and share them with the team.

This will help your team learn what to say and what not to say in various situations.

4. Provide actionable feedback to your SDRs.

The whole point of this exercise is to provide actionable insights and feedback to your SDRs. After conducting the mock sales call, you need to go over what your employees did well and what they could improve on.

5. Encourage self-critique.

A great way to review a mock sales call is to start with self-critique. You should ask your SDRs questions so they can bring up areas that went well and areas that could've been improved. This will help them evaluate themselves objectively and respond to critical feedback constructively.

Ultimately, when it comes to training your SDR team, you get what you give. You should make every effort to ensure your SDR's success so your company can grow and scale.