Sales Development 101: How can I tell when an SDR is struggling? (Part 3)

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You’ve hired a team of talented SDRs, and now it’s time for them to start raking in promising leads for your business. It’s up to you to offer the right training to prepare them for the job, set them on the path to success, and then monitor their progress as they begin to work.

You’ll see very quickly that some reps will immediately thrive on your team and others will begin to fall behind. How quickly do you need to step in and intervene when an individual rep on your team isn’t on track to meet their goals? In Part 3 of our series on Sales Development 101, InsightSquared and sales prospecting expert Kyle Porter, CEO of SalesLoft, together offer best practices on building a powerful and successful SDR team, including how to coach reps who are struggling on your newest team.

Track Performance Metrics

[blockquote align=”left” cite=”Kyle Porter”]You absolutely must measure the sales activities that lead to the performance.(Tweet This)[/blockquote]

Many companies only measure the end results of their sales efforts, and forget to consider what’s happening at the beginning and middle of the sales cycle. You have to understand not just whether your team hit their goals or missed them, but why they did so. The best sales teams are metrics-driven, and track both quantitative and qualitative performance. You should know how many calls, emails, and demos every new SDR completes, but you should also understand trends and conversion ratios over time as your team grows. You’ll be able to see if one rep is improving their number of calls and meetings booked as the weeks pass, or whether their performance is failing to improve or even declining. You’ll be able to track these performance metrics during an SDR’s first month on the job, and by three months in, you’ll know exactly who needs your help, and in exactly which areas they are struggling.

Keep Morale High

[blockquote align=”right” cite=”Kyle Porter”]If you see that morale is down and attitude is negative, this is an indication the rep is struggling.(Tweet This)[/blockquote]

In addition to keeping an eye on the numbers, you also can’t forget about the human element of sales management. If you notice that a rep on your SDR team has low morale or a negative attitude, there is probably a good chance that the rep isn’t going to meet their numbers that month. They’re frustrated because they know that they’re not doing well, and their frustration can drag down their performance even more – leading to a downward spiral. In this case, you have to see whether the metrics and the negative emotions match up, and if you really need to step in for a sales intervention. Ask reps on your team directly:

  • “What did you accomplish this week?”
  • “Do you feel like you’ve been accomplishing a lot?”
  • “Are you feeling positive or negative about your work this week?”

If one of your reps is frustrated and annoyed because they’re not making progress and booking meetings, you can help talk them off the ledge. Try setting up a few fun sales contests to help motivate the entire team to make more dials, and pay specific attention to your unhappy rep. It may just be a bad day or week, and you can help turn it around – or it may be that the rep isn’t performing to the standards you need, and the metrics confirm it.

Coach the Stragglers

[blockquote align=”left” cite=”Kyle Porter”]Look at your metrics and see where you can make an impact in coaching.(Tweet This)[/blockquote]

If you find a rep on your team is frustrated, unhappy and consistently not hitting their goals week after week, it’s time to act. You need to approach them and offer targeted, metrics-driven coaching to help them improve. Because your team is very metrics-focused, the rep should already know that he or she hasn’t been hitting goals. Meet with the rep and show them the numbers, enforcing the idea that their performance is driven by the metrics and is clearly and objectively in need of improvement. You can come up with a plan for improvement, and start coaching them before they get too discouraged. Analyze the performance metrics and look for a root cause. If the rep is simply not making enough dials per day to hit goals, you can push for high activity levels. If it’s more an issue of converting connections to meetings, you can help coach the rep through their pitch, do some role playing, and listen in on their calls. With the right guidance, you can help turn things around for your new SDR, and get them on the path to success.


For the newly hired reps on your Sales Development team, it is possible to quickly find out who won’t hit their goals so you can intervene in time to make a difference. Track the metrics, keep an eye on morale, and don’t be afraid to offer coaching when needed.
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