Sales Development 101: Where do you find SDR candidates? (Part 2)

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Now that you’ve figured out how many SDRs you need to hire in order to reach your company’s sales goals, it’s time to get out there and actually find the right candidates. You want to build a team of high-quality SDRs who are itching to get into sales and start making dials today. But how do you find the best possible candidates for the job?

You should be looking for a specific mix of communication skills, ambition, motivation and an overall willingness to learn. In Part 2 of our series on Sales Development 101, InsightSquared and prospecting expert Kyle Porter, CEO of SalesLoft, work together to offer best practices on building a powerful and successful SDR team, including how to find, hire and train great sales reps. While every business has an ideal model for hiring sales reps, here are the key qualities to look for as you begin to build your Sales Development team.

Think Beyond Entry Level

[blockquote align=”left” cite=”Kyle Porter”]We don’t really want brand new, fresh out of school grads to be SDRs.(Tweet This)[/blockquote]

An SDR is traditionally an entry-level position, and many companies often look to hire new college graduates or other candidates without any previous sales experience. But since there aren’t new graduates available year-round, you have to consider other sources for potential SDR candidates. Rather than rely on someone’s grade point average, you should search for hard workers with 1 to 2 years of experience in a comparable field. Add points for candidates who have have made some progress already in their career. You’re looking for proof that the candidate isn’t only successful in passing classes in college, but is also able to succeed in an office setting. Ambition is really what you should keep your eye out for – look for a candidate who has faced professional challenges, overcome them, and then moved onto the next big challenge. They should never be complacent or satisfied with where they are today, but instead always be looking to get ahead.

Consider Customer Service

[blockquote align=”right” cite=”Kyle Porter”]Look for someone who isn’t afraid to pick up the phone and dial or ask tough questions.(Tweet This)[/blockquote]

One of the most important skills for any sales rep is the ability to pick up the phone, call a stranger, and then do it over and over again until you connect with someone. Some people simply don’t have the necessary drive or the tenacity to make dials and aggressively chase after new business leads. Sales reps have to be able to deal with constant rejection from prospects and not be phased. This is why it’s great to consider candidates with a background in customer service, telemarketing, or recruiting. These are all industries where candidates have to call sometimes hostile people on the phone and convince them to keep talking – something they will have to do often as an SDR. People who are successful in these industries are immensely confident and don’t allow their own self-worth to be hurt by prospects who don’t want to talk. These candidates are also often highly motivated and hard workers who may be looking to make a career change into sales. Their ability to communicate effectively and professionally with anyone they call will be a huge asset in their new job as an SDR.

Look at Financial Services

[blockquote align=”left” cite=”Kyle Porter”]You have a lot of folks who are talented, highly capable, and willing to do the work required, but they just haven’t found the results they thought they’d find.(Tweet This)[/blockquote]

Another resume that should immediately jump out of the pile is anyone who works in financial services. A lot of the biggest financial companies hire and train new salespeople well, but then will put them on the phones to cold call a massive list day in and day out. This is where you can step in and offer new SDRs an opportunity to use better sales tools, start doing social selling, use trigger events, and learn more about the cutting edge of sales techniques. These candidates are valuable because they already have the drive and motivation to work in sales, but just need the skills to start doing so more effectively. You can offer them the skills, through sales coaching, and better career advancement, and turn them into fantastic SDRs for your team.

Coachability is Key

[blockquote align=”right” cite=”Kyle Porter”]The key is to find people who are coachable. Those are the folks who are going to take on the right skills and tactics to get things done.(Tweet This)[/blockquote]

The best candidates for the job are always those that are willing to learn, listen and adapt when given direction. When you’re interviewing a new candidate for an SDR position, ask them to give you a cold pitch on the spot. It will not only allow you to evaluate their communication skills, but can also help you assess coachability. After they finish the pitch, ask them how they think they did. Many confident candidates will say they did great, maybe 9 out of 10, when in reality, they were only maybe a 6 or 7. The most coachable candidates will honestly say that their performance rated a 6 and ask for suggestions they can improve upon. Give them some direction, and then ask them to try the pitch again. If you hear some major improvements, then you know that this candidate is open to coaching and will be able to learn quickly on the job.


Besides these key traits, you also want to look for candidates that fit your company’s specific core values and the sales culture already on your team. The ideal candidates will have some job experience, feel comfortable on the phones, be ambitious and hardworking, and be willing to learn. With these priorities in mind, you’ll be able to find the top candidates for your new team of SDRs.
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