The next leader of your organization could be the Sales Rep you hired last week. One of the great success narratives of the sales world is the Rep who claws their way up from a new hire to management and beyond because of their skills, grit, and results. An environment based on meritocracy and room for upward mobility is often what attracts motivated individuals to the sales world. But here at Modern Performance, we know from experience that’s only half of the story.
Adept managers provide the support, the eye for capability, and patience to teach and develop raw talent that can unlock their employee’s potential. Once a new hire enters your workplace, you have the ability to invest in them, often yielding huge goals not just for the individual but for your organization as a whole. Taking time, care, and creativity to nurture your sales team is a mutually beneficial act that’s importance and payoff cannot be overstated.
We surveyed our SDR experts, several of whom started as Sales Reps themselves, about the importance of professional development. Our pros unanimously agree that grooming individual members of their team is a key element of the continued success of their firms. Their advice on how to take your Reps under your wing is the ultimate playbook for bettering your organization one employee at a time.
How do you manage professional development on your staff, and why is that important?
The SDRs do mock calls. Some are with each other, some are with the sales directors, and then some are with me, our CRO, and our COO. It gives SDRs an opportunity to flex their conversational muscles around the product, and for all of us to get a clear idea of their strengths and areas where there’s room for improvement. And these exercises enable us to give specific actionable feedback at the time of presentation.
Also, we have a document that outlines expectations that need to be met before someone’s considered ready to transition into a closing role. Checking all the boxes doesn’t guarantee that someone is ready, but crashing and burning on those points means they definitely aren’t.
I love the predictable revenue organizational structure; SDRs make money for themselves while making money for the company, while training in the industry and the product, and learning to answer questions and handle objections.
“It’s perfect. It’s essential for a company to create a culture in which performance is mutually beneficial. It breeds loyalty and keeps employees happy, which in turn benefits the company.”
All of the people I manage are between 23 and 30, so they’re all concerned with their professional development and want to see a very clear path to their next role. I think the best way to manage it is to speak about professional development very regularly, bring it up during one-on-ones, and be transparent. The fact that it’s being spoken about openly at a regular cadence will
“I think the best way to manage it is to speak about professional development very regularly, bring it up during one-on-ones, and be transparent.”
The fact that it’s being spoken about openly at a regular cadence will keep it from ever building to a point where people feel like they’re getting a lack of professional development. It’s super important because no one sees a beginning sales role as a be-all, end-all. They have to feel like there’s a path forward and that they’re learning and growing.
It’s probably the most important thing. Our sales development representatives come in green, or, maybe, they’ve had a few months working at another job. They’re looking to become successful SDRs so that they can move up to the account executive role and develop professionally—even outside of sales. We’re lucky that we have a learning and development team here at Eventbrite, so there are opportunities to grow as an individual beyond the sales organization.
“I encourage any additional development that reps want even if it takes time away from the floor.”
I encourage them to go to any internal talks that we have or any opportunities that they source themselves, such as going to a trade show because marketing needs to send someone. I make those all options for them if they really want to do that.
And I utilize our one-on-ones. I focus on what the rep wants to do, what he or she wants to work towards, and then we create a game plan from there. If the rep wants to make a transition from an SDR to an AM, as opposed to an AE, then what’s the development that they need to do to get there? And then I work internally to make sure that those meetings are set up.
I know there are a lot of things I’ve said that I’m really passionate about, but personality management and employee management are my biggest passions.
For professional development, there are a couple of key things. I won’t hire somebody for a role unless I have a career plan already in place, and I won’t build an SDR team without first building a career path for it.
If you don’t have a career plan mapped out, you shouldn’t even start hiring for the role because you’re not going to keep people, you’re not going to attract top talent, and you’re not going to keep people on their feet long enough to pay for themselves before you have to promote them or before they’re looking for a new job.
Now, that career path must come with very hard goals to make them eligible for promotion. For example, my SDR team has to hit 100% of their quota for twelve months to even be considered for promotion. Now, maybe they can do that in six months. If they hit 200% they could be technically ready for a promotion after six months in terms of the metrics they need to hit. I weave some other things in there to make it so they can’t just get promoted because they hit their number.
Professional development is something that is constant and never ending. I’m a firm believer that you should dedicate ninety minutes, at a minimum, every two weeks for one-on-one development, then two hours a month for team professional development. At least half of that development time should be focused on the job they do today, and the other half of that time should be focused on teaching them skills for the next level, something outside of the scope of their day-to-day jobs. That could involve bringing in other parties to educate them, sales training, or having a CMO of another company present to the team.
But having their career path in place, and giving them the skills they need to learn along the way so they can earn a promotion are key.
“It’s very wide-ranging, but that’s how I think about professional development. It never stops. You have to dedicate the proper amount of time, or people just don’t feel invested in the company.”
“Professional development is probably the single most important thing that we do as leaders because we genuinely believe that the members of this team are the future leadership bench for the broader organization.”
They won’t all manage people, but whether they’re working as field reps, commercial AEs, whether they’re out there in front of customers or in marketing operations role, there is value in leadership.
Learn more from our experts, and see full profiles, here:
Brooke Lengsfelder, Director of Sales Development at mParticle
Dhiraj Singh, Inside Sales and Operations Manager at MemSQL
Philip Galligan, Global Manager of Sales Development at Eventbrite
Chris Pollot, Director of Sales Development at UpGuard
Steven Broudy, Director, Inside Sales, Americas at MuleSoft
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