The A to Z Guide to Training Your Sales Development Reps

sales development rep training

Sales development is a critical part of today’s modern business environment. Having a team to manage the high volume of leads generated by technology-supported outbound efforts is required for companies to maintain a pipeline and scale up successfully, and sales development rep training is a core component of building an SD team that succeeds.

But if sales development is new to your company, or if you’ve never implemented a program specific to your sales development team, you might be wondering where to start. 

In the sections that follow, we’ll cover exactly how sales development fits into the org chart at most sales organizations, why sales development rep training is a necessity, and 5 ways you can implement a training program that actually works.

Quick Takeaways

  • Sales development bridges the gap between marketing and sales in managing the B2B sales funnel.
  • While businesses across industries show they value sales development, sales development representatives (SDRS) are still turning over at a rapid pace.
  • Sales development training provides the resources, skills, and other tools required to succeed in the SDR role.
  • Goal setting, interactive learning, lead scoring, and continuous feedback all contribute to effective sales development rep training.

What is sales development?

Sales development refers to the modern way of doing sales — in short, focusing on moving interested prospects along the funnel rather than cold selling.

Today’s technology has enabled sales organizations to ditch the old strategy of casting a wide net and hoping for the best. Now, companies can take a targeted approach to pursuing the most high-potential prospects and earning the highest ROI possible on their sales efforts.

Sales development optimizes people, processes, and technologies to achieve these results. It bridges the gap between marketing and sales to qualify leads and reduce time and money spent on prospects unlikely to actually become paying customers.

Sales development responsibilities fall between marketing and sales in the B2B funnel.

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Sales development representatives make up the team that actually lives between marketing and sales on an organizational chart, managing that wide net full of leads to find the ones with the most potential to convert. While sales development reps typically report up through sales, they have an important role in aligning the two teams and keeping the entire funnel healthy.

Why does your team need sales development training?

Companies are investing in sales development talent at an increasing rate. According to Gartner, more than 80% of companies with revenue under $25M have a 1:3 ratio or lower. For companies with over $25M in revenue, the ratio is slightly higher (most fall in 1:4-5 or 1:6) but still demonstrates that sales development representatives (SDRs) are in high demand.

More than 80% of companies with revenue under $25M have a 1:3 ratio (or lower) of SDRs to sales.

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But despite their position at the top of business priority lists, SDRs are not necessarily achieving at the rate companies want or expect. Specifically, they burn out really quickly (their average lifetime in an organization is about 15 months). If sales development is so valued, why are SDRs so hard to keep around?

A big part of the problem is that sales development reps are not always equipped with the right tools, resources, and support to succeed. The role of sales development rep is usually an entry- to mid-level position and those who take it on should not be expected to just “figure things out” without any help. It’s a rigorous job on its own — without sales development rep training, it can feel downright daunting.

If companies mean it when they say they see the value in sales development — and if they truly want their SDRs to be effective — sales development rep training is an absolute essential.

Let’s walk through specific sales development rep training tactics you can implement to make your SDRs happier and more successful in their roles.

5 Sales Development Training Tactics You Should Be Using

Focus on Goals

Employees that set goals are 14X more engaged in their work than those who don’t. When those goals are aligned with larger business objectives, the impact is even greater. People want to feel like (and see how) their efforts contribute to larger organizational success.

That’s why one of the simplest — and most effective — ways to implement sales development rep training is to share your organization’s business objectives with your SDRs and help them set individual goals that contribute. When SDRs know exactly what they’re working toward, they’re more likely to feel motivated to achieve it.

Know (and Teach) Your Sales Process

Every company’s sales process is different, and most sales leaders take pride in implementing a process that yields results. But think about it: how often do you share that sales process with your employees — in this case, SDRs — and make sure they understand where their role fits in?

Part of an effective sales development rep training program is making your sales process crystal clear to your sales employees. Creating a visual representation of this process (like the one below) can be really helpful to this end. Each employee can now visualize exactly where in the buyer journey they interact with prospects, and how their actions help achieve sales results.

Example of a sales process aligned with the buyer journey.

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Practice Sales Skills

Practicing sales skills live — mostly through role playing — is an often bemoaned but really effective way to teach sales principles and help your SDRs navigate the different conversations they’re likely to have with prospects.

The key to making people buy into role playing is to make it meaningful. Working through surface-level scripts or practicing sales skills in an awkward training environment simply isn’t going to work.

Find ways to make it more valuable for your SDRs. Some ideas:

  • Practice makes perfect. Create many opportunities for this type of live learning in new employee orientation and ongoing training programs.
  • Use real-world scenarios (not simple scripts) to make it more challenging and applicable to real scenarios your SDRs will encounter.
  • Give constructive feedback. When SDRs feel they’re actually learning, they’ll continue to engage.

Have an Effective Lead Scoring System

Lead scoring is the process of assigning a numerical value to your leads based on data you collect about them and their potential to convert. Traits you may consider in lead scoring are demographics like company size or location and readiness data like budget or intent to buy.

For SDRs, lead scoring takes the guesswork out of qualifying leads for your sales team and ultimately makes them more successful at moving prospects down the funnel. The key (as with your sales process) is to define the criteria that determines lead scores for your company and provide the right resources for SDRs to do it accurately.

Give and Ask For Regular Feedback

Nothing helps employees continuously improve more than constructive feedback. Take the time — both as part of your sales development rep training and your ongoing review processes — to give your reps feedback they can actively apply to improve.

Most importantly, create a culture where it works both ways. No one knows more about the day to day life of an SDR in your organization than the SDRs themselves. Ask them directly:

  • How can we improve our training programs?
  • What are your biggest challenges?
  • Where do you see opportunities for improvement?
  • What other feedback do you have for us?

Then, commit to reviewing and using the feedback you receive. Asking for feedback alone will make your employees feel valued, but taking action on it will build trust, engagement, and motivation to succeed.

Revboss’s outbound email software and lead generation services are custom-built for startups, consultancies, marketing agencies, and other B2B organizations. Schedule a quick call with us and find out how we can help you win more clients.