Any company in a hyper-growth phase sets up an SDR team, does a bottom-up calculation from revenue and decides the lag metrics. While the end objective is to build a solid and qualified pipeline for the company, the troubling question is HOW?

The SDR team members across companies are versatile with varied experience levels. We see one who threw their hat in the air and celebrated graduation recently and is now actively prospecting on Linkedin Sales Navigator.

On the other hand, we also see an SDR who has spent more than 5 years in the system busy dialling from a prepared list of prospects. Goes without saying how difficult a task it is for an SDR manager to set uniform standards across the team.

The recent Bridge Group report says that the average tenure of an SDR is decreasing alarmingly to less than 1.5  years, can you imagine? The skill sets and interests are starkly diverse and more often than not, an SDR sees the role as a launchpad for their career. So, rewarding the right behaviour can be a promising talent retention mechanism. 

“In high school, I wanted to play college basketball. I thought shooting 300 3’s a day was enough.
Sadly, it wasn’t. Putting in activity is only half of the story.
The other half is tracking progress with clear, measurable data.”

says Jed Mahrle, Team Lead for Outbound at PandaDoc. 

And, I agree with him completely. One of the hardest jobs in any SaaS company is outbound lead gen and your SDRs are grinding day-in and day-out for it. So, what better way to keep them motivated than to measure their performance meaningfully and reward them for their hard work?

For addressing the how, use the following SPIF plans and their metrics that will act as a yardstick for ‘seeing through’ the effort exerted by the team members. We have also mentioned the manner in which these metrics will help in various scenarios. 

SPIF #1 - Boosting middle of the week motivation with call blitzes

Every research ever conducted supports the fact that Wednesday has the highest number of call pickups and email reply rates compared to other days. So, what’s stopping us from having a ‘call blitz’ on a Wednesday?  Blitzes also help us increase the ‘calling culture’ in the team which is quintessential for any SDR’s success. 

Here are the metrics to compensate SDRs post the call blitz: 

  • Measuring ‘holding rate’: More than looking at the number of dials (which can be achieved easily, lol) one good way of measuring the effectiveness of calls can be the ‘holding rate’. This encourages the SDR to find novel ways to engage with the prospect and also indirectly ensures that they keep a meaningful conversation with the customer. 
  • Rewarding who they are reaching out to: SDRs generally reach out to either an influencer or a decision-maker. When an SDR reaches out to a decision-maker, they can be rewarded with 2 points whereas reaching out to an influencer/manager can be a single point reward. This metric will inspire the SDRs to research more about the accounts and the respective decision-makers. 

SPIF #2 - Accelerate your team’s social selling skills 

Socially-active and receptive decision-makers are on the rise and there is no reason an SDR should avoid prospecting on Linkedin. Here is a SPIF plan built around metrics that can be used to increase social media engagement by SDRs. 

  • Number of net new contacts added on Linkedin: The more contacts on an SDR’s LinkedIn network, the better the reach outs. To drive this behaviour, 5 new contacts can be added every day from the top accounts and this can be monitored easily with the help of a reporting feature. 
  • Number of direct opportunities from Linkedin: Messaging directly on Linkedin and getting an opportunity is undoubtedly a skill. This skill has to be acquired across the team so that a minimum of 20% of the opportunities are from social channels. 
  • Social Selling Index Score: Periodic posts on Linkedin help you increase your Social Selling Index (SSI) granted by Linkedin. This index drives SDR team members to be socially-active every day. If social media adoption is a problem you are facing, a good way to start social selling is by measuring the SSI Index and setting bare minimum targets every rep should reach during the SPIF period.
“You have to figure out how to do both quality and quantity. And make no mistake about it, the SDR/BDR position is one of activity. The latest Bridge Group report showed that SDRs across orgs average 104 activities per day.
PER DAY. 
Relentless focus on activity will generate results.”

says Kyle Vamvouris, CEO of Vouris

This philosophy applies heavily to social selling. You need to constantly be adding people, creating a buzz with posts and generating opportunities relentlessly. 

SPIF #3 - The Hyper Strategizer and Personaliser 

To summarize what Morgan J Ingram, Director of Sales Execution & Evolution at John Barrows says in this video,

“Every single email you send, you should assume the prospect is reading through his phone, even though they might not. The first 5 to 8 words are the most critical in choosing between a click and a swipe to the left” 

Personalization is a key differentiating factor and sets an SDR miles apart from others. It is the responsibility of the managers to boost ‘personalization’ and ‘research’. This strengthens the SDR’s skillset to understand the nature of accounts and move from a ‘blanket' approach. 

  • Number of replies to personalized emails: The most number of replies an SDR receives for personalised emails can be a good criterion for a SPIF program. Rewarding efforts to personalize will definitely set the tone for the kind of the SDR organization that you want to build. With careful personalization, when your SDR reaches out to a right prospect at the right time, you will be surprised at how much the prospect is willing to trust you. 
  • Number of strategic accounts converted: An SDR all over the place is a losing horse. I have seen SDRs with a methodical approach shine and be on top of the table.  A few strategic accounts can be chosen (based on revenue potential, brand value, vertical etc) and shared by the manager to the team. The maximum number of deals from these accounts can help the SDR earn the title of ‘The ABM Strategist’. 

SPIF#4 - Competition against competition 

Displacing the competition is an inseparable part of an SDRs day. We can chalk out a structure by announcing a SPIF for attacking competition-held accounts (hehe 😈). 

  • Tiering of big, hairy accounts: It’s essential to choose the type of accounts while we do a competition displacement outreach. Segregating the accounts based on deal size and throwing a SPIF for the biggest of all accounts can help the company fatten the pipeline. 
  • One competition at a time: You can pick one name from your list of major competitors for the week and the SDR who generates the maximum opportunities wins the SPIF program. 
  • Objection handler of the month: With competition comes objections. If a repository is built for objections and the best of all the SDRs is rewarded, the team gets ready to face any kind of objection thrown against them. 

Closing Thoughts

Incentivising an SDR’s (right) behaviour and just not the SQLs with pipeline will encourage the SDR to move out of the ‘sales burnout’ which is not an unusual encounter for an SDR. Recurring short term SPIFs, when designed and communicated well, act as a great segway to keep the SDR team charged up, once and forever. 

Like what you read? My team and I are always putting out action-driven content on our blog. There might be quite a few topics we’ve covered that might be of interest to you!


Acknowledgements : Thanks to Samra Taban for editing the blog. Thanks to Aravindh Natesan for the designs.