Setting Your BDR Team Up for Success
Having a great team of business development reps, or BDRs (some companies also call them MDRs, SDRs, or inside sales), can make a huge difference in your company’s overall revenue. So, it is crucial that you set your BDR team up for success with a well-thought-out hiring, development, and reporting process. As our own BDR team has grown and evolved here at Spiro, we’ve learned a few things along the way. Here’s the step-by-step guide to how we approach building, developing, and retaining our world-class team of BDRs.
Hire the Right People
You need to carefully hire your BDR team to ensure that their values align with those of the sales team and company. When hiring a BDR, look for three things: persistence, patience, and playfulness, as those are the most important characteristics for someone to thrive in the position. Typically, a BDR position is an entry-level sales role, so a candidate’s potential and willingness to learn and grow is more important than experience.
Persistence Pays Off
It takes an average of 8 to 12 attempts before a BDR reaches a prospect. Constantly calling without anyone answering the phone, or sending emails without anyone responding, can be a complete energy suck. To succeed in a role like this, a person must have internal drive and desire.
When screening someone for persistence, look at their follow-up in applying for the job – did they use their network and follow up after a phone screening? Also, ask them questions about a time they fought hard for something or were up against what felt like insurmountable odds and still persisted.
Patience is a Virtue
BDRs need to have patience to put in the time required to build honest rapport with their prospects. This is especially true if your company is calling into large organizations, which typically have longer sales cycles. BDRs need to find the right person (or people) to talk to, and then need to invest time into building rapport— often over the course of months.
Patience in this role is also necessary because there are a lot of things entry-level salespeople have to learn: general sales skills, the ins and outs of the product you are selling, the tools your company uses internally, the specific ways you should reach out and follow up with prospects, and sometimes even how to work as part of a team. It’s important that a new hire is patient with themselves during the learning process in order to fully absorb it all.
Play Hard While You Work Hard
Perhaps the most important personality trait for a BDR to have is a sense of lightheartedness and the ability to have fun at work. In another word: playfulness.
Let’s face it, being a salesperson is a tough job. And the outbound prospecting role of cold call after cold call is perhaps the toughest. If a BDR is going to be able to put up with the grind, they need to be able to find ways to have fun at their job, even if it’s simply looking at funny sales memes.
It’s also great to be fun and playful in a creative way. If a prospect isn’t opening emails, then maybe a BDR could try sending the opening of a joke as the subject line, and hope the recipient opens the email to read the punchline. Having a playful side can make you try new things and stand out amongst the million solicitations your prospects are bombarded with every day.
Develop Your People
Hiring the right people will only get you so far, and as a manager or team leader you are going to need to help your BDRs reach their full potential. There are three areas that matter most when developing new hires.
Onboard and Ramp Your BDRs
It’s important to have a clearly defined mission and well-documented program for your BDRs (The Spiro BDR playbook is 45 pages long!). Make sure your onboarding process is lengthy enough so that they’ll have time to absorb all of the information you need them to. At Spiro, a newly hired BDR doesn’t pick up the phone until week three. They have to practice cold calls, listen in on demos, memorize buyer personas, be able to identify a lead with authority and need, and of course, know the product they are selling.
Incentivize and Motivate Your Team
Sales can be a burnout job, especially for BDRs who are on the phone all day. This is why you have to think of ways to constantly motivate them.
Sales Performance Incentive Funds, or SPIFs, are short term, one time contests. They should be used to encourage a quick burst of activity that helps the team achieve a specific goal. This activity should align with the bottom line and also reinforce good behaviors. This could be getting a decision maker on the phone, or working together as a team to achieve a particular goal. For example, an easy SPIF could be that if everyone books a demo on Friday, you’ll take the team out for drinks. Have fun and get creative with it!
Another idea that works for our team is a “badge board.” Spiro has about 25 different badges that a BDR can earn. Every BDR has a section on the board displayed in the office, and we present new badges in our weekly meeting. It’s an inexpensive way to incentivize and motivate the team.
Set up the Right Metrics for Success
The final component to developing a great team is knowing how to measure their greatness. Perhaps the hardest metric to figure out is the right number of calls/ prospects/emails a BDR should be making to achieve the sales pipeline goals.
Try working backwards from the number of deals you want to pass off to an AE each month. For instance, if you need a BDR to book 10 demos and you think they can convert 10% of the people they talk to, then they’ll have to talk to 100 people. To talk to 100 people, assuming only 15% of the people actually answer the phone when they ring, they’ll probably have to call about 850. To make 850 calls in a month, they need to make 50 dials a day. (This can get monotonous, which is where SPIFs can help!)
Once you figure out the metrics, be sure to always measure how your team is performing against your presumptions.
If you want to develop a world-class BDR team, you have to focus on the people. Take time to onboard your team, then measure their activities and outcomes while keeping them motivated to succeed!
Progress Your People
If you want your BDR team to succeed, you also need to provide them with the right tools to do so. Today, technology allows sales teams to use data to build robust reports and to act on the information that these reports provide.
At Spiro, we use our own platform to keep track of all activities a BDR has with a prospect. Spiro also has a built-in dialer to automatically track calls, and very robust reporting capabilities that lets us drill into all of our data.
There are a few reports that your BDRs should be checking every single day to ensure that they’re on track to meet their numbers, but the metrics only matter when you use the data to support and strengthen your team.
And, Spiro automates data collection — allowing us to create more accurate reports, which helps the team gain better insights to convert more of their prospects into demos.
- Call Connection Rates: With Spiro’s built-in dialer, the platform automatically tracks calls, as well as sets next-steps and enters notes from those calls.
2. Attempts Per Contact: At the end of the month, you should run an exception report that shows all contacts assigned to a particular BDR that haven’t been contacted yet.
3. # of Contacts Converted to Demos: Spiro’s reporting allows you to see if one BDR has a lower rate of converting conversations to demos, so that you can help them work on their cold calling techniques and do role-playing exercises for pitching prospects.
4. Monthly Lead Analysis: If your team is booking demos (or sales calls, etc.), it’s critical to know whether or not they’re booking qualified opportunities. Create a report that looks at how many sales qualified demos your BDR has booked vs. their total number of demos booked.
5. Success by Call List: Spiro allows us to build custom reports easily, so we can see the volume of qualified opportunities that came from each unique call list.
If you have the right data to analyze your team’s actions, you can then make adjustments and better your chance of success. As you build your BDR team, stay focused on ensuring that each rep is successful, and understand how they are performing against industry standards and internal expectations. Remember that you’ll only find success with these metrics if you use the data to better your team and push them to succeed.
The Bottom Line
Building a world class BDR team doesn’t happen overnight. If you focus on hiring and developing your team, and give your reps the right tools to track their progress, you will set your BDRs up for success. And, most importantly, following these steps will help you retain the amazing team that you’ve worked so hard to create.