Avoiding SDR Burnout

Michael Canty
August 19, 2016

Being a Sales Development Representative (SDR) is both the most rewarding and difficult entry-level job you can find today. It involves a great deal of patience and the ability to persevere on a daily basis. With the average SDR being in the position for anywhere from 12 to 18 months before they begin to see the light at the end of the promotion tunnel, it takes a number of things to make sure they don’t get burnt out along the way. While everyone is personally responsible for keeping him or herself motivated, those in charge of the team are responsible for keeping those employees from turning over. Here are a few ways to keep your SDRs happy through their journey…

Pick a promotion plan and stick to it

One of the worst feelings in the world is having no idea what direction your career is heading in. For most, the SDR position is the beginning of what they hope will be a fruitful career in sales. The first thing you need to show them is the path to greener pastures. Without a defined promotion path in place you will see your SDRs continually burnt out and looking elsewhere. Their job is no easy task, nor should it be, it is the position where they will learn the ins and outs of your product, customer and industry. Show them where the knowledge they are gaining is going to take them.

I always recommend having a tiered and metrics based promotion plan in place. This will go a long way to both motivate your SDRs on a daily basis, as well as give them a defined path of career growth. As your SDRs hit the metrics required for them to move from tier to tier, it will not only give them a sense of accomplishment but it will keep them motivated to continue climbing that ladder. Everyone likes to win, show them how they can do it.

Remember, they're people, not factories

Calling and emailing relative strangers all day is difficult to say the least and the reception you get from prospects is not always warm. It can be downright demoralizing some days. Treating your SDR team like they’re a call and email factory is one very easy way to burn out your team. We know that there are metrics that must be achieved, but once you start pushing daily volume into outrageous ranges you’re going to see turnover.

This is not to say that putting pressure on your team to deliver should be discouraged. It would be counter productive to both your internal process and business objectives to have no standards at all. Every team should have a reasonable minimum volume expectation in place for calls and emails. You’ll find that those who aren’t succeeding at that minimum expectation will naturally up their volume to hit their numbers. This is far less stressful for your team and won’t make them feel like they’re being treated as factories. If you have team members that are still not hitting their numbers, but staying at the minimum daily volume expectations, then you’ve found your weak links -- all without damaging the morale of your entire team.

A career is like dating a company. Take them out (or let them out) once in a while!

Sometimes I think people underestimate the power of taking your team to a sports game, a dinner, or even just a day off. Everyone likes to feel appreciated and sometimes the SDR position can quickly become one that feels under appreciated. Your SDRs don’t get to ring the bell when a deal they sourced closes, and they don’t get that President’s Club award for being the highest performer on the team. If their efforts go unrecognized you will yet again see increasing turnover.

I’m not suggesting you start giving them days off and tickets to sporting games every month, but once a quarter isn’t a bad place to start. Your sales development teams are the guys that source a significant portion of your deals, let them know that their efforts are appreciated every so often. It will go a long way from keeping team morale up to keeping employee turnover down.

Your SDRs are arguably the some of the most important players in your sales organization. They may not be closing deals or developing processes, but they are your future salespeople and managers. Never lose sight of that. Making sure your team doesn’t get burnt out will go a long way in improving the performance of your team now and in the future.