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How To Help Your SDR Team Ramp Faster

February 21, 2018 / by Melissa Madian

It’s a sunny Wednesday morning, and you’re at your desk, snuggling into your second cup of coffee as you respond to various emails. Your phone rings, and without looking at the call display you answer; because talking to someone on the phone is WAY better than responding to a chain of emails, right?


The person on the other end of the line introduces her/himself, and then launches into a sales pitch on how cool their software is, how they work with customers just like you, and why you desperately need their software.

Outside, clouds are rolling in to block the sun. You hear, “Can I book you on a 30-minute call with my account executive?

What do you say?

If you are like me, you probably weren't listening and say something to the effect of, “We’re okay right now, thanks,” and pleasantly say goodbye to the caller, hoping they’ll never bother you again.

What you don’t know is that the caller did have a solution that could solve a current problem you actually have.

I have seen many LinkedIn posts disparaging sales development reps (often called SDRs or BDRs) for a “bad call” and “wasting their time.” Maybe I’m getting soft in my old age, but the SDR really isn’t to blame. Their organization’s sales onboarding process is.

That SDR is probably one or two years out of school and has never sold anything before; and their organization hasn’t enabled them with the tools and training they need to be successful.

The SDR’s onboarding process probably consisted of shadowing other SDRs, reading a bunch of Box files and watching product training videos, and maybe a 1-week bootcamp where a revolving door of subject matter experts spewed slide after slide of information at them.

If you have never played a piano, would you expect to sit down at one and play Chopin? If an SDR has never sold before, why would you expect them to be an awesome sales rep?


To empower the SDR to sell effectively, an organization needs to arm them with the answers to three key things:

  1. What problem am I solving with my solution?
  2. Who cares about this problem?
  3. How do I convey the pain of this problem effectively, so the person I’m speaking with understands they need to care deeply and immediately enough to solve the problem.

To onboard a new SDR effectively with the above information, an organization’s onboarding needs to execute the following onboarding sprints:

  • LEARN: Online videos, call recordings, scripts, documents, anything you need the SDR to consume to understand the above three key things. This is the equivalent of learning your scales and sheet music when learning how to play the piano.
  • PRACTICE: Just like you would sit at the piano and practice your scales and practice playing the songs, your SDRs need to practice the messaging. Have them practice with each other, practice with a manager or peer coach, practice with subject matter experts.
  • DO: Your piano teacher typically sits next to you as you play the sheet music and will comment on and coach your performance. The SDR’s manager or peer coach should do the same as an SDR does dry-runs of calls, emails and voicemails. Leverage technology to have SDRs post videos of themselves doing a pitch, or call, or presentation, so others at the organization can comment, like or rate their pitch.

Every new topic, message or script should follow the above sprint cycle, so the SDR has an opportunity to truly internalize the message. That way, when they “step onstage” in front of a customer, they are ready to play some really great music.

How are you empowering your new SDRs to deliver an effective message in the first few weeks on the job? Let me know in the comments.

Topics: Sales Enablement, Sales Onboarding, Sales Enablement Best Practices

Melissa Madian

Written by Melissa Madian

Melissa is the Principal and Chief Fabulous Officer at TMM Enablement Services, providing sales and customer experience enablement services for organizations looking to optimize their revenue-generating, customer-facing functions. She takes her 15+ years of experience in building and running successful sales enablement programs for rapid-growth startups, large corporations, and pre-IPO software organizations, and applies those best practices to companies interested in taking their sales and customer success teams to the next level. Prior to her consultancy, she held senior sales enablement positions at Eloqua, Oracle, and Vision Critical.

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