Priscilla Walkem talks about hiring your first Sales Development Rep in-house.
What distinguishes an SDR from a BDR, in particular?
Since the terms "sales development representative" and "business development representative" are frequently used interchangeably and the roles may overlap, there is no obvious differentiation between them.
The main cause of SDR failures within the first year or the first six months
Many SDRs fail within the first six months or the first year because the firm doesn't have the proper rules, processes, and practices in place, and because the candidates lack motivation and readiness.
Does having expertise in the tech sector in sales make someone effective in an SDR position?
Although having prior tech sales expertise is advantageous, the rest can be learned as long as you possess the five qualities of being resilient, focused, disciplined, regimented, and a people person.
Ricky: So today on A Couple of Pointers Podcast, we are lucky enough to be talking to Priscilla Walkem from Jenkin Beattie. Welcome,
Priscilla: Hi, Ricky P thanks for having me.
Ricky: Really excited to have you on. And I've been super keen to have this chat. We wanna be talking about all things SDR, but before we get into that for the sake of our audience who I often forget, don't even know what an SDR is. Explain it to me like I'm five. What do you do? And what is an SDR?
Priscilla: So myself, I am a recruitment consultant with Jenkin Beattie Recruitment. And ultimately we place top talent with top global tech companies. So specialise in that IT, tech sales, and SaaS space. So it's booming at the moment. Really exciting. Get to deal with really great candidates every day and yeah, loving it.
And I suppose one of the main roles that we do recruit for along with a lot of other recruitment companies are SDR. So they're highly sought after at the moment. And yeah, I, in my opinion, it's a very important position within a business. You're generating leads, you're prospecting, you're having those conversations with potential clients.
So yeah, you've gotta have, great attitude be resilient, great communicator. There you have it. Inside scoop.
Ricky: We'll get into all of those attributes, but maybe let's start here.
Difference between SDR and BDR
Ricky: What's the difference between an SDR, a sales development representative, and a BDR, a business development representative?
Priscilla: Sure I'm gonna put it plain and simple. In my opinion, there's no difference whatsoever. Traditionally, and look, people may disagree with this. Traditionally, I feel like the SDR was more focused around following up on the inbound leads, whereas a BDR was, prospecting those outbound leads, but now it's same, same.
There's a very blurred line. There's no concise line, I suppose you could say in differentiating the two. But another thing that makes it a little more confusing is the other titles that are also thrown in. Whether that be an account development rep, a business development executive, you know, those sorts of things, but all in all, they're the same, in my opinion. What are your thoughts?
Ricky: Maybe historically there's a difference. Now people just use the terms interchangeably. In America, some people will call SDR the inbound role and a BDR, the outbound role. Other places in America they'll call it the opposite and around the world, there's absolutely no consistency. You then throw in all the fancy terms, like the XDR and the ADRs and the MDRs, account development representative marketing development rep. It's all the same.
Priscilla: Exactly. Couldn't agree more.
Ricky: What makes a good SDR? What are these attributes that this SDR needs to be successful in this prospecting role?
Priscilla: Well, to be honest. Yes, the hard skills and the cold skills are really good, but in my eyes, the soft skills play a really, really important role. The number one being resilient. At the end of the day, in this sort of role as an SDR, you are predominantly on the phones. You're making these cold calls.
You're calling at least what 40 to 60 people day in, day out. A lot of those times. How many of those Ricky do you think are gonna say to you? Yep. Come on. Let's have a chat.
Ricky: Small percentage.
Priscilla: Exactly. And then most of them, unfortunately are gonna say, "Sorry, mate, can't help you". Ultimately you've gotta have that resilience behind you because you are gonna face rejections day in, day out, and you've gotta have a thick skin to be able to deal with that.
Must have tech experience
Ricky: Whenever I see these SDR roles being advertised. They always say, must have tech sales experience as if selling software for a construction company somehow helps you sell HR solutions to HR managers. Do you think that people in the tech industry should have that requirements? Do you think it's helpful?
Priscilla: Look, it would be helpful. I mean, ideally you wanna have the best of both worlds, someone with experience and the soft skills as well. But in my opinion, it's not detrimental to the role. In my eyes, as long as you're resilient, you're driven, you're structured, regimented, and you're a people person, the rest can be taught. If you don't have those five things, it's not a good start. To put it bluntly and to say it with love.
Ricky: I love how you've summarized it. I need to put that in the show notes. Like these are the five attributes of an SDR. We always tell people when we are hiring them. You're gonna call a hundred people and 99 are gonna say no. And the flavor of that no is going to be very different.
Priscilla: A hundred percent. Couldn't agree more.
Ricky: Gotta have those attributes.
Priscilla: Yeah. A hundred percent.
Do you need SDRs with years of experience?
Ricky: So we also see in a lot of these, placements, they're looking for SDRs with experience. So now they're looking for SDRs with tech sales experience. I see job adverts going out, looking for SDRs with three years experience, 2+ years experience.
Is that a common request that comes through to you?
Priscilla: Yeah, it is. And to be honest, I think, in the nicest way, I think it's a little bit outdated. ultimately an SDR is an entry level position, it can be a very well paying entry level position.
Don't get me wrong. But if you are after an entry level position, that means, zero to maybe six months experience at that. If you're looking for someone with two plus years experience, why they're still in an SDR role? What's not working? Why have they not progressed? Do you know what I mean?
Like it's just, and I say that in the nicest way possible, something's not adding up here.
Ricky: They're looking for this unicorn. We have some people on our team, for example, that are career prospectors, that is what they want to do. But it is extremely rare, and most don't want to be doing prospecting anymore. And all they want is to get to a position that is more comfortable and feels better than taking daily rejection on the chin.
Ricky: The typical tenure of an SDR is a year, up to two years. But if you hiring that SDR at the end of that period, they're looking to get into an account executive role quickly.
Priscilla: Exactly. They need that step up.
Ricky: Yeah. And like you mentioned, if they're not getting that step up, why, you know, I think the stat is something like 50% of SDRs are failing.
Ricky: More than that around 75% are under quota. So if this person is still looking for a role after two years in that same position, the chances are they're from that prior group that wasn't hitting it.
Priscilla: Mm-hmm spot on. Smack bang.
Why do you think so many SDRs fail?
Ricky: On that, why do you think so many SDRs fail within the first six months or within the first year?
Priscilla: Well, it could come down to a handful of reasons. I suppose from a company standpoint, they don't have the right policies, procedures, practices in place. But also from, I suppose the candidate perspective, some of them just aren't prepared and aren't fully across what's involved in this. As we said before, most of the time you're getting rejections, you know, and if you're someone that doesn't have that resilience or that drive, you're not gonna be able to you just can't continue.
You're not gonna get any joy out of it. Do you know what I mean? So in my eyes, that's probably one of the biggest things why people fail. Well fail's a strong word, but you know, can't,
Ricky: They wanna get into tech sales but they realize how painful the role is and how they might not have the attributes or the mentality that can thrive in those kinds of roles. But particularly I find the biggest reason for them not succeeding is on the company side. If you don't have that sales maturity, for lack of a better term, there is almost no likelihood of this SDR function succeeding.
Priscilla: Mm, exactly. Yeah. Goes hand in hand.
No sales position
Ricky: So on that, companies come to you and say, " Hey, Priscilla, we need an SDR." This is the founder coming to you or a co-founder whoever it might be. And they don't have any other sales positions? What do you normally say to them?
Priscilla: Look, to be honest, I haven't come across that in my time so far. So, I'll get back to you when that happens. But from my perspective at this time, I think that'd be a little bit silly, to be honest. Yes, it could be a cheaper option, I get that. But I think you'd have more luck getting a BDM initially, at least who's, you know, across the functions, knows what they're doing. And then could bring in a SDR shortly after.
Ricky: Yeah. I'd never recommended for a first hire often companies wanting to bring it in as a first hire because it's an entry level salesperson and that's the budget they have. But what they miss is that this SDR can do execution, but they're going to need good strong management and they need to be operating on a really strong strategy.
They're not necessarily gonna have the experience to bring that layer of strategy and that layer of management. And they'll just be flapping their wings, not really going anywhere.
Priscilla: yeah. "What am I doing? What am I doing?"
How to get a hold of you?
Ricky: Priscilla, just to, to end off. If somebody wanted to get hold of you, they need an SDR, they want to hire someone in house and they want to use your services. How do they get you?
Priscilla: Contact me, as we said before, Priscilla Walkem is my name. I work with Jenkin Beattie and I am the number one recruitment SaaS queen. Find me on LinkedIn.
Ricky: The SaaS queen, not the SaaSquatch.
Priscilla: Yeah, you bet.
Ricky: One of the questions we ask all of the people who've come here. I've got two questions for you that I know you haven't prepared for. One of them is if you could hire any fictional character of any genre to do your job better than you could, who would it be?
Priscilla: Ooh, that's a good question. . I'm gonna just use one of my favorite singers, Cardi B, I'd love Cardi B to come on board and do her thing and take over.
Ricky: Fun. We'll go with that. The second question I love to ask our guests. Nobody's business is perfect. You might be the SaaS queen, but I'm sure you have SaaS problems. So if you could have any problem solved for you by someone else, what would that problem be?
Priscilla: Oh, why do I talk so much? And laugh too much?
Ricky: okay. Okay. So not, not a real problem then. Not a real problem.
Priscilla: No 99 problems, but I'm not one
Ricky: Right? Well, it has been fantastic having you on the show I'm sure the couple of pointers that you've shared will be extremely useful to companies looking to hire SDRs that wanna understand the landscape, that need a little bit of guidance and need a bit of support. So get hold of the SaaS queen Priscilla . And we look forward to talking to you again soon.
Priscilla: Thanks for having me. Ricky,