Guidelines for Conducting an Effective SDR Performance Review

SDR performance reviews are essential for helping SDRs to improve their performance. They provide the best value to SDRs when managers are comprehensive in scope and constructive in delivering feedback. To that end, it’s helpful to use a standardized format for reviews.

Use this template to guide the performance reviews. Here’s what to include—and how to be effective in each part of the review.

1) KPIs

Metrics are a great place to start the conversation. Break up the previous year up by month or by quarter, and then show the SDR how well they met their goals each month. This doesn’t have to be anything fancier than an Excel document. You just want SDRs to visualize their performance month by month.

In addition to showing SDRs how well they did in terms of quota attainment, highlight other critical metrics. If you are prioritizing daily calls, or presentations scheduled, make it a point to review those metrics. Help them contextualize their metrics by providing SDR averages at your company.

Some dos and don’ts for reviewing KPIs:

  • DO ask the SDR to summarize the results for themselves before providing your own interpretation.
  • DON’T inject your own judgments in your initial summary. Give the numbers in a neutral tone.
  • DO use the KPIs as a springboard for asking questions. Give the SDR an opportunity for self-reflection: “Why do you think you made fewer phone calls in April?”
  • DO compliment the SDR for attaining or exceeding goals when appropriate.

2) Qualitative assessment

The numbers are the numbers, but that’s not a complete picture of SDR performance. You should take the time to provide qualitative feedback about how the SDR handles different parts of the sales process: prospecting, sales presentations, closing, etc.

Here’s how to handle this part of the assessment:

  • DO be specific in your feedback: “I like the way you handle objections because of x” or “You seem to struggle with prospecting because…”
  • DON’T offer criticisms without also providing concrete suggestions for how the SDR can improve.
  • DO tie in your qualitative feedback to the quantitative assessment as applicable. This helps integrate the assessment.

3) Accomplishments

Next, dive into the SDR’s most significant accomplishments during the year. Review major deals and discuss what factors contributed to the success.

This is also a great opportunity to discuss the SDR’s other contributions to the team. Have they been helpful in mentoring younger SDRs, or teaching other people the tricks of the CRM? Acknowledge their assistance.

To successfully discuss accomplishments, try the following:

  • DO keep an ongoing record of SDRs’ achievements throughout the year. It might be difficult to remember February’s successes in December.
  • DO encourage the SDR to analyze their successes on a deeper level. This enables them to learn from their own success.
  • DON’T give out praise that is so vague that it’s meaningless. Instead of saying “you’re a great team player,” provide specific examples of teamwork that impressed you.

4) Challenges

Now it’s time to discuss moments during the year when the SDR may have struggled. This may include both individual deals that didn’t go through as well as more general patterns you’ve noticed about the SDR’s performance.

As with your discussion of accomplishments, it helps to get granular. Review specific moments of challenge and ask constructive questions: “Why do you think you struggled in this moment?” or “Knowing what you know now, how would you handle this situation differently in the future?”

To make this part of the review productive, use these tips:

  • DO give the SDR opportunities for self-reflection. If they can recognize the problem on their own, that’s more powerful than a manager telling it to them.
  • DO use specific examples as an entry point for discussing larger patterns. Say, “In this instance you seemed to have difficulty handling the prospect’s objections. Do you think that’s something you’ve struggled with in other situations?”
  • DON’T put the SDR on the defensive. While you should make it clear that you expect accountability from SDRs, questions should be framed constructively. This part of the review shouldn’t be about demanding explanations for mistakes.
  • DON’T shorten this portion of the review because it makes you uncomfortable. That isn’t helping the SDR.

5) Teamwork

SDR reviews often focus a lot on individual numbers and achievements. So it’s helpful to carve out a place to discuss how well the SDR is working with the whole team.

To prepare for this part of the review, ask team members to provide anonymous feedback on the SDR’s strengths and weaknesses as a team member. Show them a sample of the feedback to illustrate your larger points.

Here’s how to effectively discuss teamwork with an SDR:

  • DO ask the SDR to evaluate their own performance. This can help you determine whether their self-assessment is accurate.
    DON’T phrase issues as a character defect. Instead of saying, “people think you’re selfish,” say “people wish you would be more attentive to others’ needs.”
  • DO give the SDR an opportunity to discuss problems they’ve experienced with the team—but make sure that it’s a productive conversation, not a list of grievances.

6) Skillset

The end of the review is a good opportunity to review how well the SDR has performed in terms of core sales skillsets: prospecting, client communication, data analytics, etc. Assess how well the SDR has performed in each area and what they should focus on for improvement in the coming year.

To make this part of the review effective, try these tips:

  • DO acknowledge improvements that the SDR has made in their skills.
    DON’T just discuss weaknesses without providing guidance. Point the SDR in the direction of resources that can help them improve on weaknesses.
  • DO ask the SDR to help others in their areas of strength if that would be helpful for the team.

7) Game plan

Finally, the SDR and manager should use the results of the review to mutually create a detailed plan for improvement in the year to come. The plan should include actionable goals for every month.

SDRs should be able to reference the plan easily. In future reviews, discuss how well the SDR is meeting their goals. With appropriate follow-through, the SDR review becomes a useful tool rather than an ordeal.

James Meincke

James is the Head of Marketing @ Demodesk, the intelligent meeting platform for remote sales. Previously he was the Director of Marketing at CloserIQ.