How to Effectively Train Your SDRs

B2B sales is getting more and more competitive. The rapidly developing ecosystem requires sales reps to keep up with the changing selling dynamics. This prompts the need for an effective training program that refines sales rep skills and improves competency.

As a sales manager, you can teach your new SDRs the skills they need to tackle the unique challenges of B2B sales. Make sure that your SDR training covers these skills:

1) Basic Sales Methodologies

You should assume that your new SDRs have no prior experience with sales methodologies like SNAP, consultative selling, or any other common B2B sales methodology. Teach them the basic principles behind the methodologies that your organization uses. Make sure to explain not just the steps in the process, but the underlying philosophy for why the sales methodology is effective.

Use concrete examples to teach the methodology. Go through a sale as an interactive scenario, asking your reps to figure out what to do at each stage in the process.

2) Your Sales Process

Next, new SDRs need to know the specific sales process that you use. Again, it’s important to explain why you have selected the process. What is each stage of the process intended to accomplish? When everything goes right, what does it look like? What are some ways to get a derailed sale back on track?

To explain your process, ask a high-performing sales rep to walk new recruits through a real-life deal. Ask them to explain exactly what they did in detail and why.

3) Prospecting

You’ll need to cover all aspects of prospecting: finding prospects, qualifying them, and engaging with them. Many new SDRs struggle with qualification and engagement, so it is important to explain your requirements and procedures.

Ask your new SDRs to research prospects and then provide feedback. If someone on your team is a master prospect-finder, ask them to share their favorite tips and shortcuts.

Teach your recruits to qualify prospects and engage with them through role-playing exercises. Enact different scenarios that might occur during an initial prospecting call. After each scenario, analyze what went right and where there might be room for improvement. If you have any example prospecting calls, those are a useful teaching tool.

4) Pipeline management

Managing a sales pipeline is a critical skill, but can sometimes be difficult to teach. Instruct your SDRs on general best practices. How much time per week should they devote to different categories of sales activities? What tools can they use to track their time? How can they identify which deals need to take highest priority?

If you use pipeline management tools, give trainees a chance to use them so that the tools become familiar. You can also do an activity that asks trainees to review a list of deals in the pipeline and rank them based on priority.

5) Product knowledge and presentation

In order to sell your product successfully, your SDRs will need to understand it. Their product knowledge will naturally deepen over time, but it’s still important to give them a strong foundation.

Give your SDRs an opportunity to use the product for themselves. You can set up a scavenger hunt that encourages them to explore and understand critical product features. At the end of training, ask your trainees to give a sample product presentation and offer a critique.

6) Objection Handling

Your sales reps will need to be able to successfully handle objections from prospects. This can be tricky because the salesperson must not come across as dismissive or combative. At the same time, they still have to address the core of the objection in order to make the sale.

Model effective objection handling for your trainees. Then, give them an opportunity to try it through role-playing exercises. As they progress through training, you can make the exercises more complex. You could, for example, give them a situation in which the prospect doesn’t explicitly state their true objection.

7) Active listening

Prospects want to know that salespeople are truly listening to them—not simply looking for opportunities to sneak in talking points. Oftentimes, prospects won’t explicitly say what their true objections are. Even new salespeople who are naturally good listeners may struggle to develop the active listening skills they need for sales.

Do role-playing exercises that are specifically focused on active listening. Place limits on how often your sales reps can talk. After the exercise is complete, ask them to make observations on what the “prospect” really wanted to say. Push them to go beyond the obvious.

8) Organization skills

B2B sales reps must stay organized in order to succeed. Ask someone on your team who excels at organization to share their daily routine with trainees. Introduce them to productivity tools.

For their first few days on the job, ask your SDRs to record all of their activities and how long they took to complete them. This will help them to develop good habits.

9) Rapport building

Highly effective SDRs are able to develop a connection with prospects quickly, even if it’s just through email or over the phone. Ask your trainees to do rapport-building exercises with each other. You might try to replicate the conditions of sales by asking them to do it via email only.

Being an SDR is a tough job, and your recruits will have to learn a lot of new skills quickly. By creating a comprehensive training program for them, you can give them the best chance to succeed.

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.