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Hiring in Sales: 7 Qualities to Look for in Your Next Sales Development Rep (SDR)

5 min
qualities of an SDR: Slintel

Being a sales development rep has to be one of the toughest jobs in the sales industry. Heck, personally, I feel like it’s one of the toughest jobs in the whole organization. Yes, yes, the tech people have it hard in terms of deliverables, and the marketing folk need to be on point with the messages they put across. But consider this: have you ever taken into account the anxiety, the nervousness, and the feels a sales development rep goes through while making that first call or sending that first cold email? 

They know it’s a make-or-break moment. They know if they don’t optimize their subject line or haven’t done their research, the prospect is just going to skim through the email, or spend 10 seconds on the call, and then cut them off. No second chances, no nothing. Nada. Zilch. 

And this is exactly why you should bother with actually landing the right individual for this role.

Hiring The Right Sales Development Rep

Sales Development Reps (SDRs) are the first POCs for anyone getting introduced to your company. This is the exact reason why it is crucial to recruit the right people for this role. Be it inbound or outbound, these reps are the first people prospects meet and talk to. Hiring the wrong SDRs can be costly: one bad impression and you’ve burned a potential key account with long term revenue effects. 

Which brings us to the qualities that are the bare minimum you can look for while hiring an SDR. Now, we have covered this topic separately in our ebook on Building A Star Sales Development Team, but let’s discuss the qualities you should be looking for while hiring an SDR in more detail:

  1. Curiosity 
  2. Coachability
  3. Eloquence
  4. Tech-Savviness
  5. Respect
  6. Resilience
  7. In It For The Long Haul

1. Curiosity

An ideal SDR would be as curious as a cat could ever be. Having a probing mindset will ensure that they ask the right questions at the right time. An inquisitive SDR will tend to make most of the information they get from the prospect and also understand the needs and challenges of the prospect effectively. 

Being curious also leads to new ideas and innovation, which every company worth staying with for a long time will love. Anybody can follow orders, but it takes a certain type of person to put their own spin on a process or email body and test it out.

Tips for hiring: Pay attention to what kind of questions they ask in the interview. Questions about your company, annual targets, your vision for the team, their role, and their growth trajectory indicate that they are inquisitive and like to have a thorough understanding of what they’re getting into. 

2. Coachability

Taking criticism well is of utmost importance for an SDR. They need to be smart, yes, but also they need to be able to see the fault in their ways, if any. While hiring SDRs, look for people with raw talent who can then be moulded into becoming the best they can be. 

Tips for hiring: Have the candidate perform some type of sales pitch or task. When complete give them feedback on their work. Really pay attention to how they respond.

3. Eloquence

This is the #1 skill you should be looking for while hiring an SDR. A good SDR should know how to put their point across without being misunderstood. Good communication can override any other teachable aspect of an SDR candidate.

Their whole existence in the company depends on them getting the value of your product across to potential customers. If they do not understand the product well or are not able to explain how your product can help the customer, you will end up getting no demos. 

Tips for hiring: Ask them what their previous company did and get them to deliver the product pitch to you. If they’re pitch is solid, then you’re probably already talking to your team’s next SDR.

4. Tech Savviness

We’re living in an all-digital world, and the products that we use (and sell) today are on the cloud, especially if you’re a tech company or in B2B SaaS. An SDR in today’s world needs to be comfortable using CRM and sales prospecting software, have a knack for using social media, and be interested in tech updates surrounding their industry.

5. Respect

While looking for qualities like creativity, passion, grit, curiosity, sometimes you run the risk of hiring a douche. Someone like this could bring down the morale of your entire team, before you even know it. Creating and letting a toxic environment run free is the worst thing you can do to your team. Whether it is the other sex or seniors, the person you hire should be respectful of the boundaries and the culture you have set at your office. 

Tips for hiring: Get the candidate to talk to your team in the interview process. Not just the senior most people, but people who might turn out to be colleagues and coworkers. Check in with your team after the interview to see how the candidate treated them. How was their personality? Did they think anything was off? 

6. Resilience

There is a lot of rejection attached to an SDR’s role. It takes an SDR multiple unsuccessful attempts to connect to an actual buyer. To be a great SDR, you need to be resilient to this form of constant rejection otherwise you’ll lose your passion and your work will suffer. 

You need someone who can make that phone call to a prospect when other reps would give up.

Tips for hiring: Look for a hire who has the mettle to hold their ground with rejection. Ask them about how they dealt with challenges or difficulties in their last organization, and how they overcame it. This will give you a sense of whether they can overcome challenges thrown their way without hesitation. 

7. In It For The Long Haul

Most SDRs are usually hired fresh out of college or are people that want to jump streams and start from scratch. We don’t mean in it for the long haul in terms of sticking to your particular company. We mean sticking to sales in the long haul. It’s important to find someone who has ambitions of really making it in the field. Sales is definitely hard, and anybody who isn’t happy or thrilled by the job would not stick to such roles. 

Tips for hiring: Look for someone who is interested in their growth trajectory. If they don’t ask, you as a hiring manager should ask them what their plan is if they join this role. “Do they want to manage a team? Would they want to move up and shift their role? Do they want to try out closing as a skill later on?”—such questions can give you clarity on where the individual is headed, and whether they are serious about a career in sales. 

Here’s To Hiring Better Talent

Testing for these traits in your interview process will help you hire better talent. Collaborating and evaluating these traits will allow you to review each individual’s overall rating and their scoring for these seven traits.

When you find a candidate who seems to check all these boxes, hire them! And delight them by sending a creative welcome kit to let them know you value them from day one. A few tokens of appreciation can go a long way in starting the relationship right.

It’s pretty hard to come across people who might have all these traits. But a healthy mix of a few important ones would definitely make a good SDR with training and constant learning. 

Here’s to all the hiring managers, sales heads, sales directors and VP’s about to hire a new crop of SDRs. We hope you find the perfect candidate for your organization!

The 6sense Team

6sense helps B2B organizations achieve predictable revenue growth by putting the power of AI, big data, and machine learning behind every member of the revenue team.

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