In my last company, our Business Development Representative (BDR) team became one of our biggest success stories, driving a remarkable amount of business. The BDR team became the direct funnel to our Inside Sales team, and after the company was sold, dozens of reps who came up through the program went on to become all-star sales executives and sales leaders for other companies – including many ranked by Inc. 5000 and Deloitte Fast 500.
1. Focus on leadership
Since most BDRs/SDRs are junior, it’s critical to have good hands-on leaders – leaders who are solid mentors, coaches and advisers. These leaders are the ones out front, jumping on calls to show new reps how it’s done. They lead by action and by example, instead of leading by words.
Strong leaders rely on KPIs and crystal clear performance data to evaluate their team members. Reps have to know what they are measured on and why they are measured this way. They should know how their success impacts the business. This is why sales leaders should have an established system of evaluating success and should communicate that system to those working on the team.
Additionally, great leaders cultivate a team atmosphere of camaraderie and competition. They celebrate small wins as well as big wins, whether it’s meeting quotas or scoring big deals. Leaders can promote healthy competition by offering incentives and rewards for these wins, like gift cards, extra vacation time or bonuses.
It’s far better to over-hire than to under-hire, which is why recruiting is critical to building a BDR team. You need a constant flow of candidates in order to compile your A-team, and over-hiring will ultimately end up bringing in more money than you will save by under-hiring.
The reason it’s better to over-hire is because sales teams notoriously face retention and fit issues; many BDRs are trying to figure out whether they even want to be in a sales role. In other cases, BDRs simply aren’t the right cultural or industry fit. It’s important to manage those reps out quickly so you can move on in compiling the right team for your company.
Colleges and universities are great places to find BDRs, and that’s where a lot of companies hire from. But I also had significant success transitioning reps from other industries. I was able to get a few more mature reps who knew they wanted to be in sales and knew tech sales was the place to be.
Daily, weekly and monthly training is essential to your BDRs’ success. Start with the sales fundamentals; no matter how much you think a junior BDR knows, they won’t know enough. There should be no cap on training.
Reinforce your company’s GTM sales processes repeatedly, and make sure to incorporate situational training such as mock calls and mock sales scenarios.
4. Define career paths
Be aware that every BDR will be using this role to get their next job, at your company or somewhere else. Being transparent about career paths within your sales team will enhance your recruitment efforts and increase your retention of great reps. Career paths, and the objectives to achieve a career path, should be clearly established and documented. BDRs should know at all times where they are in their career trajectory and what they have to do to get to the next level. You should also celebrate promotions within the team and the company, which will incentivize your BDRs and increase company-wide motivation.
Developing a solid BDR team from scratch could be critical to your company’s overall success. When you build it, do it with intention and incorporate the items above. Your BDR team could end up being your company’s greatest asset.