Rapidly expanding your sales team is an exciting marker of growth for any startup. But to maximize the success of your growing team, new SDRs need to hit the ground running. Onboarding and ramping processes play a massive role in how quickly your new SDRs can be effective in their roles. Luckily, as an operations lead, there’s a lot you can do to boost success rates for new SDRs.
Whether your incoming SDRs are new graduates entering the workforce for the first time or crossing over into sales from another department, they need solid, consistent guidance to effectively book meetings and track their pieces of the sales cycle. This is especially true at scale.
By establishing an open-door policy, focusing your training on the fundamentals, streamlining your sales process, and conducting post-training interviews, you’ll be able to tighten up your onboarding processes, get SDRs ramped faster, and minimize turnover.
One of the first things new hires should hear is that it’s never a bother to ask questions or seek feedback. Not only is it not a bother—you expect them to ask questions throughout their first days and weeks. No one wants to be perceived as a nuisance when starting in a new role (especially those just entering the workforce) so it can be helpful to communicate this policy clearly and often.
This is especially important in remote work environments. Without the ability to meet new colleagues face-to-face, or to nudge a desk-mate to ask a question, the challenges of building relationships and staying connected are amplified. With no assurance of in-person open doors and smiling faces, it can be daunting for new reps to message teammates or send meeting invites for what might be considered “simple” questions. If open access to your team isn’t established from day one, new reps can feel isolated and helpless when they have questions.
Building your SDR training around core fundamental skills can help accelerate the training process for new reps. Doing this will ensure that your new SDRs know, from day one, exactly what they should be doing and how to do it. What tools are they expected to use and how are they expected to use them? How should they find prospects, and how should they reach out to them? Where and when should they put this information in Salesforce? If your onboarding training answers these basic questions clearly, you’re probably in good shape.
With so many different tools in today’s average sales tech stack, it’s important to focus your reps on a limited number of tools at the beginning. This ensures that they won’t get bogged down by choice or confusion about where they should be focusing.
We recommend starting with your 2 or 3 most essential tools in onboarding (your CRM, your sales engagement tool, and LinkedIn would be a good start) before gradually layering on additional tools at the ramping stage. Take it a step further by pre-building prospecting reports and outreach sequences for your reps. You can also provide template messaging. This empowers SDRs to do what they should be doing—reaching out to prospects—much sooner than they otherwise could.
The most successful SDRs know how to use their time efficiently. When asked, they can give a detailed rundown of how their day will go—hour by hour from the morning through to the end of day. This should be expected of fully ramped SDRs.
But SDRs who are brand new to the workforce may not have context for basic business processes like time management. Left unaddressed, this can add up to a lot of wasted time and potential for new reps. Get ahead of this problem by including time management training in your onboarding. Teaching fundamental time management techniques such as calendar blocking sets an expectation for how new reps will structure their time, and reduces the potential for aimlessness. This may seem basic, but it’s well worth including in your program.
A lot of onboarding programs make the mistake of either focusing too heavily on process or too heavily on product education. But what good is a rep who can book a meeting but not actually create an Opportunity in Salesforce, and vice versa?
Design your onboarding program to have a balance of product education and process training. At the beginning, reps will need to know the basics of your product and ICP and how to get critical information to and from your CRM and other key tools. Your goal at this stage is not to create a product expert or a Salesforce whiz, but rather to equip reps to function at a basic level in both of these critical areas.
For example, don’t expect new reps to focus on personalization when they can be using pre-built sequences and templates to get communication out the door. Depending on their abilities and interests, some reps will build their skills in one direction or another at the ramping stage.
Having a streamlined sales process in place helps everyone, and has a particular impact on new SDRs. A clunky process will obviously slow down onboarding and ramping, but there are bigger consequences, too. The factors that create sales friction—a bloated tech stack, manual processes, and siloed workflows—add up to information overload for new hires. For even the most talented reps, this means slower learning, confusion, and working errors: a perfect storm for underperformance. Underperforming SDRs often don’t make it past the probation period, which is a time consuming and potentially very costly reality that ops can help minimize.
When determining how to best streamline your sales process, you may want to consider the bigger picture of how your sales stages are (or aren’t) functioning in relation to what your sales team is doing on the ground. It’s also worth looking into some practical ways to make Salesforce more user-friendly, automating actions where possible. Consider making some basic enhancements to your Lightning pages and implementing simple Salesforce screen flows to eliminate unnecessary admin work for your reps. Screen flows, for example, can smooth out the hand-off process from SDR to AE and automate the flow of information from one record to another.
Improving your basic sales infrastructure has the added benefit of making sure new reps are actually entering the data you need. This becomes crucial when assessing team and rep performance and making hiring decisions as you scale.
When a new rep reaches the end of their training, schedule some time to conduct a post-training interview. This is a time for both parties to provide honest feedback about the process. As a leader, your feedback can include tracked metrics, success highlights, and constructive insights for further development.
When talking about metrics, it’s important to keep in mind that traditional metrics like call volume and meetings booked may not be the best representation of early SDR success.
Instead, focus on metrics that track the learning progression and process mastery of your new reps. Consider looking at some of the following metrics:
These metrics reflect the effectiveness of your training and the effort your new reps are putting in. For example, the number of net new contacts added into the system should gradually increase as time goes on. With these metrics available, you can guide your new reps into the next phase of their role: driving revenue.
Make sure that the post-training interview is a two-way street. Your newly ramped reps should feel comfortable providing feedback on their experience as well. Some good insights they can give include their thoughts on the content of your training program and thoughts on how you might improve the process for future reps.