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The Ultimate Guide to Hiring a SDR

For B2B startups, hiring SDRs can either dramatically increase overall sales, or it can bog down your team with unnecessary staff and overhead. Figuring out WHY, HOW and WHEN to hire SDRs makes all the difference. 

We've helped 300+ SaaS teams scale their outbound SDR programs since 2014. 

1st: Indications you need a SDR.

  • Inbound leads from content and marketing are getting difficult to track and monitor.
  • Inbound leads have plateaued and you need a new source of leads to fill your pipeline.
  • Your speed-to-lead time is increasing and it’s becoming harder to close leads.
  • AEs are running outbound and the results are inconsistent.
  • You are unable to get back to your inbound leads within 5 minutes.

These are all common signs we have seen from startups and companies we have helped. Think of a SDR as a sales resource that can have a big impact on your funnel from top to bottom and should affiliate closely with marketing.

2nd: Consider this...

Sales coach and legend, Richard Harris, suggests the following before hiring a SDR:
  1. What is the lifetime value (LTV) of your customer? Does the math of adding a SDR make sense for the additional customers you close?
  1. Before hiring more AEs it may be wiser to hire an SDR. AE’s don’t typically like prospecting, and will not be able to do it “full time” as an SDR could. This means you spend more money on CAC at the top of the funnel
  1. Who is going to onboard, train and coach your SDR?

       4. You need to automate everything not related to a SDR communicating with a lead or prospect.

The do NOT do list.
  1. Do NOT expect to see results immediately. It usually takes up to 6 months to evaluate whether or not a SDR is performing well.
  1. Do NOT be cheap when hiring a SDR. Good SDRs are in high demand.
  1. Do NOT hire a SDR to do data entry. Make sure your lists, databases, and sales  stack are solid before hiring a SDR.

3rd: Determine exactly what your SDR will do.


4th: SDR tech stack.

3 core tools.

You’ll need to give your SDR the tools to successfully reach out to targeted prospects. The 3 tools below are the core platforms a SDR needs. As your SDR team grows, you might want to consider adding coaching and content management tools as well.

1. Email Sequencing

2. Lead sourcing

3. Prospect research

5th: SDR pay.

This is dependent on a few factors. When evaluating SDRs consider the following:

If you want to keep costs low and try out a SDR, you might be looking at SDRs from a different country, but make sure you vet their english skills first and foremost. Sometimes you can find Americans traveling abroad that are willing to work at a lower rate than someone stateside. 

Experience pays.

Also consider a SDR’s experience. Not just years as a SDR, but the industries they have worked in. It’s imperative the SDR you hire understands the industry and audience your company serves. If the SDR doesn’t understand your customer’s pain points in detail, then there is a good chance you won’t see results.

In our experience, you can expect to pay anywhere from $3,000 - $7,000+ / SDR / Month depending on the scope criteria we covered above. If you just need a SDR to run outbound emails, you might be able to find a contractor and pay per hour or a monthly retainer.

Comp package.

If you are looking for an experienced SDR, you should understand and outline a competitive comp plan. Good SDRs are always in demand. What are you offering to keep them at your company and performing?


REMEMBER: To properly gauge whether or not a SDR is performing well, you’ll need at least 6 months.

6th: Search for SDRs.

If you look for a SDR yourself, you’ll want to make sure you put in plenty of time vetting contractors and testing their capabilities. Ask for references and sample work upfront. Additionally, pay a SDR candidate to do 3 exercises that reflect the scope of the position.

Postclick’s SDR manager, Sam Schooley, recommends the following:

The first SDR is the hardest role to hire for, full stop. Why? Most leaders believe "oh, I'll just hire someone whose done the job before!" Unlike most other sales roles.... the most successful SDRs for your company aren't working at another company.... because the best SDRs are no longer SDRs. 

Don't poach.

If you 'poach' an SDR from elsewhere... you're most likely getting C-grade talent that other folks have passed up on. Now then, don't get me wrong, occasionally there are valid reasons why someone was an SDR at one org, and is going to be one again. However, you, Mr. or Mrs. Founder with Zero Expertise in hiring these individuals, will not have the expertise needed to filter out those folks from the C-grade talent that job hops every 6 months from SDR gig to SDR gig.  

Instead, focus on a really solid recruiting firm to help you out. Want to build pipeline for your business? Pay for it, and build it into the cost of hiring the SDR.

Full-time SDRs:

  1. Linkedin
  2. Angellist
  3. Betts Recruiting
  4. Rainmakers
  5. Underdog

SDR Contractors:

  1. Ziprecruiter
  2. Upwork
  3. Gigster
  4. Guru

7th: SDR interview questions.

Lever’s senior sales enablement manager, Kaitlyn Buckheit, recommends the following:
  1. Ensure all questions are situation based where they are asked to provide a specific example from the past -- this helps bring to life how they think, process info, make decisions and act. Even without a lot of job experience, you can learn a lot from this .
  1. Identify what attributes you need on the team you are hiring for - these might change - and then ask those questions. 
  1. "Tell me about a time you received feedback?" -- SDR is all about coaching and feedback, seeing how they react to this is crucial.
  1. Role Play - do it twice and give them feedback. See how they implement it. Being able to take feedback is one thing, it is another skill to be able to apply it and get the result you want.
  1. Ownership - SDRs need to own their book of business, their skill development and their career progression. Dig into this. "Tell me about a time you were close to giving up" "tell me about your biggest mistake to date" 

Sam Schooley recommends these questions as well:
  1. Tell me about a time when you sold something to someone who did not want to purchase it?
  1. Tell me about a time when you were given a long list of tasks with no clear instructions on what order to solve them, and how you prioritized solving them.
  1. Tell me about a time when you communicated to senior executives / stakeholders and commanded executive presence.

FINALLY: Test out Hiplead’s full-service SDR and outbound capabilities.

If interviewing > onboarding > training > setting up outbound software > coaching a SDR feels daunting, or you don’t have the capacity, we can help! We specialize in our SDR + outbound service and can get you up and running in a few weeks instead of a few months. 

Don’t have 6 months to see if a SDR works for you? Let us do the heavy lifting and fill your calendars with interested leads in weeks!

Get in touch and customize a plan that fits your quarterly goals.


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