9 Tips to Incentivize SDRs to be Hungry for Success

Incentivize SDRs

Most SDRs enter a new job hungry for success. But over time, their enthusiasm can dissipate as they encounter the day-to-day grind of sales: the rejection, disappointment, and repetition.

As a sales manager, a major part of your job is to keep your SDRs hungry. With a little encouragement, even a burned out SDR can become rejuvenated. Here are nine ways to help your SDRs remain motivated.

1. Set small goals in addition to large ones.

While most SDRs carry monthly sales quotas, those goals can appear overwhelming to many sales reps. For underperforming SDRs especially, quotas can be more of an albatross than a motivator. It’s helpful to break up large goals into small chunks so that SDRs can feel like they are making incremental process.

Oftentimes, it’s helpful to create goals that are entirely within SDRs’ control. These include number of cold calls, follow-up emails, and demonstrations set up, among other metrics. SDRs can feel like they are in control of their own destinies, and meeting these goals ultimately will result in more sales.

2. Encourage healthy competition among your team with contests.

The benefits of gamification in sales are well-documented. SDRs tend to be competitive by nature, and by creating formal contests you can encourage them to improve. The beauty of contests is that managers can design contests to align with performance goals. It’s possible to run a contest that lasts only for a single afternoon, or you can run a major contest for an entire quarter.

Even modest prizes can provide major sources of motivation. Besides, the real prize is bragging rights.

3. Recognize all successes, large and small.

Although a new iPad can serve as a motivator, not all rewards require expenditures. Sometimes, all it takes is a simple “good job” to brighten an SDR’s day. Handwritten thank-you notes are even better, as they provide a lasting memento of success. (Emails, in contrast, are very easily lost in the shuffle.)

Remember, SDRs are at the bottom of the hierarchy within the sales department. It’s easy for them to feel like a cog in the machine, or that the work they do to generate revenue isn’t appreciated. Heartfelt recognition addresses this problem effectively.

4. Meet with SDRs one-on-one on a regular basis.

By meeting regularly with your SDRs, you show them that you are interested in their career development. Set up weekly or monthly meetings and stick to them. During the duration of the meeting, be sure to give the SDR your undivided attention.

At the meeting, don’t just discuss minutiae about particular deals. Talk about larger strategy and give constructive feedback. Even a short meeting can do a lot to show your SDRs that you care about their future careers. Always include positive feedback as well as negative, and end on an encouraging note.

5. Invest in new tools for your SDRs to use.

Making cold calls, sifting through the CRM, and answering emails every day gets repetitive—especially for your brightest and most curious SDRs. To keep them engaged, provide them with new technological tools on occasion so they’ll have something new to stimulate their minds.

Obviously you want to select tools that are actually helpful and don’t want to overwhelm your SDRs, but new tools can reignite sagging office energy. Additionally, implementing new tools and work processes demonstrates to your SDRs that sales is a dynamic field. They should be constantly working to improve along with their tools.

6. Switch things up in the office on occasion.

Sometimes you don’t need to invest in new technology in order to freshen up the workplace. Implementing special activities in the office can break up the monotony of the work process. Possible examples include:

  • Flash contests
  • Surprise snacks
  • Switching workspaces
  • Changing the dress code for a day (i.e. jeans to work)
  • An hour where the team gets together and performs an activity side by side

While these ideas may seem silly, changing up old routines can snap employees out of complacency and make going to work just a little more exciting.

7. Create different compensation plans for different performers.

Traditionally, sales leaders believed that offering more monetary incentives was the key to motivating SDRs. It’s actually a little more complicated than that. According to an influential article from the Harvard Business Review, businesses should provide different motivators for different performers. The superstar SDR needs a different compensation plan than the underperforming SDR who does only the bare minimum.

Here’s what authors Thomas Steenburgh and Michael Ahearne suggest:

Core performers—SDRs in the middle range of performance—should be given multi-tier targets and gifts (not cash) as incentives. High performers should be encouraged through contests, overachievement commissions, and removing the ceiling on commissions. Laggards or low performers should be given a carefully crafted plan that encourages them to set an improved pace through quarterly bonuses.

8. Offer quality training and mentorship.

For average and above-average performers, it’s motivating to receive career guidance. In fact, the potential to advance professionally can be more motivating than cash incentives. Institute a mentorship program to provide less experienced SDRs with a mentor who can help them navigate the highs and lows of a sales career. Mentors can watch out for signs of disengagement.

Training is also useful for helping SDRs to find their hunger again. Craft your training programs carefully so that you really are providing SDRs with new information. Switch up the format of your training sessions for additional interest. If you can, consider bringing in an outside speaker.

9. Show SDRs an upward trajectory for their career.

Most of your SDRs won’t want to be SDRs forever. To encourage them to do their best, show them that it’s possible to advance within your company. When hiring new account executives and other positions, make hires from within your own ranks on occasion. This shows your SDRs that they too can stay and advance.

By thoughtfully implementing these incentives, you can keep your SDRs motivated and hungry.

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Marketing Manager @ CloserIQ. Previously Recruiter @ ManpowerGroup & Freelance Social Media Strategist. University of Wisconsin Journalism & Strategic Communication Grad.