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How SDR Managers Can Help Their Reps Build More Pipeline

As you might have heard, Reprise is a new partner of JB Sales! We’re super excited to support the awesome sales coaching and learning they have going on right now. 

Recently they hosted a really interesting webinar about how SDR managers can help their reps to succeed in building more pipeline, closing more deals, and generally being as successful as possible. 

Since sales and coaching are both topics close to my heart, I had to write down some of my favorite takeaways from this insightful conversation. 

The webinar’s featured speakers were: 

James Buckley, Chief Evangelist and Master of Ceremonies at JB Sales

Ashley Kelly, VP of Sales Development at Brex

John Barrows, CEO of JBarrows Sales Training

Brian Smith Jr., Revenue Enablement Manager at Vendition

Managing vs. Coaching vs. Leadership

The most important job of being an SDR leader is being a coach. But it’s tricky, especially when you make the transition from being an SDR to managing your former peers. 

To be a great SDR leader, think about what kind of impact you can make on your team on a daily basis. It doesn’t need to be major, but your team should feel you’re making their job easier daily. Being a manager is great – that title is certainly nice – but can people actually say you’re the person they go to when they need help? 

Coaching is walking side by side with someone in the moment – that vital on-the-job training with immediate feedback so they can get it right next time. Managing is removing roadblocks for them, and showing them the growth and development of how far they’ve come. Leadership is vision. And the biggest thing for all three is being available and human. 

Leaders help people understand the why. Reps might get assigned to do 50 cold calls a day and have no idea why. But a great leader will break it down for them: here’s how much our yearly quota is, how much net new we need, and here’s how many calls we need to make to get there. Managing is giving you the systems and tools to do it, and coaching is letting me show you how to do it. 

Leading by Example

You don’t need to do all the coaching by yourself – there are effective ways to spread it out. One great way to leverage the team to coach is with a form of cold call roulette. You get everyone in one room (which is not so easy now) and do rolling cold calls, see what works and what does not, and then it’s coaching without you directing anything.

It’s not as easy to do this virtually but it can work – and it’s important. It’s also just a fun opportunity to have a good time with your team. 

Celebrating is important too. Celebrate other aspects than just win rate too, because the same people usually win. JB used to give one rep a week a trainwreck medallion to wear – it’s for having the biggest trainwreck call of the week. Celebrate that because you learn from it, and it’s fun. It’s a cold call, what’s the worst possible thing that could happen to you? This makes failure less scary too. 

Possible Coaching Frameworks 

There’s both an art and a science to coaching. It starts with working backwards off of what the goals of the organization and the team are. Review that regularly in 1:1s. 

And have conversations so you really understand where someone wants to go in their career – they don’t all want to be SDR managers one day. Conversations also help you understand what motivates them and how they like to be communicated to (especially in a remote environment, that’s vital). 

Coaching must be a two-way street. Anything you expect reps to do, you need to show them – do it yourself. One great framework for coaching is three steps. In the first, you show the rep how it’s done. In the second, they do most of it with you helping them. And in the third, they do it themselves to build confidence – this is how you scale. This method is great for onboarding new reps and training a new team – you will see good results. 

Even the best coach can’t teach drive, passion, or work ethic – you need to hire for that. But you can test how well your new hires score here and see who will probably be successful, and find the best way to help them. Have each new rep do 50 calls per day for a month to show you they can put in the work. After that first month, if they’ve done them all but the calls aren’t really working, then you can coach them on the quality because you know they can do the quantity. Don’t take a generic coaching approach – people work differently, and they’re motivated by different things as well. 

Coaching starts with relationships. You need continuing conversations to learn about your people and how they work best – radical candor is a great framework for this. By talking to them regularly, you’ll understand what motivates them and as a leader help them get where they’re going to go. They know when you’re pushing and holding them accountable it’s because you’re on the same team and you’re both working to get to the same place. 

With your best reps, think of long-term goals to really get them there. With B reps, it’s a quarterly goal. With a C rep who is struggling, they need short-term encouragement and to change their mindset – they’re getting used to no. If they really care about succeeding and they’re trying, put all your effort into helping them succeed. Are they giving 100%? If so, don’t quit them as a coach.  

And remember, there’s nothing wrong with getting coaching from above when you’re a coach either. 

Coaching Tactics 

Top-down alignment and scheduled time. Coaching needs to be a priority all the way from the top down or you all end up being deal chasers. Managers should be measured on how much you’re coaching your team and given time and autonomy – then you’ll really see results. It helps leaders to be more proactive than reactive. 

Make it personal. This is what helps reps get to the next level. Those conversations where you get to know your reps, what motivates them, how to communicate with them, and what they want to share about their personal lives as well – they make a big difference. 

Scheduled vs ad hoc. Have a schedule and a consistent agenda to track those coaching plans with each person. But also check in ad hoc when people are struggling because it’s a tough environment and everyone needs pep talks – even CEOs. 

Pick one thing a week to work on as a group. Someone owns a group challenge (like getting through gatekeepers). Pick one thing, someone presents the approach to the team and everyone writes it out. As you go through the week, everyone will see and track how it works and when it doesn’t – test and learn. This creates a continuous learning environment and you don’t have to coach. Everyone is getting better every day as a group. 

Watch the complete webinar here:

Photo by Erlend Ekseth on Unsplash