How to build pipeline – part 4

I read Trish Bertuzzi’s book ‘The Sales Development Playbook’ and it was by far one of the best sales books I’ve read in a while.  The book focuses heavily on building pipeline with SDR teams.  This is the second post of a few I’m going to share about this book: there was so much good information that putting it all in one post would be too long.  Below are some of the excerpts I found to be very insightful, from page 128 to 160.


Set expectations.  “We may tell a candidate the story about the person who got promoted in six months, but we tell them that they could just as well expect to spend two years in the role. Doing a good job of setting expectations upfront prevents disconnects and the inevitable disappointments.”


Use micro-promotions.  “Have the flexibility to build steps within roles.  You might hire a junior SDR, promote to associate SDR, and then elevate to senior SDR. I call these in-role advancements micro-promotions.  Micro-promotions should be built on a five- to nine-month cadence. Micro-promotions have to be earned.  During the recruiting process, share the progression path with you candidates. Get it out on the table early.”


Going from SDR to AE is big.  “The jump in skillset from the SDR role (prospecting and qualifying) to an AE role (challenging and closing) is significant. Very few can seamlessly make the leap.  The micro-promotions we detailed above are a way to bridge the gap. Adding small amounts of incremental responsibility along the path can be a great way to vet an SDR’s desire and abilities. You could have SDRs work on larger accounts, call higher into target organizations, or perhaps participate in demos or sales calls for the opportunities they generate. The important thing is that they have the sense they are learning new skills and are upwardly mobile.  Also, be sure to communicate that this isn’t a one-and-done process. You might find that excellent AEs come from SDRs who took two or three attempts to demonstrate their readiness.”


Shorter sales cycle helps.  “If you’re selling lower-dollar-value deals with shorter sales cycles, your SDRs will likely be ready for promotion sooner. I’ve seen successful SDR-to-AE promotion periods range from nine to sixteen months. For companies with more complex sales, eighteen to twenty-four months isn’t uncommon (with micro-promotions built in along the way).”


Promote only if you would hire.  “The moral of the story: promote only those you would hire. Put your SDRs through the same hiring and evaluation process you would for external candidates. No one benefits – not you, your company, sales leadership, or the SDRs themselves – When a promotion sets reps up to fail.”


The phone is where it starts.  “The key thing for leaders to remember is to get new reps on the phones ASAP. I’m not sure that there is a magic number, but I know that reps need hundreds of live connects before they are truly ramped. The faster they get there, the better. It is my personal belief that reps should be on the phone making dials by the end of their first week.”


6+ attempts.  “Reps are giving up too quickly. Studies have found that it takes between ix and ten attempts (including at least four by phone calls) to properly prospect a given contact. Consider the following from The absolute bare minimum number of attempts to contact at least 50 percent of your leads is 6. The average rep’s performance? Between 1.7 and 2.1.  In addition to executing a multi-touch cadence, reps need to vary the media they use. This should include the following: Voicemail, Email, Other (ghosting, texting, social media).  Ghosting is calling a prospect, hoping to catch them live, and not leaving a voicemail.  One voicemail and email are equally important. Two, voicemail and email together are twice as impactful as all the rest combined”