Building SaaS Pipeline – part 2

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 55 to 84.



The life of an SDR is short.  “Two thirds of first-time SDRs are being promoted up or otherwise moving out of the role within 18 months.”


Hire in classes.  “The massive efficiency gains from hiring two or more reps simultaneously vastly outweigh the boldness of the proposition.  Training for one single rep tends to be informal, ad hoc, and (too often) sloppy, but training a “class” demands more attention and quality preparation.  New Hires Bond Together: A class mentality leads to peer-to-peer coaching, better brainstorming, and a healthy competitive spirit.  The big benefit is that new reps don’t feel like they’re alone. If you’re launching a sales development group from scratch, you absolutely want to hire as a class. I suggest you budget for an initial headcount of at least three reps.”


Characteristics.  “Hire and promote first on the basis of integrity; second, motivation; third, capacity; fourth, understanding; fifth, knowledge; and last and least, experience. Without integrity, motivation is dangerous; Without motivation, capacity is impotent; without capacity, understanding is limited; Without understanding, knowledge is meaningless; without knowledge, experience is blind. Experience is easy to provide and quickly put to good use by people with all the other qualities.”


Job descriptions.  “Most of us were taught that a job description should, well, describe the job. But that’s totally backwards. A job description should sell the job.  Your job description should be an amazing piece of content that you’ll use to attract the best talent. In a highly competitive market, you’ll be selling the sizzle, while every other hiring manager will be documenting the chemical makeup of the task.  EXAMPLE: Zenefits is the fastest-growing SAAS company ever. The founders managed to hit on a great idea at just the right time, and now they’re reaping the rewards. Two years ago, we had six employees and zero customers. Only a year later, the company hired 212 employees and signed over 2000 customers.  EXAMPLE: We’re looking for recent college grads that want to jump-start their career through enterprise sales and business development. Did you know that 40 percent of S&P 500 CEOs come from sales and marketing backgrounds? Previous sales experience in technology doesn’t hurt, but it isn’t a requirement (the majority of our team came directly from the dorm to our office!  The line “40 percent of S&P 500 CEOs come from sales and marketing background” is killer. More often that not, when people graduate from college, they don’t run out the door waving their diplomas and hollering, “give me a list, give me a phone, I’m ready to hammer out some dials!


To be successful, you are going to need to get in front of these reps and pitch them in the proposition that the best path toward their end game (a closing role, founding a company, marketing, leadership, etc.) is by joining you for a fantastic learning and growth experience.”


SDR Comp.  “The average base is $46k and on target earnings are $72k.  The core plan has no more than two moving pieces, and the nuances can be bulleted out on a cocktail napkin. If it takes PowerPoint and a cross-country plane ride to explain it to the rep, the plan is broken.  I don’t believe that reps should be rewarded or penalized for the skills/actions of others. This includes tying a large portion of incentive compensation to won business. SDRs can’t choose their partnered account executives. Nor do they participate in the opportunity process. A large share of their income shouldn’t be dependent on factors outside their control.  Base salary should be roughly 60-70 percent of total compensation for sales development reps. Also, whenever possible, pay incentive compensation monthly. These SDRs aren’t your angel investors. Don’t make them wait for a payday.”


Paying for meetings.  “For groups setting introductory meetings, you should pay them on meetings held. It follows that a rep’s job is twofold. One, schedule the meeting. And two, make sure the meeting is held. Whether or not the meeting advances to the next step in the sales process is in the account executive’s hands.”


Don’t pay for closed deals. “For groups generating qualified opportunities, there is a strong impulse to equate quality with closed business. This often translates to paying the bulk of incentive compensation for closed deals that were sourced by the SDR. From a management perspective, this is couched in terms of “driving alignment with the business”. From a rep perspective, they will often refer to it as “screwing me for things outside my control.”  It is my firm belief that you shouldn’t tie more than 20 percent of incentive compensation to “opportunities won”


The CEO should message candidates.  “Think back to all those boilerplate recruiter messages flying around on LinkedIn. Beyond being nearly identical, they all tend to make one more fatal error. They try to sell the role, not a conversation. “If you are interested, please email me your resume” will nearly always turn off a passive candidate.” Also, message directly: “How would you react if the CEO, the SVP of sales, or another senior hiring manager messaged you directly? Don’t you think that would have a bigger impact on you? Everyone, even those early in their careers, expects to get hit up by recruiters on LinkedIn”


Keep a lookout for more posts on this fantastic book.


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