We got another great survey from Bridge Group which looks at the SDR teams of 406 B2B businesses. The survey is dominated by SaaS companies, and while it’s well worth the read, our favorite findings are below:
The goal should be to fill calendars. Some SDR teams focus on setting introductory meetings for sales reps/account executives while others take it a step further and try to provide interested prospects, known as ‘qualified opportunities’. Bridge makes the point that the decision to provide one or the other should be based on how full the sales reps’ calendars are: if your sales reps have full calendars, then the SDR’s should focus on qualified opportunities until you can hire more sales reps. If the calendars are empty, then focus on getting sales reps less qualified introductory meetings as well as qualified opportunities. In other words, fill their calendars.
Separate inbound qualification and outbound prospecting if your flow is that strong. Only separate the SDR team if you’re getting enough inbound deal flow such that you need to staff at least two SDR’s on the task full time. Otherwise, the SDR team should handle both inbound and outbound deal flow. 49% of respondents have this hybrid style.
Report to sales. “Since 2012, we’ve found the vast majority of SDR teams reporting to Sales. This year the trend continues with 68% of groups sitting within the Sales organization. It’s worth mentioning that roughly half of all inbound teams report to Marketing. This makes inbound groups 1.4 times as likely to report to Marketing as specialized, hybrid, or outbound groups.”
The average ratio is 1 SDR for 2.6 account executives. Smaller companies tend to have a higher ratio of SDRs to AEs, meaning one SDR supports even fewer AE’s.
64% of SDRs are remote. “In 2018, 48% of companies reported reps in the same role working in different locations. Due to COVID/remote/WFH, that number increased to 64%. Note that 23% of companies report plans for “fully remote” SDR groups for the foreseeable future. That was nearly unthinkable just a few years ago.”
The typical SDR has only 1.2 years of experience. That number has declined every year since 2010 when the number was 2.5 years. Of course, the more complex the product and the higher the ACV, the more experienced the SDR needs to be. Average ramp time of an SDR is 3.1 months and the average tenure is only 1.8 years, so you get 17 months of full productivity. To improve these metrics, promote your SDR’s frequently (junior, associate, senior SDR) and give them the opportunity to become AE’s.
The base salary of an SDR is $50k and OTE is $76k. Bridge Group believes the pay is low and falling because companies are hiring less experienced reps. “We find median on-target earnings of $76K and a 65:35 (base:variable) split. Continuing a decade long trend, median OTE remains flat.”
The average quota of an SDR is 19 meetings set, 12.5 semi-qualified opportunities per month, and 10.5 fully qualified opportunities. Obviously quotas vary widely, based on ACV/deal size as well as whether your SDR’s are focused on outbound marketing or inbound cultivation, the size of company they’re calling on, maturity of the market, etc. Make sure quota is attainable, otherwise you’ll dis-incentivize reps and burn them out. On average, 68% of reps hit quota. “There has been remarkable consistency around this metric over the years. Two-thirds of reps achieving quota seems to be the natural equilibrium.”
On average, SDR’s make 40 dials per day and 40 emails per day, with 4.4 quality conversations. Obviously if your group is more email centric, dials come down. On average, SDR’s make 10.6 attempts per prospect. According to Bridge, 9 to 12 attempts is the sweet spot. “By definition, phone-centric groups average higher dials per day. Interestingly, they also report 2.1X as many average QCs per day.” Median raw pipeline generated per SDR is $3mm.
Use dialing technology. “We found the median sales tech stack consists of CRM plus 4.5 additional tools. High-Growth companies report one additional tool, on average, compared to Laggards.“ Groups using dialing technology reported 28% more dials and 30% more quality conversations per day. This is because dialing tech promotes efficient routing, sets a nice cadence, provides analytics, and can even gamify the process of outbounding. In regards to email, 86% of companies in the survey use some sort of email technology.
On average, 1 manager oversees 8 SDR’s. “The median number of SDRs reporting to a single first-line leader is 8. This is consistent with our findings from 2016 and 2020. As revenues increase, front-line leaders support more SDRs. “ The compensation of a manager is $128k.
Overall, this blog post doesn’t do the study justice. It’s well worth the read and can be downloaded at http://www.bridgegroupinc.com/. Below we show Bridge’s data on account executives. The latest survey includes data from 253 B2B SaaS companies with median ARR of $22mm and median ACV of $38k. The report is well worth the read and available at their site (bridgegroupinc.com). Below we summarize some of the parts we found most insightful.
33% of AE’s pipeline is from marketing. “This includes inbound SDR support and excludes outbound sales development efforts.” That means the other 67% needs to be filled by outbound efforts of the AE and SDRs. As ARR and ACV grows, marketing contributes a smaller fraction of pipeline.
On average, 81% of AE’s are supported by an SDR team. “We observed little variation by company revenues— companies at $25M ARR are as likely to use the SDR role as those at $250M. The inflection point for SDR support is driven by ACV. Somewhere between $515K ACV companies move from we can’t afford SDRs to we can’t afford not to have them.” Additionally, “For high-growth companies that number increases to 87%.”
Specialization of the sales effort. “59% of companies support the customer lifecycle with at least three distinct sales roles—SDRs, AEs, and CSMs (AMs, Renewal Reps, etc.). When we remove companies under $5M in revenues, that number rises to 67%. High-growth companies are slightly more likely to “triple specialize” than laggards.”
At hire, the average AE has 2.7 years of experience and needs 5.3 months to ramp. Only 22% of companies require that an AE have more than 5 years experience before hire. “Notably, fewer companies require 3+ years’ experience—down from 42% in 2020 to 32% in 2022. We note that high-growth companies require 15% less experience, on average, than laggards. Average experience prior to hire.” Also “Respondents with ACVs over $100K require nearly 1.7X more experience than those with ACVs below $25K.”
Tenure is only 2.2 years. So after the 5.3 months of ramp, you get 21.1 months of quality production out of good reps. “This is down from 26 months in 2020’s report. Considering lower experience requirements—which correlate with shorter tenure—and an overall fall in average tenure, this isn’t surprising.”
Attrition. “Median annual turnover sits at 32% split between 12% involuntary turnover (attrition resulting from termination) and 20% voluntary turnover (attrition initiated by the rep – e.g., The Great Resignation).”
AEs average 18 dials and 25 emails per day.
Quota achievement is 66%. “On average, 66% of reps in a given group achieve quota. There has been remarkable consistency around this metric over the years. Two-thirds of reps achieving quota seems to be the natural equilibrium.”
Quota to earnings is 4.4x. “Median annual ACV quota is now $740K. Median on-target earnings are $167K with a 54:46 (base:variable) split. Continuing a decade+ trend, median OTE rose to record highs in 2022. While quotas have increased at roughly 2% annually, OTEs have risen at more than 5% CAGR over that same period. As ACVs rise, so do median on-target earning levels. At 100% of quota, the median commission rate is 10.3% of ACV.”
7 reps per sales leader. “The median number of AEs reporting to a single first-line leader is 7. This is consistent with our findings since 2015. As revenues increase, leaders support more AEs.” Manager comp is $173k on median. VP comp is $296k.
Customer Success reps have a base salary of $61k on average. That said, on target earnings are $100k for a CS rep. For an AE, the base is $62k on average with OTE of $126k. The higher the ACV, the higher the OTE. The average annual quota of such reps was $770k for a Bookings/Earnings ratio of 6.1x. As ACV rises, so does quota.
The report is full of a lot more data and insights than presented in this blog. Their website is https://www.bridgegroupinc.com/ if you want to download the report directly. It’s the best sales we’ve found and it’s updated annually.
Visit us at blossomstreetventures.com and email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. All founders and funds welcome! We invest in companies with run rate revenue of $3mm to $30mm, with year over year growth of 20% to 50%+ depending on revenue. We lead or follow in growth rounds and special situations like inside rounds, small rounds, rushed rounds, corralling investors with our term sheet, bridges, inbetweeners, cap table clean up, and extensions. We can commit in 3 weeks and our check is $1mm to $4mm. Also visit https://blossomstreetventures.com/metrics/ for always up-to-date SaaS metrics.