3 Fundamentals to Motivate your SDR Team as a New Sales Manager

Scott Leese

2020 is hard enough for businesses and has been especially challenging for B2B sales teams. There are only so many times you can get told where to put something before you need to take a lap and really evaluate your life. It’s no wonder why a lot of SDR’s have their sales career stall out here. So, how do you keep your team motivated and consistent?

Of course, you can get a strong push from members from cool spiffs and incentives, but if you want consistency you need to know your people, create a team structure that is accountable and rewards positive outputs, and give them the tools to be successful.

This probably sounds obvious, but there is a reason that there are 10 million sales and leadership books on the market and it’s because people often forget the fundamentals. Just like you would not go into a job interview without doing research on the company [I hope] you’re going to be working for, you shouldn’t skip over the most important part of the process: the people performing it. 

For those stepping into their first SDR leadership role, here are some fundamentals that must be in your 30/60/90 day plan:

  • Know your people
  • Create a solid team structure
  • Focus on creating good habits

If you can manage to accomplish these three things, you will be able to motivate and inspire your team to show up and work hard for their personal goals and believe in your leadership to get them there.

Know your people.

Who are you leading?

Existential – I know – but after you’re done rolling your eyes, hear me out. In my experience, not everyone has goals (shocker!). A lot of SDR’s join the industry because they “need a job”, but why? It could be to move out of mom and dad’s house, or because they have a kid on the way, or they are looking to buy a car, or to climb the ladder and sell their way to financial freedom, or something less obvious. 

It is your job to understand what each person cares about so you know what is going to resonate with them and keep them in the game mentally. Take the time to get to know each member of your team, what they care about outside of work and what they want to achieve short term and long term. It is your job to discover what makes them tick and give them a goal that they can be excited about. If people are fired up about a goal, they can get fired up to make that next call. 

Once you understand what their goals are, show them what inputs they need to put in to get there, help them build a timeline to achieve the goal and help them turn something abstract into a concrete vision. 

I can not stress how important it is not to skip this step when starting as a new leader. Without it, you will not get the most out of your team, push them to new heights, and many of them will likely fail. You are not just giving them support, you are helping them achieve their life goals. It is their responsibility to achieve those goals, but it is your responsibility to support it and coach them to get there.

Create a solid team structure.

Without structure, there is chaos.

People are creatures of habit and one way to make people comfortable in a role, earn the respect of the team, and instill discipline is creating a familiar structure that they know what to expect day-to-day. 

For example, when their work day starts, have a team huddle and create consistency with the huddles. Mine are almost always the same:

  • Information: Any news for the team or org to keep people up to date.
  • Education: Focus on one small area of improvement that aligns with the teams overall performance. Give them actionable instructions on what you expect them to do.
  • Recognition: Recognize wins, effort, and metrics. This will earn appreciation from performers and motivate others to get recognized.
  • Motivation: Give them something to fight for today.

Every morning, hold this meeting. If the team is lacking energy, bring the energy yourself and check in with your team leaders. If the team is on fire, pour gas on it and don’t let the motivation slow down at all. 

After all my huddles, I would then go around and “touch chairs”. Chair touches are not replacing one on one’s, but just a quick check in and daily goal setting. Talk to each member of your team and check their vibe/mood/mindset. Go over their metrics with them and see how they are aligning with their pipeline and their personal goals. See how they’re doing personally. Someone who is having the best month of their life and eyeing a raise is going to need different attention than the person who is going through a breakup. However you set this up for your team, make sure your team feels supported and accountable everyday. 

Protip: When you feel your team’s momentum start to stall, have a list of spiffs you can pull out to inject some additional life into them. If you can get them competing with one another, even better. Diamonds cut diamonds.

Focus on creating good habits.

Everyone can get better.

Whether or not you are working with an A, B, or C player, everyone has room to improve. What you don’t want to do is give your people a million areas they should focus on – it’s impossible. If you give them too much to focus on, you are going to get people who are overwhelmed and not actually improving in any single area. Likewise, if you have them focus on areas they are excelling at or have little room to improve, you will not only not improve results but you also risk losing credibility. 

Most improvements fall into two categories for categories for SDR’s: “Will” and “Skill”. 

“Will” issues are obvious and if you have the right motivation in place (see “Know your People”), there is a good chance you can inspire people to put in the effort. There are a lot of things outside of the SDR’s control, but effort is something that everyone can control. 

“Will” issues need to be addressed quickly and efficiently because they can bleed into the team. People who are busting their ass will become resentful of people who are showing up late or interrupting the rest of the team instead of doing their job and lose faith in you as a leader. Leaders need to reign in laziness and distractions consistently and set a steady rhythm for the team. Praise and reward the team members who are putting in the effort and manage [up or out] those who are not [without good reason]. Create a culture of consistency and your life will be much easier.

Once the “Will” issues are resolved, you should focus on the area that each of your team members can improve on the most. Use the metrics as a guide here. For example, if one of your team members is setting at a +10% demo set rate but their set to demo hold ratio is -20%, focus on how they are setting their demos and what they are considering a set. Or if someone’s connection rate is below standard, focus on where/when/who they are calling so they can get more folks on the phone.. 

The key here is aim small, miss small. Give them very specific instructions you want them to work on, listen to their calls and verify they are following the process and doing it consistently. Form that habit, watch them improve and not only will they trust your leadership more, they will lean on that habit even on their worst day which will improve their consistency. Then find the next big area of improvement and repeat.

Adapt the target, not the principles 

When you’re setting up your first 30/60/90 day plan, these foundations will serve you and your team well, BUT it’s important to know that they are all a moving target. People change, goals change and situations change. Leaders adapt to those changes and allow for some flexibility to their system to adjust to what changes. That said, the basic principles stay the same. 

Scott Leese