Identifying, Training and Managing Sales Development Talent


Dave Sherry
Reading Time: 4 minutes



Identifying, Training and Managing Sales Development Talent

Aurelien Mottier

Co-Founder and CEO at Operatix

Dave Sherry

Senior Manager, Business Development & Sales - EMEA at Gong

In an age where LinkedIn is at our fingertips, building a stellar team of sales development representatives may seem easy, but it is far more complex than it appears. There is much more to the task than simply scrolling through people’s prior experience, recruiting the most qualified candidates and leaving them to their own devices.

Rather, defining and identifying key characteristics is vital – but that’s only the first step in creating a successful sales team. Your job is not only to find the right fit for the team, but also to shape and mentor them to truly reach their potential.

In this episode of B2B Revenue Acceleration, our host Aurelien Mottier (Co-Founder and CEO at Operatix) sits down with Dave Sherry (Senior Manager Business Development & Sales – EMEA at Gong) to discuss identifying, training and managing sales development representatives.

Join the conversation as they dive into what traits make a great SDR and how to find them, as well as how to help them develop their skills.

Identifying Sales Development Representatives

When it comes to recruiting sales development representatives, it’s important to go beyond someone’s previous experience and look at core competencies. This begins by defining non-negotiables to look for during the process, including:

  • When are you trying to get the talent onboard?
  • What skills are you looking for?
  • What core competencies and values are essential?

Dave collates this by creating two different types of profiles, typically using LinkedIn to gather more information:

  • Profile one: someone who may not have experience in an SDR role, but has gone to university or has shown entrepreneurial spirit and enthusiasm towards sales. This could be via training and self-development, using courses to give them a step-up.
  • Profile two: this person has more relevant experience in sales – they’re more polished and confident in the field. They’ve had training and have a background in sales

After defining these profiles, both Aurelien and Dave then outline the core competencies they believe are key to talented sales development representatives. This includes:

  • Curiosity – someone who is undeniably passionate and curious. They’ve taken time to research the company and people behind it, as well as having an authentic and urgent curiosity to understand the ‘why’ behind everything.
  • Coachability – a candidate that can absorb and willing to take on feedback, as well as training. They’ll have the ability to grasp knowledge, particularly about what they’re selling.
  • Accountability – often overlooked as competency, accountability will ensure the candidate holds themselves responsible for meeting their targets and their actions.
  • Resilience – sales can be a tough job full of objections and rejections. Only a resilient person will be able to preserve and succeed through this.

While some of these can come with time and training, others are soft skills or personality traits that can’t be taught. Anyone can hone their skillset, but it can be harder to ingrain these natural characteristics in someone, which is why they’re so important to seek out during the recruitment stage. 

“Firstly, I would start off by asking a question around an objective they set themselves that they failed to achieved. You want to see if they’re humble enough to accept it. It shows self-awareness.”

Dave Sherry, Senior Manager, Business Development & Sales – EMEA at Gong

Recognising these key personality traits will allow you to base your questioning around them, helping you to dive deeper beyond what is on the candidate’s LinkedIn profile and ensure they are a correct fit. Assess not only their answers but also their reactions to the questions – this can reveal a lot about a candidate.

Training and Managing Sales Development Representatives

Motivating sales development representatives is a key part of managing them – you have to uncover what keeps them driving forward. What motivates one employee may not be the other, and this goes for career paths. One may want to be an AE, while another may want to go down the path of customer success. Rather than putting all of your SDRs in one box, try and understand what their aspirations are.

The best way of doing so, of course, is finding out directly from the source. Losing a great SDR to another role is always bittersweet, but you’d much rather them stay within the business and remain an employee than go elsewhere due to lack of career progression. Plus, giving them performance guidelines to follow in the meantime is sure to keep their performance high.

“The best and worst days for me are when people move into other roles. It’s like a graduation, so it’s brilliant, but we’ve also lost a top performer who has been instrumental to the team. That’s a consistent theme for a lot of folks.”

Dave Sherry, Senior Manager, Business Development & Sales – EMEA at Gong

Career progression is a motivator for the majority of employees, which is why Gong is working on putting together certifications and training to help their employees fill gaps, helping them make the transition into their next role. Having a training program in place not only fills the desire to grow, but makes for an improved company culture.

“When you get to the nine-month mark in an SDR organization, make a call and ask them where they have aspirations to move into. If their performance has been going well, start working on a plan to get them into that area of the business.”

Dave Sherry, Senior Manager, Business Development & Sales – EMEA at Gong

Likewise, Aurelien has created an internal career path as with clear guidelines to help sales development representatives progress without going elsewhere. Not only that, but the business runs its own training program, the Operatix Academy, to ensure its team can hone their skillset internally.

“Having certifications or something else in place is important. You can’t promote people just because they are good at their previous role, that doesn’t mean they will be good in the new one.”

Aurelien Mottier, Co-Founder and CEO at Operatix

To hear this interview and many more like it, subscribe to B2B Revenue Acceleration on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, our website, or anywhere you get podcasts.

About Operatix

Operatix is a Sales Acceleration company specialized in supporting B2B Software vendors to identify new revenue streams, increase qualified sales pipeline, and accelerate channel development across Europe and North America. Operatix has a wealth of experience in working with the biggest tech players worldwide as well as a multitude of emerging software vendors.

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