Retaining SDRs: How to Keep Talent Onboard


Reading Time: 4 minutes



Retaining SDRs: How to Keep Talent Onboard

Aurelien Mottier & Robert Westell


Michael Hanson

Growth Genie

Anyone with a sales team knows how difficult hiring and onboarding can be – particularly as the demand for skilled, experienced SDRs grows.

While you may have considered the lengthy timescale and cost of hiring a sales team, you may not have factored in the most frustratingly common problems sales managers face – the difficulty of retaining SDRs and the high rate of churn.

Maybe you’ve nailed the process of finding and hiring talent, but holding onto them is another factor entirely. Career SDRs are seemingly few and far between, with employees often using the role as a stepping stone to becoming an Account Executive or Marketer.

In this Episode of B2B Revenue Acceleration, Founder and CEO of Growth Genie Michael Hanson chats with CEO of Operatix Aurelien Mottier and COO of Operatix Robert Westell. They discuss how Operatix implemented an internal career path to help keep their top talent on board, motivated and consistently developing, as well as how doing so can help with retaining SDRs.

Understanding the Churn Rate

As an SDR’s talent, confidence and skillset grow, so does their desire to further their career – typically leading them to become an AE or marketer. Unlike other roles, however, there is a sense of urgency in doing so, resulting in a high churn rate that can leave a gaping hole in a sales team if the need to develop isn’t met internally.

“With the type of demographic we hire, there’s a real urgency to want to be promoted. It’s probably the essence of why we built the career path – we still want people to feel as though they are developing.”

Robert Westell, COO at Operatix.

Aurelien explains that you cannot expect an SDR or BDR to stay in the role forever – while career SDRs do exist but are incredibly rare. More often than not, they’ll start their careers and be approached by recruiters, vendors and clients trying to tempt them to join their teams.

To ensure you’re retaining SDRs, you must understand what drives them beyond money rather than practically forcing them to look elsewhere for the next challenge – and they won’t have far to look.

Retaining SDRs: Building an Internal Career Plan

With the above in mind, it’s clear that the key to retaining SDRs is to ensure their desire to develop and excel is well fed. That is why Aurelien and Robert created the Operatix Academy and career path – a unique strategy that Michael hadn’t seen before. 

Ambition is a driving force behind a successful salesperson, and so ensuring you can satisfy their need to accelerate their careers without having to go elsewhere is an undeniably appealing aspect. At Operatix, there is a four-step career path that allows you to rise up the ranks, excelling in the role and reaping the benefits of doing so.

“We created the career path to make staying with Operatix a bit more appealing. It gave people a four-step process within the life of an SDR so that they can actually see progression. You can actually have a career path where you climb the ladder as an SDR.”

Robert Westell, COO at Operatix

The Four-Step Career Path

  • Step One – Rookie: this is where new hires and those with limited experience start off at.
  • Step Two – Prodigy: once you’ve hit the delivery milestones as well as showing the required behavioural and attitude requirements, you’ll become a Prodigy.
  • Step Three – Superstar: as with the above, a Prodigy must increase results and show a commitment to developing their skills to move onto this stage.
  • Step Four – Legends: this status is at the top of the career ladder as an Operatix SDR.

Each step brings with it its own goals and incentives, giving the team something to strive for and acting as a thank you for demonstrating a consistent performance. 

While the incentives do include an increasing financial bonus, the little things can be a big motivator – even more so than a paycheck. It’s natural for employees to want to feel appreciated and valued, particularly as they climb up the ladder.

At Operatix, this includes the ‘Wall of Legends’, where those who reach this status get their photo on the board. When creating a plan to help with retaining SDRs, go beyond splashing the cash and consider what you can offer as a true token of appreciation. 

“It’s the small things that mean a lot to people. It’s not just the paycheck that matters, it’s how much I’m respecting the organization. That element of social recognition is important.

Aurelien Mottier, Co-Founder and CEO at Operatix

When building an internal SDR career plan, ensure you choose measurable goals that strike the balance between achievable and challenging. At Operatix, it’s largely based on the average number and quality of leads reached in a six month period. Before launching your program, it’s vital to ensure you can properly track each employee.

By having a timescale and set requirements, employees know exactly what they have to do to progress – it’s essential to make it as clear as possible. 

Expanding Careers from Within

While it’s impossible to keep someone on board forever, allowing your talent to accelerate their careers internally will allow them the satisfaction of progression and thus assist with retaining SDRs. Whether you take on a ‘promote from within’ culture or utilise an SDR career ladder, ensure that your teams don’t stay stagnant in their role or you may find them being tempted to go elsewhere.

“Turnover in our business is inevitable, it’s a conveyer belt of talent. If we’ve got a good person who is giving us 12 or 18 months of their life and they want to progress but we don’t have the right career path, that’s on us.

Aurelien Mottier, CEO at Operatix

While you may not be able to remove churn altogether, emphasizing a strong level of support and understanding the need to develop can be the difference between holding onto your high-performing SDRs and losing them to a recruiter selling them the dream.

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.

The 30/60/90-Day Plan of a New Marketing Leader

It’s said that preparation is critical for success, and this is particularly true when you’re transitioning into a brand-new role. Of course, preparation comes in many different forms, but the...

Pete Lorenco

How the Recession Can Affect Business Expansion Plans

There is no doubt that expansion is one of the primary goals of all business owners. However, there are many obstacles that need to be overcome before plans come to...

Mike Jones

The JOLT Effect: Helping High Performers Overcome Customer Indecision

There’s only one thing that is worse for salespeople than hearing ‘no’, and it’s ‘I need to think about it’. Customer indecision is not only frustrating to deal with, particularly...

Matt Dixon

Ready to get started?

Learn more about how we can get work as an extension of your Sales & Marketing teams to drive more revenue.