Freddie Marryat, Marketing Manager, EngageIQ

Hiring sales development reps fresh out of college or university isn’t the only way to blood new reps into your team. Enter the mythical creature that is an SDR with one or two years of experience who is looking for a new job.

Make no mistake; these reps are hard to come by and are in high demand. Many companies see these experienced reps as a way to quickly grow their team and pipelines without having to invest heavily in training.

This is great in theory, but hiring experienced SDRs doesn’t always work out so well in practice. Here’s what we’ve learned from hiring experienced SDRs compared to entry-level SDRs and why we almost always plump for the latter.

Good, Experienced SDRs are a Rare Breed

Experienced SDRs are like gold dust. At least the good ones are. That’s because if a rep is doing well in their current job, hitting their targets and earning a decent commission, they’re unlikely to be looking for a new role. When SDRs like this do come onto the job market, they are in incredibly high demand and will usually get a flurry of offers.

Unfortunately, that means most of the experienced SDRs you come across, however, are likely to be poor performing salespeople who left their lost job because they became disillusioned or, worse, got fired. That’s not to say every experienced SDR you come across will make a bad rep. Sometimes it just doesn’t work out. But you should be aware that there is probably a good reason a rep hasn’t worked out in the past. 

That being said, we are now entering a period where plenty of good reps could soon be entering the job market. We are yet to see the full impact of the coronavirus on employment because of the Government’s job retention scheme. When that comes to an end, many companies may be forced to let go of large numbers of sales reps. If you are lucky enough to be in a position where you can expand your sales team, a slew of high-quality, experienced SDRs might soon come onto the market.

Work with Recruiters to Find Great Candidates

Given the elusive nature of high-quality, experienced SDRs, they are unlikely to come knocking at your door. Working with an outsourced recruitment agency is vital if you want to snag the best reps. Specialist recruitment agencies won’t just be the first point of call for SDRs looking to move jobs; they will also go out and headhunt suitable candidates on your behalf. This can significantly increase the amount of good experienced SDRs you’re able to find. 

We work exclusively with a couple of recruitment agencies here at EngageTech. It’s not the cheapest strategy, but our agencies save us so much time sifting through CVs and chasing up candidates. If you can afford to outsource recruitment, we highly recommend you do. 

Don’t just rely on recruiters to find you experienced SDRs, however. We also leverage the networks of our existing reps to find great candidates through a referral scheme. Referred candidates are incredibly valuable. Not only are they already rubber-stamped by someone who works for your company, but they will also save you money if you are using a recruitment agency. Paying £1000 to an employee is much more cost-effective than paying £3000 to a recruiter.

“For example, I’ll share the company’s value proposition with them and have them try to communicate it while role-playing a phone call with a prospect. Then I’ll coach them on their delivery and have them do it again. Ultimately, I’m looking for an indication that they’re capable of processing my input and using it to improve their performance”

Sell your Company with a Killer Job Ad

If you want to attract the attention of in-demand SDRs, an enticing job ad is essential. Given the demand for experienced SDRs, you’ll need to sell what you can offer them. 

There are a couple of things we do to make our job ads stand out. Firstly, we actively sell our company. We’re proud of the fact that The Sunday Times voted us the 19th best small company to work for in the UK and we make it clear what we offer to candidates in terms of career progression, support and work-life balance. 

We are also honest and upfront about the commission structure of the role. Some tech companies will pay incredibly large base salaries and then wonder why their reps aren’t motivated. 

We’d rather offer a more reasonable base salary but much higher on-target earnings — something experienced SDRs who know they can hit goals will be attracted to. We are also honest and realistic about those on-target earnings. Promising candidates massive commission bonuses that can never be achieved is a great way to increase churn rate and send your best reps looking for a new job a year down the line.

Don’t Interview Experienced SDRs Differently From Other Candidates

The things you look for in an experienced SDR shouldn’t be all that different from candidates entering the industry for the first time. Above all, identify how well they can learn. 

Coachability is a crucial requirement for SDRS at Agility Recovery, according to CEO Jon Bahl. He uses a similar process to us here at EngageTech to determine how good candidates are at responding to feedback:

“For example, I’ll share the company’s value proposition with them and have them try to communicate it while role-playing a phone call with a prospect. Then I’ll coach them on their delivery and have them do it again. Ultimately, I’m looking for an indication that they’re capable of processing my input and using it to improve their performance.”

Remember, SDRs with one or two years experience will still be a long way from the finished article. It doesn’t matter how much experience they’ve got if they’re not willing to learn. The best SDRs will take feedback, change the way they work and adopt your company culture, explains B2B writer Kimberlee Meier. “An SDR who isn’t coachable will find it hard to take constructive criticism and struggle when the company pivots and makes changes.” If experienced SDRs fall into the latter category, you’ll often be better hiring someone fresh out of university.

The only thing we do differently at EngageTech when interviewing experienced candidates compared to novices is to ask about their current job. Firstly, we get them to pitch their existing product. This should be fairly routine for someone who sells every day. So if they don’t do a good job of pitching it succinctly, it’s a major red flag. 

We also ask them about their targets and whether they achieved them. They should know all of the details inside out. This demonstrates that they take these targets seriously and have thought carefully about how to meet them. It doesn’t necessarily matter if they’ve hit the targets or not; we just want the candidate to be aware of them. 

Never Prioritise Experience Over Talent

Experience shouldn’t be the only thing you look for when hiring SDRs, writes Justin Hiatt, a director of global business development at HubSpot. “It’s far more important to source people who can become A players, groom them in your company, and prepare them for future career success.”

Some companies mistakenly believe that experienced SDRs will have shorter onboarding times, writes Bloobirds’ Amy Ingraham. “However, more seasoned SDRs may have lost their initial excitement and flexible mindset, making the onboarding process just as long. Plus, these days outbound sales platforms and sales engagement tools can help cut SDR onboarding time in half.” 

It’s not just onboarding times that can be improved with the right tools. The performance of all of your SDRs, experienced or otherwise, can be boosted with a purchase intent data platform like EngageIQ. We combine the latest technology with data from the 20,000 calls are reps make each week to highlight the companies your sales team should be targeting. That means less time wasted prospecting, a more consistent pipeline, more targets met and less churn in your team.

Find out how we are helping companies just like yours by getting in touch today. 



Images by: Saulo Mohana, Jonathan Borba, Cytonn Photography