Generating revenue is not their job.
An SDR’s job is to qualify inbound demand and turn it into pipeline.
That’s it. That’s the whole story …
Just kidding, but quite honestly, the story could end right there and that would be enough.
The role of an SDR is not glamorous. Quite the contrary, actually. It’s a grueling test of trust, effort, consistency, discipline, and resiliency. The one thing they absolutely need to do, with as much predictability and consistency as possible, is book meetings. This is the north star metric for measuring SDR performance.
AND, you should make it unmistakably clear to them that their job is to BOOK MEETINGS.
SDR’s do not generate revenue.
They book meetings with people who fit your target persona, are in market for a solution like yours, and work at a company that belongs to your ICP.
If they do this, following the guidance and coaching their manager provides, they will very quickly find themselves with opportunities to learn how to convert pipeline into revenue.
But make no mistake. An SDR who can’t book high quality meetings, will never get a chance to become an AE and generate revenue.
Here’s the deal. The SaaS Revenue Engine is complicated. There are a lot of moving parts. If each player isn’t doing their job, it impacts everyone else around them. The engine will start to misfire, cough, and eventually stall out. This is why it’s so important for each functional unit to be focused on impacting their specific area of the business. For SDR’s this breaks down to booking meetings.
Let’s begin by breaking the revenue engine down to its core functions.
Marketing - Create and capture demand.
Sales Development (SDR’s) - Qualify inbound demand and book meetings (inbound pipeline).
Business Development (BDR’s) - Create, capture, and qualify demand. And, books meetings (outbound pipeline).
Sales (AE’s) - Close net new business (net new revenue).
Customer Success - Maintain healthy customer relationships (retention and expansion revenue).
RevOps - Connect, tune, automate, analyze, understand, and help optimize all of the above.
And if we assume a basic inbound motion looks like this:
The role the SDR plays in the revenue engine is:
Number one is on the business.
More specifically, the SDR Manager. It’s their job to ensure their team is trained to understand the target customer and process. From there, it’s all coaching, effort, and discipline.
”Here’s the target, follow the process, and … let’s book some meetings,” said the SDR manager to her team.
Because an A+ SDR manager understands their team's part in keeping the engine humming depends on their ability to pass high quality meetings up to AE’s with consistency and predictability.
In order to breed a culture of consistency and predictability we need to first establish the core set of metrics the team, and each individual will be measured against. These metrics are what the manager will use to understand individual performance and to identify weak areas that require more training and/or reinforcement.
Because each business is unique, your core set of metrics may vary from what you see below. That's ok. As long as you're focused on measuring the behaviors that lead to your desired outcomes. In this case the goal is for the SDR Team to generate high quality demos (pipeline) with consistency and predictability.
Each SDR should be laser focused on impacting these numbers, and only these numbers. Yeah, ok. There are other metrics that you’re going to explore and pay attention to. But, there’s absolutely no need for SDR’s to be thinking about anything further downstream.
The best SDR’s operate in the present.
Taking each day as a new opportunity to have as many conversations as possible, following the guidelines, process, and techniques established by their manager and leadership team.
The key here is that the leadership team is setting the strategic direction and process that the SDR team is executing. It’s their responsibility to monitor the SDR channel as a whole, against its ability to efficiently generate revenue according to the business model.
So yeah, we’re measuring the channel against its ability to generate efficient revenue. Of course.
This is an area where people tend to get confused. There’s a difference between the metrics required to OPERATE a go-to-market channel and the metrics required to JUSTIFY CONTINUED INVESTMENT in a go-to-market channel.
When business analysts review the ROI of a particular channel, they’re looking at the channel's impact on revenue, for sure. 100%. You’ll get no argument from me regarding the fact that SDR Teams need to produce pipeline that earns positive ROI.
But, NOT the Individuals.
SDR’s need to be focused on the day-to-day. Always operating in the present. Focused on making the most of every new lead that comes in, and every attempt they make. It's the responsibility of the SDR Manager to ensure that their team is trained and equipped with the knowledge and tools they need to follow the established process with confidence and focus.
If the business does its part to train, educate, and equip the SDR team, the downstream metrics should hold true to the model. If the team starts to produce an unhealthy number of poor quality meetings, then something is wrong and then the manager needs to diagnose the problem and address it.
The SDR Manager's job is to keep SDRs focused on the task at hand.
BOOKING HIGH QUALITY MEETINGS.
You’re doing your SDR’s a disservice by making them believe they’re generating revenue.
Instead, focus on making them exceptional at targeting, attracting, qualifying, and convincing your target customer to commit to the next stage in your sales process.
This is their role in the revenue engine.
SDRs deserve the utmost respect and gratitude. They’re full of hope and optimism. They’re eager to learn. They’re fearless. They work their asses off. Grind every day, and the greener they are the better - no bad habits to break.
And, because of the market, customer and product expertise required to excel in the SDR role, performant SDR organizations feed the business with talent across the entire go-to-market organization.
So please, keep your SDR’s focused on the task at hand.
BOOKING HIGH QUALITY MEETINGS.
It’s what the business needs from them.
And, it's critical learning for anyone interested in building a career in sales.
About the Author
Mike Ciulla is a 3x SaaS VP who has been helping early stage SaaS businesses bring products to market, build demand, and grow revenue for over 10 years. He believes in the power of story telling and openly shares his opinions (backed by experience) on everything related to building successful SaaS businesses.
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