In our latest episode of Mimeo’s Talk of the Trade, our head of sales sat down with Tenbound’s David Dulany to talk about sales development teams.
The top-of-funnel business development team is usually made up of sales reps who feed off other people’s energy and who need the most sales coaching. That’s why many organizations are reluctant to embrace a remote or hybrid environment for their sales development teams. Now that it is necessary, we wanted to know David’s tips for hiring, onboarding, and managing sales development reps.
Here are some highlights from the conversation, including the top 3 challenges of managing remote sales development teams and how to solve for them:
Sales Development Reps are Often New to the Workforce
David pointed out that the sales development team usually recruits young professionals fresh out of college. For many of them, it is their first job in the corporate world. While this has always been true, remote reps face even more challenges than their in-office counterparts. They may not have stable living situations that offer good work environments. They may not have any established good habits for managing a 9-5 job in a world full of distractions. They may not know how to take the initiative to thrive in their new roles.
David recommends taking a good long look at your onboarding. Where you may have had it planned day by day, now make sure it is planned hour by hour. For those first few weeks of your rep’s experience, overschedule them so they always have something to do, something to learn, or someone to lean on.
Your onboarding should cover sales skills and company information. It also helps to include best practices for working in remote or hybrid locations. Establish boundaries for what you expect the background of their video calls to be, how quickly you expect them to respond to communications, and other behaviors that will set them up for success. Whatever you do, make sure the onboarding leaves them with a full toolset to get started in their role.
Sales Development Reps Thrive on People Energy
Most sales people thrive off of other people’s energy. It’s one of the attributes that makes them so good at their jobs. In sales development in particular, companies have designed offices around sales “bull pens” for decades to help reps feed off each other’s energy. Not only does this keep them on track for most of the day, it also fosters peer-to-peer learning. By sitting next to a dozen people making the same type of calls day in and out, reps learn what sounds good and what doesn’t work.
In the remote world, a rep might be the only person in their basement apartment for days on end. This changes the rep’s experience, learning curve, and may even impact their mental health.
David has a couple of ideas for combating this challenge. First, have everyone call into a Zoom room and stay in it as they work through their days. This mimics the bull pen where people hear each other, get motivated by seeing their peers attacking their emails, and allows for real-time feedback or questions.
He also recommends using team meetings – or even dedicated meetings – to have reps share case studies of things that worked or didn’t work for them that week. From his work with major tech start-ups, David knows successful sales development teams follow trends: they learn from each other what kind of email subject line or opening call question works, and they all start using it. By tasking reps with sharing lessons learned with the whole team, you can foster this kind of insight even in a hybrid or remote work environment.
Sales Development Reps Need Real-Time Coaching
Since sales development reps are often new to the discipline as well as to the company, they need lots of real-time coaching to learn how to do their job best. When the whole team sat in the same location, managers usually spent their days in the bull pen so they could give a rep feedback in the moment. That is harder to do in a remote environment – but not impossible.
The good news for sales manager is that there is lots of tech out there to support rep performance. Email management programs like Salesloft or Outreach allow managers to curate the best written messages or cadence building. Software like Gong analyzes calls so managers can identify problem areas, play back calls, and give reps feedback.
In addition to investing in technology, David recommends prioritizing sales managers in your company budget. In fact, if forced to choose between another manager or a sales development rep, David recommends the manager. They can work on building best practices, documenting training resources, and learning your company so that when your budget opens again, they can better onboard new reps.
Finally, David always recommends regular check-ins between managers and reps to make sure each individual thrives.
Many companies said they would never take their sales development teams remote – until 2020. Now that the hybrid work environment looks like it is here to stay, sales managers would be wise to revise their strategies for remote sales reps. To get more tips from David Dulany, listen to our episode <insert link> or attend Tenbound’s virtual conference this March!