2017: The Year of the SDR Manager

Published February 11, 2017
I’m officially declaring 2017 The Year of the SDR Manager.

​Ah, the SDR Manager, that beleaguered soul who doesn’t get nearly enough credit for the contribution they make the health of your business. Beat down from so many angles; Sales VPs, their own SDRs, Senior Execs, Marketers, HR, Vendors… the list goes on and on.

In some companies, scant respect and little recognition, unless of course things start going wrong. No clear career path. Not making as much money or getting as much stock as other managers…

It’s a tough, and at times, thankless job.

And yet, their function is vital to connecting marketing spend to real sales results. To creating predictable revenue. To preparing your next generation of Sales leaders. So, what’s going on?

Let’s look at the day in life of the SDR Manager. On any given day they are a career counselor, psychiatrist, sales trainer, analytics guru, firefighter, and interdepartmental translator.

They have to become an expert on managing Millennials. They’re scouting out top talent in a war against all the other companies and competitors. They’re organizing the training and preparation of your next generation of Sales reps.

They’re helping you find high quality meetings, pipeline and revenue for your Sales team. They coaching, hiring and firing. They’re keeping you out of trouble with HR.

They do a lot. And most of them are damn good at it. So where’s the love? Assuming they’re doing a good job, you want them to stick around, right?

OK then, here are a few ways you can take care of them:

Ask how you can help – SDR Managers are constantly being beat up for reports, justification, reasoning. At most companies they have about 5 different bosses; Sales VPs, Marketing Directors, C-Execs, Product, HR…
It would be refreshing if somebody asked them if they needed help occasionally, and followed up. As simple as, “what can I do to help?” works wonders. They need help and are probably too busy to ask. Simple questions; do you need more resources, team training, analytics, coordination? Or more generally; how are you doing?

Recognize their contribution – Nothing beats a good pat on the back. Look at some metrics beyond pipeline and closed/won. How many people have they hired, how are those people doing? What new logos has their team brought in, and how does that benefit your brand? How’s the attrition rate on their team; do people want to work for them?
This stuff is important too, beyond the usual numbers. Give them a platform to show off at Town Hall or the weekly staff meeting. It’s doesn’t always have to be a weekly beat down. They must be doing something right or they wouldn’t be around, right?

Offer them management training and mentorship. – Many SDR Managers receive no management training at all, and yet are expected to be Bill Walsh or Bill Belichick right out of the gate. They may have just clawed up from SDR and now have no clue about what management is all about.
This is why a lot of SDR Managers drop-out of management after a few years and return to individual contributor. Teach them how to coach, how to mentor, how to delegate, how to give performance reviews. It builds loyalty and you’ll get better performance from them and their team.

Send them to a conference – Some great ones coming up this year that would very valuable; Revenue SummitTopo Sales SummitRainmakers 2017. Send them to a Topo Sales Development Roundtable. Give them a few days to connect with peers, talk shop and come back with some fresh strategies to help your company.

Be proactive, ask them which conferences they want to go to, and then send ‘em. Ask for a presentation on what they learned.

So there are some ideas, and hopefully this will give you a little push to think about the SDR Manager and what contributions they’re making.

Let’s make 2017 the Year of the SDR Manager!

What are your thoughts?

How does your company take care of SDR Managers? SDR Managers; what does your company do to support you? Would love to hear about it.

​David Dulany has built high-performance Sales Development programs for Glassdoor, OpenDNS, Infer and Act-On Software. At Tenbound, he helps companies start, optimize and turnaround Sales Development programs. More info at tenbound.com

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