Narrowing Down the Candidates: Top 3 Success Indicators of Stellar Sales Development Representatives (SDRs)

Searching for top SDR candidates is a never-ending quest.

High producing SDR’s don’t hang around long, and hiring the wrong person ends up being a painful experience all around.  

​Once you post an SDR position on a major board, you’ll get a flood of resumes because too many people see the role as a “foot-in-the-door” to great companies and as a way to “try out” a career in sales.  

But as a manager, you don’t have time for “try outs.” Recruiting top talent is just one aspect of your job, and you have a program to run.  So how do you  efficiently sift through the resumes and find the golden nuggets?   

Over the years and after making many great and not-so-great hires, I’ve found there are three leading indicators of successful SDRs: 

• Collegiate athleticism (or the equivalent)
• Sales experience with demonstrated results
• High GPA – posted on the resume

Collegiate athleticism (or the equivalent). There is a major determinate to being successful as an SDR, in Sales or really in life in general, which can be summed up in one word: grit.

That intangible quality of determination, focus and resilience.  Athletes who play competitive sports have grit to spare, and they tend to realize that success isn’t handed out for free.  In order to compete at a collegiate level (or the equivalent), athletes have to get up early, stay late, and do whatever it takes to make the team and stay on the team.  

They are the type of people you want on your SDR team: achievers who will go out to win.  Not every college athlete may end up as a right fit; and not every person with the requisite grit is an athlete.  But a history of playing collegiate sports provides a track record of perseverance and dedication to help you narrow down the candidates.  

Alternative sources of similar “track records” can be found in leadership roles, clubs and participation in other competitive teams. 

Pro tip: Extra points for leaders on teams. Not only do they have the above qualities but they have also demonstrated the ability to lead, motivate and inspire –  rare commodities.  
Any Sales Experience, with results, posted on their resume: Another key indicator to success as an SDR is prior sales experience. But the experience you’re looking for doesn’t have to be at another B2B sales job.  This can be ANY sales job, with one major caveat: the best candidates will describe verifiable results on their resume and are able to elaborate on those results during the interview.  

Anyone can get in to a sales job, but very, very few can actually go out and make things happen.  In a sales job, promotions are earned, awards are earned, stack rankings are earned.  You can’t fake it.  When evaluating a candidate, look for promotions, Club trips, numbers and percentages. And be sure to call their former employers to verify the results posted. 

Also, don’t overlook Multi-Level-Marketing (MLM) organizations (such as College Works Painting, Vector Marketing, Avon, Stella & Dot, to name a few).  Although anyone can join an MLM organization, very few actually follow through and grow successful in this endeavor.  MLMs could be a great resource in identifying talented people; you just have to find the successful members.  To do so, identify the various levels to demonstrate competency.  Ask questions to see if they really did it and how they did it. Did they make club? Did they get promoted?  

High GPA.  Do you remember school?  Neither do I, or at least not much of it.  However, I do remember it was not easy and if you didn’t do your homework you could get behind pretty quickly.  If you didn’t keep up with your work, you’d fall behind.  You had to be a self-starter and stay focused on your short- and long- term goals.  

​Does any of this sound familiar?  It’s the exact same set of aspects as you need to be a successful SDR!  You also want someone who is wicked smart.  I heard somewhere you always wanted to be the dumbest guy in the room. Surround yourself with smart, hungry winners and you’ll find yourself winning championships yourself.  

To recap: All in all, as you scan resumes, keep these tips in mind.  If you see one come across your desk who was a collegiate athlete (or equivalent) with demonstrated success in any sales job and a very high GPA posted on the resume, you may have a winner on your hands!

Do you have any tips you could share with the readers?

​Leave them below!

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