The most focal point of any sales specialized organization is the Sales Development Representative (SDR). The role is an inside sales rep that solely focuses on outbound prospecting.
An overwhelming number of CIENCE employees are SDR’s, composing a key role of consistently scheduling appointments for hundreds of our client accounts.
So, how do we manage to fill multiple sales pipelines?
These talented individuals at CIENCE perform a high volume of tasks for our clients on a daily basis. Our ingredients:
- Motivated, trained teams of SDRs
- Human-curated target lead lists (Research)
- Powerful templated messages, known as Sequences
- Across multiple channels of communication
- Consistent, non-stop processes of contacting your leads
SDRs are the frontline of businesses we represent to open conversations with potential clients. Marketing campaigns may fail to reach the right leads, but the true benefit of an SDR’s work is specific targeting of key accounts (often referred to as Account-Based Sales Development).
5,000+ Activities Per Month
To channel the efforts of SDR Teams, a proper approach is important. Since the average Sequence used at CIENCE is 5 touches, and the mean number of leads pursued per month is 1,000, the average number of activities (including follow-ups) easily tops 5,000 and can go as high as 8,000 with follow-ups and multichannel approaches (phone calls, social touches).
Consistent training ensures flawless execution of these activities– necessary steps to build and fill your sales pipeline. Time management matters, too, as only through a focused plan-of-attack do we achieve the results our clients crave.
7 Core Elements to SDR Daily Timetables
- Emails sendout and work with a CRM
- Management of the leads database and mail
- Research on the prospects who responded or opened emails
- Call blocks to prospects
- Writing follow-ups
- Reporting and statistics
- Time for learning new things on sales, personality growth, bounding with the team and emotional coping.
The first thing to know about a perfect SDR’s schedule is that there’s no such thing. A short Google search on a typical Day in SDR’s Life proves it. Across the large number of SDR’s at CIENCE, schedules are similar, but not the same. This is especially true for external SDR teams, because each SDR does the prospecting for a different client (in a separate industry with different messaging and target audiences).
Therefore, scheduling SDR’s time isn’t about when it’s more about how. Namely…
How to reach your leads?
If you think it’s a simple question, it isn’t. In reality, it consists of many more, like:
- Your buyer persona: Geography, Sector, Quantity of revenues, employees, Title (e.g., Manager, VP, CEO), Technographics, Industry, Psychographics or Trigger Events.
- Which channels to use (should it be emails plus calls plus social, and in what order)?
- How many times to contact your lead via each of the channels (e.g. 5 waves of e-mails and 3 calls or 3 waves of e-mails and 2 calls and 2 social touches, etc.)?
- What is the purpose of your campaign: To set an appointment? To generate qualified opportunity or both? Or is it maybe to spread the word (we’ve had such cases too)?
- Should your SDRs try to overcome objections– convert every negative response into positive or simply leave those who said “no” be?
As soon as you have answered these questions, you can outline the campaign for your SDRs and then base their schedule on it.
A Day in the Life of an SDR at CIENCE:
Anna, Senior SDR, has kindly shared her schedule with us. She works in our external team and specializes in prospecting for the software companies. Her current project is email-focused. Please keep in mind that the time on her schedule is specified for EST:
7 a.m. – Clock-in (Slack, HubSpot, mailbox, work-mailbox etc.) – that’s the when our SDRs come, turn on their computers and get ready to work. She checks her email first for client responses*.
* There are several types of responses:
– “Unsubscribe me” – this is the type of response we usually don’t work with. We simply remove the lead from our mailing list to respect the lead’s wish.
– Negative responses (e.g., “Not interested”).
– Ambiguous responses (e.g., “I’m still hesitating to try the new software,” “I use the product of your competitors,” “your pricing is way too high”).
– Positive responses (“send me more information,” “contact me in 1 week”).
– Requests for appointments.
8 a.m. – Fill in the stats for the previous day in the Mastersheet*. Needless to say, statistics are of great importance in sales. It enables to keep track of SDR’s performance and provide reports to our clients.
*Mastersheet is a spreadsheet created and managed by an SDR. It is shared with a client, Team Manager and Customer Success Manager. The Mastersheet contains the data and stats of all the leads which an SDR is prospecting at the moment. The stats include: quantity of leads, bounces, sent emails, opened e-mails, negative, positive responses, response rate. Also open rate, click rate and set appointments. All these stats are uploaded to the Weekly report provided to the client.
8.30 a.m. – Prepare and send the Sendout file. Although our CRM program, HubSpot Sales Pro, does the queueing of customized emails created by a professional direct mail writer, the control of an SDR is still necessary, as Anna customizes the leads for today’s send-out, specifies the schedule* for each lead, checks that the names are correct, and does the personalisation of the very first email.
* The send-out always starts before 9 a.m. EST. This is the golden standard for both external and internal teams. However, the letters designated to the companies of other time zones are scheduled for 9 a.m. local time (e.g., 9 a.m. PST for companies in California).
It’s up to you or your SDRs how these tasks are distributed throughout the day. We recommend starting sendouts prior to 9 a.m. local time, because usually emails are read first in the morning or during the lunch.
Andrew, Team Lead: “We always start the sendout at 9 a.m. EST. I have worked with two CRMs. SalesLoft enables you to send all the emails at once, but this means that you’ll have to divide your leads into several groups based on their timezones and make several sendouts during the day. Meanwhile, with HubSport Sales Pro you can schedule your letters for a particular time, which gives you an opportunity to complete this task within one hour. In my opinion, it’s better to do the whole sendout once a day, because otherwise you’ll be distracted and have to do it every hour (i.e. when it turns 9 a.m CST, then MST and then PST).”
We highly recommend that you don’t limit yourself to creating a timetable for just one day, it’s also important to think about the work of an SDR in terms of one week!
10 a.m. – One-hour break. That’s when our SDRs enjoy their free time, relax and socialize*.
* At CIENCE we pay much attention to building comfortable environment and strong team. An SDR’s work is highly stressful due to multiple negative responses. Coping with denial can be really hard. And that’s when good teammates can give psychological support to each other through sharing “negative response” stories and empathy. When an SDR faces an unusual task they can also give a helping hand and even go way beyond their job responsibilities.
11 a.m. – Managing the inbox and updating the data in the Mastersheet: Bounces and auto-replies are the first to come. Every lead’s response (even the bounce) along with its date must be specified in the Mastersheet for further analysis and reporting.
12 p.m. (9 a.m.) – Time for studying and acquiring new skills.
– Every SDR at CIENCE has access to HubSpot Learning Center, which provides great lessons on sales and marketing as well as certification for the trainees.
– Anna searches for the best practices on the Internet (articles, blogs and forums)
– Every SDR at CIENCE knows he or she can ask teammates for advice and discuss some hard cases
– Anna has a special file with “follow-ups*” for all the types of responses. She tries to look for new ways of writing a follow-up.
* Follow-up (FU) is an email to a prospect, who sent us a response (positive or negative) or opened our send-out email.
Anna: “I would read the forums of CEOs, where they discuss different emails by SDRs and sales reps. They would often complain about annoying guys writing to them and even go as far as share what emails could catch their attention! That’s when I try to analyze how to write my follow-ups in ways that will connect with C-levels and capture their attention.”
12.30 p.m. till 3.45 p.m. – Work with the inbox, writing the follow-ups. This is probably the most important part of the day.
It is conducted in several stages:
- Sending out the previously requested follow-ups. Some prospects ask to send follow-ups in several days or weeks. Every SDR have a record of such replies and send them, when the time comes.
- Read the responses of the prospects and copy them to the Mastersheet.
- Conduct the research on the leads, who opened emails or sent responses.
- Write and send the new follow-ups to positive responses.
- Prepare follow-ups for the future (e.g., when a prospect asks to get in touch in 1 week).
- Write and send the follow-ups to ambiguous responses and “opened emails”.
Anna: “Newcomers often ask me why we write follow-ups to the opened emails. I work mostly with C-level titles, and understand that they are very busy people. Though they might be interested in scheduling an appointment or receiving more information about our product, C-level titles often get distracted or just don’t have enough time for writing a reply. That’s why I get in touch with them after they open our email.”
As you can see, answering responses takes over 3 hours. It’s because in most campaigns our SDRs have the freedom to personalize the prewritten follow-ups. In order to do it effectively a rep should study:
– The website of the company
– LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social medias of the company and the contact person
– The blog
– The mentions of the lead on the Internet (e.g. participation in conferences)
– Local news and events (e.g. the launch of Falcon Heavy in Brevard County, Florida)
We teach our SDRs how to search, analyze and personalize effectively.
Anna: “We have sample follow-ups, but I prefer to do the writing myself. I customize my email for a particular prospect and his or her company, which is a more accurate approach”
4 p.m. – End of the shift. Clock-out.
The above schedule might vary to different extent depending on the quantity of responses from prospects on a particular day. Some dedicated SDRs would often check their emails at home, on weekends and holidays. Some projects require that SDR would spent several weeks working almost non-stop, but mostly it concerns the campaigns held before events, e.g. conferences.
Guidelines for SDR’s
- Set a weekly quota for e-mails and calls. It depends on a particular SDR and on your campaign. There should be a fair quantity-to-quality ratio. Our own quota is 200 emails per week, not more than 50 leads per day. With a good response rate and a fractional percentage of bounces, there are enough prospects for any SDR to work with.
Daria, Client Success Manager: “When we have multi-channel campaigns (emails, calls and Linkedin), it’s best to space lead contact out to regular intervals (same business days). However, if the prospect opened an email or responded, it’s best to answer him or her immediately.”
- Keep in mind the business cadence of the week. Generally speaking, the worst days for emails and calls are Mondays and Fridays. The best are Tuesdays and Thursdays.
Olesia, SDR Department Head: “For the convenience of reporting, our campaigns start either on the first or fifteenth day of every month. We usually don’t start on Fridays, since it’s the day with the lowest open and response rate, and since the weekend is coming, there’s a big chance our email gets lost in the prospect’s mailbox.”
3. Set time for weekly reporting. It’s better to schedule reporting for Friday. If the campaign isn’t successful, the reporting hour is the perfect time to discuss what changes should be made and prepare them for the next week. For example, if the open rate is low, it’s better to rewrite the subject line and plan the introduction of the respective changes for the next week.