Poaching has always been an issue in sales development, but it’s become a whole new game in the remote world. With so many competing offers and remote work opportunities, it’s more difficult than ever to retain top outbound sales talent.
If you’ve been losing sales development representatives (SDRs) left and right, keep reading to learn why your SDRs are being poached–and how to stop it.
How a retention strategy can stop your SDRs from being poached
The most common reason why companies lose SDRs is the absence of a retention strategy. We dedicate much more time to finding and hiring outbound sales talent than we do to retaining existing SDRs.
Outbound sales leaders tend to focus on the issue of turnover (a reactive position), rather than taking measures to ensure SDRs are satisfied with their current position. According to a study published in the Harvard Business Review, employees stay in their current position for two main reasons: job satisfaction and environmental factors. Environmental reasons can include personal alignment with company values, changes in the job market, and the availability of other opportunities.
Sales development leaders may have little control over environmental factors, but focusing on job satisfaction can greatly reduce the risk of SDRs being poached and improve your team’s motivation. Implementing a strong retention strategy is the first step.
Let’s start by identifying the top three reasons SDRs are poached, and how to build a retention strategy that counters each one.
1. No opportunity for growth
One major reason SDRs choose to leave is that they don’t see any opportunity for growth at the company. This dilemma is easily solved by helping reps see what’s next, and providing opportunities to move into new roles or take on additional responsibilities.
Not only will reps be more likely to stay long-term, but they’ll also feel more in control of their career, and therefore more satisfied with their work.
Providing paths for advancement
The most common path is for an SDR to move into a management or account executive role. But not every SDR is interested in becoming a manager.
In that case, you might want to think about offering more specialized positions within the SDR role. For example, an experienced rep might be given the opportunity to start training newer staff. They could become an informal “team lead”.
Alternatively, they might choose to specialize in a specific customer tier (small business vs. enterprise) and train newer reps in their area of expertise.
Let the SDR’s strengths dictate their path. If they’re interested in technology, for example, they could help the outbound sales team integrate new software. If they love the service aspect of sales, they might flourish in customer success.
In each case, the SDR’s strengths become a resource for the team. As a result, the SDR feels happier and more fulfilled in their role.
Encouraging SDR retention with status
Many sales development leaders believe their SDRs leave for better financial opportunities, but that isn’t always the case. Status can be equally as important as money–and more cost-efficient.
Consider titles you could award to your SDRs for good behavior. For example, whoever has the highest quality research on their prospects wins the title of Chief Curiosity Officer. This type of friendly competition (independent of revenue metrics) encourages team bonding and increases job satisfaction.
Another idea is to host a sales pitch contest, where each SDR presents their pitch to their peers and management for feedback. For more non-monetary incentive ideas, check out this blog post.
2. Sales development team culture
Building a strong culture with your outbound sales team can be difficult, especially while working remotely. Online businesses (or those currently operating online) don’t share the same level of comradery as in-person office culture.
One way to counteract the distance imposed by remote work is to have regular meetings and team updates. Keep your SDRs in the loop with company news, and provide opportunities for them to voice their opinion. Like any other employee, reps want to know that their voice is listened to and their input matters.
For tips on more on building a positive team culture in your remote business, check out this article.
3. Lack of company loyalty
Hiring SDRs for long-term loyalty
The final reason your SDRs could be being poached is a lack of company loyalty. If they don’t feel connected to the company’s mission or values, they’re unlikely to stick around.
One way to combat this is to promote your mission during onboarding and training. Keep your company values front and center and share them often. Lastly, make it clear to every SDR how important their role is, and that they’re not just another cog in the wheel.
Want to build your internal sales development team without all the hassle of hiring and onboarding? Book a free discovery call to learn how we can help!
Another way to promote company loyalty is to gift shares to new hires. Gifting shares is useful for buy-in because SDRs start thinking of it as “their company”.
This strategy is risk-free until you go public, and reps instantly have more invested in the company’s success. Equity also feels like a more gift than typical rev share plans, because it’s independent of revenue numbers.
Final tips on retaining SDRs
Retaining outbound sales talent isn’t just about keeping people happy, it’s about giving them purpose.
By focusing on job satisfaction, sales development leaders can become more proactive about retaining their best reps. And in turn, SDRs will reward them with better performance and long-term loyalty.
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