Don’t Just Be a Dashboard Manager

July 9, 2021

Every Sales Development team is different.

Some roll-up under marketing, others under sales.

Some find results with a high volume approach, others focus on highly targeted & personalized outreach.

The point is, there are a lot of “right ways” to run an SDR team.

It really all comes down to your SDR manager.

In his SDRevolution video course on outbound sales development, Morgan J Ingram described the two types of SDR Managers as, “data-driven managers and ‘rah-rah’ managers”.

-A “rah-rah” manager is someone that’s excellent at motivating and fostering relationships with their SDRs.

-A data-driven manager focuses on reporting and data analysis to find ways to improve their team’s output.

There are pros and cons to each, but the best SDR managers find success using a combination of the two styles.

One unique aspect of the SDR Manager role at any organization is their involvement with SDR Operations. Given that RevOps and SalesOps are relatively new and growing departments for a lot of companies, having an SDR Manager that’s well versed in reporting and analytics can be a godsend for your higher-ups.

But it’s important to remember that looking at dashboards and reports alone does not give you enough insight to know whether or not your team is performing well or has the capabilities to improve.

Between reporting & analytics and requests coming down from the top, it can be easy to forget how important managing SDRs as people can be to the SDR Manager role. While uncovering actionable trends based on analyzing your team’s performance is important, it doesn’t mean anything if you can’t relay its value and importance to your team in a way that gets them to buy in.

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Manage Beyond the Numbers: Catch the recording of our conversation on modern SDR management, looking beyond the numbers, and building a successful SDR function.

Managing a dashboard comes with set and known variables that can be tested for and against relatively simply. Managing people…well it isn’t so cut and dry. If one of your reps is having a bad day, you can’t just look at a report and figure out why.

😪 Maybe they had a late night?

🚨 Maybe they’re dealing with a family emergency?

😩 Maybe they’re feeling burnt out from the job?

You’ll only know the real answer by getting to know the rep, and that takes more than just a quick Slack message or indiscriminate 1-on-1s. Getting to know your SDRs for who they are as people – on top of knowing them professionally – is the easiest way to understand how best to motivate and guide them.

Think about it like this: If you only know someone professionally, your typical response to, “how’re you doing?” might go something like this…

“Good thanks. And you?”

Now imagine someone you know on a more personal level asks you the same question. If you’re anything like everyone else, your response is much more candid and open because you can trust them as a person, instead of just as a manager (or not at all).

That trust is hard to build, but once you do you’ll get insight into your reps that would have otherwise been hidden behind the curtain.

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Our April Symposium was all about building the SDR <> Manager relationship. Get advice & tips from our panel on how to build that trust and maintain open communication.

The other development data-driven managers often overlook are the soft skills that need to be trained and nurtured in order to succeed as an SDR. Sure, any manager can see low activities and ask the rep to simply increase their output, but will that actually solve the problem, or are you just treating symptoms while the real issue lies dormant under the surface…waiting to cause more damaging problems down the road?

Instead, focus on “the why”.

Understanding why an SDR has low numbers will provide you with a better solution than simply “making more dials”. If the SDR is struggling because they lack product knowledge, the solution is completely different than if their struggle was due to being burnt out in the role. Without understanding why an SDR does what they do, any potential fix is temporary at best.

And this goes both ways. If you see a need to implement something new based on data analysis, you need to be able to relay the reasoning behind it to everyone involved. Communication is the key to unlocking the changes you want to see, and not everybody reacts the same way to being shown a dashboard report.

By explaining your own “why” to all of your reps you’ll do two positive things.

First, through explaining the plan out loud to someone else, you’ll gain a better understanding of what you’re trying to express.

Second, once the SDRs understand why you’re asking something of them, they’re much more likely to do it, whether it’s as simple as changing a new CRM field or as complex as using a new CRM altogether.

SDRs are as unique as snowflakes, and it takes a skilled manager to be able to see a path to success for each one. Some won’t need much guidance at all, while others will need to know you’re deep in their corner in order to open up and allow you to manage them.

As for the rest? They’ll fall anywhere in between.

If you don’t learn how to successfully communicate with them, you’ll almost certainly struggle. But if you do learn how to manage the eclectic group that you or your recruiting team put together, it will be one of the most rewarding experiences of your career.

alex ellison

Alex Ellison is the Marketing Communications Manager at demandDrive. He started his career as an SDR before discovering a passion for creating content and resources that drew him towards marketing. In his current role he primarily works behind the scenes drafting, editing, and developing a wide variety of marketing materials and educational resources. He is also currently enrolled at the University of Washington pursuing a Masters in Communication Leadership with a focus on Digital Media.
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