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Sales Development Reps makes all the difference in the world when it comes to the growth of your business. They crack open new accounts, gain traction in new markets and lead to new revenue generation – so why aren’t we all running wickedly profitable Sales Dev teams?

Because finding SDR talent is HARD, and recognizing SDR talent when you see it is even HARDER.


Think we’re being dramatic? The statistics speak for themselves:

An SDR cost $123k/year on average. The annual turnover is 100% at many fast growth companies. Average tenure is hovering at 12 months. There’s currently more than 200k open positions for the role and almost every SDR Manager’s Linkedin headline reads, “I’m Hiring!”.

As one of the world’s top outsourced Sales Development firms, we’ve been recruiting SDRs for over a decade and we’ve poured all of our learnings and trade secrets into this new platform and sharing it with you; Alleyoop Hires , powered by Grit Seed, the world’s first and only solution to hiring SDRs.

If you aren’t utilizing the platform, there are still a few best practices you can abide by. One of the seemingly obvious (rarely properly executed) ways to identify SDR talent is to go beyond the resume and examine a candidates soft skills. After all, do you want to hire on someone’s past or someone’s future? 

Soft Skill #1: Engaging

Ask Yourself This: Does the candidate come off as boring or uninteresting?

If you’re bored with the candidate, that’s a red flag. How can anyone they’re selling to possibly be interested?

What Does an Engaging SDR Look Like?

A common exercise in marketing school is to have students pair off with a partner. Unbeknownst to Partner A, Partner B has been instructed to remain expressionless throughout the exercise – Partner B cannot nod, smile, move their eyebrows, or offer prods such as “I see,” “Interesting,” or “Huh.” Partner A is then given a subject to speak about and begins rattling off a narrative about that subject. As the conversation takes place, you begin to see Partner A lose steam as he or she realizes he or she is talking to a wall.

Imagine yourself in that scenario and really think about having a conversation with someone who gave you absolutely no encouraging cues. So the question is, what does an engaging person look like?Engaging people know how to present themselves, keep conversations going and maintain their audience’s engagement. Ask yourself – during the interview – did you at any point feel awkward? Did you feel like the candidate was uninterested or unnatural? You need someone who will be able to get prospects to listen and get them interested to give Account Executives a great pass at the end of the day.

Soft Skill #2: Focused

Remember: SDRs are reaching out to busy executives all day long.

As a superior, you probably have people pitching to you all day. Nothing can be more frustrating than a sales pitch that drags on and on with virtually no end in sight.

Speed, clarity and precision are necessary to capture a prospect’s attention – they’re always on the move and short on time. A good SDR will need to be quick on their feet to show value and get results from their call.

Soft Skill #3: Intention

Ask Yourself This: Does the person demonstrate a true understanding of the role?

Can they explain it? Can they mention some of the tasks they’ll do?

While it is the third fastest growing job in the country, there are still a lot of people who don’t know the role exists.

Can you gauge their understanding of it before and after the interview?

If they’re aligned with the day-to-day of the role – great! You can rest assured they will not quit a month in.

Are they hesitant or really looking for a job in marketing? It can be a tough road ahead if the job isn’t what they’re looking for, and you’ll want to save yourself the training and turnover costs.

Soft Skill #4: Pleasant

Ask Yourself This: Were you excited to meet them based on their pre-interview communications?

Energy is one thing, but at the end of the day, it’s a virtual role.

Sales, at its core, is part science, part art. However, there’s been a heavy shift to the art part of it, namely the execution. With it comes how SDRs are perceived, which is what really sets them apart from the rest of the callers reaching out to buyers.

Have you ever gotten off the phone with a really genuinely pleasant person? If you can recall an interaction like that, it goes to show how truly memorable this skill makes an SDR.

How the candidates presents themselves during the recruiting process will give you a clue as to what prospects will pick up from their communications with them during their limited interaction time.

Soft Skill #5: Consistency

Ask Yourself This: Did your excitement grow or diminish after the interview?

Still impressed with a candidate after the interview? Great! You may be closer to finding your newest hire. If on the contrary, you’re not as excited as you were anymore it may be best to continue your search.

It is easy for a candidate to present to you a version of themselves that is peppy, polished and professional over e-mail or phone correspondence. But demonstrating consistency of that persona during an in-person, hour-long interview is a whole other ball game.

Consistency of personality is only part of it – you’ll want to see a demonstration of their consistency of character. Above all you are making an investment into someone. You want to make sure that investment will have long term ROI.

Soft Skill #6: Confidence

Ask yourself this: Did they attempt to close you? At least, on next steps?

They say Sales Professionals live by ‘Always be Closing’ and last impressions really do linger. The ending of an interview can make or break their chances.

Do you have a candidate that tries to close in an interview smartly? That shows confidence and assertiveness – things needed to effectively reach out to C-level executives.

Remember, having someone not suited for the SDR role is worse than not having an SDR in 95% of scenarios. You want to keep your current team in great shape and not create negative momentum for them.


Finding the right candidate can be challenging, but can also bring outstanding results to your team and business. Why else would SDR managers be so desperate to fill an entry level role that costs that company an arm and a leg? It’s a mission critical role. Taking the time to reflect after interviewing candidates can improve your hiring process and help you find your next SDR star.

Are you recruiting for your SDR team? We have a solution that allows you to find and focus in on the candidates who are most likely to find success. Let’s start talking about how we can set you and your team for success.

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