Skip to main content

The leader of the SDR team is one of the most critical hires on the go-to-market team.  Even top-performing sales leaders will struggle to meet quota if they don’t get the right amount of pipeline.  Although it is a less visible role, the SDR leader is often one that can make or break the business plan.  It is also a challenging role to fill because managing the outbound demand generation effort requires a very diverse mix of skills.

abstract illustration of Sales Development Rep SDR

Managing SDRs is different from managing sales.  A strong sales leader may be great at scouting talent, building relationships, and closing deals, but s/he may not have the depth in modern prospecting strategies, sales technologies, and metric reporting needed to manage today’s outbound lead generation teams.  Ideally, you want someone who has proven experience leading the SDR function at another organization.

The ideal SDR leader is:

  • Tech-savvy – Understanding how to get the most out of sales intelligence services like ZoomInfo and Crunchbase, prospecting apps like Outreach and Salesloft, and intent data sources like Bombora and G2.
  • Process-minded – Developing optimal cadences with the right blend of calling, emailing, and social outreach to maximize leads. Designing manual exception scenarios to handle reschedules and no-shows to ensure nothing falls through the cracks.
  • Metrics-driven – Relentlessly tracking weekly activity volumes for calls and emails as well as conversion rates for inbound and outbound sequences. Monitoring performance metrics for individual reps and teams.
Equally important to the SDR Leaders’ success are EQ and leadership qualities.  The ideal candidate is a:

  • Strong Motivator – Able to rally the team to perform hundreds of cold calls and personalized emails per week. Effective at quickly rebounding an SDR that was hung up on, cursed at, or insulted during a live conversation.
  • Talent Scout – Can spot entry-level talent with the raw selling skills and mental toughness needed to be a high-performing SDR. Able to quickly onboard and arm new hires with the right amount of prospecting and product knowledge to be successful.
  • Skilled Coach – Reviewing call recordings and email threads to provide regular feedback to individual SDRs. Nurturing top performers through a career path that might ultimately lead to an account executive role or SDR team lead.

Below is a list of 30 potential interview questions you can ask to assess the skills of potential SDR leaders.  Of course, no one has time to ask 30 questions in a single interview.  You’ll need to decide which ones you want to focus on in the initial hiring manager screening call and which ones you want others in the interview process to drill down on.  It’s not important that you ask every one of the questions, but that you be sure to cover all of the different areas.

Size, Scope, and Structure

1) How large is the SDR team you are managing today?  Are there growth plans to expand it?

2) How are accounts/contacts assigned to SDRs?  Do you have specialized roles for inbound vs outbound?  Are SDRs aligned with the sales team around geographic territories, vertical industry segments, or strategic accounts?

3) Are the SDRs all centralized in a single location? Or are they decentralized/remote/working from home?

4) Who are you reporting into? Chief Revenue Officer?  VP of Sales?  VP of Marketing?  Sales Operations?

Talent Management

5) Tell me about the profile of SDRs on the teams you managed?  Were they experienced reps or recent graduates/workforce entrants?

6) How do you recruit new SDRs?  What qualities do you look for?  Which schools or employers do you look to hire from?

7) How do you coach/manage an under-performer?  Do you have any examples of where you have been able to turn someone around?

8) Tell me about a time you hired someone that ended up not being a fit for the SDR role.  What did you learn from the experience?

9) What type of career path models have you seen with SDRs?  Have you been able to progress/advance SDRs into junior Account Executive roles?

Prospecting Strategies

10) What is your approach to outbound prospecting into accounts with no engagement or marketing activity?  What channels (phone, email, social) do you use?  How many times do you reach out and with what frequency?

11) Tell me about your typical inbound cadence.  How do you respond to contact us/demo form requests?  How fast do you follow up?  How many times?

12) What about leads from marketing campaigns?  What is the cadence for following up on activity/engagement from email marketing, Google ads, or webinars?

13) Have you had any success using LinkedIn?  Do you use it for engagement (profile views, InMails, follows, comments) to connect with prospects?  Or have you used it primarily for researching contacts?

Goals and Metrics

14) What are some of the metrics you are using to track SDRs on a day-to-day basis?  Beyond the number of appointments scheduled or opportunities generated – do you track the number of calls?  Connects? Quality conversations?

15) How are the SDRs compensated?  Meetings scheduled?  Appointments completed?  Sales Accepted Leads?  Opportunities generated?  Pipeline dollar value generated?  Closed/won deals?  Bookings in ARR/ACV?

16) How have you typically arrived at quota targets for individual SDRs?  What has the typical monthly quota been?  What percentage of reps typically hit the target?

Sales Relationship

17) Who is one of the better sales leaders or reps that you have worked with in your career?  What did you like about them?  How did it help lead to better collaboration between sales and the SDR team?

18) Tell me about a time when a sales leader or rep had what you considered to be an unreasonable expectation.  What were the different perspectives and how did you handle the situation?

19) What level of qualification is your SDRs performing before scheduling an appointment with an Account Executive?  Are they looking for the correct customer profile and buyer persona?  Or do they qualify for BANT?  What are the criteria used for handoff?

20) If I asked some of the sales leaders you work with for their opinion of your team – What would they say?

21) Are your SDRs assigned to work with specific Account Executives in the sales team?  If so, how frequently do they meet with each other?  How do you ensure that SDRs don’t become administrative assistants for the AE?

Marketing Relationship

22) What is one of the better marketing campaigns that you have seen in your career?  What did you like about it?  Why do you think it was successful?

23) What is one of the worst marketing campaigns that you have seen?  Why do you think it was not successful or the wrong approach?

24) Tell me about a time when a marketing leader or campaign had what you considered to be an unreasonable expectation (e.g. follow up on a lead gen campaign).  What were the different perspectives and how did you handle the situation?

Technology and Data

25) What is the tech stack that your SDR team has used?  Which CRM?  Which Sales Automation (SalesLoft,  Which Sales Intelligence (ZoomInfo, Crunchbase, LinkedIn Sales Navigator)?

26) Tell me more about how you used the CRM system in your current role? Are you using it to create opportunities, track activity levels, and report on leads?

27) Tell me about how you are tracking call activity.  Do you use an auto-dialer?  Are you using Sales Automation tools such as SalesLoft or Outreach?  Do you use local presence?

28) Tell me about the Sales Intelligence tools you are using (ZoomInfo, Crunchbase).  What functions do you use the most?  Do you use Org Charts?  Scoops/Triggers?  Technographics?  How do you feed new accounts/prospects to the SDRs?

29) How do you handle accounts where you have no good contact data?  What types of tools do you use to find email addresses?  Phone numbers?  Do the SDRs do the research?

30) Are there any other data, tools, or technologies we have not discussed that you have used and would recommend?

Steve Keifer

Steve Keifer has led marketing and product management teams at seven different SaaS and cloud providers ranging from venture-backed, early-stage startups to multi-billion, publicly traded companies - including several that experienced hypergrowth, filed IPOs, and reached unicorn status. In Bantrr, Steve shares many of the best practices and lessons learned from building and scaling marketing organizations. Topics include new category creation, brand development, and demand generation.

Leave a Reply