Last week, 40 hand-picked sales development leaders gathered in a room for the TOPO Sales Development Council #4, hosted by Craig Rosenberg on startup alley in San Francisco.

These top-performing doers live and breath sales development. I left with some of the most impactful lessons, many of which I’m eager to implement at SalesLoft and share with the sales development industry.

Here’s a snapshot of the #TOPOcouncil social stream from attendees.

We kicked off the day sharing the biggest pain points we face in sales development, they are:

  • Hiring strategies
  • Compensation plans
  • Rules of engagement (handoff between SDRs and AEs)
  • Metrics tracking
  • Phone capabilities
  • Email best practices
  • SLA between inbound/outbound teams – click to view SalesLoft’s SLA

But the number one challenge that was highlighted throughout the day was plain and simple – how to keep SDRs performing longer and happier.

Here’s what we know. The average tenure today for a sales development rep is between 10 – 12 months. The question is, how do we get them to stay longer, motivated and not begging to move into an Account Executive position after 6 months?

TOPO Analyst Bryan Gonzalez, offered this data on this topic during his presentation at the Council –

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Here are some innovative ways to help keep your SDR team at peak performance, motivated and engaged day-to-day:

  • Establish a peer mentor program between SDRs and AEs
  • Create a transparent career advancement plan laid out on day 1 and demonstrate alignment with the business – why the company exists, why the SDR department exists and serves a greater mission.
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  • Introduce the hiring protocol to ensure that you set expectations for the position in a performance profile that clearly defines the role and show a timeline of career progression.
  • Solidify the onboarding process with an outline of expected ramp-up time, equip the SDRs with a playbook and a set of goals of what they should know before showtime.
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  • Implement a coaching and 1-on-1 strategy where you dedicate 30 minutes to each rep, each week, no matter what. This is a non-negotiable and is crucial for monitoring the engagement. Rivalry is the world’s first coaching application and a must-have for high growth organizations who care about growing their people into leaders.
  • Hire people who are creatively inclined, yet understand numbers.
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  • Glorify sales development within organization, make sure they have a seat at the executive table. Celebrate wins and break up tenure into multiple steps (not just SDR to AE), and give them incentives to work towards. One example by Sales Development Leader, Richard Harris is to take your top SDR from the previous month to an industry event with the Sales Development Director. Show them the fruits of their labor and the other side that they don’t see from the desk-level. The key is to make sure they’ve earned it.
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  • Develop a mutual respect between SDR and AE by forming a Service Level Agreement (SLA).
    • Congrats to the TOPO team for a top-class event. TOPO brought in the top practitioners who were able to share their best practices and we walked away with immediate action-items and deep insights to the needs of high-growth sales development teams.

      I was grateful for the opportunity to share our internal best practices, here are the slides from my presentation –

      What am I missing? What do you think will keep the SDR team engaged, motivated and focused for longer? Let me know your thoughts at