Sales development reps don’t often work at a company with the intention of staying an SDR forever. In fact, the average turnover for a sales development rep is roughly 14 months.

That’s why the topic of career progression has become a hotbed of discussion among industry influencers and experts.

What’s the best way to advance an individual through the sales development role while keeping them engaged and excited about their job?

One thing that all industry leaders can agree upon is that you must be transparent with your plan for career advancement. When joining an organization, SDRs need to know exactly what their career progression looks like and what’s expected of them.

After extensive discussion with industry influencers, we changed the career map for our SDRs and want to highlight new features, which we think will help new hires learn more about SalesLoft culture while keeping the seasoned SDRs engaged and happy.

The Old SDR Progression:

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This career path worked well for us … but it just didn’t quite fit our growing team. The Team Leads struggled to manage a team while continuing to lead the team in appointments. We wanted to create a matrix to glorify our reps — nurturing their leadership skills, while keeping them engaged and happy.

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The Method Behind the Matrix

Here’s the thing — at SalesLoft we hire all stars who will punch above their weight class. (Read: SDRs who join SalesLoft are high achievers.)

Through hard work, our new hires are ready to graduate from the SDR role in four months — a feat that would typically take twice as long! The idea behind creating a new matrix was to have our reps grow professionally through an entry-level job.

As leaders of sales development, one of your goals is to prepare young people for the career paths they will take once they leave the SDR role — whether it be for account management, sales, or marketing.

When creating the new structure of the team, we wanted to make sure each milestone was meaningful. We aren’t looking to advance people just to advance them. Rather, there should be something that is learned at each stage before moving to the next level.

Our new SDR Matrix:

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The new structure has two tracks because we recognize that not everyone leads in the same way. Some lead by example, while others lead through mentorship.

Our two career paths consist of the “Executive” track and the “Captain” track.

Executives lead by example. These are some of our top performers who push our newer SDRs, stretching them past their comfort level.

One of our top appointment setters, Chris, is a SalesLoft SDR Executive. Every day Chris challenges a colleague to set more demos than he can that day. And while no one has beaten him in this competition (yet!), all of the contenders have had record appointment day when challenged. Chris uses his sales skills to push the rest of the team to be their best abilities.

Captains, on the other hand, serve as mentors to our new hires. When a new hire joins SalesLoft they are assigned a captain to answer their questions and to reinforce our culture, process, and consistency of message. Captains only mentor these hires until they hit a certain quota. With an SDR team growing at a supersonic rate, having a few veterans to show new hires the ropes helps our Director of Sales Development focus on hiring and onboarding.

Mission: The “Mission” of each stage incorporates a learning and growth opportunity that the rep must accomplish in regards to our company culture. Individuals must often read a book or listen to a podcast that was instrumental in shaping the culture of SalesLoft.

Eligibility:
The “Eligibility” outlines a few of the perks that SDRs are eligible for at that stage. However, just because they are eligible, we make it clear that they must still earn the privilege. Outlining these rewards prevents miscommunication and hard feelings when someone is chosen to attend a trade show or conduct an interview.

This detailed matrix is a perfect template for sales development, ensuring SDRs that their promotions and perks are all based on outcomes they can control.

What are your thoughts on our new SDR matrix? How does it differ from yours?