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Kyle Porter Answers 5 Common Questions for Scaling a Sales Development Team

6 min read
Updated Aug. 24, 2020
Published Dec. 10, 2015

As the CEO of the fastest growing tech startup in Atlanta, Kyle Porter gets asked dozens of questions about how he’s created such a successful sales development machine. From questions around hiring and compensation models, to KPIs and sales stacks, a few familiar questions keep popping up.

Many of these questions can be answered in our Top Secret Sales Development Playbook. Kyle also answers them regularly on webinars, event panels, and even our company breakfasts, where he’s joined every month by Salesloft Co-Founder, Rob Forman, for an informal AMA-style conversation to address any additional questions from the team.

Transparency is common practice at Salesloft, so to make things even easier to find, here’s a roundup of Kyle’s answers to some commonly asked questions for scaling a sales development team:

1. What are your key strategies behind hiring? Specific backgrounds? Direct grads or experienced professionals?

Getting someone that has a few years of professional experience is going to give you a world of a different view of who they are and how they operate than if you pull them straight out of college. I love putting them in the real world for just a few years to get a taste of how they operate there. There’s two takes on their experience: do they coast, or do they grind? People either get in a role and just “live that life,” or they get in a role and they hustle, grind, and claw their way out.

What I’ve found that’s really helpful is finding SDR candidates who have been in high phone-based roles. My absolute favorite background is technical recruiting. Technical recruiting is a true test of a sales person, especially for someone who comes from a traditional sales pedigree, because you have to blend the skill of talking about C++, Java, Software Stacks, Multi-tiered databases — things that you have to sound like you know a lot about, when you probably don’t — and be convincing and influential. This shows that they’re able to comprehend a deeper level of intellect in their sales.

And the thing is, most recruiters don’t really love what they do. It’s really hard to love recruiting. That’s why I love finding those people… and you might not be surprised to find out that that’s where I started my career.

Our industry demands a genuine belief in yourself, your company and your product. Selling is transference of that belief.” – Kyle Porter

2. How do you compensate SDRs and AEs?

I recommend starting off simple and increasing complexity over time.

Choose an OTE that is comparable to your cost of living, comparable to the industry, comparable to other jobs that exist. If you’re in the top 20% of companies in terms of technology and innovation, then be in the top 20% in terms of OTE for SDRs. Keep that vision in line with your compensation structure.

Take that OTE, and slash it 50/50 for a Base+Performance variable. When you do performance-based compensation, try to keep it as simple as you can, while still adding value to the role so that it can’t get cheated. For example, have standards for what type of prospects can be passed over to AEs… and of these qualified prospects, how many of these can be passed over? And then monitor the percentage of completed appointments to deals, and make sure it doesn’t fall below a certain threshold for any particular rep. SDRs are compensated on completed appointments (i.e. pre-qualified, approved by AE, etc.), and the SDR and the AE have a Service Level Agreement so that they each know what’s going on, eyes wide open, going in.

3. How do you build a quota?

I don’t think it’s an exact science, but here’s how we’ve done it: I hire two SDRs at the same time, put them to work with the same exact resources and the same exact objectives, and see which one does the best. Then push them both to do a small amount larger than that the next month — see how that goes — and then assign a quota.

One of the things you have to be careful about with SDRs is setting up a quota too early (either too high or too low) before you really know what it should be. The best thing to do is to set the expectation that there’s going to be fluctuating quota in the early stages while you get the data established. I love the bottom up process where the reps are a part of the initial quota establishment.

4. What KPIs should my SDR team focus on?

There’s one KPI that people don’t pay enough attention to, and it’s an efficiency rating. Let’s say you have Rep A and Rep B, and both reps turn over 30 appointments in the month of November. But it takes Rep A 1000 prospects to get those 30 appointments, where it takes Rep B 5000 prospects to get those 30 appointments. Rep A is much more efficient than Rep B, and this means that:

  1. Rep A only needed to pay for 1000 pieces of data (5x less than Rep B), and
  2. Rep A has only burned 970 prospects that didn’t convert, while Rep B burned 4970 prospects — that may have gotten a bad impression, not great emails, not great voicemails, maybe even some bad conversations — and they’re left with scorched earth.

It all comes back to efficiency. As far as email metrics are concerned, that’s a negative KPI — a negative activity metric. You want an SDR that sends as little emails as they can, while getting as many appointments as they can. You don’t want to reward Rep B for sending 5x more emails than Rep A, when B was less efficient.

5. What Sales Development tools should we use?

First things first, a CRM tool — is obviously the big one. Next comes a communication platform that allows you to execute on your process. Something that allows you to analyze your success and to improve based on the results.

You should have something that blends all of the different mediums of communication onto one platform — especially something that includes both email and phone. Know your reps’ call-to-connect ratio and email-to-connect ratio — you want to know who’s opening, who’s clicked before you make a call. The phone calls need to know what the emails are doing, and vice versa. A local dial presence is also important, along with sentiment tracking and dropped voicemail features.

You have to have tools that show metrics and analytics on the backend — to hold reps accountable and find out who’s sticking to the process — and ranking who’s sticking to the process the best amongst the team.

For a more comprehensive look at how we do sales development, download our Top Secret Sales Development Playbook and start crushing your sales development goals today.