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Kyle Porter’s Q&A with Sales Development Directors: Robby Allen of Zenefits

3 min read
January 26, 2016

Early in January, Salesloft CEO Kyle Porter sat down with two Sales Development Directors, Birst’s Chris Pham and Zenefits’ Robby Allen. Last week we shared Chris’s insights on some overarching themes in sales development, and now we’re here to hear Robby’s side of the story.

Take a look at what Robby had to say to Kyle’s questions about the handoff between the SDR and the AE, the philosophy behind an SDR’s career trajectory, and what sales development really means to him.

What does sales development mean to you?

Here at Zenefits, and a lot of companies I speak to, the definition is two-fold. First, sales development generally has some sort of a goal in sourcing net new revenue for the company — bringing in new business.

When you break down annual or quarterly goals (or however you want to look at it) the point, from a production standpoint, is for SDRs to bring in new business for the company, partner with your Account Executive team, and then make sure that they’re successful in terms of their pipeline.

The other fold is to produce the future sales leaders within your company. Have a rock-solid training built in, and make sure that you’re consistent in promoting reps out of the sales development program into a full-cycle role. That’s the two-fold way we look at sales development.

How does the hand off between Sales Development Reps and Account Executives work on your teams?

For our SDRs, a Stage 1 opportunity is a demo set. But until that demo happens, and there’s a next step and a business opportunity to close, that would be converted into a Stage 2 opportunity.

The SDR sets the demo for the AE, and it’s up to the AE to decide whether that’s a Stage 2 opportunity. That’s why the dialog between reps is so important. The paycheck of the SDR is, in a sense, in the hands of the AE. That’s been a constant for SDRs for a long time, and you can’t really improve unless that dialog is in place.

What’s your philosophy on the trajectory of an SDR’s career?

This is challenging because, I think what Sales Development Reps look for in a career (especially the current generation of people who are going into SDR roles) is immediate gratification. Most of the time, that means quick promotions.

But as a business leader and a leader in a sales development organization, you need to look at the payback cycle. How long does it really take for us to ramp an SDR? How long does it take start earning back all of the up-front cost that goes into hiring, payroll, training before we start to see their pipeline ramp and that money kicked back.

The main thing to think about here is: Are we promoting people with the right skill set to succeed in the next level, or are we just promoting people because we committed to them that we’d promote them in eight months?

I think a year is about the minimum. I spent about two years in an SDR role early in my career, and it really helped me. I can tell you that a lot of the best SDRs I’ve seen promoted have been the people who stayed a month or two longer than they thought they needed to, and in turn really honed in on that skillset.

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