10 Critical Pieces to SDR Training

Training SDRs and BDRs is not an easy task.

Sales development programs often hire reps that are newer to sales, bringing in professionals from a variety of different backgrounds and with a diverse array of experiences.

For managers, this demographic for the SDR role usually implies 3 things:

  1. BDRs tend to be younger & more energetic
  2. Reps tend to lack experiences in selling
  3. Younger SDRs tend to be very malleable

With the right SDR training program and support, even the greenest business development hires can be quickly onboarded and turned into an effective individual contributor.

However, the wrong training can easily overwhelm inexperienced reps, slow down their growth, and permanently stunt their skills as a sales professional.

To ensure every new SDR gets the best opportunity to be successful in sales, it’s critical to understand the major pieces that a rep needs to learn within the business development role. 

Here are 10 essential SDR training pieces to help accelerate the growth of newer sales development reps and get them generating results as soon as possible.

1) Problem & Product Knowledge

Sales is difficult because every company has its own unique set of solutions, revenue models, and ways of doing business.

Even in the same industry, competing brands often solve a variety of different problems for different audiences, each with their own unique offerings and solution characteristics.

To gain traction with buyers, SDRs and BDRs must be able to adequately describe their brand’s solution and explain how it fits into a future vision that can improve the buyer’s situation.

Problem knowledge is about understanding the different problems that buyers face, how they tend to solve them, and why a brand’s solution is uniquely positioned to help.

Product knowledge is about going deeper to understand the specific features, functionality, and benefits that a solution can provide to solve a buyer’s problem or improve their future state.

Once a rep can clearly define the problems in their market and adequately explain how their solution can help, it’s much easier to navigate conversations about this topic with buyers.

2) Buyer & Qualification Knowledge

At the heart of every sale is a specific company and group of individuals.

Every buyer’s situation is unique, so no two companies or sales conversations will be exactly the same. Even the value of a deal or velocity of a sale is unique to each buyer.

With so much variability, brands must help define what a good customer looks like for their sales team and use qualification criteria to identify good fits in the market before their competitors.

Through extensive research, historical data reviews, and real conversations with buyers, companies can differentiate between the good, the great, the bad, and the ugly in a market.

However, a go-to-market targeting strategy is not enough. SDRs must not only be able to identify and qualify buyers, but also influence thinking and motivate action.

To stick out as an influential authority that buyers trust, reps should continuously stay up-to-date on the common company types, buyer personas, and use cases found in their market.

Not only does buyer knowledge help improve an SDR’s ability to qualify or disqualify, but it also helps equip them to be more informed, relatable, and persuasive in their outreach.

3) Market & Competitor Knowledge

Sales development is not a one-person sport.

When buyers run into a problem, they have a seemingly endless number of internal options, software products, and business service partners available to help them solve it.

With so many options available to buyers, sellers in the same space must compete against other reps to capture attention and make the case for why they deserve a conversation.

To stand out from the crowd of other competing brands, SDRs must learn how to compare their solution to the alternatives out there and explain why it’s worth considering over other options.

Knowledge about competing brands, alternative solutions, and in-house fixes can help a rep better position their brand in the market, focus their messaging, and handle potential objections.

With clarity around their competitive landscape, SDRs equip themselves with the market knowledge to navigate conversations with buyers at any stage of their buying cycle.

4) Sales Development Playbook & Process Mastery

Every selling situation is different, so SDRs and BDRs need a repeatable framework that offers best practices around how reps should communicate with and influence their market.

Using knowledge about their industry, products, buyers, and competitors, brands can create a playbook to help map out the steps, activities, and processes involved in the pre-sales stage.

A sales development playbook typically consists of 10 major sections:

  1. Ideal Client Profile (ICP) & Personas Breakdown
  2. Common Customer Problems & Use Cases
  3. Lead Sourcing, Qualification Stages, & Definitions
  4. Prospecting Channels & Performance
  5. Product Knowledge & Case Studies
  6. Cadences, Messaging, & Outreach Templates
  7. Industry Topics & Content Creation
  8. Software & Enablement
  9. Targets, Performance Expectations, & Reporting
  10. Internal Team Communication & Collaboration

The purpose of a playbook is to provide a living document for reps to use in answering questions about their role, getting unstuck, finding advice, or leveling up their skills as a seller.

With a clear framework to define success in the sales development program, new SDRs can immediately gain a foundation of knowledge to use as a guide to becoming a high performer.  

5) Software Training & Technology Adoption

Today’s sales development programs are heavily augmented with technology stacks to help make SDRs and BDRs faster, smarter, and more informed.

However, like beauty, the value of technology is in the eyes of the beholder. Reps can both empower their ability to sell or waste time on unproductive activities using the same tool.

For SDRs to use technology effectively, they first must understand how to use it within their role. What is the purpose of the tech? How is it maintained? How complicated are day-to-day tasks?

Take LinkedIn for example. Some brands use it for selling, some use it to produce content for an audience, while others use the network exclusively for sales intelligence and social listening.

Once there is a foundational understanding of the technology, reps must then adopt and integrate it into their workflow.

Adoption is essential but also challenging because it often depends on both the tool and the team. Before SDRs will buy-in to a technology, they need to see the value behind using it.

After a rep happily adopts the technology, they can start moving beyond the basics and begin building expertise on more advanced use cases and ways to improve efficiency. 

6) Sales Prospecting & Follow-Up Frameworks

Playbooks give SDR/BDR teams a structure to rely on as reps grow into the role.

However, there’s a big difference between understanding concepts in the SDR playbook and actually applying them in live situations with buyers.

Business development is fast-paced and always adapting as buyers evolve, so it’s unlikely that a single cadence or sales prospecting strategy will produce the same results over time.

Beyond process, it’s important to equip reps with reliable scripts, situational tactics, and predictable conversation paths they can use in daily prospecting, follow-up, and nurture tasks.

With the right training, SDRs can rise beyond the basics of their role and focus on higher-level sales concepts like soft skills, discovery, persuasion, and being authentic.

7) Conversational & Emotional Intelligence (EQ)

Much of the SDR/BDR role can be easily trained, outsourced, or automated:

  • List-Building & Research
  • Sales Ops & CRM
  • Cold Outreach & Follow-Up
  • Cadence & Lead Management
  • Calendar Scheduling & Hand-Off

However, the nuances of sales that can’t easily be taught are some of the most valuable drivers of success for today’s top-performing salespeople.

EQ, business acumen, charisma, self-confidence, mental endurance, strategic empathy, and persuasiveness are just a few of the many hard-to-train elements behind successful selling.

While these attributes aren’t easy to pick up, training is still possible through continuous practice, live role playing, regular coaching sessions, workshops, and mentors.

With focus and repetition, SDRs can build an invaluable foundation of skills that can catalyze their growth and accelerate their sales career.

8) Time & Activity Management

SDRs get limited time each day to manage a wide variety of activities and responsibilities.

Beyond their abilities as a seller, it’s essential for reps to have the time management skills necessary to stay motivated, consistent, and on track towards their goals from week-to-week.

While a schedule can help structure a repeatable workflow for SDRs to use, it’s on the rep to follow-through on it and adjust their calendar when things inevitably change.

Exposure to the schedules or other team members and regular interactions with management can help shed light on how to effectively navigate the role from day-to-day.

With effective time management, even newer SDRs can do more than they realize.

9) Pipeline Management & Prioritization

The SDR/BDR role is incredibly fast-paced. New things constantly get added to the radar while existing workloads continue to demand time.

For a rep to sustain success over time, they need to understand how to manage a dynamic, growing pipeline of leads and prioritize their activities based on what’s most important.

Without the ability to manage leads & prioritize, it’s easy for SDRs to get overwhelmed, fall behind, or let opportunities slip through the cracks.

As SDRs gain more experience navigating hundreds of buying cycles, they’ll begin to understand the long-game of sales and create more consistency from quarter to quarter.

10) Team Communication & Reporting

At the end of the day, SDRs are business professionals in a workplace collaborating with other reps as part of a team to reach common goals for the organization.

Like many other professions, the SDR role requires the ability for people to work with others, communicate effectively, report to managers, and stay transparent.

Since SDR/BDR hires are often just finishing college, many reps are joining the professional workforce for the very first time and haven’t been exposed to a role in the business world.

Without training on the basics of how to be an effective team member, new SDRs risk negatively impacting team culture, causing conflicts, or leaving their manager out of the loop.

For managers, it’s important to recognize where team members are at in their career and help reps recognize the missing pieces they need to thrive as both a seller and a professional.

Conclusion

Training for SDR/BDR programs comes with incredible challenges: younger employees, newer salespeople, a fast-paced work environment, and high-pressure quotas to meet.

The sales development function has never been more important and today’s sophisticated buyers are demanding interactions with well-informed, responsive, high-caliber sellers.

Not only do SDR and BDR managers train the world’s future sales workforce, they also bridge the gap between how buyers evolve and how their organization reacts.

Whether it’s a solo SDR with one manager or a fleet of reps with a team of managers, effective training is essential for today’s sales development programs.

With these 10 training pieces, managers can create better SDRs and accelerate their path to becoming a rockstar individual contributor.