5 Overlooked Management Skills for SDR Managers

Using the levers of management

Business development and sales development managers are often former reps, which means they’re well-trained on the technologies and processes needed for the role.

However, sales development is a unique function to manage: it’s a fast-paced, competitive environment usually filled by entry-level sales professionals.

With so many different new personalities, generations, and motivations emerging in the modern sales workforce, managers need to understand how to navigate and succeed.

To help you hire, train, and manage effective SDRs and BDRs, here are 5 key management skills that are often overlooked but invaluable for managers.


Skill #1: Building Team Culture

Sales development is tough because every team has its own unique set of situations, skills, resources, competitive players, and buyers that impact performance.

For example, enterprise sales development for a 6-figure service is a different world from sales development for a transactional software product.

To ensure you’re recruiting and hiring the right reps for your team, it’s essential to develop a strong culture.

Team culture is about more than just personalities: the best SDR cultures have reps with similar skills, sales philosophies, and passion for their particular space.

With control over the team culture, managers can grow a cohesive SDR team that keeps reps motivated, happy to work, and aligned with the organization.


Skill #2: Structured Training

Most sales development reps are recent college graduates, which is the last of the Millennial Generation and the first of the new Generation Z entering the workforce.

These younger generations were raised in a structured environment: class schedules, assignments, tests, teachers, and lectures.

If you throw new graduates into a tough foreign environment without the right onboarding, they’ll likely struggle to adapt and will often get easily overwhelmed.

The solution? Make the work environment familiar.

Structure your SDR program to allow new reps ease into the professional world as they learn their role and helps them accelerate their career progression.


Skill #3: Personalized Motivation

SDR teams often default to group coaching sessions on the premise that it saves time.

While it might be time-efficient, managers miss out on bringing the best out of each individual rep and risk losing control over the outcomes you create with coaching.

To ensure every SDR is progressing and performing, managers need to personalize the coaching experience to the specific motivators of each rep.

There are 3 primary types of motivations:

1) Altruistic Motivation:
Altruistically-motivated want to help and serve others every chance they get. Those with altruistic motivations are driven by relationships, social perception, and reputation.

2) Extrinsic Motivation:
Extrinsically-motivated people focus on external rewards, typically money. If they go above and beyond, those with extrinsic motivation will want to be compensated.

3) Intrinsic Motivation:
Intrinsically-motivated people focus on self-competition and recognition. Those with intrinsic motivations are driven by achievement, rankings, and skill mastery.

Finding out which category your reps fall under and how to best motivate them will help you optimize how you go about coaching them to success. In addition, managers gain additional insights into how to personalize training and compensation.


Skill #4: Communication & Feedback Loops

In such a high-velocity environment, SDR managers often struggle to communicate effectively with both their team and other stakeholders in the organization.

Reps gain invaluable insights with each activity and it’s the responsibility of the manager to extract relevant information that can help improve the sales development program.

Without a good system for gathering feedback, buyer insights, and selling experiences from reps, managers risk losing touch of both their SDR team and target buyers.

Similarly, sales development managers can’t affect change and stay aligned with the rest of the organization if they don’t have good communication with the leadership team.

Team and organizational communication is an essential management skill that empowers your ability to grow, build, and improve your SDR program.


Skill #5: SDR Mentorship

Younger generations crave mentorship.

The emerging workforce desires to learn, grow, and progress quickly. Most won’t thrive or be satisfied with a playbook, a manager, and a quota.

Mentorship is the key that many younger sales professionals seek: skills development, personal development, and career development for a better future.

Beyond 1-on-1s with reps, managers should assign SDRs with an internal or external mentor that has direct experience in their role.

This person could be an experienced sales leader, a veteran colleague, or a thought leader entirely outside the organization.

By answering questions, solving challenges, and sharing advice on how to succeed in their role, coaches can help accelerate the progression of your entire SDR team.



In the past, former reps and external hires could easily become managers by relying on general business acumen, technology mastery, and their experience as an SDR.

However, today’s selling environment is more competitive than ever and buyers are overwhelmed by the amount of sales outreach they receive.

Today’s SDR managers need to align their skill set around this new selling environment and understand how to manage a new generation of sales professionals.

With these 5 management skills, managers can better equip their reps and maximize their ability to hire, train, and manage SDR teams.

[In sales development? Check out our free video series SDRevolution to get insights and content from 7 sales development experts!]