“So every 100 emails, I should get 5 responses?” Up until joining LeadIQ, being an SDR made no sense to me. Like the WNBA or my fear of shark attacks in a swimming pool. Being an SDR seemed to me as a stepping stone to becoming an Account Executive. Almost every company I interviewed with described SDRs as a pawn in some kind of chess match. Someone who works tirelessly to try and vet potential clients just to get them to book a demo with an Account Executive (AE). With a tired out script and a cheerful attitude this endeavor seemed almost laughable.
The Importance of Hiring Your First SDR

Once I joined LeadIQ, I realized there is something actually fun and interesting about being an SDR. Something actually almost poetic about the job. See, I realized if you redefine how you approach your outreach this position can become very entertaining.

Instead of acting like a mindless zombie everyday, you transform, like an animorph, into someone more creative. Someone who figured out ways to stand out from the crowd and showcases his personality with each touch.

This realization got me to think about how important is it to hire the right SDR to your team and how teams should act when hiring SDRs to become more successful.

So I ventured out to interview with VP of Sales, Sales Managers, and CEOs from some of the best sales teams to understand best practices when hiring SDRs.

Setting The Culture:


Majority of my conversations have ended with the notion that your first sales rep is really helping to set the stepping stones for your sales culture.

They are basically defining how your future sales reps will outreach, they are helping create the playbook for the company.

These first hires are crucial in a startup because in a startup environment there is so much accountability. Most of the time you aren’t given leads to follow-up with. You need to have a hunter-like mentality. Basically, find and source leads yourself.

Create an Environment of Success:


When you hire your first SDR/BDR make sure you clearly vet the candidate and create an environment for success.

Most organizations tend to find people with proven track records without really understanding how that specific individual operates.

For example, when Jack Kosakowski was hiring his first BDR, like everybody, he thought he “...brought on the perfect guy…” Shortly after Jack found out his mistake, he hired someone who was not the right fit for the job at all. On paper he was great, but Jack found out that this SDR was not a hunter. He was just a sales rep with a proven track record.

Jack realized he brought him on too early. He was not set up to create an environment for this BDR to succeed. He didn’t have the infrastructure, “...don’t have the right engine for them, especially if they are not a hunter. They are not use to that” So he had to go back and find someone who had those specific qualities.

Setting Expectations:


Being an SDR/BDR is a very tough role, there are a lot of rejections they to face on a day to day basis.

So make sure you provide them with a set of expectations before you hire, for example: Make sure they align with company values. Have strong internal intrinsic motivators for being part of the SDR team. Alignment with company values. Fearless: Not afraid of change and providing feedback.

Setting these expectations up front will really help in the interview process. You can understand who really wants to grow and learn within the SDR/BDR role itself, not using the opportunity as a stepping stone to become an Account Executive.

Face Of The Company:


A great question to ask yourself during the hiring process is: can this SDR hire represent your organization?


Ability To Adapt:


The ability to think quick on your feet is truly something I feel a lot of SDRs are missing.

Very much like comedy a lot of SDRs stick to a script, they don’t deter and don’t take into account the potential client. I call this the Seinfeld approach, except Seinfeld is way funnier than you are.

With this approach what happens is when SDRs are given an objection they aren’t familiar with, they do not know how to think for themselves and they wind up like a deer in headlights.

Being able to adapt and change for any situation that arises is key, this deals with your mindset. The key is you need a good blend of discipline and flexibility.

When thinking of SDRs, typically they’ll be early in their career and easily influenced. You need someone who’s going to not be sidetracked by an AE, but also works well with their direct manager.

Creative Thinker:


Understanding An SDRs Mindset:


When building your team you need to think what kind of SDRs you want on your team. Asking questions similar to the one Josh presented above allows you to really understand the way your SDR thinks. Depending on how they answers, you familiarize yourself with how they will react to certain situations.

Learning about someone’s mindset is interesting it allows you to understand how they view selling, for example I’ve seen a lot of great sales reps look at the urgency temperatures of each call. If you sense the person doesn’t have urgency to solve the issue, then you move on without wasting anyone's time.

The real question is based on talking to the prospective client how can you make them understand the sense of urgency.

For example: If you have a grill and only the left burners work for the grill. You may need to buy another grill. But after searching around you noticed that it’s not worth spending that much money to replace the grill.

Now, If a sales rep approaches you and asks you if you are interested in buying a new one and tried to sell the features you are most likely not going to buy.

But, if that same sales rep approaches you with the concept that your propane tank might be leaking, then you may need to make time to find another grill to avoid blowing up.


Attributes To Look For:


A lot of SDRs that get hired aren’t concentrating on the job they have because they are only focused about the next job. “They are looking to boost their numbers to get the recognition and opportunity to be promoted.”

This more often than not, has the opposite effect the hiring manager was expecting. SDRs end up rushing through their job, starting to book poor meetings and not setting up the right expectations with customers.

When hiring, there are a few attributes managers should focus on that create amazing SDRs: -- Great Listening Skills

  • High EQ
  • Very Conversational
  • Enjoy being an SDR, not looking to jump

Curious and Competitive:


Every great Sales Rep has a little bit of Michael Jordan inside them. Curiosity and competitiveness motivate the best people in life to excel.

Take anyone at the top of their game, from Tom Brady to Steve Jobs, all have two key traits in common. They have an innate curiosity to learn how to become better at their craft and have a competitive edge where they keep comparing themselves to others to see how they can improve on their weaknesses.

When you first hire your rep you need to make sure they are curious, they are curious to take take feedback, they are curious to learn more about who they are prospecting and figuring out how they can be a good fit, new ways to reach out to a prospective client, to take risks, etc. They are constantly looking to improve on themselves and make sure they are being their best selves.



Being coachable is every sales managers dream candidate trait. Someone who is willing to learn and constantly grow.

Most skills that a salesperson needs, from the soft skills like asking the right questions, to the hard skills like using sales tools, can be taught.




It’s 2019 this is an obvious, the idea of hiring diversity is super important. According to the Harvard Business Review, racially diverse teams outperform non diverse teams by 35% and gender diverse teams were “...15% more likely to have returns above the industry mean”.

Handling Rejection:


Being able to bounce back from rejection is a very key trait for hiring your first SDR. Finding a candidate who has a knack for optimism, is very tough to find. But it creates all the difference.

Most SDRs who become discouraged easily are more likely to quit. A poor attitude to failure will start to creep on the verge of self doubt, but once you doubt your own abilities your sales will decline no matter who you are.

Confidence is key in sales, if you’re not confident about yourself it doesn’t matter what you're selling no one is buying.

I would personally recommend all SDRs try some type of performance art with this issue. When you get numb to the idea of bombing and start to embrace it you start to see yourself becoming more optimistic.


A Hustler:


When you boil everything down, you are basically looking for a hustler. Someone who will grind it out and get you what you want, they are someone you can trust to get the job done. Your first SDR needs to be someone you can count to be persistent, they are understand each cutomer they speak with and more importantly they have the ability to teach others.



Posted by Rishi Mathur
Rishi Mathur
Rishi Mathur is the Content Producer for LeadIQ and is one of the most important voices for this generation. Rishi has on many occasions been compared to the likes of Aziz Ansari and Gandhi based solely on his looks. He has helped with the growth of several different startups and has experience in both marketing and sales. He has been published in many major media outlets such as TealMango, India.com, The Oregonian, and Highland Park Planet. He is a champion at building communities and would love to start his own cult worshipping the different cuisines around the world.

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