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How to Help a Struggling SDR

Aaah, the life of an SDR.

The most relaxed, easiest, non-essential role in sales.

This high pressure, fast-paced, objection-handling job is not easy.

Being an SDR is one of the toughest roles in B2B sales, and without it, closers would have nothing to close.

Hearing “no” multiple times a day, and perhaps a few cuss words here and there, is a daily occurrence for SDRs.

So, how do you ensure your SDRs stay motivated? 🤔

What happens if they’re not meeting target? And how can you help them to navigate through those poor performance patches?

We wanted to know too!

So, we set out to find the best person we could. That person is Emmet Florish, CEO of

Emmet shared some incredible tips on how sales leaders, like you, can help struggling SDRs up their game.

We know you’re busy so we’ve put everything together for you in one nifty blog.

Emmet’s advice is so good you’ll definitely want to take it all in. But, if you need info in a rush, scroll through the menu and get your hands on the bits you want to read. 👇

Improving cold outreach | Ensuring your SDRs stay motivated | Getting SDRs through the poor patches | Am I going to be fired?! - Change their thinking | Critique myself or imitate others? - What your SDRs should do | How can they ask you for help? | Emmet’s sales tidbits | How to build your sales strategy

Simple tweaks to improve outreach 

You must remind your sales development represenatatives that keeping it simple is key.

“I’ve seen a lot of really long-winded emails all about the product or what the company does. Your SDRs have got to make it more you and less me. Make it about the prospect’s pain points and not about what you can do as a company.” - Emmet Florish

Emmet suggests two simple tweaks that’ll ensure your SDRs cut through the noise and get through to prospects:

Keep emails short 

As much as your SDRs like to believe they do, prospects don’t read those long emails they spend hours crafting.

If they want to get those emails read, remind them to keep their emails short and snappy.

A great tip is to always check what the email looks like on their phone. These days, that’s where everyone is reading them!

Give accessible insights 

Want an SDR to see how busy sales leaders and CEOs actually are?

Give them access to your calendar. The SDR will be able to visualise how decision-makers manage their time day-to-day and what they’re up against, in terms of booking meetings.

This will give them greater insights into their outbound sales style. They have to make a big impression, and quickly!

Ensuring your SDRs stay motivated when they’re not meeting target 

It’s incredibly tough for your SDRs when they’re not meeting target. As a sales leader, you’ve really got to help them dig deep.

“A lot of SDRs tend to forget the importance of their role. All the glory is with the AEs, the closers, and the revenue, but none of that happens without the SDR team doing the work.”

You need to remind your SDRs to:

  • Think about why they do what they do.
  • Remind them of the past success they’ve had.
  • Remind them of the end goal.
  • Highlight their contribution to the team as a whole.

“When your SDRs aren’t meeting target, you need to remind them to think beyond the short-term target as you want them to get to the long-term goal. You also need to get them thinking about how they contribute to the team as a whole - you need to have those discussions.”

Getting through patches of poor performance 

“Your SDRs have got to get their heads down and focus on the task at hand. They need to have an understanding of what they’re trying to achieve.”

“Have you been clear on the activities your SDRs should be tracking to get them to their number? How many dials? How many meetings? Those are the things you need to communicate to them.”

Emmet expands on this:

Get your SDRs to break down their tasks into smaller chunks that they can focus on daily.

Also, at the end of every day, get them to review their own performance. These are good questions to start with:

  • Have I done the right things?
  • Have I made the right number of calls?
  • Have I done things in the right order?
  • Am I being consistent?

“You can’t send out a bunch of emails on Friday at 4 o’clock thinking you’ll be seen - everyone is either winding down for the weekend or already on the way home!”

“If your SDR thinks this will ensure they’re top of every inbox on a Monday morning, you need to remind them that people get emails over the weekend too. Even just sharing those small bits of information with your SDRs will help.”

The key takeaway here?

No bit of information is too small to share.

A danger for sales leaders is to assume that everyone has the same knowledge as them. You need to think back to your early sales days and share the bits you wished you’d known.

Am I going to be fired?! - Change their thinking 

People who work under the threat of losing their job rarely perform well. If your SDRs think they’re going to be fired if they don’t meet target, you need to counteract that.

It all comes down to your company culture.

Alleviate that pressure on your SDRs and help them as much as you can, rather than leaving them feeling stressed out.

“You’ve got to remind your SDRs to just stay focused and not get sucked into those negative thoughts. It’s always going to be a challenge.”

“Even as a sales leader, you’ll stress over your team not meeting target and whether you yourself are going to be fired. You’ve just got to dig deep and remind yourself and your team what you’re doing.”

You also need to help your SDRs reframe that negative thinking into positive thinking.

They need to be able to say to you 'hey look, I didn’t reach my target, but I did all the things that would have contributed.'

Get your SDRs to see what they’ve done right and then evaluate:

  • Were they working off the right list?
  • Did they change up their messaging when necessary?

Let them prepare themselves for difficult conversations with you as their manager, where they have the opportunity to be honest about their successes or failures.

Critique myself or imitate others? - What your SDRs should do 

Well, they should do both!

Emmet told us:

“They need to be aware of what those top performers are doing in order to evaluate if anything they’re doing is contributing to their poor performance.”

“So, as their leader, you need to draw your SDRs attention to what works for top performers and get them to self-assess where they would improve.”

Striking a balance between the two and forging a path forward will definitely help your struggling SDRs.

How can they ask you for help? 

It’s all good and well to say that your SDRs can come to you for help, but what happens if they’re not sure where they’re going wrong?

It all comes down to your known-knowns and known-unknowns. You know? 😉

Aside from seeing how many times you can use “know” in a sentence, you need to let your team know that:

  • They can come to you for advice.
  • They need to be proactive in what they’re trying to achieve.

There needs to be rapport for open discussions between you as a leader and your SDRs.

“Allow space for your SDR to come to you and say ‘hey, look I feel I’m not doing the right things here, can I just get a bit of guidance?’. Sometimes they are doing the right things and they just need a bit of validation.”

Emmet’s sales tidbits 

Can you believe that after all of this great info, Emmet still has more to share!

Here are his final tidbits on helping your struggling SDRs:

  • Set realistic expectations - 100 cold calls is not a realistic goal to set for your SDRs, but 100 dials is something that’s more achievable.
  • Their benchmark should be their past performance - that’s all you can measure them on.
  • Encourage your SDRs to build a career in sales development - rather than jumping to a closing role.
  • Make sure your SDRs can approach you with their own personal development plans and assist them in implementing these.

Managing a successful sales strategy 

Now that you know how to build up your reps, you can focus on building your sales strategy!

Not sure how?

Check out how to achieve success in sales, with everything from processes and performance to the tech that’ll help you along the way 👇

Cognism Sales Guide


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