February 4, 2021
As explained in our recent article What is a marketing development representative (MDR), the MDR is the missing link between sales and marketing.
It’s an important role. And when you’ve got the right people on the job, they’ll generate serious revenue.
For that reason, we spoke to some of Cognism’s most senior B2B marketing and sales staff.
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Alice started the conversation by highlighting the main issues companies have when hiring MDRs. We think this is a pretty good place to start.
“In all honesty, we didn’t have the perfect formula straight away. A lot of companies will give inbounds to their less experienced reps - as they are seen as the easier leads.”
“Starting out, we also looked for reps who may suit the less ‘difficult’ nature of the MDR role.” - Alice de Courcy
Alice identified 2 problems with this approach:
“These are your warmest leads, they convert to customers at the highest rate, so you can’t afford to waste any.”
“In 2020, Cognism’s MDRs converted 28% of their inbound leads. This isn’t because they’re just easy leads to convert. It’s because we entrusted some of our best salespeople to handle them.” - Alice de Courcy
The MDR is often regarded as an easier role in B2B sales. If you want to get the best out of your MDRs, this perception has to be tackled directly.
By repositioning the role of the MDR. Not as an easy sales position, but as an important one.
These salespeople handle the most valuable leads, and this needs to be reflected in the way the MDR is perceived.
At Cognism, we redesigned the sales organisational chart to include the MDR as a natural progression for high-performing SDRs. Here’s how it looks now:
It’s as easy as that.
MDR is now a desirable role in your company - you just need to find the right person for it.
Here’s how. 👇
The first thing you’re looking at when hiring an MDR is their experience. It’s the truest test of a candidate’s potential, as you can’t be thrown off by less important factors, such as the interviewer’s mood, the time of day or the candidate’s favourite football team.
These things can all influence an interview, but they shouldn’t. This is why you need requirements in place.
We look for:
These are all measurable qualities, which can be asked for prior to an interview. This will ensure that you’re only speaking to good-fit candidates.
It’s always a good idea to include a few professional qualities in your job description. There are a couple of reasons for this:
We look for candidates who check these boxes:
You might notice that there are a few points there about admin and multitasking. This wasn’t an accident. These qualities are essential.
“As an MDR we have an SLA (service-level agreement) to respond to all inbounds within 3 minutes. Why? Well, after 5 minutes the odds of qualifying a lead drop by 80%.”
“This is an important part of the role of the MDR. You have to be able to drop everything to action marketing-generated leads, and pick it all up again after.”
“You’re jumping from activity to activity a lot. Without excellent organisation skills, the MDR will get motion sickness from all of the jumping around!” - Evangeline Crossland
When interviewing external candidates for an MDR role, Alice likes to break the process up into 3 stages:
Alice likes a more flexible interview process. Having a rigid set of questions might be great to get the ball rolling, but you want to find an MDR who can carry a conversation, and who has some interesting ideas of their own.
“The people we’re interviewing will have already achieved amazing things with outbound leads. I’m interested in what they’ll bring to the MDR role. This could include key takeaways from their time as an SDR, or insights they’ve gained from their research.”
“The trick is to focus on the attributes you’re looking for. This sounds obvious, but a lot of interviewers will run through commonly asked interview questions, without digging much deeper.” - Alice de Courcy
These questions are old and rotten; throw them out! The candidate has probably been prepping answers to them all week, and you’re not actually going to learn that much about them.
Instead, ask specific questions about their skills.
Basically, just ask questions that you actually want to know the answer to. There are no tricks here. The simplest questions are often the most effective.
If you’re hiring internally, the interview isn’t as important. Here are David Bentham’s thoughts:
“When you’re promoting an SDR, don’t focus too much on the interview. Their performance so far is much more important. You can’t expect your sales team to understand the MDR role if they haven’t already done it. You just need to know that they have the drive and ability to take the role on.” - David Bentham
The interview’s over. You’ve got a decision to make.
Here’s the thing…
Making a decision based purely on your gut instinct just isn’t good enough. It leaves too much room for your own bias. You might have just connected with a certain candidate because you share interests, not because they’ll make the best MDR.
How do you make sure you get it right?
Score the entire interview process. Have a list of competencies that you’re looking for and check them off as you go. Set a threshold for the role, and ensure that the candidate meets it.
Also, leave space for soft skills. You can’t reduce ability to a number. If you could, hiring would be easy. Make an informed decision based on their performance on the scorecard and their professional qualities.
The scorecard is also really helpful for feedback. You can give precise reasons for not hiring candidates, which will help them with future interviews.
It’s hard to find work at the moment, and we should all be doing our bit to help the applicants out.
If you’re interested in checking out the careers available at Cognism, take a look at our careers page: https://www.cognism.com/careers
The MDR is only as good as the marketing leads. Even if they have a powerful sales engine, you need to provide the fuel.
We created a data-driven marketing guide, which will help you take the next step in MQL (marketing qualified lead) generation. Here’s what you’ll find inside.
Check it out, here’s the link… 👇