The #1 SDR rule: SDRs are bouncers, not ushers

Most companies suck at sales development because they fail to properly utilize SDRs. In my experience, inexperienced sales leaders rarely understand that sales development reps are bouncers, not ushers. This is a costly mistake.

Remember that an SDR is not a secretary. His or her job is far more important than scheduling meetings. Your sales development team is the most important filter that exists between the top of your sales funnel and your closers.

The benefits of treating SDRs as salespeople include:

  • Better ops for your Account Executives. If your SDR team isn’t carefully scrutinizing each new prospect, then your AE team is likely spending a lot of time disqualifying opportunities. Even worse, they may be spending weeks (or months) focusing on accounts that were never going to buy.
  • Gathering better data. If your SDR team is setting meetings without asking for qualifying and firmographic data, you’re missing an opportunity to arm your sales and marketing teams with valuable data about prospects that isn’t available through web forms.
  • Turning the tables. Prospects are accustomed to being pushed into meetings. When SDRs stop pushing, the dynamic changes. Many prospects become eager to get a meeting with sales once it becomes clear that it isn’t a foregone conclusion.
  • Properly developing talent. Sales development teams should serve as talent pools from which other teams can draw. Treating SDRs like secretaries does little to develop their sales skills, but teaching them to understand your offering and qualify prospects sets them up for success in many other roles.

SDRs as data collectors

In addition to being rigorous, value-producing bouncers, your SDRs can also serve as collectors of high-quality, actionable data.

The high volume of prospect interactions puts SDRs in an excellent position to act as your sales and marketing teams’ eyes and ears for the kind of high-quality, nuanced data that you can’t get from forms or website tracking.

Your SDR team is talking to hundreds (or thousands) of prospects every week. If trained well, they control conversations, ask specific questions, and filter out unqualified prospects.

PandaDoc SDRs are required to ask inbound prospects five questions. Even if the prospect is unqualified, SDRs must try to gather as much information as possible — knowing which people don’t buy is just as important as knowing which people do buy.

How did you first hear about PandaDoc?

We ask this question to every inbound lead. It is vital for the marketing team. Attribution (determining which marketing efforts bring in deals) is a huge problem for marketing teams that SDRs can help solve.

What about PandaDoc made you decide to request info?

Why beat around the bush? You don’t need to be sneaky here. Just ask what about your offering was appealing to them. You’ll find that direct questions (followed by silence) lead people to give up lots of information about their pain.

What tools do you use to create, send, store, and eSign documents?

This question lets us know what we’re up against early in the sales cycle. Over time, it yields quality information about the tools we’re most likely to successfully replace.

How many documents does the average rep send per month?

The answers to these two questions allow Account Executives to quantify the value that PandaDoc is likely to offer.

Make a list of a few questions (no more than 5) that your reps will ask every inbound prospect. Focus on questions with answers that are easy to standardize. This means the answers can be recorded using a numerical or picklist field in your CRM as your SDR collects answers.


Using picklists to gather data allows you to easily pull reports on the answers to these questions so that you can see larger, actionable trends. If you use text boxes (non-standardized input)…stop!

Taft is a SaaS sales professional and blogger in San Francisco. He likes to travel and spend time with his family in Sausalito, California.

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