How to Hire a Sales Development Rep

By Carolyn Betts Fleming

When it comes to your Sales Development Rep (SDR) team, every new hire matters. You need more than just warm bodies to fill seats. You need the best of the best. Challenging? Certainly. Impossible? Not if you take the right approach heading into the hiring process. Here are a few tried-and-true tips for quickly and accurately uncovering the top SDR candidates.

Tip #1: Define and implement a formal process.
In other words, don’t just wing it. If you want to discover the best SDR candidates time and time again, you need a strategy. You could almost think of it as a sales funnel for qualifying your applicants.

Different companies may take different approaches, but the core of your process should at least include the following:

  • Gather initial application, resume, and cover letter
  • Conduct a phone interview or video chat – whichever you prefer
  • Schedule and conduct an initial in-person interview
  • Schedule several one-on-one or panel interviews  again, whichever you prefer

For best results, make hiring an interdepartmental process. This enables everyone involved to stay on the same page. For instance, even though your SDRs will primarily be working under the sales manager, they will also be working closely with the marketing and customer success teams. Involving them in the process can ensure quality checks and provide a better test for culture fit.

Tip #2: Ask targeted questions.
If you ask vague questions, you’ll get vague answers in response – which won’t tell you much about whether or not a particular candidate is really worth pursuing. Everyone can make themselves look good on paper and fluff themselves up during an interview if the questions don’t dig deep enough.

Your interview process should involve a number of in-depth, thought-provoking and open-ended questions designed to really get to the crux of who each candidate is and what they truly have to offer. And don’t forget to customize your questions so they’re geared toward the most critical aspects of your particular business.

To come up with good questions, start by going over your core values. This will enable you to craft the right questions and look for answers that most closely align with those values. It’ll also help you weed out applicants that aren’t a good fit before you get too far into the process.

Here are 10 recommended interview questions to ask SDRs to get you started:

  • Why do you want to sell this product or service?
  • What is your biggest professional accomplishment?
  • Pretend I’m a prospect. Describe our product or service to me.
  • What are some questions you would ask prospects to determine whether they’re qualified or not?
  • What are some words or phrases you think would resonate with our target customer?
  • What do you think will be the most common objections you’ll hear during a call? How would you handle them?
  • Tell me about a time you faced a challenge. How did you deal with it – and what motivated you to keep going?
  • What do you think separates the best SDRs from average SDRs?
  • Where/how would you research a prospect before you reach out?
  • Do you have any questions for me?

Look for well-articulated, insightful answers to these questions, as they demonstrate a candidate’s positive attitude, willingness to take advantage of previous opportunities, and continuous desire to learn and grow in order to succeed.

Tip #3: Know when it’s best to pass on a candidate.
It’s happened to the best of us. You get excited about a star candidate whose resume looks amazing. On paper they seem like the perfect addition to your company. They have great references and stellar recommendations. Their credentials are top-notch.

Then they show up for the interview. Suddenly that superstar candidate is hijacking the conversation to badmouth their previous employer. The answers to your questions are insincere or lack substance. It’s obvious they are incapable of taking responsibility for past mistakes or are set in their ways. Or maybe you’re just getting an overall bad vibe.

Remember: No matter how great a candidate seems on paper or over the phone, if they’re not a good fit, hiring them could be disastrous. Move on to someone who complements your company culture and embodies your core values.

Hiring top-tier SDRs is important, and it’s something that shouldn’t be taken lightly. By implementing the three tips above and taking the time to evaluate the strengths, weaknesses, and cultural fit of each candidate, your hiring process will consistently produce great results.

Carolyn Betts Fleming is founder and CEO of Betts Recruiting, a leading recruitment firm for revenue generating, marketing, and people operations roles.