The Selling Factory

How to Reduce SDR Turnover? Thoughtful Hiring

Written by Sue-Ming Frauenhofer

Sue-Ming is a Sales Development Representative learning the ropes of the recruiting process at The Selling Factory. Graduating soon with a Master’s degree in Management at UF, she is eager to drive results in a business analytics role where she can balance both her creative and methodical sides. No matter what industry, she hopes to serve others through her growth acumen, focus in execution, and communication skills.

Photo by Content Pixie from Pexels

It’s job search season once again, and the pressure is kicking in. While many students are feeling unsure and discouraged about their future, it is important to remember that this process can be just as grueling for recruiters. Recruiters should understand that their company’s interview model may not entirely reflect a candidate’s personality and ability to perform in sales. To avoid the many challenges and risks to the hiring process, recruiters should explore different definitions and metrics to assess the ideal sales candidate.

What Are the Challenges of Recruiting for Entry Level Sales

The hiring process inevitably requires an investment of time and resources, and recruiters’ jobs are to make sure that it pays off. When we hire a person unfit for a sales team, we take the risk of losing the investment. This prompts turnover and attrition, which then prompts another investment in re-hiring and ongoing stresses. 

The root of the problem is that sales recruiters have difficulty assessing accountable, empathetic, and driven individuals during the interview process. It usually takes 3 to 9 months after onboarding to see if someone’s fit for a sales role, and with the median turnover of SDRs 34% (The Bridge Group), by that time an individual is ramped up, the financial and time losses are significant. In addition, less than 40 percent of sales organizations surveyed feel they consistently hire top sales talent and 50 percent say their sales candidate screening process allows underperforming talent to slip through (The Brooks Group).

To overcome the challenges of the hiring process and the turnover of SDRs, what are the best qualities to evaluate and methods to use when hiring an SDR (sales development representative) out of college? 

Tips for Hiring Recent College Graduates for Your Sales Team

  1. Communication Skills: The handy tool about sales hiring is that recruiters can assess how well a candidate will perform based on how well they sell themselves. The journey starts with the interview. How well can this candidate hold a steady conversation and execute a clear and concise message during the interview? The whole conversation will give recruiters a general idea, but they can also ask behavioral questions to assess communication skills. They could ask about how a candidate would hypothetically simplify complex information to explain to a colleague who knows nothing about the topic.

  2. Accountability: Punctuality, time management, and productive work habits all fall under the umbrella of accountability. The bulk of sales work is individual, but team-work and accountability is necessary to streamline operations. Sometimes recruiters can assess accountability by how early or late they show up to the interview. During the interview, however, assessing accountability can be complicated. You could ask the candidate about an experience when they had to work in a fast-paced environment and how they reacted to it. Given the speedy nature of sales, their answer will most likely predict how they will perform.

  3. Empathy: Sales recruiters should seek college students who have a strong sense of empathy. SDRs must practice empathy when calling each individual prospect. Developing relationships with prospects helps them to understand pain points and how to communicate the solution that best fits each prospect’s needs. To assess empathy in an interview, you could ask the applicant about an experience in which when they dealt with a difficult colleague. How did they handle the situation? You want a candidate who takes the time to understand diverse perspectives in a situation. If a candidate can relate and build relationships well, the sky’s the limit in an SDR role.

  4. Motivation to Learn and Grow: Most college students have an eagerness to learn and develop new skills when applying for an entry-level sales job, but it is still very important to confirm in an interview. The sales process steps are all about growth, whether it’s company revenue streams, sales strategies, a relationship with a prospect, or overall professional development. To assess this in an interview, you could ask the candidate about a time when they received criticism. If a candidate did not express a willingness to grow through feedback, that’s a red flag. The know-it-all attitude is not attractive nor will it contribute to the growth of your sales team. 

  5. Ability to Think Critically: In the sales process steps, a lot of nuanced issues arise, and the solutions can be uncertain. The ideal sales candidate should be able to exercise sound reasoning to analyze problems. This requires the ability to obtain, interpret, and use the information to find solutions and use sales strategies. You should ask behavioral questions to assess critical thinking. The candidate can walk you through how they would deal with a hypothetical situation that requires problem-solving and thinking outside of the box.

  6. Grit: Sales recruiters typically seek out SDRs with alpha personalities, because they are usually the ones who can win you over. They will study the sales process steps over the long term until they master them. To evaluate a candidates’ grit in an interview, you could ask about a time when they had to motivate others, possibly in a leadership position. You could also ask a behavioral question that assesses how they would motivate others in a hypothetical situation. Based on their answers, look for DISC: dominance, influence, steadiness, conscientiousness.

These six areas in this specific highlight their importance. Without communication skills and accountability, the rest of the qualities barely matter! And while grit is a huge plus, it is not the only quality that can make a candidate a well-performing SDR. Recruiters should dive deep in the interview process to better predict the candidate’s likeliness of success in a sales role and to reduce the turnover of SDRs. If the first five qualities line up, sometimes students just need to be given the opportunity to prove themselves and learn more about sales strategies. They just need someone to say “I believe in you!” to transition into a successful sales development representative role.

Kira Baker

Campaign Manager

Kira is a recent graduate from the University of Florida where she received her Master of Science in Entrepreneurship. She is passionate about helping businesses grow and connecting with new people. Some of her hobbies include traveling and hiking. She hope to visit all of the National Parks one day!

Jared Glosser

Vice President

After graduating from UF in 2014 with a B.A. in history, Jared started his professional career Fundraising for a non-partisan political lobby in South Florida. In 2016, Jared moved back to Gainesville to work for a non-profit, recruit students for international travel opportunities, and pursue his MBA at UF. Jared has been with The Selling Factory since 2019 focusing on operations, client onboarding, and client success.

Ian Massenburg

Chief Operating Officer

A graduate of University of Florida (B.A. 2001), Ian Massenburg brings over 18 years of sales executive and sales management experience to The Selling Factory. Before coming on-board, Ian worked alongside Brad at Infinite Energy, and then spent his next 3 years as VP of Partnerships selling SaaS products B2B. Ian brings his vast knowledge and experience to the team and to our partner companies served.

Damien Paulk

Campaign Manager

Damien is a University of Florida graduate that recently joined the team full time after working as a Sales Development Intern for one year. As a Campaign Manager, Damien looks forward to contributing to the growth and success of The Selling Factory. When Damien is not at work he enjoys exploring Gainesville with his girlfriend and dog or watching the Gators dominate college football.

Brendan Viehman

Campaign Manager

Brendan graduated from Liberty University with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and Project Management. For the past 5 years, he has enjoyed working with blockchain technology and cryptocurrency development. In his free time, he surfs and makes personal finance videos for his YouTube channel.

Savannah Howard

Campaign Manager

A graduate from the University of Florida’s College of Journalism and Communications, Savannah obtained her Bachelor of Science in public relations with a concentration in French. After almost two years as a sales development intern for The Selling Factory, she joined the leadership team in 2021 taking on the role of Campaign Manager. In her free time, Savannah enjoys going to concerts and festivals and cooking for her friends and family.

Zack Kampf

Campaign Manager

Zack is a creative technologist with experience in advertising, event planning, and game design. He started as an SDR in 2018 and has been with TSF ever since. Upon graduating UF in 2019 he became a campaign manager and is currently seeking a master's degree from NYU. In his spare time, you can find him at the intersection of Art & Technology!

Josiah Blakemore

Campaign Manager

Josiah has over 8 years of sales experience, worked with Brad and Ian at Infinite Energy, and also spent time selling SaaS as Director of Partnerships at SharpSpring. He’s always been very competitive and has a love for sports and games. He enjoys solving problems and coaching team members to do the same!

Sue-Ming Frauenhofer

Marketing Manager

Sue-Ming received both her B.S. in Psychology and M.S. in Management from The University of Florida. As a student, she led a psychology research lab on goal achievement and life satisfaction and took on multiple roles while interning at The Selling Factory, including sales development, marketing, and recruiting, eventually leading to her current role as Marketing Manager. Through her creative and methodical vision, she engages both students and entrepreneurs to help them find their version of success.

Adam Grossman

Chief Development Officer

Adam is an ordained rabbi, who has founded multiple ventures focused on workforce development. Hired as CEO by a failing non-profit, in over 5 years, his ingenuity saved the organization, which led to recognize it as one of North America’s most innovative Jewish non-profits. His expertise to identify, cultivate, and on-board talent ensures our student teams meet our partners’ needs.

Brad Gamble

Chief Executive Officer

After graduating from UF in 1999 with a B.S.B.A, Brad Gamble has dedicated himself to sales management, branding, coaching, and building companies. He served as the VP of Sales & Marketing for Infinite Energy until 2014, when he founded The Selling Factory. He has dedicated himself to teaching critical skills to tomorrow’s leaders, and helping companies achieve sales success and revenue growth.