If you’ve been managing a team for over a year you’ve inevitably dealt with a struggling sales development rep who feels like they have all the answers, yet their performance doesn’t necessarily dictate that. The last thing you want to see is a glazed over look followed by a head bob when you’re asking them if the suggestions you’re putting out there make sense to them. Sure, they can TELL you they’re putting your suggestions into practice but you can never really know.

Problem is, you don’t have endless amounts of time in your day to monitor every dial or email they’re sending out. The point is, we need to find a way to make sure they’re internalizing our suggestions and then putting them into action.

I’m a realist. I don’t expect that every idea I come up with will be considered pure gold, but as a trainer, your employees owe you more than the “promise” that they’ll be following through with at least a few of your suggestions. So, how can we be reassured that the points we’re trying to drive home are actually sinking in?

What my SDR training team has been finding lately is that you need to put them on the spot. After each session they need to demonstrate to us that they get it. They need to reassure us in some way that they are following up on our suggestions and are putting them into action. The common problem I’ve seen for most trainers is that it can be difficult to measure.

Here are 3 tips that help us to make sure our hard work is being driven home throughout SDR training:

1. Make SDRs write up their own post-training feedback

Your sales development reps may be expecting you to do the work of summing up your session in writing after you’ve spent an hour of training with them. Why not put it on them to articulate what they’ve learned? This can hopefully help to reassure you that everyone’s on the same page. To make it simple, have them come up with 3 areas of improvement discussed during the session and then outline what their action plan is to improve on each of them.

2. Role-play

Ahh yes..the dreaded role-play. Whether you’re the person running it or the participant, no one really likes them (unless you’re evil). Bottom line is this should be a core part of your process, but it seems as trainers we don’t follow through as regularly as we should. Sure, we do it with the newbies, but what about the folks that have been around for a while? Hey – even senior reps shouldn’t be exempt from an occasional role play. For the newbies it can help us to make sure it’s sinking in and with the seasoned folks we can be reassured they still have their fastball.

3. Listen in to their calls without providing input

Set the table with your SDR that you have no intention of interrupting with your suggestions. The goal should be to get a feel for what the average hour of calling would look like. Save the input for after. Typically we’ll do this once we’ve been through a few other recent trainings. Again, this can be a great way to get a feel for whether or not they’re actually doing what you train them to do.

From what I’ve seen, having managed sales development teams for the last decade, is that there is only 1 incontrovertible truth. Not one rep is hard-wired exactly the same as the next. You need to embrace their differences as long they’re willing to compromise and conform a bit to your ways as well. What hasn’t worked for me is coddling or micromanaging. At some point your reps need to stand on their own two feet. Sales isn’t a pom-pom party. Point is, there should come a stage (sooner rather than later) where it either clicks or it doesn’t.

If you’ve got a talented sales rep “on paper” that doesn’t seem to be willing to meet you halfway, then regularly incorporating the tips I’ve suggested into their training and development should be something they need to get used to.

Do you have any unique approaches to light a fire in the belly of your struggling sales development reps?