Ongoing training of an SDR is an essential function of not only keeping your “A players” sharp but also elevating your “B players” to the next level. One of the ways our sales development managers like to check in with our SDRs is through call shadowing. If done with purpose, call shadows can give you the greatest insight as to how that rep is performing and if there are any immediate areas of improvement that can be addressed.

In determining who needs the most coaching, it is first important to bucket your reps from highest to lowest in terms of need. How do you do this? Look at who hit their goals the previous month, who is motivated and always strives to be better? These are the folks you start with. Sometimes, you have more independent reps who have a system that works for them, they put their head down and just get the job done…leave those SDRs alone (apart from usual performance checks). Your B players have the most to gain from some one-on-one time with their manager in their cube.

Once you define which reps need some extra coaching, it’s important to determine what questions need to be address by a manager both pre- and post-call session. Given that we know cold calling often results in more voicemails left than live conversations had, it’s important to have alternative items that can be addressed in a session other than “how does this rep handle themselves on a live conversation.” Here are a few examples off “pre-call” questions that I have always found helpful.

“What does their database look like? How many contacts remain untouched?”

Too many untouched contacts, as well as too few, are a bad thing. Too many and it’s a reg flag that they are not bringing enough contacts into a regimented call plan, too few and they’ve burned through their database and maybe it’s time to consider getting them a refresh.

“How organized is this SDR within the systems they are using?”

Take a look at how the rep queues up contacts to call. Are they sourcing them from a list of follow up tasks, or just randomly power dialing into the master list? Sometimes pushing a rep from good to great requires just a tad more focus into who they are calling and how they are setting themselves up for a productive day.

“Is this rep executing the fundamentals of prospecting?”

This is pretty much evaluating whether an SDR is following a call plan that they were trained on or proven to be effective. After almost 15 years and countless client engagements, we use the call plan because it works. If a rep is making tweaks to that original process it could be affecting their output in either a positive or a negative way and it’s important to be able to recognize the difference as a manager. Have the rep pull up the record of a contact they’ve been prospecting for a week or so and see if they were following a defined process.

As I mentioned before, since you can’t guarantee live conversations in the hour that you are shadowing your rep, sometimes just having a discussion with them about the product/service they are pitching and the industry/titles they are reaching out to can give you insight into their level of understanding of process and job overall. Putting your sales development rep on the spot when you sit in and just asking them “OK, explain to me what company XYZ does” can allow you to give some immediate feedback and help them improve their pitch.