Recruiting and training a Sales Development team is a top priority in today’s sales environment. Building a world-class team is different than hiring into many other roles in the organization. This is because the lifecycle of a sales development representative (SDR) is uniquely suited to the specific requirements of the job.

Sales Development has one of the shortest job tenures of any role in business.

TOPO puts the average at 14.3 months while Bridge Group shows a 14 month average – a sharp decline from the 2.4 years seen in 2009.

Think about that. The average SDR stays in the job for 14 months. Subtract three months for onboarding and ramp and you’ve got less than a year of full productivity before the rep moves on.

If ‘moving on’ means moving up into an AE role with your company, it doesn’t hurt quite as much. But if your company only sells to enterprises, you’re probably losing them entirely (you’re unlikely to move them straight from SDR to an enterprise AE role).

A short tenure comes with the territory.

It would be great if you could increase the average tenure of your SDRs, but most experts accept that short tenure goes with the territory.

This is a very tough job, full of rejection and prone to burnout. It’s populated by ambitious (and often impatient) young people who are eager to get into Sales – at double the income and glory.

Put that all together and it’s no surprise that SDRs move on so quickly.

Yes, you can extend the tenure of your SDRs with a lot of attention, great training and mentoring and a full commitment to an account based approach. But you’re unlikely to push the average tenure much closer to two years.

“The short tenure is a trade-off. In return, you get awesome, motivated young people who absolutely kill it for a year or so.” – Craig Rosenberg, Co-Founder and Chief Analyst, TOPO

Path to promotion

Most SDRs see the role as the first stepping stone for a career in Sales. That’s great for you – it’s a source for people who often become your best Account Execs – but it also puts a strain on the sales development team, constantly draining it of its best reps.

The Bridge Group found that companies with step (micro-) promotions achieve a 6% higher Pipeline Power Score. But companies with a defined SDR-to-AE path actually achieve a 9% lower PPS (robbing Peter to pay Paul?)

To give SDRs a sense of career progression within the role, many companies implement a series of step promotions:

  • Associate SDR – until they make the grade
  • SDR – during full productivity
  • Senior SDR – as they progress to mentor others

These micro-promotions progress in defined, ‘Ramp-Achieve-Advance’ cycles that last from four to six months each. Micro-promotions are popular (as the table shows) but you may also need de ned paths into other sales development roles (such as outbound) and a path into quota-carrying AE roles.

The bottom line:

Carefully managed promotions are an important part of running an SDR team. But don’t let promotions happen too soon – you don’t want to always be losing your best SDRs!

When you’re assembling your SDR team, ensure you’re hiring the right traits with this highly unique lifecycle in mind.

For more detailed guidance on this topic, download The Clear and Complete Guide to Account Based Sales Development.

What is your best tip to avoid SDR turnover?